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Tue 14 Oct – Amble, the perfect SE beach - Ross Ketteridge
Yesterday I posted a message bemoaning the fact that it’s always windy through the week when I’m at work and sl*gging off midweek sailors for making me feel even worse with their tales of epic midweek “you should have been there” sailing adventures. What I forgot to mention is that I’m as fickle as a cat and something of a hypocrite.

I just could not resist the opportunity to take a half-day today, as the forecast seemed as solid as it’s possible to be. F5 SE it said, and F5 SE we got.

Barnesy and I scoured the southern beaches of Northumbria in his VW Camper. My car is getting fixed this week so we were crammed in with four boards, eight sails, four booms, several masts and other assorted gear (but no sweets – you slipped up there Barnesy, mate!).

We checked out Tynemouth (too much shore break), Whitley Bay (tide too far out, exposed rocks), Seaton Sluice (wind shadow from spit of land to south, causing a low power zone right in the big wave area), Blyth (suicidal shore break and massive breakers offshore) and were heading to Newbiggin when Tony C called and said that Amble looked good.

When we arrived 20 minutes later we realised that he was right. Rolling swell, manageable shore break and a perfect cross-shore wind that made our 5.4m/95lt (me) and 6.0m/95lt (PB) choices perfect for the whole afternoon. The quality of the wind was memorably steady, not the usual gusty cross-offshore winds we often get. Tony joined later on 5.4m/106lt.

The shore break was rather vicious and something of a challenge to get through, given a strong rip current running in the same direction as the wind. Unless you adopted the “jump on and sheet in” beach start approach you were well and truly swept off your feet, thoroughly rinsed and spat out and, in the case of Tony at one point, dragged into the rocks to the immediate south.

Once out the sailing was stupendous. It is the best day of wave sailing I’ve ever had. Never overpowered, the runs out were real roller-coaster rides over the big swell and rolling unbroken waves that at times reached 8 feet in height. Sailing towards one of those babies half a mile out was an awesome sight indeed! The screaming runs back in were tremendous, especially if you were in the right place at the right time and could catch one of the big berthas. Unlike many previous over powered sessions, our board speed was about the same as the incoming waves, so instead of overtaking them you could catch them and carve up and down them all the way to the beach. The sound of adrenaline-overdosed whooping windsurf addicts rang out above the din of the wind in your ears. Fantastic! The water and air temperatures were mild (12C/14C, maybe) and the sun shone intermittently, and on the drive home we got the most beautiful red evening sky. An almost perfect afternoon.

Addendum by yer man Barnesy:
Just a couple of lines from me to confirm what Ross has said above. The waves today were huge and at one point Ross, who was about fifty metres in front of me going out, vanished completely from sight. By that I mean Ross, board and rig were out of sight behind the wave. At the same time the lighthouse on Coquet Island was also completely obscured by the wall of water. These waves were big! One of the best days sailing I’ve had this year.

Sunday 12 October Amble - Tony Champion
At about 1.30 on Sunday I ‘phoned Steve C to see what he thought about a sail. We agreed that it probably wasn’t worthwhile. 20 minutes later he phoned back to say that the wind was definitely getting up. By 2.30 we were rigging up 6.5s with Alastair at the Amble – Coquet Island venue. The wind was cross on, the shore break tricky and the sea quite big with a lumpy irregular swell coming in from the SE, challenging conditions. Steve was first out on his Flow 85 and was immediately flying. Alastair followed on his Carve 111 and myself on my newly acquired JP 106.
Alastair and I both struggled at times. Alastair with spin out due to too low a boom – cured near the end of the session, me because a triple cam race sail was a bit of a handful to waterstart under the bumpy conditions. Steve claimed he only pulled off one planing gybe. Poor bugger, my heart bleeds for him, I was just happy to get round and stay on. We came off the water at about 4pm after a very enjoyable sail, Alastair buzzing because he had at last had a really good sail on his new board and me much the same because the JP is quick and really nice to sail under those conditions. We might have stayed longer but coming back in was decidedly dicy due to the fact we were traveling at high speed, and I mean high speed, straight into a low sun which rendered the peaks and troughs invisible.

