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|Amble Links 5th November 2003 - Gavin Duthie
Flying Fish, Flying Windsurfers -
Tony C and I met up at Druridge Boatramp and were confronted by a steady upper end F4, lively sea and fairly benign shorebreak despite the cross on direction, probably SSE. I was already set to rig my 5m on the 100lt board when it was decided Amble Links would be more preferable. Amble sea was far less confused and the rolling swell was much more predictable, albeit with seemingly slightly less wind. 6 & 6.5's were rigged and we flew out across the waves in perfect cross shore wind. The inside was as usual reasonably flat building nicely to a 5ft decently spaced rolling swell coming in from the outside in a SE direction. With this flow some serious airtime was possible, almost perfect for me on a starboard tack. The wind moderated a bit for lunchtime and Jeff W arrived shortly after. Temperature had reached a balmy 15 degrees by now and we were looking forward to more. Unfortunately for Jeff it was not to be, the wind gods were up to there usual tricks and the strength moderated and then died with Tony on the outside, who for a while looked like a rescue job not being able to waterstart or uphaul in the still rough sea. Tony being the salty old seadog that he is survived to enjoy another day, but we both retired happy and with a smile on our fizogs having got a another bloody good blast under our belts. The image of the day for me was powering out across the swell watching a fishing boat in the distance coming in past Coquet Island, almost surfing down the swell with a flying 2ft monster silvery fish cruising the atmosphere just across my bows.
|Tues 04 Nov - Blyth - Ross Ketteridge
Never believe a solid forecast. For those of us that habitually bang our head off the metaphorical brick wall of solid forecasts, that may be an obvious statement. But there is solid and there is solid. Windguru said it was going to be a three-star (read “epic”) day, guaranteed. The Met office talked of winds building F5-6. Any and all isobar maps showed a pattern not unlike the cross section of a very old tree. The BBC had the words “wind” and “gales” all over its maps and showed more isobar lines than yesterday. It seemed that the Atlantic low was a predictable one, so we could be assured of a great sailing session.
It was important for Alistair and I to get a good sail today as, like many fellow sufferers, we had, only last Sunday, reached a point where, after repeated head-banging in recent weeks, banged our heads off the solid forecast wall for the last bearable time. We were looking for bonfires into which to donate our kit on November 5th, so we had this one last chance before it all got melted tomorrow.
So, once again I put windsurfing ahead of my career prospects, and decided this morning to book a half-day holiday this afternoon. I had the car ready packed from work. 4.7m sail, 75lt wave board, that sort of thing. When I reached Whitley Bay I realised that we were looking at a F3, not a F6. My heart sank. Not again, etc. Reluctantly I added a 120lt and a 7.1m to my already packed car. It’ll fill in, we thought, the solid forecast said it would.
We plumped for Blyth and found a mild SE blowing somewhat gustily to F4. Phew. It seemed to be picking up, but Barnesy and myself opted for 7.8m/135lt and 7.1/120 respectively. Alistair was waiting to see what the wind monkey (yours truly) would do. Off I went into the high tide shore break. Immediately powered up, I shot towards the horizon. Gaining speed, I tail-walked through the 4ft swell at the end of that first reach, completely overpowered. The run back in was the same and I immediately decided it would be best to rig down to a smaller board and sail.
As I prepared my 5.5 and 95, I felt the wind dropping. And then saw that Barnesy was perfectly powered on his big kit, and even falling off the plane at times. I suspect that it was at this point that Tony C, who had arrived a little while earlier, opted to not get wet.
