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Ming and Angie

Ducklings in Dahab

Donegal for Everyone

The Usual


Ming AKA Angie



You've got to hand it to Ming, not just is he relentless - but he has hidden talents. He's clearly going to be the new Angie Phillips, although hopefully he might be better dressed. After all, we all curse weather forecasters up and down because they always get the wind wrong. Saturday I was doomed to another windless weekend, but Ming Phillips rang me and said that it would get windy later on and that Ballyturd was the place to be. As I looked out at a windless Lisburn and a pile of forecasts that said no way, I thought he was mad. But I still got into the car and drove to Bangor.

And when I arrived to find a millpond and even the teabaggers were sitting disconsolately on the beach, I really thought Ming had lost it. 30 minutes later I was out blasting hard on my 9.4m, soon to be blown off the water and change down to 7.5m. Quite a few people (Ming has many followers) were on 6 something and I even saw a 5.6m in use. As the tide came in, some waves developed. All in all a great few hours windsurfing and as I left around 7pm it was still windy.

All praise Ming the Merciless, Master of the Universe, is I think the quote from the movie.



You all know what a great job Paddy has been doing in transforming windsurfing at Newtownards Sailing Club. There are a pile of instructors, a queue to do windsurfing lessons, loads of new and younger people joining the club and some of them are starting to get annoyingly good! Paddy has also instigated the NSC Club Night on Tuesdays. In place of the old wife swapping games (allegedly) of the old days, Paddy leads his 'ducklings' onto the water to improve and have fun. Hence the term Paddy's ducklings.


Not a duckling - but Max's sister

And so it was that Paddy decided to see just how far he could lead his ducklings - and lo and behold, they were prepared to follow him to Egypt. 10 of them in fact, all the way to Dahab.


Ducklings in Dahab

Most flew from George Best and stayed in the Premiere Inn at Gatwick ready to fly out the next morning. Fred and Rachel decided not to slum it with the serfs and stayed in a more up market hotel - no doubt with more salubrious company.

This played Into Stephen Robinson's and David McClement's hands who also planned to rush off on arrival to rush into London to see The Heineken Rugby cup final. The flight arrived at 4.40pm and the match kicked off at 5.00pm. Suffice to say after a sprint all the way there from train to train they made the second half. The result is of course (painful) history - so now we know who to blame. However have jinxed Ulster they still came back with smiles on their  tired looking faces having enjoyed the experience even with the disappointing score. It was also noticeable that they smelled of beer - but then they usually do of course.



The next day was an early start and all met at the Monarch check in. David took charge (perhaps he didn't trust Paddy), but the tone for the week was set with an extensive fry before boarding. The flight was a long and cramped uncomfortable five hours to Sharm where they were met by the Neilson Rep who guided  them to their bus and then on to Dahab. We won't say too much about the standard of driving in Egypt, except to say that everyone managed to keep their breakfast down, but wished they'd had a pile of beers with it.

Dahab is a windsurfing bay surrounded by hotels, mostly large European ones like the Hilton. It's all very modern, nicely laid out and it's only a few minutes walk from any hotel to the windsurfing centres - of which there are many.


Our team were shown into little chalet type rooms all clean and tidy, with baloneys onto a lovely green lawn.  These all led down towards the beach and of course the Neilson centre. No windsurfing that day, but the next morning (after a  good breakfast naturally) the entire team put on their matching Dahab beach shirts and headed towards the reception. Now I need to explain this. You know the way many parents put their children out in matching outfits. Well so did the NSC crew - rather apt when you think what a bunch of kids they are. Actually they looked quite nice (the outfits, not the wearers) with the name of the club and Dahab 2012 on them. Sadly the printers made a mistake and forget to put the words across the back of the rash vests - W-anchors....

Will, the Neilson rep, gave the team the guided tour of the hotel (they'd already found the bar of course) and then the Neilson centre. After introductions to the staff everyone was broken down into groups of differing levels - crap, very crap etc. Each group had an instructor who looked after and taught that group all week. Paddy found that his instructor had the rather apt name of Amazing Kamal - which turned out to be a good description of the night life as well. Paddy tells me that AK could do tricks that Paddy hadn’t even seen before - although he didn't elaborate as to whether these tricks were performed on the water or in a sleazey nightclub.