Thursday 9th October. Hadston Scaurs - Steve Carragher
Ray, Paul and I met at the boatramp at around 11am with a strong southwesterly blowing crosshore starboard tack. The spot was near on perfect but for the 5 lobster pots strung together in the bay. Ray needed to get away early so we decided to sail anyway and just keep well upwind of the hazards. I planed just about all day on a 4.7m and 82ltr, Barnsey on a 5.8/95ltr and Ray on 5.8m then 5.2m 100ltr combo. The sailing was pretty much the best i've had since the Spring. Nice 2ft ramps in the bay for a bit of airtime and even some waves to play in at high tide. Carl turned up later on but the wind on the inside had turned very gusty at high tide due to the high dunes. Nethertheless he persevered and produced the biggest jump of the day; a 6ft one footed jump off a perfect wave crashing down into a forward loop, albeit without the board! Looked good from where I was standing

Sat/Sun 11/12 Oct – Ullswater - Ross Ketteridge
A great turnout, as is becoming customary, at Pooley Bridge. Deep breath. . .Peter, Barnesy, Kelly, Sniffer, Ally, Carl, Nikki, Fiona, Andy G, Kevin, Steve (Bic Logic sail), Steve S, Tony & Jenny L, John (Vinta sail), Ray, and Matt all made it.

Friday night saw the hardened drinkers leading the way and ending the first session in a party in Barnesy’s VW camper, throats lubricated by wine, beer and brandy (Brandy!! Guilty – Steve S and Fiona) and bodies heated by Paul’s new gas heater (or was it borrowed/stolen?). The guests were so generous they even shared their wine with the van carpet.

I arrived at teatime on Saturday to find the wind dropping to almost nothing (from 5mph, although the Friday afternoon brigade had found some good 7m winds when they arrived the previous day) and the drizzle (low clouds) enveloping the campsite slowly. The casualties from the night before had gallantly been doing some mountain biking and returned, looking tired, in time for a spot of dinner before the “big match”. Peter brewed up the Chilli Con Carne and I washed it down with a bottle of red by the side of the drizzly lake. The football fans headed for Penrith to watch the England Turkey game on a big screen and the rest of us headed to the Sun Inn at Pooley Bridge after washing dinner down with the aforementioned refreshments.

As the darkness drew in we arrived at the pub and secured the pool table end of the bar and commenced a marathon session at the table. Joined later by the Penrith lot, the atmosphere was most convivial. After an early domination of the Ross and Andy pair the pool table was in the latter part of the evening taken over by a pair of female hustlers, Nikki and Fiona, who looked like they meant to remain unbeaten and indeed did until last orders.

After the dark, stumbling lakeside walk home, beer hunger got the better of us and a swift sausage fry-up was arranged by masterchef Amos ably assisted by Cordon-Bleu Carl. The late sausage eating group dwindled soon, just like Ally's cheap holiday paraffin torch that increasing failed to illuminate their proceedings (get your money back, mate). Off we went to our various abodes, mine comprising of my new VW Camper (car, not van) that had just seen the installation of a purpose-designed hi tech blackout curtain system.

We awoke to wind at 8am, in the SE direction that had been forecast. It died later of course, but some optimistic souls rigged and sailed, but it wasn’t until after lunch that some fun sailing was had. Nikki was the self confessed wind Jonah and whilst she was joking about the fact that she’d better go home to allow the wind to pick up for the rest of us, that is, in fact, exactly what happened! Thanks, Nikki, from Matt, Peter, Carl, Ray, Steve and myself who stayed to the end of the afternoon and actually enjoyed some planing sailing. I was on my fridge door with 9m sail and had some intermittent planing runs in the infrequent but sustained gusts that tricked us into thinking that it was, to quote an oft-used phrase, "filling in". Which, of course, it was doing nothing of the sort. Hardly an epic session, but with the sun that had now come out, the unusually warm temperature and the lovely scenery, it was a great end to a good social weekend where any sailing was always going to be a bonus rather than a prerequisite.

Sat 4th Oct. Last Blast at Ladyburn - Martin Haigh
An icy wind greeted us on arrival at Ladyburn but alas not the 20mph forecast. Andy G rigged small but quickly came in to change up. I went out on my 7.5 with a smaller rig on standby if the wind arrived. A good afternoon followed with Jackie, Adrian, Lesley and 4 others all getting in some decent sailing between breaks to warm frozen fingers. At about 3:00 the wind picked up and I just managed to hang onto (more like bellow) my 7.5, Adrian skimmed the lake with apparent ease while Lesley was overpowered on her 6.5 despite earlier mastering her new shortboard. Special thanks to Andy G for the loan of a mast base clip when mine descended the murky depths early in the afternoon. In all a great end to the season at Ladyburn which provided my best days sail to date.