Small kit back in the car, I resolved to put more out- and downhaul on the 7.1 and persevere. As the tide dropped the waves diminished but I had an excellent session of being mainly comfortably powered and at times overly so in the long sustained gusts. There was a good swell running, so good ramps on the way out and rolling waves to ride on the way back were the order of the day. The sun shone intermittently and was starting to set when I finally dragged myself off the water after a very satisfying session. PB had a similarly good time but sadly Alistair, on his 6.6 and 111lt, was just on the wrong side of the planing threshold, so spent a lot of time languishing in that awful sub-planing hell, while watching myself and PB blast back and forth. If you see him trying to put his gear on a bonfire tomorrow, please stop him.
|Seaton Point Monday 3 November - Tony Champion
Monday morning started calm and warm but by 11am it was blowing. By 12am it was maybe 6- 7 here. At 1230 it was the same and John C ‘phoned. An hour later we met at Seaton Point to find that the expected near nuclear winds had been replaced by a gentle Southerly zephyr of at most force 3. 20 minutes later Alastair ‘phoned from Blyth to say it was very strong but straight offshore. We told him it wasn’t worth the trip (sorry Alastair, we could only tell it as we saw it) and ‘phoned Barnsey to call him off as well. Fortunately he was nearly there and arrived looking bewildered by the lack of wind and saying that as he came by Alnmouth it was howling. A short discussion followed involving many colourful and heated epithets which obviously brought in a wind off the land which within minutes was whipping up the whitecaps in the bay. John and I rigged 5s and Barnsey a 6 and were soon flying. I was a bit slower and garnered the information from a passing dog walker that a lorry had been blown over on the Tyne bridge. The last time I heard anything like that while sailing was at QE2 and within half an hour it was gusting to more than 50mph and there was mayhem in the car park with about 30 sailors unable to hold down their gear. A bit like Plymouth when the fleet’s in really. Feeling somewhat apprehensive I entered the water only to find that when I presented my extravagantly downhauled rig to the wind it was bucking like a bullock on a rope. A little voice whispered in my ear: “Tony this is not wise.” Another voice whispered slightly louder: “Tony, you have done many things in your life that were not wise and you have enjoyed all of them.” So another inch of outhaul silenced the first voice and 30 seconds later I was half way across the bay and just managed to sheet in before bearing away on a bit of a lull, gybing and planing out. The second voice said: “I told you so” just as the wind died and I fell in to windward. That was more or less my tale for the rest of the day. It was very gusty, possibly up to force 8. I went half way through one gust which was whipping up spirals of spray from the flat water before getting blown straight up in the air and failing to control the landing. Barnsey was faring somewhat better, seemed to be in control most of the time and even found one or two small waves to play with. John merely put on his usual display of impeccable high speed gybing, sometimes with a little jump as he flicked the rig and powered out again through the slight shore break but, tell me John, I twice saw you wipe out on the inside with what looked like a body drag. Was it intentional? I was first off the water just before 4pm followed shortly by Barnsey. By then Steve Boyd had put in a guest appearance and we left him and John still flying in and out in the gathering dusk. A good day if not epic.
|Allonby Sunday 2 November - Ginge
Ok folks I will keep this as short as possible, knowing what an awsum day you have all had!
As you are aware, I had a pass out as the wife has gone away for a few days so decided to head over last night, once I had parked up the van, (would you believe a watering hole was directly opposite!) On retiring to bed at 2330 it was not long before the wind and horizontal rain caused a bit of concern, so much so I moved it in to a position to face the wind at 0200 this morning.
On waking I was rather taken back to discover 8 mph winds! Oh well thought I lets go and explore-what a lovely bay it is, a couple of miles long in a lovely horse shoe shape with quite q few parking bays along it so you can find the wind that suits, ie cross, cross on, cross off etc.
At 1000 I went down to the sea, anaemometer in hand and got a reading of 12 gusting 18 mph so I set up a 7.5 and stuck it on a powerglide 145. This was not enough cloth for my waif like figure so 9.1 was unfurled. I had only been on the water a short time and started getting overpowered, so, once more back to the van for my wave board and the 7.5. This worked well but the wind increased more (about a constant 20 mph) so back in again and 6.5 was my next combination.
