This is an edit of all the 2006 email newsletters

 

 

January 2006

A couple of windsurfing reminders

Hi

Not much to report on the water right now, unless you're a part time worker
or Andy, what little wind there has been has occurred when normal people
are at work. There was a good Sunday recently, remarkably warm too, when
Chris L, Mr Glover, Ali - baby  and I enjoyed some very up and down 5m
weather. If you had 2 sails rigged as I did, it worked quite well -
although I found the board sailed beter with only 1 sail at a time. John of
course showed us up on his 4.5 most of the day - clearly he didn't
overindulge at Christmas. And Chris was on the water before 10am - before
remembering it was his son's birthday and running off for the party.

There have also been a couple of trips to Donegal and I've heard reports of
big conditions at Magheroarty where Andy and Alan Yeates were bunking up
together. Andy claimed that at one stage he couldn't even hold down his 4.2
- and that was on the beach, not the water. We don't know if that was
before or after he visited the pub....

Wookie missed most of this as he was in Fuerta. Seems he got 2 excellent
days on the water while the Wookette enjoyed the beach. He tells me a
professional photographer wandered along and took a bunch of excellent
shots which he then bought. We don't know however if these were of the
Wookie attempting Spocks or of the Wookette in her bikini - either way,
we're all greatly looking forward to seeing the photographs!

REMINDER 1

Just a brief reminder on a couple of things.

First off, Guy Cribb and a likely 2 day training course at NSC 1-2 April.
Andy has had quite a few people very interested, but not quite enough to be
sure that it's going to happen. So if you are thinking about this, you need
to contact him quick.



REMINDER 2 - FOR NSC CLUB MEMBERS, MOSTLY

At the start of the year I asked for feedback on what you might want
organised for windsurfing at the club. Many thanks to those of you who have
replied so far, the feedback has been great and the couple of volunteers to
get involved (a little) in making it happen have been very welcome.

So this is the reminder to those of you who haven't got around to replying
yet. Reply now. We're keen to hear what you do and also what you don't
want. Help us to help you, otherwise we'll just have to send Andy and
Wookie round to your houses, preferably on a dark night - you have been
warned.....

Do please reply, the questions are repeated below, but so far the response
shows :

        Much interest in long weekend(s) in Donegal, set to allow improvers
to improve possibly with some element of tuition
        More training at the club would be good, aimed at moving the level
1 windsurfers forward
        Interest in fun racing ie use your own kit, possibly with a
handicap system and not to be taken too seriously!
        Support for a social event, possibly a fun quiz
        Serious interest in another Prasonissi trip, 1st or 2nd week
September
        Support for a Try event (encourage new people) in June ie in time
for the Summer season

The bit you need to reply to is repeated :

Travel

1       Another group trip (long weekend) to Donegal
2       Another group holiday like Rhodes in 2005
3       Training camp say 1 wk at eg Donegal with eg Jem Hall (expensive)

Training

4       Improvers training (to move RYA people on further)
5       Formal training to become RYA instructors for more people
6       Rescue boat training
7       Training to improve speed and how to race
8       Big name trainers eg Jem Hall, Guy Cribb etc (expensive)

On the Water

9       Run 'not serious' racing ie use your own board, handicap system,
different classes (good, intermediate, beginner)
10      Run our own fun races in parallel with club sailing regatta
11      Run kids windsurfing in some shape eg fun races etc in Summer
evenings
12      Repeat the successful TRY event including rib rides, windsurfing
and sailing
13      Reunion event for all the people who've done RYA level 1 training
over the last 2 years (to entice them to get wet again)

In the clubhouse

14      Have a social event (meal) with eg the Boards Magazine team
15      Have a famous windsurfer for an ask the expert evening
16      Have a windsurfing dinner dance with disco and (fun ie silly)
windsurfing prizes for the year
17      Arrange a quiz night and dinner

Anything else

18      What else can you think of that's not on this list?


What I need you to do is to indicate to me which, if any, of these you
think are good ideas. Just reply to this e-mail and give me the numbers
which appeal to you along with any other comments you may have. Plus if you
feel you might (no firm commitments at this stage) be able to take on the
running of part of one of these, please also say.

Now I know when I put something like this out, many people will think they
needn't bother replying. Fine, but if you don't then the chances are that
nothing will be arranged for you. Most of the work is done by 3 of us and
this coming year I'm in a new job (and have  to work for a change!), Wookie
is desperately trying to avoid being married and Andy is being advised by
the doctor that he's overdoing it (we're not sure what at). So the chances
are, we'll not organise very much.

So time to step up to the mark. If you want to enjoy more from your sport,
then give me some numbers and give me some names!




LONDON BOAT SHOW - INDOOR WINDSURFING

Just to let you know, a couple of people did head over to the London Boat
Show.  Andy reports that he and Andy (clearly they'd had too much alcohol
and were seeing double) had a great and very long day at the show. Once
Andy had finished talking to all his chums at Boards, they spent the rest
of the time in the pool - well sitting near it, not actually in it. They
said all the past problems with the fans etc have been solved and the
slalom and jumping were awesome.  It included a double forward loop!

If the windsurfing is on again next year, Andy is keen to organise a larger
party including partners to go. Having done this myself a couple of years
ago, I'd strongly recommend it and believe me partners will not be bored at
the show - even if they don't like boats. There's piles to see and do. And
the sales are still on in London at the time too.


See - I told you these e-mails would be getting shorter!

Alan




March 2006

Hi - despite the cold, it's time for another month's windsurfing update from NSC
 
A SOBERING THOUGHT
 
After months of moaning, I actually have some really windsurfing to tell you about. A few of usual suspects have been going up to Donegal a lot, Andy, Alan Yeates and Big Robert (no we still don't know) were frequently among them. Magheroarity can get some serious waves and is often not for intermediates as you know, but you'd hardly call Wookie an intermediate - at least not within his hearing if you want to live. But he got seriously nailed on one of these trips. He says he was out on his waveboard when the wind died and he was wobbling in when the first of a big set of monster waves appeared and he was splattered. He was dragged under and couldn't hang onto his kit. When you're under like that, being sucked down, it may only be a few seconds but it seems like forever. He did come up, but almost immediately got nailed by the next one and so on. He couldn't swim or do anything, all he could do was try and grab air when he could, scary stuff as he's a pretty fit guy and a strong swimmer. He was eventually spat out and crawled up the shore, totally exhausted.
 
This is one time when you won't catch me making any humour out of this. Wookie was really shaken and any of us who've had a similar experience will know just how he felt. He did incidentally get back on his board and go out again, once he'd rested up. But he's now seriously thinking of getting a life jacket. And then in this month's Boards, the editor replied to a letter on a similar line saying it's much safer in waves to not wear a life jacket. Now he's talking about real serious wave-heads - and nothing he says is going to convince me to stop wearing my lifejacket in any conditions, including waves, and especially in the colder months. But it's an interesting discussion and I suspect it will go on and on. Just think how few windsurfers you see wearing life jackets....
 
If anyone has any contributions to this debate, do let me know.


 
 
KEEPING THE BIT BETWEEN YOUR TEETH
 
Well, talking of Boards, I'm sure you can't fail to have seen the excellent write up they gave our own Andy Tease for his performance as a guster in their recently kit test in Egypt. I think I can safely paraphrase by saying they felt they'd never met anyone like him. We agree! Having said that, they fully praised his skill, especially his balance and ability to sail kit very well which was normally suited to people who were lighter than him. We all know what a good windsurfer he is, but it's nice to see it in print.
 
As you've probably noticed, the wind has been crap recently. For normal people, ie those who have to work Monday-Friday, chances to get wet have been pretty poor. 2 weeks ago, there were easterlies and I enjoyed my first windsurf chez Wookie ie at Killinchy. Nice flat water, once you get past all the boat moorings, but it's a bit weird carrying your kit down the road (after rigging on Wookie's lawn) and stopping the traffic as you go. The kids in the cars had their snotty noses glued to the car windows while looking at the mad ijits with open mouthed disbelief, but it wasn't too cold and we had some nice time (between rugby internationals) on 6.3-7.5.


 
This weekend we finally had some good wind over the weekend, but most of you seemed to use the rugby as an excuse not to go out. Saturday saw Wookie, myself and Paula enjoying 6.3 blasting which was nice while the sun was out. But about 4pm it got very cold. I arrived off the water last (as usual) to find Wookie acting the gentleman and changing Paula's flat tyre for her. See, he's really quite nice when get to know him (and as long as you don't meet him coming towards you on the water). Mr Yeates turned up, but after his usual indecision decided to go to Tescos rather than windsurf. Perhaps he's turning into Timmy?
 
Sunday however was back to business as usual. The McDonald's breakfast club welcomed back Ali Todd - off the water for 6 weeks due to the accident of having a second daughter. Arriving at the club, the gypsy caravan told us Chris Loughridge was out - enjoying some serious 4.5m weather, despite the rain pouring down (and across). Someone had the great idea of parking up in the half finished new boat shed, currently 3.5 walls and a roof. We enjoyed the shelter but found rigging on concrete needed care. Ali however plonked his bottom with gay abandon on his board while he rigged - only to find 2 holes in it (his board, we can't speak for his bottom) when he got up off the concrete. As we were getting changed, Ali's waveboard was toasting under the infra red heater on the bench in the changing room as the Aquapack patches dried out!
 
It turned out to be a rather frustrating day as the forecast F5, rising to F6 turned out to be F5 dying slowly all day. The early batch of 4.5m and 5m sailors were badly caught out as the wind dropped and a sorry bunch including Ali and myself had a long walk of shame back to the club. Reinforcements appeared including Paula (as ever), David Brown, Ronnie and even Ricky and Alex. By the time England were halfway through being slaughtered by France, we'd given up having ended up on 6.3m.
 
The luckiest person on the water was Boards celebrity sailor Andy, who didn't remember to tighten his screw (on his fin we hasten to add). So it was that he found himself on the outside with his board 'feeling rather funny'. A quick cold dip revealed his fin about to drop off and the screw falling out - which Andy managed to catch! The shape of the board precluded even putting the screw back in hand tight, so Andy bit the screw between his teeth, shoved the fin hard in and made for the beach hoping the fin wouldn't drop out. It didn't, but he did get hit by a wave and almost swallowed the screw! Can you imagine explaining that to his doctor, 'I thought some extra iron would be good for me' perhaps. We're just relieved that it was his mouth he stuck it in....


 
CLUB HOUSE UPDATE


 
Things have been going very slowly for various technical reasons, but at last real progress is being made. The block work is almost finished and it's possible to walk around the new club house, albeit with no roof, and even see just how good the views from the upstairs bar are going to be. The new function room is very large and it's all going to be really great when it's finished. May is being talked about.
 
Also, as mentioned earlier, a new boat house is under construction. It's a green farmer shed-like building, but should be quite good when it's complete. Right now it's handy to park in if it's raining.
 
WORDS FROM A WELL KNOWN FLASHER
 
Hi Alan,
 
I don't reply to your emails very often, but I can assure you that I do read every single one of them. I'm sure I speak for the other members when I say that your emails are very much appreciated [Just had to leave that bit in - Alan]. In many ways, it is the only way I keep up-to-date with what's happening at the club. Yes, sadly I am one of those folk that only appear when the water is nice and warm. While I do own a full winter suit, it has developed a rather unflattering hole in the nether regions. On the plus side, it does mean that I am now able to go to the toilet without removing my suit. On the down side, I have found myself come free (so to speak) on a number of occasions. While this poses no threat to other members when cruising back and forth well away from the club house, I am conscious that the lough is a conservation area, and as such, do not wish to alarm the native seals unnecessarily. My point is that after 2 years windsurfing at the club, I am finally able to put some faces to the names that feature in your emails. All-be-it thanks to the new section on the website. What would it take to develop this section of the site and encourage other members to submit a few pics and blurb on themselves? For people like me, who aren't at the club as much as the hardcore crew, it would be nice to know who the other members are. Especially if you've accidentally trashed a piece of their kit, and need to know who to avoid ;-)
 
Mark Lawrence
 
Mark makes two good points. Firstly, having holes in the nether regions of your wetsuit probably isn't too flattering - just look at Andy if you don't believe me. And secondly that it would be really useful to put a bit of stuff including photograph on the website for all members - not just the hardcore crew as at present. Our new webmaster is more than willing to set up something like this, the key is you lot all offering up some stuff including photographs.
 