Big Sea @Amble Links- Sat 4th Oct 2003 - Gavin Duthie
Saturday's forecast was excellent, with 22mph predicted, unfortunately in a NW direction, I find that anything with the 'north' word in it round these parts needs to be treated with caution, obviously there is a strong possibility of a fairly confused big sea, but also for the consistency of the wind, being largely full of holes, or blowing too hard for periods of time. Consequently the initial choice of kit for the day becomes like a fine art, especially with sail size, as Ross discovered much to his chagrin. We all met at midday, the crew consisting of Andy, Gavin, Ross, Barnsey, Ray, Matt and Alistair. We mostly opted for 6.5's and 100lt'ish boards in the 16mph that was blowing. Ross being wind monkey (Andy's new monicker for the crash test dummy that tests the waters) sallied forth, only to be sorely disappointed with his choice of sail size. As he retired to change up, I launched with my 6.5, the wind got up, and had a a great sail albeit some what challenging, and only really managing to sail in fits and starts, out to the island and back. Bye now I had been joined by the others, and Ross with a bigger sail, who was promptly overpowered, back to the carpark for another change of sail. The wind had picked up to good F5 now, not that strong you might think, but in the big rolling swell and choppy conditions, more than enough. for most of us. I decided to change down to my 5m, and found this much better, but the 100lts I was on was too big, too fast and spinning out all the time. Each run out was a blast, and amazingly awesome, especially in the trough of the big ones, coming back in, then up the back onto the crest and feeling like your ontop of the world, only to rip down the front praying the nose is not going to catch at the bottom. Andy saw sense and launched his new baby, an 80ltr wave board, only to be spat out by the churlish ocean, not impressed by maiden voyages with his mast in 4 pieces and a ripped sail. Matt was shredding like a good'un, Ray was hanging manfully onto his 6.5, Barnsey was hooping like a banshee, Chris (i think) was awestruck after 10 years off the water and Ross was back in the carpark changing sails. A fantastic if not a classic session where you learn more about yourself and your sport than you realise, and the moral is................ not to bullied and cajoled into ever being the wind monkey for the day ~ GD

Sun 05 Oct - Beadnell - Ross Ketteridge
12.00 F4 cross off. 12.15 rigged up 6.3m. 12.16 wind died. 12.30 launched. 12.35 landed, stood around. 14.00 packed up. 15.00 drove the 55 miles home.
ED (Peter) Also should be noted that Ross got wet as did Allie & Tim but Ray, Geoff and I didn't even get on the water and although Tony L's car and trailer were in evidence he was no where to be seen. A great shame because the water was flat with a big swell on the outside and it was fairly warm and sunny.

Boulmer Rocks Tuesday 23 September - Paul Barnes
Steve called about 1100 to say that he could possibly get a half-day and it was blowing a steady force five. We agreed to meet at Seaton Point at 1300. Steve arrived at the beach before me and called to tell me that the wind at Seaton Point was very light but he had moved to Boulmer and it looked OK. I arrived to see 8ft waves breaking over the reef and 4ft waves on the beach! One of the locals proclaimed that we were both mad and could we say hello to his friends in Norway as that was were going to end up! We both rigged 6.5s, Steve with his “new” 85litre wave board and me on my 135 JP. I went off to test my new board while Steve went on to sink on his small board. He then done the sensible thing and changed up to his Techno 125 and promptly ripped the fin off on the rocks next to the shore. Changing back to his wave board he then snapped his outhaul and again managed to wallow back to the shore. I stopped sailing after an hour as the wind died and my ankle gave out. Jeff W and his mate John turned up later luckily mistaking Boulmer for Seaton Point otherwise they would have never have found us. They arrived as the wind died and only sailed for about half an hour.
This was the first time I’ve sailed Boulmer and it won’t be the last. The beach is rocky and the shore beak is heavy in places but the rigging and parking area is near perfect and the waves over the reef a quarter of a mile out are like something out of a windsurfing video. You can catch waves and ride them all the way and not worry about hitting the beach. I think our wave venue has been found.
In all it was anything but the epic session that we had hoped for but the venue has so much potential it was good to sail it just to get a feel for the place.