I had an awesum session then til 1600, getting lots of port tack jumps off the very gentle and forgiving waves. I got a bit concerned at one stage as I was 1/2 mile out and the wind died, how do you waterstart a sinker in no wind?????
My general impressions are what a lovely bay, the sea is sandy giving it a impression of being dirty. Low tide was a bit of a bitch, especially with the kit changes I made but on a constant day with no changes it is not a problem. I counted about 15 kitesurfers in the bay with another couple of windsurfers turning up at 1300ish
All in all a lovely area, an excellent venue and a fantastic day leaving me feeling totally stoked and happy! I am away for a week, see you all on the water soon.
|Amble Saturday 25 - Peter Amos
It all looked so promising today. There was wind and sunshine, 10c. So a gathering of Steve C, Andy, Alastair, Tony C and myself met at Amble to find a Cross Off NW and a fairly lumpy sea.
Steve was first to arrive and on duty from 4.00 so by 1.30 he was on the water. The trouble was that by the time we all rigged up and got to the waters' edge the tide had come right in and the waves were really dumping. Andy got rinsed 3 times and Alastair was very lucky to get out of a nasty pounding with no harm to him or kit.
On the water there was a big wind shadow inshore but on the outside Steve was, as ever, flying. We decided to adjourn to the Boardwalk and packed up. We watched Steve come in about half a mile down the beach and having to swim the last 30m or so.
At the Boardwalk it was better but then the wind dropped off so Andy and Alastair had a surfing session on their boards. Surfing would have been a good option as there were some big clean waves comming in.
Still the sun shone and it was a lovely day, shame about the windsurfing though - or lack of it.
|Seaton Point Sunday 19 October - 3!! - Brad Tooze
Many thanks to Ginge, Tony, Ally and Ray for such a friendly welcome to the club and a fantastic day on the water. I was feeling a little nervous about hitting the open sea for the first time having just moved up from Dorset where I’ve been sailing in harbours for the last couple of years. A bit of encouragement from the guys was very reassuring and one look at the bay at Seaton Point blew away any fear with total excitement.
The conditions and the sailing were some of the very best – the wind was pretty much spot on all afternoon with Mother Nature just turning it up a notch on one occasion to remind us who’s the boss. I was well powered up on a 5’9 once out past the wind line created by the Point, at which point you really start to feel the peaks and troughs…. no small wonder Ginge was getting vertical lift off with his 7.5!
Funny to hear Tony’s first thoughts on taking his sail apart was what his new sail might be… shortly followed with how to get this one past the missus – Good luck!
(Ed it must have been a great day I'm only now missing something from Ray & Allie)
|Seaton Point Sunday 19 October - 2 - Ginge
On arrival at Seaton point we had a little walk down to the beach to check conditions, The wind was in a NE direction and reading 14mph gusting to 18. The sea state was nice and calm with some nice ramps coming in so the team of Ray, Tony, Brad, welcome to the new guy who had such an inspirational baptism today that his cheque, I’m certain will be winging it's way in to the club coffers, Ally and I (Ginge) hit the water.
Boards ranging from Ally and his Techno, Tony and his JP, Brad and his 89 Ltr Fanatic Gecko, Ray and his trusted Fanatic Bee and me on the F2 Style Wave board. Sails ranged from 5.8 up to 7.5(I like being overpowered)
The wind blew steady at High end of a F4 until a squall came through, the sea boiled and I reckon hit a good F6, I think at this point we were all overpowered (everyone gamely held on though until it eased)
All in all a fantastic day with everyone getting air and sailing very well.