So, if you'd like to help make the club a friendlier more accessible place, do please send me 1 or 2 photos of yourself along with whatever brief information you'd like to put. This might just be your name and level of windsurfing, but it can be whatever you want. If we feel you aren't being honest enough, we can always make up something about you. Why break the habit of a lifetime says you.
 
 
 
That's it for another month. Don't sit there and talk about getting on the water - get out and do it!
 
Alan (off to nibble on a few screws)

MARCH 2006 AGAIN



PINBALL WINDSURFING
 
It's one of those perennials questions I know you ask yourself - where can I sail in an easterly when it's cold? The usual suspects are Millisle (waves, no shelter at all, but a lifesaving chippee) or Cloughey (nice sandy beach, grass rigging area but the only shelter is a rather dubious public loo often frequented by strange blokes clad in what looks like black leather and smelling of seaweed). The weekend around St Pats saw some raw easterlies and a bit of dilemma. For some of us, the answer proved to be Whiterock, operating from the Wookie's lair. Friday and Saturday saw a select band of Wookie, Ali Todd, John Glover and myself taking our clothes off in Wookie's garage and rigging on his lawn. The carry down to the shore from his house is only 100 yards, but still enough to cause a bit of a traffic jam amongst gawping-mouthed sailors in their 4x4s.
 
For those of you who haven't sailed here, it actually works very well in an easterly. We had SE and it takes a bit of tacking back and forth to get out past the first island and into what is actually a quite good speed track ie flat water and clean wind. The only issue is that unless you get well upwind you will be amongst a lot of buoys which can make sailing rather feel rather like being the ball in some large scale demented pinball game. And of course each buoy has a nice rope trailing under it just asking to snare your skeg. In the summer, each of these buoys will have a boat attached to it, but right now the boats are laid up - rather like their owners who are no doubt polishing their brass buttons or their G&Ts. But it's well worth getting up wind and then long stretches of excellent blasting water are yours. Waves are rare unless you go further out, but it's a beautiful location with a lot more to look at than at NSC. Plenty of small islands and indeed some nice houses on some of the water-edges where you feel that if you stopped in for a rest they might come out and offer you a cup of tea of a hot whiskey - I tried and they didn't.


 
Conditions varied over the Friday and Saturday. 7.5m for me, 6.5m for Wookie were the usual, but Saturday saw stronger winds with Wooks and John down to 5.5-5.8m. The only mishap came when John sailed too far into the lee of an island and realised that if we came off he might not be able to waterstart or uphaul. In his desperate attempts to stay vertical he managed to foul my rig and, despite my heroic body drag to get clear of him, he pranged his rig on the top of my mast. Actually the 25 mm raised lump quite suits his sail now.
 
A few people have questioned safety sailing at Whiterock. The issue is if you go out on a sinker and then the wind dies. Well, firstly it's only safe with an on-shore wind, but at least land is never too far away. And most people chose a slightly bigger board than they might otherwise in order to ensure they can always sludge in. The only problem here is that if you chose a sail and board which are well suited to getting out past the initial buoys and island, by the time you hit the clean wind of the speed track you might well be very well powered up. This happened to me on 7.5m/130ltrs and my arms got a good stretching and the broad reach to get back home was heart in the mouth stuff.
 
Wookie took out the GPS and recorded a maximum of 35 knots ie around 40 mph at one stage on 6.3m on his Titan. Not quite warp speed, but seriously fast.
 
And one other advantage of sailing here is going over to Daft Eddy's to watch England being beaten by Ireland in the company of a hugely partisan and noisy crowd while downing a few pints of the black stuff. A good day!
 
 
On the other east coast, Andy was hard at work blagging stuff as usual. His van is off the road at the moment with a broken spring - we make no comment as to what strained and broke it, although I do wonder if a certain voyage into the sand at Achill had any bearing on this. So, no van and all his kit is in it in the garage. Undeterred, Andy persuaded the ever willing Tony to not just pick up him and take him to the water - but to lend him a full set of (JP) kit. Millisle didn't look inspiring so they went to Cloghey and had a great sail. Tony was on 5m, leaving Andy to hang onto a 5.8 on 100 ltrs. By all accounts they had a great time and amazingly Tony got all his kit back, no doubt weakened, but in one piece. On the other hand they had to change in the carpark in far from warm weather. No doubt the police were called.
 
MYSTERY PERSON
 
When you get Boards this month, look at the photograph on page 69 of a plonker hitting an anchor at speed while in the harness. Do you recognise those legs?
 
 
That's enough of this month, I'm off to grease up my wetsuit and knock back a few Red Bulls in readiness for Mr Cribb to work a miracle with my carve gybes....
 
Alan

APRIL 2006


HORDES - ISH
 
Well, maybe not hordes exactly - but you can tell that the clock has changed. It's funny how a little sun brings out all sorts of strange creatures at the club, it's really good to see the numbers rising with the temperature.


 
Saturday saw a lot of people limbering up for the Guy Cribb 2 day training. No matter how early you get down, Paula is always there ahead of you. She was even out on Mother's Day, fair enough as she is a mother and that was her present (the ciabata maker wasn't nearly as good she claims). She was struggling to get going in light winds until she borrowed a 7m and got some instruction on pumping. Suddenly she was away.
 
Others about included Andy Warwick, about to become your fun fleet racing captain, who was most annoyed when some fool with (extra large) muddy feet stood on his yet to get wet new 120 ltr. Don't worry, he soon washed the mud off on the water. Mark, one of last year's beginners was out, as was Marianne and her boyfriend. Isn't it great to see 3 of the new starts out so early (and enjoying themselves). Mark too was trying a new board and coping very well with the reduction in size from the Starts.


 
The wind was fickle, with large periods below 10 mph (often a lot below) and then going mental as rain squalls passed through. I was out on my 9.4 and got really caught in one of the squalls when winds went well over 20 knots! I think I did very well to get a couple of (frighteningly fast) runs and very speedy carve before having to take shelter under the sails from the hailstones! Wookie too was blown off the water on his 7.5

 
Alex judged it best, staying rigged when everyone else had given up around 4pm, he was rewarded with at least an hour of really good 5.5m weather as the wind finally stabilised. It just shows, you can't win if you aren't in.
 
 
JOURNEYS DOWN SOUTH
 
Andy and Wookie spent a couple of days in Galway at an event run for students (Inter Varsity). They were delighted to be able show off the RRD, Ezzy etc demo stuff to well over 100 students. Sounded like a good event, but was nearly ruined before it started by some rather bad navigation which saw our deadly duo miss the N6 at Dublin (navigating some very interesting industrial estates) and then stick to it until far too near Sligo instead of turning for Galway. What should have been a 4 hour drive turned into 7 and nearly came to blows. Oh and did I mention Andy forgetting his wetsuit and having to be pursued by his father?
 
There were a couple of Donegal trips with some poor conditions at Magheroarty (big waves, flukey wind) and then some great ones at Loinya (I'm not even going to try and spell that one). Only problem was that Alan Yeates saw a fin - result major panic all round (these guys spend too long watching the Discovery Channel) and a big splash as Mr Yeates fell in - cue music, de-da-de-da-de-da.... Much as we'd like to provide you with tales of mutilated bodies and mayhem, once everyone had calmed down it was generally agreed it was probably a porpoise.
 
Or was it.....
 
 
GUY CRIBB
 
As you know Guy did a 2 day training session as the club and 10 lucky people had a ball.
 
Guy is a really nice guy and everyone learned a lot from it. But I just have to give you a quote - 'well of course Wookie's gybes are beautiful'. This has got to be the first time anyone (much less a champion windsurfer) has ever used the word beautiful in connection with Wookie! Mind you, he's right and Guy's video proved it.
 
The course was run partly at the club and partly at Ballyholme, dictated by wind directions. Guy covered various non planing basics and then showed how these can be applied to planing moves, especially carves. Sunday was mostly Ballyholme and included some very long periods on the water - some of us had forgotten just how much work is involved in up-hauling. There were some tired people at the end of the day - which of course was an excellent meal at Pier 36. The local punters were very amused when we used the bar's plasma screen to show the day's windsurfing video! We forgot to ask them if thought Wookie was beautiful too.


 
Monday was at the club in mostly 6m weather. It was a bit colder but the morning session especially was epic with 4 hours solid work in the water. More tired bodies! Upwind ability, stance and carves were thoroughly covered.
 
So, if you missed it, look out for the next time - just possibly Donegal for a wave clinic with Guy but we'll see. It was certainly discussed over a great many drinks at Pier 36 - how much was remembered the next day is another matter.
 
And as for the highlights -
 
    Paula's buns - she brought a pile of what seemed like Malteezer cakes and 10 hungry windsurfers now regard her as a saint


 
    Chris broke a mast - while waterstarting. Clearly there's a flaw in his technique or maybe it's the amount of titanium in his body
 
    Wookie - caught on video (while riding K9, Guy's kit) with an excellent duck gybe (or should that be a beautiful duck)
 
    Tony blasting upwind like a demented tomato after Guy's upwind clinic
 
    Wilson's frantic hammering to remove a stubborn fin - only to find after 20 minutes he'd left one of the screws in!
 
    Ashley's look of horror when he realised we were all going to the club to shower before Pier 36 - don't student's wash? (rhetorical question)
 
    Trevor Gabby appearing at Ballyholme with a girl in his arms, his baby girl (well come on, what other type of girl could it have been)
 
    Lewis producing Clara, another baby girl (is it something in the water, might well be in the case of Ballyholme) and then giving her to Andy (not something he'll want to do in 15 years time). Andy, it has to be said, was wonderful with Clara - he'll clearly make a great father (but please not for at least 30 years). BTW, when I say 'giving her to Andy', I should make it clear this wasn't a permanent arrangement and Andy did give her back.
 
    Andy Warwick's video failure at a gybe where he just accepted defeat and gently and slowly fell backwards into the water
 
    Robin having the nerve to wear that orange lifejacket
 
    Lewis running around Ballyholme naked from the waist up - to the delight of the parked-up OAPs and putting the rest of us in the mood for a good steak at his restaurant
 
    Raptor for carrying 10 coffees to the beach, he's finally found his forte!
 
    Roger sticking at it and getting in some serious improvements
 
    Colin who managed to keep up with me in the race to Donaghadee


 
There will be photos on the website soon....
 

See you on the water - when my aching body has recovered ....

Alan



EASTER 2006


EASTER AT NSC
 
Yes the Easter bunnies were out in force doing what bunnies do best - enjoying themselves (on the water). It's funny how the sun (and it is getting much warmer) brings them out for fun and frolics.
 
Sunday and Monday were the best days, although in both cases the wind came through in patches. 20 minutes talking bollox on the shore followed by 20 minutes good time on the water - repeat all day, that was the formula.
 
It will come as no surprise to hear that Paula was first on the water, still muttering about the particularly unfortunate photographs of her on the webpage. Wookie, Andy, Gary (new member), Ian, Lance and Ronnie were amongst the many others I bumped into.
 
Sunday had a purple patch around 2pm when 6m weather was enjoyed by all. All that is except those of us who listened to the Wookie Wind Advice Line who arrived at 3pm to find most people packing up with that happy look on their faces and a dead calm. Oh ye of little faith, we rigged up anyway and were rewarded by good patches of wind for the rest of the day. Lured by the near calm, I rigged my 9.4m and nearly had the arms pulled out of me at times, Wookie was nice (or should that be beautiful) on 7.5m as were others of this second wave. I certainly found that sailing after a night drinking something that may or may not have been potcheen turned by arms to jelly and nearly stopped a good sailing session. Please learn from my lesson - only drink this stuff if the forecast is dead calm for the next day.


 
Monday was windier, but still with the same stripes of wind. 6.5-7.5m was the order of the day. Lance had a good sail, or perhaps a good snowplough might be a better description as he seems to have a bit of an issue getting enough mast foot pressure and can be seen ploughing along (at good speed) with the nose of the board pointing up at passing aeroplanes. Actually, talking of passing planes, we were buzzed by a biplane which did some lovely loop the loops and flying along on its back - rather like Lance's gybes come to think of it.
 
With the on/off nature of the wind people did get caught out and there were some memorable wobbles back in. I had one long wobbly one, much assisted by the boos and cheers from the crowd on the grass willing me to fall in. Nice people you get at NSC.
 
We knew it was time to pack up and go when Phil arrived. He has an unnerving knack of appearing just as the wind is dying, but to his credit he went out and proved that it had died. He actually did very well to wobble his way back in and was just pleased to have got out.