Newbiggin - In the Clubhouse - Ian Rienewerf
I read Ross`s report and realised that there was something missing, the clubhouse report.
After a hot shower, a swift pint, I de-rigged and went to the bar. I wanted to repay the three crew who had the sweeper boat duties. After refusing a round as recompence for looking after me for nearly 3 hours, I found out that they were drafted in from another training organisation as a favour for Newbiggin SC. Competitors, organisers, myself and my unsung hero`s enjoyed the excellent buffet (beer and food, my favorites). The presentation of the Rose bowl trophy to the Commadore of Kielder sailing club, the other stranger in the camp. The event cheque was received by the RNLI and our AGM raffle proceeds eventually found a home and were donated to the Newbiggin RNLI boathouse.
As well as proving to myself how far I could push the limits. I wanted to prove that a complete “nobber” like myself could still take part and enjoy the event on a none race board. If we want to join in next year we need to declare our intentions early as the resources need to be organised by Newbiggin SC early in preparation for this event normally held in June/July. I would jump at the chance to do it again. So near and yet so far from the 3 mile mark.
I only averaged about 10 mph as I struggled to get upwind, so 2 ½ sailing hours on the water between rests makes that about 25 miles in anyones book. I may have been last but the achievement of getting so far out, and then back under my own steam was nearly as good as the welcome at the shore from Tony, Ally, Andy etc.

Sunday 21 Sept – Newbiggin Windward Challenge - Ross Ketteridge
If you have been to Mars in the last few weeks you may need me to explain that today was the RNLI fundraising event described in the above title, a race run by the Newbiggin Sailing club and to which we were invited. Or was that, “to which we invited ourselves”?

Anyway, the full course traced a path from Newbiggin Bay due south to the Blyth wind generators and beyond, a full 5 mile outward leg, we are told. From there a handful of other marks were to be rounded, including the Blyth bell buoy and one about 2 miles out to sea. The full sailing distance including all tacks would amount to perhaps 25 miles or more.

As for wind, the worst possible scenario would be a very light southerly, as this would mean a very painful and lengthy series of zig-zagging tacks to make progress directly against the wind. So what was the wind like today? A very light southerly.

To our sponsors I can proudly say that we completed, heroically, in the circumstances, the major part of the course, and although we didn’t complete the course we could genuinely be said to have sailed a shortened version of it. And sailed a good 15 miles to boot, if you measured all the tacks. Almost three hours of longboarding, in total. These multiple runs took us some 3 miles south to the point where the two largest wind turbines are, between which we sailed. At 90m tall, plus the length of the colossal blades, they made an awesome sight and sailing right next to them was the highlight of the day for me. At this point we turned back and after about an hour of wibbly-wobbly dead-run boring-as-hell sailing back towards Newbiggin, in almost zero wind strength, we accepted a lift back from a couple of the RNLI boats that were in attendance. This was the other highlight as it took us just a few minutes to make the last mile or so back to shore and prevented us from wasting another hour of our lives achieving nothing except a bad back – it really is tedious sailing dead downwind in a mere zephyr, and very bad for one’s posture!

As we made it to dry land, we felt no shame, and got something resembling a heroes’ welcome by the assembled NWC supporters, .

I’d like to say a big thank you to Ian for making the first moves in organising the event, and to all those who made the considerable effort to do the race, as it would have been very easy to justify not doing it, such were the wind conditions on the day. These were Ian, Ray and Peter. Well done, all. Also thanks to those who came down to cheer us on – Andy, Donna, Kathleen, Martin H, Martin D, Ally, Nikki, Lesley, Tony L, Jenny, Reiner and Carl. Hope I got everyone there.

Plus points were that we did get some gusts, so managed to hook in and get some short term optimism that it might be filling in as forecast, albeit in short-lived bursts, it was a lovely sunny day, and we experienced sailing at a new beach, which is always a good thing, I think.

On that last point, Newbiggin Bay may provide a good alternative in some of the wind directions that make some of our regular haunts extremely difficult to sail at especially in winter. We reckon in northerly and easterly directions, the bay will provide some good protection and allow us to sail in conditions that would be too extreme at other beaches. It also looks like a great bay for those first steps into sea sailing, in any wind direction, as it has a considerable enveloping curve. It may not be the nicest place in the world but it does have a carpark right next to the beach, good grassy rigging areas and a sandy launching beach.

Now, to collect in that sponsor money. . .

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