Gay ducklings

So here's Paddy's description of how they got on :

So we started sailing out to the lagoon and across. The sail size was 5-5.5m on the first day. I wanted to blast so took a 6.4m Lightning. Great fun fully powered all the time. Then in the afternoon I went smaller and out to the baby bay on the other side of the sand bar that divided the location in two.

This was kind of the order of things for the next few days. And it was amazing watching the guys improve with the fantastic tuition. Tim was cracking his first good gybes. David was blasting like never before, really committed as the flat water was really giving the intermediates the confidence to push their limits.

Unfortunately on day one Stephen sailed too close to the point of the sand bar and fell in. He put his hand down to support himself and placed it on a sea urchin filling his hand with spines. It looked sore so must have really hurt. Hats off to him as he was out the next day again after soaking his hand in hot water - or was it warm beer? Although later in the week he did it again, this time on his foot. But was back on the water soon afterwards with out any grumbling. A real trooper or a total masochist - you decide.

My Highlight was on Thursday after lunch when the wind was light and I decided to go big. I took out the Isonic 117 and a lovely 7.8m Lightning. As the afternoon progressed the wind kept filling. It turned out to be one of the windiest days. I was stacked but with the flat water blasted in control. Absolutely sublime. I timed myself sailing right across the bay gybing around a moored yacht on the other side and back to the inner bay. 4mins  20 seconds. Class !!

So as you can tell the windsurfing was amazing 5 out of six days wind isn’t bad.  The only poor wind day was Wednesday and that had none whatsoever. I went for a scuba dive and so enjoyed that while the others went snorkelling and supping.  This was seen as a day of rest well earned let me tell you.


For those of you who haven't been to Dahab, it's perhaps worth explaining that the bay is long with a shallow end and a deep end. The outside of the bay is mostly a long sandbank which almost makes the bay into a lake. However it doesn't extend all the way so it's possible to 'escape' to the outside where there is a fabulous speed run. The shallow end of the bay has some metal towers where you can stand with a camera and get some great shots. Unfortunately Paddy's ducklings were enjoying themselves too much and so didn't do this.



As for off the water, once more I'll hand over to our social correspondent, Paddy :

So what else can I add? The resort was lovely. The team at Neilson where fantastic.  They also organised a pub quiz and BBQ for us. There were always things to do if your body would hold up. Cycling safaris, trips into the town, snorkelling trip, diving. Evenings had a cabaret singer most nights although the less said about him the better. And then there was the amazing night of darts which involved the Russians and their glamorous wives playing darts and finishing off with a wife swapping dance. They'd clearly put this on just to make the Newtownards crew feel at home. So if you were into people or couple watching this is the place after dark. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase scoring a double...

Frankly I'm not quite sure what this last thing is all about, but sadly there are no photographs and I'm not quite sure where the camal or Kamal comes in ...

Now what about the people. Well, once more Paddy has dished the dirt :

David Brown got his legs cut up badly on his board and looked like he had been attacked, Nobody wanted to sail near him in case he attracted a shark. Little did they know he'd just tried to shave his legs after 6 pints...

Davey McClements got eaten alive by sand flies and looked like he had been shot in the legs by a shotgun by the time we left on Sunday. Despite his injuries he really improved over the week and became a lot more committed and locked down. In his case this has really showed in how he now sails back at the club.

Noel Mcbratney had  an ace time, loved the windsurfing and fell in love. Just to be clear, this was with a certain Isonic 121. Enough said. He got a real builders' tan due to all the time in a rash vest. Or was it because his buttocks were showing?


Love - Egyptian style

Mark Johnston was a star and never missed a class. He worked tirelessly on those waterstarts. Things were coming on nicely all week.  And he still went to the gym after nearly every day's sailing.