 
 
 
BELMULLET DEMO
 
Wookie and Andy are off to Belmullet next weekend for the Fleadh Sheoil Windsurfing Festival. I'm not quite sure what his involves (or indeed what it means), but a lot of dodgy windsurfing types standing around debating the wind is bound to feature in there somewhere.

Also featured will be some great demo kit to try out for free. Our dynamic duo (can't you just see them as Batman and Robin - Andy with his underpants on outside his tights...) will be showing off Ezzy, RRD and Goya stuff.

The event is in Belmullet 28st Apr – 1st May and all are welcome.

 

***T HOT WOOKIES

The illusive (or damn near invisible) Harry Dornan writes -

"Alan
 
Wookies 35 knots is shit hot. In Donegal, best Dave White could get on production kit was 32 knots in absolutely flat water and howling.
 
Harry(I'll be back)"
 
We believe him about Wookie being fast, but we're not yet convinced Harry will, in best Arnie fashion, be back. We haven't seen him on the water for ages, but we'll let you know.


SALUTE GOYA

Does the name Francisco Goya mean anything to you? It should do, as he was the PWA World Wave Champion 2000 and has his own brand of boards. Somehow Batman and Robin have (almost) persuaded him to visit us in Belfast on 3, 4 or 5th of May. What he'll actually be doing is not yet clear, possibly sailing or even running a masterclass, certainly helping demonstrate his latest gear and even possibly giving an informal talk/video presentation in the bar one evening.

The point is, he'll come if enough of us are interested to meet him. So if you want to meet, talk to and even possibly touch one of the best windsurfers in the world, register your interest by e-mailing the boys in the tights on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

And don't hang around!


AND ON THE SUBJECT OF LIFEJACKETS

After my description of Wookie's near death experience in waves, Aureli - more of a surfer than a windsurfer - wrote on the mixed subject of lifejackets :

"From a surfer's point of view (well, bodyboarder), a life jacket it is a nuisance for practical reasons:

-you can't lay on the board and paddle
-you can't duck dive through a set of waves
-sometimes is safer being under water for a few seconds while your board bounces on the waves, remember that surfers usually are tied to the boards.

I used to have a life jacket while windsurfing back in the mid eighties. Some were very chunky with the hook in an awkward place. Also the life jacket made it more difficult to avoid the mast or board hitting me since my head was always above water.

However if the jacket is buoyant enough, then at least you won't go under in a big wave (this was Wookie's point)

And it is certainly easier to waterstart with the extra lift of a lifejacket.

My main concern would be the vulnerability of having the head above water at all times. Of course in waves, wise sailors wear a crash helmut.

I have been caught in between sets of waves and it is not nice.  No sir! The thing is that if surfing and wearing a life jacket, one won't have the chance of getting dragged down, or to catch a wave or anything.  Better stay in the beach and save the effort. This might be diferent in windsurfing. 


Well, this has been my humble thoughts over the matter."

Thanks for that - and if anyone else has anything to say, let me know.


See you on the water or in the bar

Alan

 
MAY 2006

 
PLAY
 
There've been some good windsurfing sessions recently. Saturday saw a big crowd out on the water for mostly 7.5m blasting. Nice sunshine and good company with many of the usual suspects.


 
And bank holiday Monday caught a lot of lazy people out by being windy while some were still asleep. By the time they arrived - lunch time - the wind was dying off. So a few hardy souls were left to float about while the self-righteous drove off to loved ones, newly born babies or even back to work! So much for bank holidays. For those who made it on time, there was good 6-7.5m weather with a few periods of prolonged gusts to lengthen those arms. The 3 As (that's Alan, Ali and Alan Yeates - no reference to rear facing bits of anatomy) were all early birds on 7.5m. Later there was a nice period of 5.8-6.3 weather and some nice gybes. The 3 of us ran some fun races - the sailing and speed were good but I have to say that the navigation left something to be desired - mostly direction. It's the last time I follow Alan Yeates 'round the buoy - I don't know what type of boy he was after but it seemed I followed him nearly to Whiterock in search of it. Others out included Gary, Ronnie, Michael Jackson (are we back to boys again?) and of course Paula. Later on (as the wind died) it was great to see that the well known Aurthur Daily impersonator (Trevor Pollen) was back. Yes that cashmire coat is still on the go.
 
I've already mentioned the silly rubber band hats many of you are sporting. Looking like something in the before category for Trinny and Suzanne, it's a testiment to Andy's powers as a salesman that so many are being seen. Perhaps it's the cheapest thing you can buy just to get rid of him. However someone who shall remain nameless, lets just call him Sea Anchor for short, has gone one lower. He's made his own - without the aid of sticky back plastic or washing up bottles I hasten to add. All he did was cut one out of the legs of his wet suit. And so you can now watch in admiration as Alan sails past without a hair out of place (or anywhere else for that matter) with his rubber band on his head. He's easy to spot as he's the only one sailing in a 1 legged wetsuit.


 
As you know, the rule is that Mondays are always windy - except when Monday is a bank holiday, then of course Tuesday is windier. And so it proved, rather frustratingly if like me you were at work listening to the roof of the building coming off. A few brave souls with nothing better to do tried to go out, but I heard tales of sub 4m sails and people being unable to sheet in and certainly unable to gybe. It's a pity because it was so windy that for once we had real waves at NSC.
 
 
Alan
 

MAY 2006 AGAIN

EURO FAME AT LAST
 
Well it's about time! Many of you will know that my windsurfing nick name is Lord, often shortened to Lordy by (both of) my friends. It's a reference to bossing people around by the way, not to any divine qualities - well, after all, have you seen my gybes, they're far from being heavenly ...
 
So I just wanted to point out that, pleased as I am for the Finns who won Eurovision (a group called Lordi), there is no truth in the rumour that I was one of the freaks under the goth monster costumes. Or as one of my (former) friends put it, we know you weren't wearing those costumes, you don't need a costume to look like a freak...
 
 
REGATTA TIME


 
 
The NSC Regatta is coming up 17-18 June. So what, I hear you cry, what's that got to do with windsurfers? Well, the answer is a bit of fun.
 
The plan is to have some fun races, Andy Warwick is running these and emphasis is on fun - no serious racing allowed!
 
    Probably 3 fun races, with handicapping so anyone can enter
 
    If the wind is low (it's normally flat calm on regatta day so the sailors can drink instead of sail) then
    we'll run the races on Start boards ie non planing
 
    Hopefully there'll be a master blaster race across the lough and back
 
    Prizes will be given out for the races, the blast and for various silly things like biggest crash, most holey wetsuit, worst hair cut (Glover is bound to win this one)
 
More information to come, but keep Saturday 17 June free. These fun races will be open to non NSC members and I must emphasize - with handicapping - to all abilities! So anyone who can stand on a board is welcome - including all those level 1 types we had last year. Serious it ain't.


 
 
And in order to get into the way of racing, we hope to run a practice race day at the club on Saturday 3 June. Again, more detail to be announced, but the format will be as above. First race is at 12:30 with others to follow at 2 and 3 - if we last that long! We'll probably say £1 to enter and split this up to give some prizes - so first prize is likely to be £5 - £10 - bet that's got your mouths watering! It is all about having fun, anyone being too serious will be excommunicated, but it is a great way to improve your sailing no matter what level you're at.
 
So keep the 3rd and 17th in mind and come and enjoy yourself!
 
A PAIN IN THE GROYNE
 
What can I tell you about Ballyholme? There are 3 essential things you need to know - water quality (or lack of), great for notherlies and the groynes. Actually, some good news on the first of these - we'd heard from unofficial sources that the sewage treatment machinery was damaged. Amongst windsurfers Ballyholme already has a bad reputation for smell and what we might politely call unwanted objects (and I'm not referring to windsurfers) in the water. However word has now reached us that in fact the sewage plant has been upgraded and water quality is now improving. Don't hold your breath, but when we hear more I'll let you know.
 
So it was that on Saturday with a somewhat dodgy north/north-east wind the motley vehicles descended on Ballyholme. Clearly we all enjoy getting changed in front of the rows of parked cars full of usually elderly ladies who drive down, park, observe and eventually drive off - satisfied or otherwise. Quite a collection of people, about half from NSC including Chris Loughridge, Ronnie Millar, Mark Lawrence, Wookie and the man in the camel hair coat - Trevor Pollen (some things never change, including the coat and his windsurfing kit). Good to see Trevor's son out on the water struggling to remember how to windsurf too.
 
A mention here for a returning hero - Ronnie Lough will be known to many of you, a regular high wind windsurfer - referring to his love of sub 4m sails, not to results of his bodily functions. Some years ago Ronnie was struck down with ME and was particularly badly effected. But he's back, having returned to the water a few weeks ago and still feeling his way. But isn't it great to see him back! Let's hope the Ballyholme water doesn't set him back too much.
 
The wind was varying  and most people were choosing 6m and having good periods for perhaps 20 minutes at a time. But they also had bad, wobbly periods and many's a 6m was seen desperately wobbling past the end of the groynes. These disguise the sewage outlet and used to have a thing like a lamp post at their deep end. This meant that you could always tell if you'd cleared them or not - but it disappeared a year ago and now your skeg is in danger - as you're about to see. I chose a 7.5m and got it spot on (all those pies and chips really help hold a bigger sail down in the windier periods). So I had a ball on mostly flat water, but with some decent swells at the sailing club end to make the gybes more exciting.
 
About 4-ish it tailed off badly and people began to wobble in. I thought I was well clear of the groynes when I felt the tip of my fin grind over something very hard. I'd just scraped over. I turned to warn Wookie only to be greeted with a huge splash - he'd caught it full on and put a big dent in his skeg. But the person who really kopped it was Chris who did a proper job. His board appeared undamaged, but his fin was taken right off. Not the sort of man to take this lying down he stuck on a pair of goggles and went diving. By the time I'd left, he still hadn't recovered the fin, but was feeling very sick from what he was taking on board.
 
So if you're sailing Ballyholme, beware!
 
BTW, there were 2 kite surfers out. I know we windsurfers have mixed feelings about sailing near kites, but I have to say these guys were thoughtful and well in control so in fact it just added to the colour and fun of the day.
 
 
And if you're wondering where the ever present Paula was - she was of course present, but sailing at NSC.
 
 
UPSIDE DOWN WINDSURFER
 
Many of you will know Davy Gault, long-haired and a good windsurfer. But he has a dark secret .... he sometimes sails. We don't actually expect to see him sporting brass buttons, but recently he was sailing on Lough Neagh. Clearly used to windsurfing in rough conditions, he bit off more than he could chew and the next thing he capsized. No problem of course, in one of life's little ironies his rescue came not from another sailor but in the shape of Big Robert (no, we still don't know) on his windsurfer.
 
Robert duly windsurfed in and got the rescue boat, so this story has a happy ending. Unless of course your name is Gault and you don't want all your windsurfing friends to know about this little embarrassing episode. So, whatever you do, please don't mention this to anyone!
 

Keep enjoying these lovely winter winds - and if you're out at Ballyholme tonight I'll see you there (minus the costume).
 
Alan


AND MAY 2006 YET AGAIN

WHERE HAS ALL THE GRASS GONE?
 
Regulars at Newtownards were rather worried (actually very worried judging by my inbox) to find about half of the grass rigging area had become car park overnight. It was made worse by a big club sailing event - the Fireballs, which we thought was a medical condition experienced by people who sail too much. Turns out they are a type of boat. The result was a packed club, tents and trailers on the reduced rigging area and some of our regulars had to sail from the carpark.


 
However, all is not as it seems. The extra carparking was needed in a hurry for the event, but the intention is to sort out a proper solution which will involve us getting our rigging area back. I won't go into details yet, but plans are being drawn up and should be very much to our benefit. Plus we'll have a larger area for the trailer brigade (ie me) to park. We may have to operate on a reduce area for a couple of months, but it's going to be worth it.
 
After ages with us moaning about no winds they've returned with a vengeance this week. Monday saw a huge crowd out at Ballyholme - clearly spurred on my news that the ***t filters were improved. Most people came down after work - although some people do seem to finish work very early.... It was mostly 6-6.5m weather with a few nice biggish swells at the yacht club end. Apart from the usual plonkers like Wookie, Andy and myself there were Richard Young, Ronnie, Trevor and son (mustn't make comments about Trevor's coat anymore, he's now back on this e-mail list), Nigel, Phil, Alan Yeates and a pile of other familiar faces. The sun was out and we had a great sail -although Andy pronounced it to be absolute pish, but we're not sure if this refers to the sailing or what we sailed on. The really odd thing was the number of us complaining of cold hands. Very odd for late May.