We sailed until 1645 ish and all came off the water beaming like Cheshire cats, even Tony who had earlier turned his Gun 6.5 in to a 6 with a panel totally blown in the shorebreak
|Seaton Point Sunday 19 October - Tony Champion
The Board Meeting convened at about 1pm with a quorum of Ginge, Ray, Brad, Ali and myself. Wind was cross shore and a bit variable. Boards selected ranged from maybe 86 up to 106. Ginge opted for a well downhauled 7.5, Ray and I 6.5s and Brad and Ali 5.8ish. Immediately on the inside it was a bit flukey but flat, getting considerably stronger on the way out until past the reef where it was distinctly bumpy. We were all comfortably powered up with Ginge doing some impressive vertical jumps off the waves breaking on the outside and Brad, a North Sea Virgin, uttering the oft repeated expression: “I didn’t know it was as good as this” until a squall came through when things got a bit hectic. I dismounted in the impact zone with a double somersault and pike which scored highly for artistic impression but nul points for technical merit as I put most of my body through the sail. A short intermission followed for taking stock while the squall blew through, by which time I had rigged a 5.7 and rejoined the fray slightly underpowered at times but more in control. I think we came off the water at about 5pm after a thoroughly good day.
Overall I would say that at lowish tide Seaton Point is an excellent venue for a North Easterly. The inside is a bit flukey but the reef protects the beach from the shorebreak which becomes progressively bigger as you move South down the beach. Once clear of the reef you are into big breaking waves so I think it is a really good venue for those who want to venture out into tough conditions without going the whole hog and for those more capable sailors the full gnarly face of the North Sea is only 3 or 400 yards out.
|Sun 19 Oct - Whitley Bay - Ross Ketteridge
The contrast from yesterday, of lake sailing in virtually no wind, could not be more complete.
Today we sailed Whitley Bay for the first time. It's been an ambition of mine to do so for ages. The fact that I live here is part of the motivation, I must admit. However, on a genaral note, as has been discussed on this forum, there is a contingent of Tyneside-based people for whom a more southerly located sailing beach is more preferable especially when time is limited. I hope to read a report from the simultaneous northern clan sailing adventure. These other boys were sailing at Seaton Point this afternoon, some 45 minutes north of Whitley Bay.
WB is admittedly a far from ideal beach as it is quite rocky but at high tide the whole beach is quite sailable for three hours, especially on a "high high" tide. Today was a "low high" tide so we had to be careful as it receded. Tim, on a long fin, was a casualty, sad to say, but it was about 40cm compared to the small fins being used by myself, Barnesy and John C. Volumes were, in the same order, 125, 95, 95 and 85. Sails were 5.4, 5.4, 6.6, 5.8m.
Having checked Blyth and Seaton Sluice, that were both just too treacherous in terms of size of shore break, we ended up at WB as it was a lot flatter and with much more manageable shore break. That said, it was a challenge with some 6 foot sells and very steep ramps that either intimidated you as you sailed towards them or provided take off ramps for serious airtime, depending on whether your name is Ketteridge or Critchley. It was a thoroughly entertaining session, and we all sailed our arms off in the lumpy sea and steady wind that admittedly varied in strength. It certainly wasn't gusty but at times I was underpowered on my 5.4, and being off the plane half a mile out where the waves were actually breaking, is a rather uncomfortable feeling. Some of the waves back in, in the cross-on direction, gave some seriously fast rides back to the beach. We did note a white water zone in the centre of the bay where waves were breaking a long way out and was a tricky place to waterstart from, with them breaking over your head somewhat. I must remember not to drop my sail there the next time.
I had a great session, albeit quite short. John was ripping and doing some monster jumps, Barnesy had a blast but was in need of some serious sugar and carbs (so was rather running on three cylinders), and Tim coped admirably in conditions that were frankly far in excess of feasible for someone who has been sailing for such a short time as he.
Another novelty was hot mugs of tea at Ketteridge Towers afterwards. Ally joined us too as he'd seen John's van on the sea front as he drove back from Seaton Point. As long as they don't start washing their wetsuits in my bath after a sail they're very welcome for some apres sailing, any time!