Tim McCartney wanted to crack gybing  and was out loads in the bay sailing with Davey and by the end of the week was spotted pulling off gybes. So great progress and he's promised to try them on his return from his next holiday to Vagas! Unfortunately when he was away his dog contracted a stomach ailment and he has spent most of his time since his return worrying and at the vet. Now I've seen some mad excuses for poor gybing - but 'my dog's ill and I'm a wreck worrying about him' is right up there!

Fred Poirier worked very hard on his technique. And we were seriously impressed with his improvement. Filled with new found confidence, he's now taken out his new Fanatic Ray 95 and has been seen planning away on it. So he will be one to watch now. He also fell in love at Dahab - but in his case with fish. If there's a word for this it's not in my dictionary. But he'd regularly sneak off for a underwater rendezvou  with them snorkel and mask in hand. But Rachel his wife didn’t mind sharing him as she could relax with her book by the pool.


So Mr Pantie, would you do it again?

All in all a great trip. One I would definitely do again. Everyone had fun and kept smiling even with the heat and insect bites.
The question in where next as Neilson are pulling out of Egypt in July. WE WILL SEE!!!

Actually, I know exactly where next. Donegal in October - and no sea urchins, gay fish or heat. See below!


Once again, I want to let you know about Donegal - because you need to get the finger out and get booked or you will miss out! And remember that this year it's dual tuition - both waves and for normal sailors.

  • Windsurfing Freeride Course with Waves
  • Week commencing 15th October
  • 6  days again, Mon - Sat most likely
  • Instructors Phil Richards and Danielle Lucas
  • Expert video feedback every evening
  • Professional quality photographs and videos, available for low extra cost
  • It will be 1 or 2 people instructoring depending on the numbers
  • If it's one, then we split mornings/afternoons between flat water and waves
  • It it's two, we run in parallel
  • Instruction cost £170 pp
  • Good quality accommodation available at the Loch Altan Hotel

This year we want to really open up this wonderful venue to everyone and so this is not a wave course. Ideally if we get enough people we will have 2 expert instructors, Phil and Danielle. Last year they were immense and continued the supportive, gentle but expert instruction style of Jim Collis.

If we have 2 instructors, and that's down to you, each day we will split into 2 groups. One will work on flat water, gybes, tacks, slalom - in fact whatever you want. The other will give instruction on the waves. If numbers dictate only a single instructor, then the split will be morning/afternoon. In this case when your group is not under instruction you'll be free to simply sail and enjoy. In all cases each evening we will have the expert feedback based on the videos shot that day. You will improve massively.

So if you're an improver or an intermediate, sign up and improve your flat water skills. You will also have the opportunity tp cross over and enjoy some early wave coaching if you wish. And if you're a wave head, I don't need to tell you how good it was last year. Sign up and get more of the same.

The price has been held low this year to encourage numbers. £170 per person for this level of coaching is fantastic. So sign up and get your mates to do the same, this is a numbers game and the more people the better it will be for everyone.

To be totally clear, this course is open to everyone. It's not just NSC members and of course it's now open to a much wider range of abilities. And of course we'll welcome windsurfers from anywhere including Ireland and the UK.

To join in, let me know and I will provide you with bank details to transfer your £50 deposit. This is returnable up until we have sufficient numbers to ensure the course will run. After that it's non-returnable so if you have to drop out you'll need to find a mate to take your place.

6 days of expert tuition suited to all levels, video coaching in a fabulous location. It just doesn't get any better. Sign up now - or Andy will be paying you a visit...

The Usual Plug

You're receiving this because you registered on the / site, you can stop at any time, just follow the links.

You can also register your mates, just fill in their e-mail address and the system will e-mail them and check if they're happy to receive my meanderings. Why not share the pain with them?

And we're always looking for reports, ideally with photographs, so if you want to share the craic with or dish the dirt on your mates - just drop us a line!

These newsletters are about the people who windsurf - anywhere in Ireland. But a lot of the action takes place at Newtownards Sailing Club - probably the largest windsurfing club in Ireland. For lessons, great beginner kit, to join or just to sail there as a guest and try it out, see the website at