 
It grieves me to report that, unforecast, Saturday turned out to be a stonker. The grief is because I couldn't go out, so a big thanks to all of you who texted me to tell me how good it was, I really appreciated that. Most people were out on around 6m and then it went ballistic and 4.5m became the norm. Andy reported sailing for 4 solid hours, clearly he's a solid sailor. Alan Yeates held on to his 6m until his age got the better of him (he's younger than me, so I can say this about him) and the likes of Ronnie and Paula sailed from the car park because they couldn't fit into NSC with all those poor fireballs. BTW, if any of you are old enough to remember the precursor to Thunderbirds - then you you'll understand that we call the Wookie's car - Furball XL5...
 
BTW, the instructors course was on, so the poor trainees had to watch through gritted teeth - not allowed other than a very brief lunch break to go out and play. I could mock, but considering we've booked the same hard man, Jim Collis, to be our instructor in Pras I've an awful feeling we'll be worked very hard on our 'holiday'.


 
I can report, because I was the sad ******* parked at Antrim Marina, that a couple of guys were enjoying the swells on Lough Neagh. Looked like about 6m to me and large-ish boards.
 
Sunday was another unforecast windy day, but not quite so windy. After the customary McDs breakfast (helps hold down a too large sail and also stops you needing to go to the toilet for most of the day) we arrived to find mixed wind - quite a lot of north in it which means sheltered at the club and you need to go out a bit to catch the wind. Wookie (7.5m) and I (9.4m) were first out and had a good sail. Then it came up and we moved down for about 45 minutes of really excellent 5.5m/6.3m sailing and some nice gybes, well at least from Wookie. We had to play dodge the fireball but no real problem. Later on the wind backed off a bit so we reverted to our larger kit and enjoyed some nice planing out stuff and a couple of impromptu races across the lough. Great stuff, but I can tell you that you need to be a bit of fireball to race Wookie as on one occasion he cut across me (both a high speed) to win a race with my bow missing his clew by about a foot - damn, I'll get him next time! Where is Dr Death when you need him?
 
Quite a few people were out including the Enniskillen lesbians (they're not really, in facts they're a couple of blokes, it's a long story), Tim, Ronnie, Mark, Andy briefly and sinkingly and the family Barbour, well at least James and his daughter Tara. Tara is keen to go on an improvers course - so if anyone else fancies doing this, let us know and Wookie and Andy will run one! Having slagged off Tim and Damien from the Enniskillen Share Centre, I must now grovel and thank them for bringing all their gear down. It made a big difference for those on the instructors course.
 
And finally, we had our first after windsurfing Guinness in the new bar, looking out at the superb view (including James and Tara still out on the water) over the balcony. If you haven't been there yet, get down - the Guinness is as good as ever.
 
 
See you on the water
 
Alan

JUNE 2006

 
BALLYHOLME DELIVERS THE GOODS
 
I wrote before about the good time people were having at Ballyholme over the weekend. Well it continued for those lucky enough to be able to enjoy it. Monday was an epic day with all the usual suspects out on 4.5-5m and very well powered up. Tony E, normally known for rigging too small, misjudged the wind and put up a 5m and was rewarded with an arm-stretching session that brought a smile to his lips - all this without the aid of any lethal injections. Wookie was out from noon until 5 and by the time I rocked up (some of us have to be in work) he and others were packing up exhausted. Talking of being done, Alan Y was complaining he couldn't take any more. Funny that, because that's what his friends said about him too...
 
I went out around 6, with the dire warnings of the sated ringing in my ears that it was about to drop. Actually it was so windy I could hardly carry my waveboard and 5m to the water. The waves were big, especially at the yacht club end and at times it was very hard to hold the 5m. Jarleth was out and scoring some big jumps - and he was certainly getting more gybes than I was. But all of us were getting nailed at times with the breakers at the club end. After such a long gap it's almost nice to experience the rinse cylce again. But the runs across the bay and over the incoming waves were great.
 
You had to feel sorry for Lewis, who'd left the spuds to peel themselves at Donaghadee where it wasn't that windy. So the smallest sail he'd packed was 5.5m. He didn't last long - so I like to think that evening's diners did at least enjoy their potatoes.


 
And of course you can't have windsurfing these days without Paula. Totally overpowered on 4m, she manfully struggled to beach and water start in the unfamiliar waves. Although not often successful, she stuck at it and will no doubt soon be repaid by being able to get some on-the-wave sailing. She must be mad - but then she reminds me of me at that stage - only of course she's better looking!
 
After that the forecasts predicted it was not going to be worth taking time off work - but of course they were wrong. So the cowboys were out again all day Tuesday (5.5m and the waves weren't as good) and then, incredibly, on Wednesday morning. Apparently this was the best of all - back to 5m again and a great sail. Sickening isn't it...
 
So now the sun is setting in for all those people who are doing exams. I don't mind them suffering so much, but it's a pity it has to ruin the windsurfing for us.
 
USELESS SPELL CHECKERS
 
Did you know that if you spell check one of these e-mails, it doesn't like Ezzy (as in the sail brand). It does however suggest lezzy instead....
 
 
See you on the water - if the wind ever returns. We'll probably have to wait until the exams are over for the sun to vanish.
 
Alan


JUNE 2006

AND ALL'S WELL WITH THE WORLD
 
There are some who doubt the existence of an all knowing supreme being - but this weekend must have dispelled all doubts. There are 2 possible reasons for now believing this -
 
1    We had 2 days of perfect sunshine, really warm water and excellent wind - and they were a Saturday and Sunday!
 
2    Wookie cleaned up in all the races
 
Either way, the argument is made.


 
As you know this weekend was the warm up for the fun races at the NSC regatta next Saturday. Ronnie Millar stepped forward at the last moment and ran some fabulous races. We're also indebted to Wilson Hamilton who did a great job in the rescue boat. With a good southerly blowing mostly top end of a F4, a figure of 8 course was laid out with the start line between the jetty and first buoy. Around 8 people entered each of the 3 races and the results were :
 
1    Wookie
2    Mr In-the-Bushes (Russell)
3    Alli Todd
4    Me!
5    Tony
 
1    Wookie
2    Alli
3    Mr Bushes
4    Andy Tease
 
1    Wookie
2    Mr Bushes
3    Andy T
4    Alli
 
Ronnie was super efficient, turning up with a waterproof clip board, an arm-mounted stop watch and 4 different coloured flags. The flags of course were used to count down the minutes until the green flag for the start. Ronnie waved his flags like a Whirling Dervish (I've always wanted to fit Whirling Dervish into this e-letter!). So much so in fact that the orange flag went whirling into the sea where it was later rescued a mile away by a sunbathing kid and ultimately wrested from him by Wilson in the boat (hours later) - probably leaving the kid in tears...
 
It was too strong to have any beginners races, but the normal races were great fun. It was a good reminder to people just how good for your sailing it is to race and just how much you push yourself. I spent the later races in the boat and got a load of excellent photographs and large amounts of verbal abuse from various plonkers who did just that in the water. Somehow it really seems to add to your pleasure in crashing a gybe when someone is watching with a camera a very powerful zoom lens....
 
Now you already know never to cross a Wookie, but just in case you needed reminding, in one race the unfortunate Mr Todd crashed a gybe just in front of dear William - who proceeded to sail over him. More to the point he went over Ali's sail which now has a luff tube about as wide as most people's chimneys.


 
And while we are talking about superior beings, Mr Wookie set a new record by waking up at 6am (actually we reckon the Wookette kicked him out) and getting an hour and half on the water at Whiterock before being picked up by me for his customary McD's breakfast. I can also tell you it's pretty frightening to turn up at his house be greeted by his hairiness in shorts - at least I think they were shorts, although the effect was rather like woolly black trousers. Maybe not such a supreme being after all...
 
Once the 3 races were over, we ran a master blaster across the lough. You'll never guess who was out in front. Then the wind went a bit funny and most people turned back, so in a way Wookie came last - but don't try saying that to his face. It was still great fun (the races, not Wookie's face) and should be even more fun next Saturday.
 
Saturday was 6.5m most of the day, 7.5m later and then finished up back at 6m. Sunday was mostly 7-7.5m but much steadier. The water was genuinely warm and with the sun beaming down it really was like sailing on a holiday. Believe me, crashing a gybe was a positive pleasure (and one shared by many) when you know you can relax in warm water.
 
It would be easier to mention those who weren't there, over the 2 days we saw almost every one of the 65 odd windsurfer from NSC, plus an RYA level 1 course which was being run by our newly qualified set of instructors. We also had the Newcastle brigade down in force - some very good noises coming from here as they intend to apply for grants, get new kit and start some serious windsurfing down there. Wouldn't it be great to have 3 windsurfing clubs (NSC, Antrim - just about - and Newcastle)! Those I can remember include -
 
    Tony - some good gybes, more new boards as usual and really pleased his relatives had over indulged the night before and didn't feel well enough to go on the planned family outing - hence his presence. We wonder if he 'helped' them along their way?


 
    Ali - did well in the races and tells me he's managing to get a reasonable amount of windsurfing in despite his newly born daughter. Pity about that luff tube...
 
    Russell - still planing on a fart but was very fast in the races
 
    Nigel - a good burn on Sunday including some nice rides on the demo RRD Z-ride (I tried this too, lovely board)
 
    Paula - benefiting from other's suffering (she's marking GCSEs - she says to pay for her new 7m) only made it Saturday afternoon. We know you were really at home watching the football Paula!
 
    Pollens - Trevor and son Keith. Great to see them out and Trevor was very taken with Wookie's board (dangerous Trevor, the last person to do this hasn't been seen since). There is a slight possibility that he might buy a newer board, but no, we don't really believe this either
 
    Simon and Lynne - our only married windsurfing couple (unless you count Harry and Guy), both out on the water and didn't fight once over who got what kit. Simon says he's lost a stone, wonder what he wanted it for in the first place?
 
    Jo - newly qualified RYA instructor just about to go off to Greece to teach windsurfing. I wish she'd hurry up and go as she keeps borrowing my kit!
 
    Alex (Raptor) - spent most of Saturday at Cloughey because he was sure it would be windy. He even rang Andy and didn't believe him when he said it was honking. As if Andy would ever wind anyone up! Came over late but then had a good sail - and on Sunday. Seemed to spent a lot of time in the air.
 
    Wookie - still with his 'beautiful gybes'. Can't say a word against this man as he took a lot of time to help me with my ugly gybes. He's a hard taskmaster and I positively crawled off the water.
 
    Andy Tease - spent most of this time coaching but still managed a few races, some ace swearing when he badly dropped some gybes in the races but couldn't go out on Sunday due to a sore foot
 
    David  - good to see him on the water again
 
    Harry - also spent Saturday at Cloughey but in his case he was trying to windsurf having dumped his family on the beach first
 
    John Glover - sailed from the carpark mostly due to the crowding. Beats being on that bicycle John.
 
    Wilson - back on the water after yet another bit of his body fell off. Says his golf is ruining his windsurfing, clearly he shouldn't take his golf bag with him on his board
 
    Me - I had a ball on Saturday as I pulled my old F2 Ride off the roof rack and went like a demented ferret. You forget when you sail modern boards with all their good points, that old (8-10 years) boards were actually faster. They were narrower and longer but they didn't half go. Michael Jackson couldn't get near me on his screamer. I also distinguished myself on Sunday when my boom broke well on the outside. I will not mention that I buried the nose when maxed and did the mother of all catapults - let's just say the front end was well smashed. However I always carry a spare bit of string with me and today it paid off. After 10 balmy minutes in the water and waves my boy scout training had paid off (actually, I used to be a scout leader - before they brought in all the new checks and when you could actually hit the little blighters). I felt like I should at least get my Blue Peter badge when I sailed in - planing - but with my boom at 45 degrees and about 6 inches from the mast.
 
    Lance brought his iron chest to bear. It must weigh a lot as he was still snowploughing (mind you he was snowploughing very fast). I won't say anything bad about him (this time) as he's thinking of buying one of my boards
 
    Mark had another good sail and continues to improve
 
    Michael enjoyed the sun and spent a lot of Saturday on the water. His wife came and watched him and then left - we don't know if she gave up in disgust or what
 
    Peter had a good sail on Saturday and tells us he is going to lose weight and get in shape for Pras - we don't know if he means get in shape for the windsurfing or the partying...
 