Great end to the weekend.
|Sat 18 Oct - Super 8, Derwent Reservoir - Ross Ketteridge
Normally we can just decide that when it's forecast to be not windy we just won't bother wasting the time and effort to try to go sailing.
The only problem with applying the same logic for an event like the Super 8 is that if everyone keeps doing this then the sponsors will withdraw and the event will cease to exist. And then we'll complain that there are no events like the Super 8.
For those that don't know, the Super 8 is, in fact, an excellent annual event run very professionally, in a good atmosphere, in a great location, catering for all abilities and giving away some very good prizes (like harnesses, rash vest, mast base extensions and the like) that get very well handed out. More importantly it is one of very few local events that give us vital publicity to the wider world. As Andy said, it would have been a stupendously good event had the wind blown yesterday. And no doubt had that happened we would have seen a great turnout. Incidentally the actual wind on Derwent Reservoir is often more than the general forecast, so consider that the next time you think about staying at home.
To those who made the effort to come yesterday, a big thank you. Sailing were Andy, Gavin, Steve S and myself (part time - see later) and spectating were Nicky and Alex, Tony and Jenny L, Alistair, Tim and Terry D.
Of course, the wind was light. Although I did momentarily get lulled into a false sense of optimism when, just after I launched for a pre-race blast, I planed the full width of the lake. After this, and during the races, it was strictly longboard weather, although the 11m brigade were amazingly planing, in the 7knots (gusting to 10).
Steve proved that you can have a great time doing some "fun racing", without any experience. He completed his races in great style and even planed once or twice on his newly-borrowed 50cm fin! Those on shore could hear him still cracking jokes even while racing - nice one, Steve! Andy frustratingly was underpowered due to breaking the head of his 9.2m, so had to settle for 8.1m on his Bic dining table. Later he changed to a longboard and 9.0m after which his fortunes improved. Gavin was the star performer, scooping four wins after getting into some close-quarter tussles at start lines and marks. In two such physical contacts, one young guy came off worse and ended up in the cold water. With the boy's father on the shore, we feared that Gavin may be in for a chinning after each race but he managed to avoid any further conflict. I well and truly got the wooden spoon, or, as Donna described me, I was the social embarrassment of NWC! Race one, I came last but failed to finish due to the "grand prix" rule that you have to come in as soon as the winner finishes. Race 2, now on my longboard, I got the most fantastic start and blistered towards the first mark miles ahead of the rest of the field. Having my stopwatch, I'd timed it to perfection. The only problem was that at my last glance I'd thought it said 1m50s had lapsed, of the 2 minutes countdown, when in fact it read 1m40s, so as I blasted through the last 10 seconds I reached the line at 1m50s, not 2m00s! Disqualified immediately!
Lunch was in the clubhouse and subject to some long queueing (tip - bring your own bait) and racing resumed afterwards. I was shivering badly by now so I got changed into dry gear and gallantly lent my longboard and 9.0 to Andy, who sailed it more competently than my previous efforts. Meanwhile, Gavin kept winning. All in all, despite the light wind, the racing was all done in a great atmosphere. On and off the course there was a real friendly atmosphere that you get in these "everyone in it together" sorts of events, with complete strangers chatting about this and that, but more about windsurfing than anything. Some guys had been to Dahab and gave glowing reports, including a full dry-wipe felt-tip pen presentation about it on the side of a white van!
Later, in the prizegiving ceremony, Gavin accepted two prizes for his efforts. Steve and Andy got their own awards and I got what I deserved - nowt!
As usual in these situations, we all had a much better day out than we'd perhaps expected. Let's hope we get more wind next time.
I know that many of you had perfectly good reasons for not being able to come, but if your absence was just because of the iffy forecast, please think twice next time, as Dave Dobson is seriously concerned that if next year gets such a lack of support, the event may be terminated, and that would be truly sad for our beloved sport in this area. It's up to you. We are the main windsurfing club in the area - the future of this event is to a great degree in our hands.