NI goes North to the South

Wave Course - a Bit of a Problem

And into September

Stuff the End


Rosapenna Sails




We're used to this, but it must confuse the English like mad - not that it takes much you understand... Many of us are in Northern Ireland, but when we head for Donegal - for the best wave conditions and scenery pretty much anywhere - we go north. And we end up in Southern Ireland. The trick of course is that the most northerly part of the island of Ireland is actually in Southern Ireland.

Well, that's the end of the geography lesson. The point is that last weekend a huge crowd of NI-based windsurfers headed north to Donegal, in fact to Rosapenna beside Downings. And we had a ball.

Many people know Downings, it's the location in July of one of the biggest windsurfing events in Ireland and has been since Ming the Merciless was the kid Minger the Moron. But on your way into Downings on your left is a nice hotel, sometimes with a helicopter parked outside and a posh golf club. So imagine their horror when the usual Whacky Races of windsurfing vehicles drive up their posh drive and through to the tiny public 'car park' - actually the end of a boggy lane. So not just did we lower the tone of the place, we totally bunged up the car park.


We were lured by a forecast of 25 knots, but in fact we got quite a nice big sail wave day. Andy Tease was first out on his 115 FSW and duly did his Red October impersonation on 6.2m. Ming lifted out a something around 8 and I went for a 6.9m wavesail on 110 FSW. Alan Orange Man Yeates chose 6.5m and only Wookie was brave enough to go sub 6m. And all were right and all had a great sail.



Rosapenna is a lovely beach and a few families were out, enjoying the sunshine and trying to drown their kids. The wind was on shore for the main (long) length of the beach and at the far end this meant some pretty large waves. Andy barged out there, but once exposed to the wind he had a great sail. His first session was a mighty 2.5 hours and he caught some really great waves. After lunch he wasn't so lucky in that he got caught and crushed in one of the really big sets of 3 that occasional visited the far end. He claimed he'd been pinned down 3 times and after that trashing he was exhausted. Certainly later in the day and by now underpowered he had one of the longest walks of shame for a while right along the beach. And worse for him was the father-like figure of Alan Yeates glaring at his watch and muttering about having to leave 2 hours before. However don't worry, we're sure they kissed and made up...

The scary Mr Yeates


Talking of walks of shame, it's the first time in ages that most of us have seen Nigel aka Fanta Pants. Now with his hair if he makes a mistake there's no way he can sneak back and not be noticed. Hence the lovely photo I have of him carrying back the remains of his kit. His old 6m sail 'disintegrated' leaving him with over a mile to walk back. Did I mention that it's a very long beach? Fair play to him, he borrowed another sail and off he went again. He may have fixed the sail, but he can't fix the hair though.


Nigel Walk of Shame

Quite a few people were enjoying themselves in the far end waves. The only problem was the best waves coincided with the worst lull spots. I actually caught a few nice waves up there but going in to the beach to tune my kit proved a long business - as it took me nearly 20 minutes to get right back out again. Still, my hair did need rinsing. Wookie, Raptor, Big Robert and later on Morris had great fun in the waves. Robert and Raptor (sounds like a comic duo) continue to share a van together. Some things never change - like Robert's shirt- and of course the very nervous look that hits Raptor's face anytime anyone makes a joke about vaseline...

Ming eventually got onto the right kit and did a lot of blasting over the waves. I particularly enjoyed one jump he did accompanied by the 'whee, oh bolloxglug, glug, glug'. He was having a bad spell with equipment. He really needed his 110 FSW, but it was in with Ross being fixed after the last time he 'used' it. Then he took the nose off the board he used instead of his FSW - probably thus saving the nose of the FSW he should've been using.


Waves at Rosapenna


Ming's woes weren't finished then either. While sane people headed for home, the wind got up and the less sane headed for the wave at the estuary. So Ming found himself on his 90 ltr with Maurice and Raptor - and the wind completely died. He spent a happy half hour sinking, fighting the current and swearing a lot - mostly under water. Thankfully for him a squall sprang up and he set a speed record for home before it died and he sank again.

Other's enjoying themselves included Tony (not Shipman) who went for some wet loops. Some of last year's Jim Collis crowd appeared of course including Peter and Kevin. No Lesbians about though, the roads are probably still under water at Omagh. And David and son Jack were out there kicking it.


Big Robert


The wind was light to start around 11am, got quite good and then oscillated until most people left around 4pm. It then of course it went ballistic.

Another great day in Donegal, over 20 sails on the water, 1 kite surfer in the shallows and as Mr Yeates said (as he dragged Andy into the van), Donegal is the best place in the world.