    Ronnie managed a good sail, despite giving up so much of his time to whirl flags into the sea
 
    Martin is a face we haven't seen for a while - this was explained by the large plaster cast on his arm. No reasons were given, we didn't like to ask in case he'd met the Wookie on a dark night
 
Oh that every weekend could be like that.....
 
 
 
 
DEMONSTRATION DAY
   
No, not those nice men in their bowler hats and tattoos - but your chance to try out all the latest RRD and Goya boards plus Ezzy sails - absolutely free. It's planned for Saturday 24 June, with 1 July as a backup. It can't run without some wind, so we'll issue (short) e-mails in the run up to confirm if it runs or is postponed for a week.
 
There is also a rumour of some entertainment in the bar afterwards. We're not sure what this will involve yet, but I can confirm it won't be a slide show of the people/boards/sails that Wookie has cut up on the water.
 
 
WHERE'S THE RIGGING GRASS?
 
We reported a couple of weeks ago about the loss of about half of our grass rigging area at the club. I'm glad to say that the NCS committee met last night to sort out the overall exterior planning of the club premises. Clearly there is a need for adequate car parking and this includes spaces for cars with trailers - and the needs of the various users (sailors, windsurfers and ribs) was completely accepted.
 
Coupled with this, our sea defences need to be strengthened - there is serious erosion in some places especially around the slipway. So the plan is :
 
    Widen the top of the slip way area (we've agreed a width which will allow a board and big sail to walk down)
    New walls on either side of the slipway
    Revised sea defences around most of the current rigging area (this will cause some short term disruption)
    An area of reinforced grass at the car park end of the rigging area ie extra rigging area which can be used during major events as carparking
 
In addition, the front of the club house area will be largely grassed but with road access round to the current boat house where additional carparking will be provided. This grass may prove useful as an overflow rigging area on occasions.
 
So the bottom line is more disruption for the next couple of months, but bear with us as it will get significantly better. And the whole area will also look much better when completed.
 
If anyone has any specific questions (or problems), just e-mail me.
 
 
STORAGE FOR WINDSURFING EQUIPMENT
 
The current boat house may become available for us to use as kit storage. If we decide to go for this, work will need to be done on the building, inside and out. You would then be able to store your equipment there, say for a fee of £20 pa.
 
One of the deciding factors will be how many people might be interested in this. Please e-mail me (without commitment) if you think you might use this.
 
If not enough people are interested, it won't happen. So let me know.
 
 
See you on the water - once my sunburnt arms have recovered!

Alan

JUNE 2006 MORE

 
MID WEEK WIND
 
Not a description of what happens to Boards Magazines favourite tester after 2 ciders, but what happened last week. Nothing at the weekend and then mega during the week.
 
Like many of you I missed it, but the usual idle crew legged it up to Donegal on Tuesday to catch some big stuff. Talking of which Andy was leading the charge, with Mr Wookie and Big Robert (still not a clue why). At least one person spent the whole journey pretending to work while on conference calls which kept dropping out due to the hilly terrain.


 
Once up there, they had a good sail but Big Robert managed to disprove the theory that skinny masts can't be broken. He was off his board when it was hit by a wave which left the mast stuck in the sand. The next big wave crashed down on the board and mast snapped, also making a nasty hole in his sail. My correspondent doesn't record Robert's comment on this occasion, but I'm sure it was choice.
 
LAWYER GETS STITCHED UP
 
The men however knew when they would be beaten and came back that night as the 50 mph+ winds forecast would have inflicted a lot more damage. So on Wednesday they sailed from the club. Apparently it was hang on to 4-4.4m weather ie great.
 
The only real drama was when Ali Todd noticed that the water was rusty. Further investigation revealed to his great surprise blood positively gushing out from his foot. Ali, being a lawyer is made of strong stuff (although I've heard it described as something more runny and smelly before now) - he hadn't even noticed whatever cut his foot. But it was quite bad and he came up to the rigging area there was a rush of weak-kneed windsurfers to get out on the water and away from the blood.


 
Now we've often given Tony a hard time - and why not, sure the name Harold really suits him. But Tony is a doctor and he immediately left the water, rushed to his medical bag which he always carries with him. We've seen it before, but we always thought it was a portable drinks cabinet - if only we'd known it contains his personal drugs supply. Putting all jokes about lawyers and doctors to one side, he took Ali into the club and fixed him - indeed stitched him up. We are very lucky to have such a dedicated person sailing with us. Ask yourself, would you give up 30 minutes of 4m weather to sew up a lawyer? But Tony did and it was typically nice of him.


 
It was rather spoiled by the pundits afterwards where the general feeling was that he should have amputated...
 
WEEKEND - NO WIND
 
That was the story, except for Sunday. Normal human beings asleep, but no-one has ever applied either of these terms to Wookie who awoke at the crack of dawn to find wind - against all the forecasts. He rushed over the club and got a couple of hours of force 4 in bright sunshine.
 
I joined him while Andy ran a school for beginners. It was quite good, especially on my 9.4 but dead off shore. Wookie swore that Andy had agreed to come and get him in the rescue boat, so naturally had to tack his way in for 45 minutes. I stayed out and had an even longer tack in. Nice to see Lance out - why does he insist on getting changed at the back of his van and showing us all up with this amazing body? His son was also out, I won't mention which of them had the better sail...
 
As we sat in the new upstairs bar sipping our Guinness we noticed Robert (not the big one) was still out. Robert was a guest - in case any of you don't know you can come and sail the club as a guest 6 times. But as an early windsurfer he was struggling to get back upwind to the shore, especially in the swirly wind. However the sailors picked him up and brought him in and, far from being put off, he's keen to get back out there and do it again. That's the stuff!
 
AND THIS WEEK
 
Once again the select few (and the hairy few) who don't seem to have work like the rest of us got some good wind mid week. 7.5m on Wednesday and 6.5m on Thursday. Pity their parents weren't married at the time of their birth....
 
 
 
See you as we all get changed on the rigging area instead of the changing rooms.
 
Alan


JULY 2006


A SALUTARY TALE
 
Normally I enjoy poking a little (or in the case of some people a lot) of fun when things go slightly wrong, but not this time. Read on and learn the lesson.
 
Andy, Robert and Jarleth are in Pozo, the mentally windy part of Gran Canaria. They took their own kit, always a brave move and one that cost them £200 in excess baggage, but then they had a ball. Until they came out one morning to find that Andy and Robert's kit had been stolen. They'd left it on a car, not in it, and had parked in a 'secure car park', with barriers and supposedly someone on duty. No boards were taken, just a pile of brand news sails, booms and masts. Thousands of pounds worth.
 
What an awful thing to happen and we can only sympathise with them.
 
As to the lessons, well there are two. Firstly, if you take kit with you, pay the hire centre to store it for you. Don't mess around with carparks. And secondly, ensure you are fully insured before you leave. I believe the boys were, but that's not certain yet.
 
What a mess. We can only hope they manage to put this behind them and salvage a good holiday from the wreckage.
 
 
So - apart from that Mrs Kennedy, did you enjoy the drive?
 
 
STEAMING IN TURKEY
 
As some of you may have noticed, the club has been deserted by its most regular visitor. Paula has been away. Somehow she managed to persuade her husband that it was vital that she go on a windsurfing holiday, so he stayed at home with the kids (at least that's what he told Paula he was going to do) while she went off and enjoyed herself.
 
So, in case any of you are thinking of Turkey, here in her own words is what she found :
 
As requested, here is some info about my holiday in Bitez.
I had a fantastic week, spending at least 6 hours a day on windsurfing, everyday, either on the water or dry land practice on the simulators. The instruction was excellent, all of it RYA Fastfwd. The kit was excellent, too. Most to it was brand new as the centre had just opened for the season, and there was a wide range to choose from as it was only half full (bird flu has made Turkey unpopular as a holiday destination).
 
However, the wind was not as constant as I would have liked. The Meltemi blew each afternoon but it was often variable and gusty, and it was always off shore. The average for the afternoons was force 4, but sometimes it would blow really fierce for an hour or so then die away.
 
Overall, I had a great week - I feel I have made some progress, learnt a lot and unlearnt some bad habits (well, on the water, anyway!)
Now I cant wait to get out and practice on my own kit.
 
Nothing to report about the waiters, but the Turkish bath attendants deserve a mention.
 
A group of us decided to try out this cultural treat. Firstly you lie on a marble slab, steaming for half an hour. Then these large Turkish men appeared wearing skimpy towels and armed with loofahs and buckets of bubble bath. It was really amusing as the guys in our group seemed to get an extra vigorous going over with the loofahs and particularly energetic butt-slaps with wet towels. All good clean fun, and a great way to relax those muscles after a hard day on the water! (Perhaps NSC should get one)
 
 
We are all of course all looking forward to seeing the fruits of Paula's labours - by which I mean her much improved windsurfing and not the large Turkish men with their loofahs.....
 
 
AND STEAMING IN NEWTOWNARDS
 
Last weekend before the holidays and we got 2 great days windsurfing in the sun. Once again the water was seriously warm, either the long hot spell has raised the temperature or the Water Service have diverted all the brown stuff that used to flow to Ballyholme into Strangford....
 
Saturday was very much a 6m day - which begs the question as to why so many of us were out on 7.5m? Alan Yeates, Ali Todd and I were amongst those shooting around at great speed but with stretched arms. It was flat but a really nice day and much unofficial racing was happening. Wookie decided to show us up by sailing a 5.5m - and he still planed. Just a lovely day - completed of course with a pint of Guinness looking out over the lough, while below us the club's first successful wedding was going on in our fabulous new club house. They had a great success, you wouldn't believe how well the club looked - and we especially liked the children's paddling pool at the door filled with ice and a million bottles of champagne and wine. Someone had a rough night...
 
Sunday was another lovely day but the wind came in later and for the first few hours was rather patchy. Ronnie and I took out 9.4s while most others stuck to 7.5. For most of the day it was 10 minutes blasting, then 20 minutes off to talk to some bollox. Later it filled in and once more some of us got our arms stretched. The only problem was the amount of weed, most people had to drop in and remove it from time to time - until we learned the technique of sailing backwards for a bit to get it to drop off. Also most people - myself very much included - hit some big stuff and catapulted in style at some stage!
 
Later on Raptor appeared and we drank our leisurely post-surfing pints while watching him crash Vulcan after Vulcan. Actually, that's unfair as we he was so near to getting so many of them. There were some sailing families upstairs at the time and kids were taking bets on how many times he'd crash. Keep up the good work Alex!
 
I don't normally tell too many tales about myself - to quote Churchill 'history will be kind to me for I intend to write it'. However it turned into a weekend of self rescue for me, so I thought it might be useful to pass this on.
 
Firstly my Carve is away on trial with Lance (hope you're enjoying it Lance), so when a 7.5m sail was required I had to take out my F2 Ride - always a pleasure as old teardrop style boards are seriously fast. But I needed to borrow a fin for it and the obliging Mr Wookie lent me an old 40 cm fin. 'It's a bit loose, but it'll be OK' he said, I guess I should have known never trust a sci-fi fantasy creature. So it was that on a good run, well out on the water, most of the fin dropped off and I found myself going sideways. I'd read that you can still sail if you take your harness off and wrap it round the end of the board to create a little lateral resistance. So I did and soon got the hang of sailing gingerly with a lot of back foot control, I even managed to make up some ground up wind. So if I can do it, anyone can - so now you know what to do if your fin drops off - go and kill Wookie.
 
Then on Sunday my already partially damaged large boom gave up. Bang and I'm in the water. But, as all good windsurfers carry some spare bits of string with me (don't they?), I was able to do a boyscout job on it (maybe they should rename the unfortunately titled original scout handbook as 'Scouting for Buoys'?) and sail in. But then I no longer had a boom to sail the 9.4m. So, on dry land, I got our more bits of rope and did a really good job of it. And for the next 2 hours I sailed with this tie on boom (waves of nostalgia for older readers who can remember when all booms were tie on). It even survived when the wind got up really big and a 6.3m would have been more appropriate.
 
The moral of this tale - buy a new boom Alan!
 
 
AUGUST 2006

Hi
 
Yes, he's back and just as full of **** as ever.
 
Talking of which, the wind blew yesterday and a lot of people were out at Ballyholme. Typical Summer's day windsurfing - a bit of wind and the roads are choca with salty looking vehicles piled high with boards.
 
The afternoon saw a number of part time workers enjoying themselves. Alan Yeates was back on a rare visit home from Donegal, it's good to report his fake-looking orange tan has subsided into a sort of rustic ruddy brown, but he was still smiling on 5.5m. He tells me his business is going well, probably because he's never there to run it. The medical crowd who normally sail every Wednesday diverted to Ballyholme and had a great sail. Nice to see Tony working off the effects of a non-windsurfing holiday in France and Chris Loughridge was also out - fortunately only seen in his wetsuit hence no awful shorts to report. Paula was out, still talking about the good effects of Turks, at least in the wind I think she said Turks - but since it was Ballyholme she could have been referring to something more odorous.
 
Nigel's characteristic blue van was in the car park, it does look rather like Postman Pat's with a respray. And Richard was boasting about the amount of training he was doing - when clearly he should have been damping down Newry like all the other firemen.
 
Nice to see Phil there on time for once to catch the wind, unless of course he was just particularly late for Tuesday?
 
So it was that the day time brigade has a ball, but the rush-as-soon-as-work-ended bunch, me included, arrived and frantically rigged up 5-6m - only for the wind to die. And so we were condemned to float around like Paula's Turks for the next couple of hours, with the occasional 5 minute spell of wind for a bit of frantic planing only to be followed by more floating. The Pollen family were out, Trevor gamely going for a wave board and 5m while Keith at least had the sense to go bigger. Wooks managed more planing than most, but still ended up doing a lot of water ballet - mind you he does do it so well, wonder if we could persuade him to wear a nice tutu over his wetsuit?
 
Andy forgot his wetsuit yet again, but managed to borrow someone else's so he could run a waterstarting class. We wonder whether the lender will want it back....
 
So, there you have it, a not untypical Summer evening windsurfing session. But hey, that's why we love the sport.
 
 
DECLARING THIS OPEN
 
As you know we now have a fabulous new club house. Ok it's still not quite finished indoors, but it was good enough to run an excellent wedding recently. The good news is that we've done up more of it than we intended ie we have finished out downstairs where we thought we'd only do upstairs this year. The bad news is that we've stretched the budget to do it and so there's no money left for the outside bits - including redoing our rigging area. I'm not sure when we'll be able to sort this out, but don't worry it may be a bit slow but it's not being forgotten.
 
And this means that we will have a grand opening in September. The plan is roughly to have a formal dinner/Mayor declares the place open event on a Saturday evening, 2 September. And then a sort of open/fun day on the Sunday 3 September. More information when I get it, but windsurfiing will be included along with rib-rides for the kids and other things yet to be sorted.
 

AUGUST 2006 AGAIN

BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND
 
What a funny August. Normally it's pretty dead for serious windsurfing, but this month we've had mostly northerlies which is unusual and which has provided some good windsurfing. We don't know if it's global warming, but if it means warm and windy, we're all for it - get those aerosols out and keep spraying....
 
The bank holiday weekend turned out to have a quite a lot of wind, without being mental. The general summary was :
 
Saturday - some good big sail sailing, 9.4m/7.5m but only windy for a couple of hours
Sunday - solid 7.5m weather with an hour of 6m or better around lunch time. Flat calm later but revived and good 7.5m from 6-8pm
Monday - excellent 7.5m until lunch time, then patchy as the squalls came through
 
And a few highlights from the 3 days -
 
Arriving Saturday late morning while we all tried to figure who was already out on the Ezzy 7m (let's face it, there's an awful lot of Ezzy sails on the Lough these days). 'He's sailing well, planing well, good waterstart - who is he'. Of course it turned out to be Paula, who - despite the sex change - has clearly benefited a lot from her week chasing Turkish windsurfers in July!
 
Raptor took some lessons on Saturday and was then spotted by us drifting in the rescue boat and trying to paddle in. We finished our Guinness (slowly, it was only Raptor for goodness sake) and then (dry) took out another boat to rescue the rescue boat. A red faced Raptor was cursing the engine up and down for not starting. You should have seen his face when we tried it and started first pull. Clearly Raptor has a lot to learn when it comes to pulling...
 
Sunday and Wookie, Chris (Botox) and I are out in NW wind on 7.5m. We work our way well upwind and then sail right up to Newtownards, knowing we have a nice downwind sail home. At that moment it picks up to something like 5m weather. Three very white faced, rubber legged windsurfers made it back home after the scariest down wind rocket trip ever.
 
You may recall that Wookie lent me a fin recently which dropped off on the outside, causing me to see if it is possible to sail with a harness for a fin (it is). Well, revenge is sweet as it happened to him when he was nearly on the wrong side of the lough. He sailed back rather well with only his harness for drag, but was understandably knackered when he made it back.
 
We all criticise people who think they can buy their way to windsurfing excellence with a fabulous new board. So I have to report that I took out my brand new Z-ride 120 over the weekend and had a ball. I never fell in once and got some planing out carves - so maybe these people have got a point. Or maybe it's a damn fine board. Clearly it can't have been my technique.
 
BTW - you do know that all windsurfing kit is about to go up in price, don't you? Most of the boards and sails are oil derived and with oil at $75 a barrel, prices are set to rocket. Blame Bush for his so called foreign policy. And just to make it even better, there's a world shortage of carbon fibre so masts and booms are heading up too. If you're thinking of buying, now is a good time before the prices shoot up.
 
Quite a few other people were seen out over the weekend including Russell (who took the wrong part of the Monday off work and missed the wind), Colin Kelly, Ronnie, William, Tony (arrived too late and missed the wind), Ali Todd, Mark, Andy, Muriel and a few others.
 
 
ME THINKS THE LADY DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH
 
It's not often that you hear Wookie quoting Shakespeare - mainly because in all his wise outpourings, the Bard never once mentioned weather forecasts or windsurfing. However when we heard this interesting tale of marital bliss on the water, even Mr Wookie was moved - and not just his bowels - hence the rather apt quote.
 
You may know that there is a big windsurfing event in Downings every July. The Loughridge family decided to take it over this year, actually doing quite well. Chris tells me that 4 of his family were placed in the races. Chris as you may know is rather quick on the water, you can tell that from his horizontal stance - but it works. His wife Kathy also windsurfs and she actually won the ladies event - rather well done Kathy!
 
However the men's and ladies events were actually run together - so Chris was sailing against his wife. Come the last race and Chris is in with an excellent chance of winning the event. All he needs is a good result in the last race. But it's all spoiled when a protest is put in against him - and is upheld. Poor Chris is gutted, he only comes second and he has to pay a £40 forfeit to charity (and you have to pay in cash, not in Botox). And who put in the successful protest against him? Only his wife Kathy!
 
For once we'd all love to know what went in the Loughridge's bedroom that night ...
 
 
THAT COAT
 
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice made a fortune out of a show about a great coat. We don't know if Trevor Pollen will ever make a fortune out of his, but it has become and icon of NI windsurfing. You may think that Arthur Daily was the first to create a dodgy image from a camel-hair coat, but you'd be wrong, it was Trevor. Ever since the days of the tie on boom and dodgy flares, Trevor has been seen pacing the beaches of N Ireland in that coat - usually searching for a fin he'd lost, it has to be said. We made jokes about it, we threatened to burn it, but Trevor sailed on regardless - rather like his windsurfing, although in the latter case it's due to his near blindness without his glasses - as many near misses including the infamous sailing under the NSC jetty incident will testify.
 
So it was with a tear in the eye that we read that the coat had been surgically removed from Trevor's back. It appeared that his wife decided that enough was enough and first hid it and then donated it to a needy cause. We did wonder what cause could be more needy than Trevor's windsurfing and then he supplied this little gem :
 
"I am informed by my nearest and dearest that the coat has since been disposed of. The dog had better keep an eye on his blanket as I may be sporting it in the near future as a substitute!"
 
So if any of you are wondering where it is, there's your answer. Trevor's dog is sleeping on it.
 
We confidently predict that when the colder weather comes in, the dog will have to do without and Trevor will be once more pacing the beach in his usual state of sartorial elegance....
 
 
AND TALKING OF TREVOR
 
And now for a change I've something good to say about Trevor! He was greatly moved recently by the northerly winds we were getting. In fact he was greatly moved in the direction of the infamous groyne at Ballyholme beach. Once more, let Trevor take up the tale :
 
"As all the windsurfers are probably aware a number of sailors have damaged their windsurfing equipment on the groyne at Ballyholme bay, and that this as yet remains unrepaired. Both Keith and I damaged a board and fin in two separate incidents some ten days ago and as a consequence I wrote, by recorded delivery, to the Council's Lord Mayor, as chief councillor, and the Chief Executive of both the Down Borough Council and that of the Health and Safety Executive. - copy attached
Although none of the three have  bothered to reply or yet acknowledge my letter, I have since been informed by phone that the contractors and council staff were meeting this past week with a view to repairing all five groynes. I understand that the Council anticipates that this work will be undertaken in the next three week period and has undertaken to address the offending groyne first.
 
Regards


Trevor"
 
And since I know this groyne is a subject close to so many of your hearts (and your fins), here is the letter Trevor wrote :
 
"Dear Mr Polley

 

Identification of the groyne situated to the left of Ballyholme car park

 

The situation of the groyne located to the left of Ballyholme car park has, until recently, been identified by a large pole at the end of this submerged hazard - the purpose of which was presumably to warn sailors and other sea users of the potential danger. Over the years this pole has corroded and disappeared from the area approximately one year ago.

I understand that Mr Lough, who lives in the Council’s Borough, informed your staff last September of the danger to persons in that area of the beach. The matter remains unaddressed and there have now been a number of instances where craft have sustained damage from hitting the groyne.

Mr Lough again rang the Council Offices in July 2006 regarding the continuing danger.  The officer in question undertook ‘to pass the message on’ Additionally, Mr Lough was asked if he had been the person who had rung a couple of weeks before so presumably there have been other complaints about this safety hazard.

Contact with the groyne is potentially hazardous and touching it relatively gently by hand can cause both scores and bleeding. Windsurfers have traditionally been sailing this area for at least the last fifteen to twenty years and someone hitting the groyne with force has the very real potential to attract permanent disfigurement.

It is understood that legislation charges the Council with maintaining the above beach and groyne area. Additionally, it seems reasonable to assume that the Council also has a duty of care to the public. It seems inevitable that failure to resolve this issue may in future result in expensive litigation in which the Council will be involved with the possible outcome of individual Councillors being surcharged by the local government auditor for negligence in carrying out their responsibilities.

I should be interested in your comments regarding the above.

 Copies of this letter, at present, have been sent by recorded delivery to Councillor Alan Leslie, Mayor of North Down Borough Council and Jim Keyes Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive.

 

 

Yours sincerely,"

 
 
He certainly does know how to write an official letter!
 
I haven't heard if the repairs have been done yet, but clearly the Council is quaking in its collective boots and quite right.
 
So a big thanks to Trevor for actually getting down and doing something. The rest of us talk, mutter darkly and then crawl off home - he did it!
 
And not in the least influenced by the price of new fins!
 
 
OCTOBER 2006

NEWTOWNARDS WINDSURFING E-NEWSLETTER
 
CONTENTS
 
Club opening = racing for windsurfers
Orangemen blocked?
Pras reunion
To sail with the Gods - reminder
The usual - things happening and ins/outs
 
CLUB OPENING = RACING FOR WINDSURFERS
 
This Saturday the brand new club house officially opens. Trust me, the bar has been open for months, but on Saturday the Mayor is arriving and there'll be free wine and stuff.
 
But first, the GP14 sailors are organising races and so are we. So if you fancy some not too serious (apart from Wookie cutting holes in Ali's sails) racing, then come down and be rigged and ready for 1PM. The general plan is to have 3 races, probably on a straight blast and gybe (or blast and crash) course around 2 buoys. And there'll be prizes - for the winners and also for valiant losers, biggest ijits etc.
 
The only problem is that we haven't yet got someone agreeing to OC (run) the races. So if you've experience at this sort of thing or if you're a windsurfer currently off the water for medical reasons or whatever  - please reply and volunteer. You can run the entire thing from the end of the pier so you don't even need to get wet. All you need is some coloured flags, a watch and a pen.
 