So, there we were all set for 4 days with the wonderful Jim Collis from 14-17th October. And then they only went and changed the entire off duty system where he works as a paramedic.

So we're back to the drawing board right now as Jim tries valiantly to sort the mess out. Please stay with us and be patient. It's almost certain to be that weekend - the question is whether uncle Jim can swing it for the extra bits on Friday and Monday. But we know there's no one who can swing like uncle Jim so we're still very confident it'll all work out.

Keep the dates free and have your cheques at the ready. More when we know it.



After that lovely day in Rosapenna, the forecasts changed again and a whole pile of people braved a whole pile of poo to sail Ballyholme on the Sunday. Since none of these illiterates can write, I can't tell you much about it except that the word epic was bandied around a lot. 4-5m sails were in use and all the usual suspect were there - hopefully getting some un-pronounceable diseases. You can tell from this I was unable to be there myself.

And September really took off this weekend. Saturday didn't promise much and that's about what it delivered. Pat had a large group of RYA Level 1 graduates on the water - great to see so many new faces about. Wookie got a couple of lonely hours in the morning outside his house buzzing the gin palaces and I spent a wistful hour at Lough Neagh wishing I'd got up an awful lot earlier.

But Sunday was the day, with F5 SE forecast and much hope of the East coast. Various decrepit vehicles circled Millisle and the like only to decide there wasn't enough wind. Oddly for a SE, Strangford Lough was better. Soon the car park began to fill up with the usual detritus - Wookie, Russell, John, Ross (with yet another of Ming's boards to fix) and others. Most aimed for 6m or so and then went out and struggled - especially on the outside gybes as it was a whole lot windier away from the shore. Wookie, who as you might guess is in training for the slalom events, rigged a whopping 7.5m and positively flew about.

Not wishing to associate with the poor and downtrodden, I moved to the luxury of Newtownards Sailing Club where I found David reading a book on windsurfing instead of doing it. Having chased him onto the water I too went for 7.5m on 120 and had a lovely little pre-lunch session as the wind gradually increased. The outside gybes got hairier (rather like Wookie) - it was plane out or crash and burn - nothing in between and I witnessed quite a few exploding gybes.

Soon NSC filled up as I was finally driven in when 7.5m just got too silly. Moving down to 6.3m on 110 FSW I had a really great session with a lot of shut your eyes and go like Hell gybes. Having seen how well powered up I was on 6.3m Ming the Merciless decided to 'burn off that damned Wookie' and put 6.9m on his fastest board. He's clearly insane, indeed I followed him out to his first outside gybe just in case he needed a call to the hospital. Amazingly he made it. Robbie Bin Laden scooted out on 6m and then Gary, Harold Shipman, Pat and father and son team David and Jack went out for a beating. Actually I must praise the beginner level people who went out, especially young Jack and Dave (not Jack's father, the other Dave) - going out in 25 mph winds with big kit and taking a pounding and then sailing it is priceless. Keep at it guys! Actually Dave told me he'd had more medical aftermath from this day's windsurfing than from the marathon he'd just run. He should tell that to Shipman who's done his hip and shoulder at various times windsurfing - but still is out there and on today's evidence doing some great gybes.

We sometimes have rescue dramas when windsurfers need to call in the rescue boat. But today we had the opposite - a windsurfer rescued the rescue boat! It turned out that one of the club's ribs was moored to another one on the lough well out to sea. But the rope chaffed on the raised outboard and snapped. So £10k of boat was already a mile away when the eagle-eyed Wookie spotted it, sailed to the rib, dropped the anchor and then sailed in to tell the club to go fix it. Nice one Wookie!

Most people crawled off the water around 5ish - knackered but happy. My own sail came to an end with a twang when I broke by second spreader bar in a month. But as our shift clocked off the late shift clocked on with NZ Tim, Tony on his second wind and the inevitable late Casper. I have to comment on Casper (Phil) - I haven't seen him sail for ages since he inevitably arrives when it's getting dark and then sails off downwind - so I don't see him. Well, either he's been practising or they've changed his medication - but he was sailing really well today. He was blasting, even going up wind and charging into his gybes at speed and looking like he might get them. Indeed a number of us sat in the bar the club and watched him and the others with our usual highly supportive comments - come on Phil you anchor, or at least that's what I thought I heard.

September is supposed to be the windiest month. The water is warm - I've so many holes in my Summer wetsuit I can attest to this. If it wasn't for the dodgy company it could be a great time to windsurf.


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