It's going to be nicely windy on Saturday, so do please come down and enjoy some fun on the water and stick around for the (brief) ceremony.
 
See you there.
 
 
ORANGEMEN BLOCKED
 
I published the official account of our exploits at Pras last week. However it's come to my notice that some people didn't receive this. There are 2 possible reasons, 1 is that I used certain words to do with medical substances which might have triggered spam traps. The other reason might be that this e-mail address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. might be black listed with you - sending out a couple of hundred e-mails at a time runs that risk. So if you didn't get it - reply to me and I'll resend a 'safe' version for you. And please check if you have the option and whitelist my e-mail address - or you'll have to do without.
 
I have to apologise to Nigel - who was at Pras but got left out of my summary of who did what. Clearly it's because Nigel is such a nice chap that he never put a foot or a gybe wrong - so I had nothing bad to write about him. We'll leave his exploits with the camera out of it .....
 
And if you want to see a bit more about what went on, go to the club website, windsurfing page and you'll see a link to the article. And this time you can see a pile of very good photos. There are plenty more, but I'm under a death threat if I publish certain ones....
 
 
PRAS REUNION
 
And talking of Pras, it was almost like a reunion at the club last Saturday. Good winds, 6-7m weather and all but 3 of the Pras crowd were down to show off their suntans and immaculate gybes (or not). Others out and enjoying themselves included the ever present Paula, Ronnie, Muriel and Ali. In fact Ali provide the major entertainment of the day when his mast insisted in staying in 1 piece - where 2 pieces would have been better to fit into his car to go home. The usual tricks were tried including 2 booms, tug of war, hot kettle and swearing profusely. But all the kings men - and Humpty Dumpty - couldn't put it back (to 2 pieces) again. Ali was last seen driving off with a lot mast protruding from the back of his car.
 
It was a typical autumn day at NSC. Good winds mostly, fairly flat and a lot of blasting. Wookie and Ali raced and then squabbled about who was faster. And a number of master blasters were organised and run across the lough and back. There was some fast sailing, some good gybes and some excellent crashes. It's funny how it was so much easier on the flat water of Pras.
 
And my thanks to the hardy few who turned up on Sunday to take a turn at tidying up the club for the opening. This was arranged at short notice, so don't feel guilty if you weren't there. At least some windsurfers were seen to be helping out.
 
 
OCTOBER 2006 MORE

NEWTOWNARDS WINDSURFING E-NEWSLETTER
 
CONTENTS
 
And the plan for the 2007 holiday is ...
Too many Pros in Donegal?
The club house is now officially open
Those pesky chairs again
The usual - bits at the end
 
AND THE PLAN FOR THE 2007 HOLIDAY IS ....
 
Yes, we're only just back from getting a great sun tan (especially on our feet) in Donegal - indeed only a month since we were doing serious foot damage in Rhodes - and already we're thinking about 2007.
 
We have a number of places in mind for the main warm water holiday, but the real decision springs from when we go. That dictates where we are most likely to get wind. The possible dates being talked about are :
 
1    End of June
2    End of July
3    End of August
4    Early September
 
So if you're interested in coming with us (remember this is open to NSC and non NSC members) then let me know your preference. People have various pressures of jobs, families etc and we can't please everyone. But if any of these do or don't suit you, tell us now as we're going to set the plans in place much earlier for 2007 to ensure we get direct flights at the best price.
 
We're also interested to know who would be up for another wave week in Donegal, almost certainly in October again. So if you're interested shout now, otherwise we might think it's not worth the hassle.
 
 
TOO MANY PROS IN DONEGAL
 
It's like buses, you don't see a pro running a wave sailing course in Donegal for ages, then two come along at once. So it was that last week Guy Cribb had one bunch of real men wave sailors - and Peter Hart had a bunch of girls who occasionally got wet in Donegal.
 
Despite 16 of us enjoying Prasonisi at the start of September, a surprising number also managed to get a pass for this wave sailing week. We had 11 NSC members or friends-of plus an odd few Englishmen who came to make up the numbers - and of course to be ribbed stupid about the football scores. Actually keeping track of everyone wasn't easy as very few people could manage a full week so close on the heels of Pras, so a lot came up and down for various bits of the week. The result was a real headache for Andy as he tried to figure out who was there on any given day - and a real game of musical beds as to who was sleeping with whom. We actually stayed at Corcreggan Mill near Dunfanaghy which has been converted into a sort of hostel cum up-market bed and breakfast. If you're heading up that way, they're very flexible and cook a great breakfast. Oddly, they have a fully blown railway carriage (now a dormitory) but no bar. However with a shared taxi/minibus system costing 2 Euros per body into the town, a bar was never too far away.
 
We've had Guy Cribb do 2 shorter courses at the club, so we already know just how good a coach he is. However this was the first time any of us had been on a wave sailing course. The first shock came when we reached the beach in light winds and Guy said no-one could use a sail bigger than 5.8m and no-one could wear boots. This is Donegal in October for goodness sake. And didn't he know just how awful our feet looked after a week's abuse in Pras? No excuses were accepted, but fortunately the water was amazingly warm and your feet just don't get cold when you're wavesailing (honest).
 
We used various beaches, Magheroarty and Lettermacaward (between Dungloe and Glenties) provided excellent waves but were a bit light on the winds. We also had 1 day at Rossapenna for some flat water tips and a lot of professional abuse about our lack of tacking ability. The weather was marvellous, in the sense that it was warm, very sunny and completely dry. However the winds were low by Donegal standards, so no ballistic 4m sessions. Guy kept telling us that this was good for us, wobbling out in often large waves was somehow good for the soul (but not necessarily the soles) and once out you can tack (or not) and ride the waves back in. And so the pattern was set with much wobbling and crashing (both on the water and off).
 
Guy's training started with how to save your kit first and then secondly how to save yourself - clearly the right priorities. The kit saving bit involved lying on your sail to sink it before a wave crashes - some of us were particularly well equipped to weigh down a sail like this. Then we moved on to running beach starts, particularly annoying when you start like this and then the wave sucks out beneath you leaving you impaled on the sand. We did bottom turns and lip smacking - which Andy put to particularly good use in the disco on Friday night....
 
We did get a couple of days when the wind was reasonable and it was a fine sight to see 10 sails on or in the waves, even if at any one time 3-4 of them we going through the rinse cycle. We covered jumps on the way out and riding and turning on the way back. Wookie and Damien reigned supreme in these conditions with some very good wave riding, but everyone who went caught waves and improved visibly. Interestingly, quite a few of us have been sailing in waves in Donegal a lot - but with little or no idea what you should be doing. So now, instead of doing a few swervey things on a wave, we actually know what the objective is even if we don't smack too many lips other than our own.
 
My own personal memory is of sailing out in low winds against the waves with Andy. We'd got past the worst and were relaxing when I suddenly heard Andy say 'Oh S***, it's lunch time'. I looked up to see a monster rogue wave about a mast and half high welling up in front of us. Andy meant that that we were the lunch - and right enough we were duly eaten and spat out. Oh yes - and it had 2 big friends following it who were also hungry .....
 
For some reason, Guy also took it into his head to start to teach forward loops. We thought there were enough loopers present, but he insisted on people doing loop progression. This starts with firing your rig forward and then being thrown in front of your own board (forward loop without the board). Now that's a catapult in my book, but soon normally sane (well, almost) people were flying through the air and landing on their posteriors. Scary stuff. It was about then that the damage started. Ali (aka FMT) broke his first mast on the second day. Once he'd got the hang of it he really got into the groove, eventually taking his total to 3 broken masts. Jack didn't want to be left out so he joined in, but never really threatened Ali's score.
 
Now what about Harty's girls I hear you ask? Well, they kept following us around. They arrived at Lettermacaward shortly after us and the same again at Magheroarty the next day. A few NSC regulars were on their course, as ever including the gruesome twosome of Harry and Guy. To our amazement, we even saw these 2 on the water - we thought they just hung around in bars together. The rest of the week we saw the Hart convoy of vehicles parked outside various pubs - we're not sure if they also did some sailing too.
 
Then one day at Magheroarty we were approached on the beach by two girls - were they after our manly bodies, had they heard about our wavesailing prowess and come to admire? No, they were windsurfing and had been looking to join the Harty crowd but got their VW stuck in the sand. So to a man (except for Phil) we immediately abandoned the excellent waves, ran up the beach and hiked over the dunes to help. As you can probably tell, these girls were not unattractive! And boy were they well dug in. However, cometh the hour, cometh the engineer and so when male grunt had failed, engineering cunning and a bit of brainpower soon had the girls back on the road. And who was the genius who figured it out, well modesty forbids...
 
So can't you just see the headline - Harty course rescued by Guy Cribbers...
 
So who was there and who did what -
 
Wookie really excelled getting some excellent jumps, piles of wave riding and some excellent bottom and top turns. He was so happy on the last day that he actually smiled. Sadly, I didn't get my camera in time.
 
Andy had a couple of dry days - by which I mean he didn't go windsurfing. There was a rumour going round that he was practising to join the Harty group. As ever Andy entertained us all in his inimitable fashion, I won't say more except to say that he'd have been better to keep the trap shut....
 
Once more the poor lesbians of Enniskillen were left to their own devices as Damien and Tim fled the Share Centre and took to the waves. Both sailed well, with Damien especially fast to accelerate (vital to get out through the impact zone). And Tim earned my undying gratitude for breaking into my car with suspicious speed when I managed to lock my keys in.
 
Tony could only stay for half the course but he was catching waves and getting some great rides and forward flings.
 
Ali, who fortunately had four 430mm masts (at the start) put his usual speed to good effect and was also seen on a lot of waves. He is now also known as Tourets on account of his nice way with short words.
 
Phil floated in and out in his usual Casper fashion (that's before he was on the water), but also visibly improved his windsurfing and managed some very difficult conditions very well.
 
Our visitors from England fitted in well and had a great time on the water. Jack especially threw himself into the forward training with guts and David showed just how good you can get by going on courses like this. We had another Andy (no, you're right there can only be one - fortunately) who, despite the wispy beard-thing really loved the whole Donegal experience (it was his first visit) and is very keen to come back.
 
And the 'let's frighten the locals' prize goes to Guy, Jack and myself for wearing woman's pants over our wetsuits while sailing at Rossapenna. We can't quite figure out what made Guy stop and buy a 3 pack of pants, we guess he's just that type of a person. But we wore these as a badge of honour, so much so that we forgot we were wearing them until we got some very strange looks from some elderly ladies taking a constitutional on the beach. I guess they now know that all windsurfers are mad.
 
Various other people appeared more briefly, Colin Kelly managed 2 days and the all important Friday night. Did you know there was a disco in Falcarragh on a Friday, well neither did Colin until he was dragged into it. Mark Heron was engulfed there too and also had a couple of days great sailing. Thriller Jackson appeared complete with guitars for a rather untuneful session one evening (he was great, it was the rest of us who let the side down). So he took Jack off to a singing pub and proceeded to entertain the audience for a few hours. He is that good.
 
But the biggest shout has to go to Paula who tore up on Saturday morning and braved the waves for the first time. While she took a pasting as we all do on the first time (and often many other times), she stuck at it as she does and was seen successfully riding the odd wave.
 
So a big thanks to Wookie and Andy for making it happen. And for those of you undecided about the benefits - if another wave clinic is organised, just go on it. Don't just sail in waves, learn a few basics and really enjoy wave sailing!
 
 
THE CLUB HOUSE IS NOW OFFICIALLY OPEN
 
Yes, you may now officially go and drink in the upstairs bar and admire one of the best views in Ireland - either the fabulous Strangford Lough, or various windsurfers showing off or struggling to get back in.
 
And as you climb the stairs you'll notice a plaque confirming that the Mayor did the honours a week ago. The place was packed and I should warn you that photographs were taken and will appear in the papers.
 
Of more interest to windsurfers was the fact that we organised some racing and got some great wind on the day. There were 2 races, the first a full 5 buoy 3 mile job set with fiendish cunning by Ronnie. The second was a 2 mile master blaster out and round a suitably positioned boat.
 
The first race started well up wind and there was a lot of sailing to be done just to get to the start line. However plenty of us made it in time on about 7.5m sails. There was an agreed flag and horn sequence and just as the final flag dropped, Wookie went blasting through the start line - an absolutely brilliantly timed race start. The rest of us struggled to follow him, only to be amazed to see him tack and turn back. Most of us assumed there must have been a false start and also turned back - so hear Chris Loughridge laughed at us as he steamed by. It turned out that Wookie can't count and thought the race hadn't started, so his brilliant start was a complete freak. Chaos ensued during which Chris won the race by a mile. Wookie recovered brilliantly to come second, only to be disqualified for missing out a buoy, leaving me in second place.
 
The master blaster went more smoothly, with Chris coming first and Alan Yeates coming second - but got shy and gave his prize up for Wookie (who was third) as he felt he was a deserving cause.
 
Special prizes were also awarded to Paula (leading lady) and Colin for the best crash around a gybe mark - this is normally a pile up of a several boards, but Colin managed it all on his own!
 
Life membership was given out to Lawrence Baalham for leading the club house rebuilding. Lawrence has been and continues to be a great supporter of windsurfers at the club and we congratulate him on a well deserved award!
 
It was a fun day and there were about 20 windsurfing sails on the water and a good turn out for the free food and drink and prize giving.
 
 
NOVEMBER 2006

NEWTOWNARDS WINDSURFING E-NEWSLETTER
 
 
CONTENTS
 
The Perfect cure for Jetlag
Windsurfer's back
Andy's Undercarriage
Eat with the Sailors
Early plans for 2007
The usual - bits at the end
 
THE PERFECT CURE FOR JETLAG
 
Some of you have been wondering why there's been no windsurfing e-mail for over a month - the reason of course is that I haven't been out since the Guy Cribb Donegal thing in October. Unless your name is Andy or you're your own boss like Mr Yeates, normal people only get let out at the weekends these dark days. And of course, Mondays are windy - so how nice to get a nice warm(ish) windy Saturday for a change. And plenty of us took full advantage.
 
The conditions were 5m weather most of the day, with more in the early morning and a lot more in the hour before dark, as it swung a bit more northerly. The water was remarkably flat considering the amount of wind, the squalls were clearly getting well over 30 mph.
 
It wasn't cold either, although beginning to remind you that the gloves would be coming out soon. I noted quite a few people sporting new winter headgear, I think someone's done a deal on a job lot of very dodgy rubber helmet jobbies as I saw Tony Egerton and Paula sporting some very strange-looking stuff. In fact it made them look like mad parachutists who'd lost their back packs. Well, I never did really get the whole fashion thing.
 
Chris Loughridge was out and flying, we watched him burn off the Wookie which isn't easy to do. A JP with a racing fin apparently did the trick. We're not clear if the racing fin was on the board - or stuck into Wookie.
 
A nice thing was to see a number of intermediates about, knowing 25 mph winds were going to be testing, but still out giving it a whirl. Muriel was one of these, actually handling the conditions well.
 
There seemed to be a family thing going on as the Pollens (Trevor and Keith) and the Coles (Ricki and co.) were to the fore. We were also amazed to see the ever present Paula out on what looked like an custom painted antique ironing board. It turned out of course be one of Trevor Pollen's newer boards which he'd kindly lent her to try out. Only problem was that it was made for much older sails (possibly with tie on booms?) and the mast track looked like it was at the nose compared to modern boards. Paula, with new sails, handled this mismatch very well - but even she baulked at the paint job.
 
As for me, I was desperate to get out having landed at 7am on a USA flight. I spent just enough time at home to say hello and goodbye and headed for the club in search of a cure for jetlag. I don't know if it was the fresh air, or constant refreshing dip in the salt water (aka a gybe), but it worked. I'd recommend it to anyone, along with of course the obligatory pint of Guinness on 'our' chairs in the bar afterwards.
 
Others seen about included Russell, Raptor, Andy Warwick, Wilson Hamilton, Ronnie and David Brown. Colin Kelly was out, but sloped off early to watch the rugby - very poor form...
 
Reports also reached me of a crowded Ballyholme and some good sailing. Nice location and some waves of course, but isn't it getting a bit cold to be changing outside there - and no pint of Guinness afterwards.
 
I also heard that a number of people went up to Donegal for the weekend. Friday saw some nice sailing, but Saturday was killer-weather at Magheroarty. Andy (very wisely) didn't venture out, but a couple of experienced and fit guys did, including Big Robert (still no idea) and didn't stay out long. Andy claims the waves were the height of our new club house - so you can at least believe they were pretty high. One brave sailor got a mega wipe out and a severe pummelling before making it exhausted to the shore.
 
 
WINDSURFER'S BACK
 
We were very pleased to see Wookie on the water again, although disappointed he hadn't got his ball with him. The oul sod has had a few back problems, only to be told by the physio that this she's seen quite a few windsurfers' backs - although we can't quite believe that she's actually seen Wookie's, not through all that hair. Anyway, she's recommended to him to work on his core muscles and to use a ball to do it. So were confidently expecting things to be a bit crowded, what with both Wookie and his ball on his 78 ltr wave board. Actually, knowing him he'd probably still manage to plane out of his gybes, ball and all.
 
There is a serious point to this, as the talk in the bar afterwards revealed that a number of us have had back problems. The most common one is lower back and this is likely to be caused by inattention to the core. And it's not difficult to fix - or more importantly to do preventative exercises so you never have the problem in the first place.
 
So we were wondering - if we arranged a night with a physio to speak at the club, would any of you be interested. The plan would be for her to explain the issues and some of the exercises you could do to avoid it happening. Considering that we do have quite an number of windsurfers no longer in their twenties, this could be a very real topic.
 
If you think you'd be keen on this, please let me know.
 
 
ANDY'S UNDERCARRIAGE
 
You may have heard on the news that there was a potentially serious incident at Liverpool airport. A flight from Belfast had a problem and landed with part of the under carriage collapsed.
 
What you may not know is that our one and only Andy Tease was on this flight, although like everyone else he was fortunately unhurt.
 
And just in case you're wondering - the under carriage collapsed on Andy's side of the plane. Surely a coincidence.....
 
 
NOVEMBER 2006 AGAIN

NEWTOWNARDS WINDSURFING E-NEWSLETTER
 
 
CONTENTS
 
Ships that pass in the night
Progress
The usual - bits at the end
 
SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT
 
Well actually not so much of a ship, more of a supertanker ....
 
Just in case any of you are thinking that the season is over and no-one sails at this time of year, think again. There have been a number of windy episodes including a great Sunday last week (which I missed) and also some very big stuff at Kearney. I heard tales of various seriously good windsurfers crouching in shelter there muttering that the wind would surely calm down soon - a bit of a change from the usual 'I'm sure it's about to come up'....
 
Saturday saw big crowds at the club and indeed quite a few miserable freezers at the carpark too. Many had only come with small boards and sails with their hopes raised by the weatherforecasts which all showed it blowing a hoolie. You really shouldn't believe these you know - did you know that BBC NI recently played Thursday's forecast on Friday morning by mistake? I mean, would you put your faith in the people who bring you I'm a nonentity get me out of here? Many did and we sorely disappointed.
 
The wise (or the plain desperate to get out) rigged around 7m and went out. This included Paula, myself, Russell and Tourrette (Ali F'n Todd). Others preferred to wait most of the day as they were absolutely sure it would come up. So there was much standing around with little to do. The tedium was relieved by a flying visit by John Bedford who had rigged at the carpark but never got out and who eventually dropped into the club to exchange pleasantries. Not being a member these days he didn't have a key card for the gate but he arrived just as someone was leaving so he jumped out of his car (outside the gate) and made a dash to get through on foot as the gate closed. He made it, with a flying tackle Mr O'Driscoll would have been proud of. Sadly he landed on a muddy patch and finished sliding along on his back in a muddy pool. So it was a rather browned off Mr Bedford who eventually limped over to speak to us.
 
Mr Yeates appeared looking cool in dark shades and bumped into a lot things. He never actually got wet though.
 
Aaron has been a rare visitor but he came down for some higher wind instruction from Andy - and who is more authoritative on wind than Andy - and had a good sail, although sadly not in higher wind.
 
About 3pm Wookie suddenly jumped up and said it's arrived, changed, rigged and went out. We don't know if it's a 6th sense or something in his follicles but he was right - and I for 1 changed down to my 6.3. Soon a lot of people were out on rather bumpy conditions, the tide was high and very full. Ming the Merciless moved from a 7.8 to a 6 and flew about as ever. Ronnie spent more time cursing the conditions than sailing.
 
At 4pm it was getting dark and most of us were coming in - and only then did Andy rig up and get out. As ever he borrowed everyone else's kit, first somehow holding down a 7.8 and then taking Ming's 6m. So it was that when I came out after getting changed that it was pitch dark and you could only just see the silhouette of Andy and his sail against the (night) sky. Since he was the only one out (oddly enough), we suppose it was safe enough, but it's a frightening thought if you were out and happened to meet this particular ship in the night.
 
So the forecast 30 knots never quite appeared, well not in daylight, but some of us retired to the bar afterwards for a pint of Guinness and to listen to the squeals of Andy as he sailed in the night.
 
 
PROGRESS
 
Plans for the GPS event are moving slowly. It's definitely going to happen and will be run from March to June, sponsorship has been agreed in principle. We're currently trying to set up a prize giving, but it also looks like we may have a kick-off event with possibly Dave White (current waterspeed record holder) as a speaker. More when we know it, but you can start sandpapering those fins anytime.
 
I asked a while ago if anyone was interested in storing equipment in the old boatshed. We're not quite there yet, but the more likely scenario is that the old boatshed will be knocked down and the large red container will be moved onto it. And this will probably be made available for kit storage. It's still likely that we'll arrange cut price storage for the first year for those who help fit it out, but more details are yet to be arranged. Keep reading.
 
A number of people indicated they would be interested in a talk by a physio on how to look after your back and how to exercise for windsurfing. We may have enough interest to run the event, but if anyone else is interested - please reply and let me know.
 
A big thanks to those of you (quite a few) who replied to the windsurfing holiday survey. Although not decisive, it has helped us get our thinking straight. We are investigating Tenerife for mid/late June or late August right now. But until we have more work done, nothing is decided. If anyone else wants to throw their t'pence worth into the ring, just let me know.
 
And don't forget the club AGM on 8 December. Mr Todd and Mr Young are standing for election and Wookie and I are standing for re-election. So you might like to consider supporting us (or not!).
 
DECEMBER 2006

NEWTOWNARDS WINDSURFING E-NEWSLETTER
 
 
CONTENTS
 
The Few
Wookie gets a Brazilian
Support your club
The usual - bits at the end
 
THE FEW
 
You might have noticed, it's been rather windy recently. And it hasn't been (relatively) too cold. Various tales have reached me of mid-weekers trying to sail in some pretty horrendous winds. A number went down to the club on Thursday, but only a couple went out. Andy took his smallest sail (4m) and got 'smashed into my sail and had the boom wrenched out of my hands'. Windy indeed.
 
And on Sunday some particularly brave souls went to Magheroarty where huge swells were forecast. I don't know if they sailed, but I do know that the combination of big winds and high tides flooded the road and so they were stranded at the rigging area and had to wait for low tide to drive off.
 
Saturday saw quite a big turn out at the club for some up and down 6.5m weather. Ali Todd, Russell, Paula, Ronnie, Wookie and I amongst others had quite a good sail. But Sunday was always forecast to be the big day. Andy, Simon, Mark and others were out at dawn and looked at Kearney - and thought better of it. Eventually some people went out but no-one stayed out too long. Those of us who went to the club had difficulty even getting there as parts of the Portaferry Road were closed with flooding. The club itself was nearly drowned with a super high tide and such high winds and waves that the rigging area was covered in water and rocks (thrown up by the waves). There was no safe place to launch. Wookie, Trevor Gabbie, Ronnie and I sat in the comfort of the club house until the tide dropped a little and then Wookie and I went out on 4 and 4.5m. It was very hard work, but nice. Trevor Pollen appeared - clearly straight from the dishes as he had his marigolds on - and joined us. A small band of sailors looked at us aghast, clearly thinking we were mad. Debbie told us the gusts were in the 40s, but mostly it was 25-30 mph winds. I can tell you, that we - the few - slept very well in our beds that night (but not together).
 
WOOKIE GETS A BRAZILIAN
 
Bet that got your imagination working overtime. What I actually mean is that Wookie is heading off to spend most of December in Jeri in Brazil, lucky sod. Are we jealous, constant 5m weather, warm and waves - you bet. He's promised us a full report, so there's something to look forward to in the early new year.
 
Not too sure if I want to see the photographs though...