We Who Are About to Die (of cold) Salute You

We Who Are About to Die (of cold) Salute You

And Other Days

Donegal Update

The Usual Plug



Remember Russell Crowe in Gladiator, the gladiators in the ring would say 'we who are about to die salute you' to the emperor. Well we too had an emperor (as in Ming the Merciless, Emperor or the Universe) and we too were about to die - of cold.

In bird watching terms it was very exciting as 3 very rare birds were spotted walking down the road to Whiterocks with their boards. The Lessor Spotted Lord, the Emperor Bald Eagle and the Worm-tailed Wookie. The only species missing was of course the Great Tit, but he for once was at work at the Aquarium...

And this was today - as our news remains filled with stuck in the snow, no electricity and cancelled football match stories. So no wonder we thought we were going to die.

I also have to say that it's the first time that I've had to take a shovel and dig out my windsurfing trailer from the snow at my house before I could go windsurfing....

As with most things in life, it was all Ming's fault. He was determined to go out and so bravely Wookie and I joined him. Whiterocks is a great place to sail, but it has a problem and that's the sheltered shore. So you need to have big enough kit to get out against the easterly wind which is when you sail there. But once you've got out, you're likely to be over powered. The only saving grace is the many long, low and treeless islands between there and Ringhaddy. So you can keep in behind these and experience slightly less wind and at times mirror flat water. It's actually a great place to sail - even more so if you have access to the Wookie's nice warm garage to get changed in.

Just to show what a real Titanium man he is, Ming actually chose to get changed down at the shore. 'Sure it's 3 degrees, just a normal day at Ballyholme' was his phrase - much to the delight of the elderly living in the areas who were able to enjoy a nice bit of voyeurism from the warmth of their own homes without having to drive to a windswept carpark to enjoy a bit of elderly mini-dogging. If you don't know what I mean, then go and sail in Ballyturd - but hold on to your towel.

I chose 7.5m on my 122 Fire Race, Ming 7.8 on 102 and Wookie a very badly rigged 6.5 on 104. The Furry One got his extension settings wrong and didn't put enough downhaul on. He suffered, which didn't detract from our day at all of course.

We all had a fair amount of clinging on to do at times, but we were also fairly belting along. Ming had his intergalactic speedometer on and knows he only did 29 knots. Since I overtook him at one stage and Wookie is pretty intergalactic on the water himself that gives you some idea of the speeds.

The other downside of Whiterocks is the moorings. In the Summer they've got ruddy big boats attached to them but in the Winter you need to look out for stupidly small buoys ready to smash your board. The other trap of course is when plonkers, I mean sailors, no actually I do mean plonkers, tie 2 buoys together with a rope. So you get a horizontal trip wire. First over the handlebars was Wookie who somehow managed not to break anything despite being at full throttle at the time. The Ming did the same thing on a different rope. He was so smashed (his kit was fine) that he took about a minute in the water to pull himself together before trying to sail on.

In fact he was so knocked about that he didn't even have his usual energy for a bit of fisting. As you know he normally takes his frustration out on his board - although I'm not sure if Wookie and I would have been safe from the royal fist, but we were too fast for him to get in range. And to be doubly sure, I was wearing a seat harness...

We sailed for around 2 hours and to be honest it wasn't that cold. However the look of pity and sympathy we got from the locals when we got back was funny to watch. They clearly thought we were mad - they're probably right.



It's been a while since I've posted, mostly because there has been relatively little windsurfing to write about.

Yes the weather's strange, but not always strange bad. Mid February threw up some lovely days - take the Sunday after Valentines day ie the Sunday after Wookie sent a valentines card to his favourite board (90 ltr slalom of course - she was delighted). It was sunny, it was windy (enough) and it was 9 degrees - positively tropical. From early on folk were out on 6.6m or thereabouts. After the recent cold spell it felt quite warm and even battery boy Davy didn't have his batteries plugged in. Or to be more exact he still had them plugged in (you can tell from the duck-like walk) but not switched on. In fact we were very surprised to see him windsurfing since the last couple of times he's just drunk coffee, both in and out of his wetsuit - funny way to drink coffee of course, most people drink it out of a cup - but didn't actually sail. His official excuse was 'I couldn't be arsed', so I guess we're back to the batteries again.

Strange happening of the day was that Wookie and Ming headed off to behind Pig Island to play. We're not quite sure what 'play' meant, but they both came back after about an hour looking very happy and Wookie announced that he might joining the club. Make up your own minds, but can you imagine the offspring of such a union - a hairy megliomaniac with an attitude problem and made out of titanium. Scary.

It was good to see Pat out again - we thought it had been a bit quiet. Turns out he's been having some plastic surgery. But now his finger is better and he says for the first time in ages he can grip again. We just don't want to know what it is that he couldn't grip before...

Mid afternoon the wind went patchy and most people assumed it was going to die and so packed up. A few die hards like Ming, Richard and myself loosened some down haul and hoped for the best. And we got it - with another couple of hours of mostly good planing weather. The main problem was a low sun right in line with the main sailing line. I didn't expect to need by waterproof (rubber) sunglasses in February in Newtownards.

And more recently the LTD have been out on most Wednesdays. The strangest by far was this week when the lure of an easterly dragged us to Ballywalter. It had been a bit of a road trip to various locations and all the time the wind was dying. So at by the time the cavalcade reached Ballywalter it was pretty grim. And so it was that big kit went sort of wavesailing. I look 9.4m on a Falcon (semi formula board) while Ming put 9.4 on his full formula. Getting out through the shore break and relatively small waves in very little wind and with big vulnerable kit certainly kept the locals amused. However once we'd struggled out clear of the shore the wind was cleaner and a lot stronger. So we dashed about slapping merrily on waves and wondering whether our knees would explode before our kit did. It's wave sailing Jim, but not as we know it.

Davy made it out, after much wobbling and quite a lot of swearing on 7.5m but never really got going. Richard H however took out around the same sail on a FSW and gave Ming a good run for his money.

And while there's been less windsurfing than we might like, there has been the usual healthy on-line debate about kit and technique. A particular favourite of mine was Davy's wise contribution to a discussion on why so many people's gybes are so bad. He said :

There is a bit of a difference on a nice flat living room floor and bobbing about on water! You should maybe ask the bride to get down on all fours. Strap a board to her back and while standing on the board hit her a slap on the arse. We'll see then if you can carve gybe in the living room. Though I suspect you would probably running out the front door with the wife running after you looking to bury the board somewhere!!

One wonders what Joanne might have to say about this? However it certainly goes a long way to explaining Davy's rather explosive gybes, or attempted gybes. And possibly the way he walks, although we still think that's those batteries again....



I haven't beaten you up about Donegal this September for a while. 

It's all looking very good with so far 17 people going and also some grommets (kids) for the weekend bit. The options are :

  • Up to 6 day wave course ie it's 6 days but you can do less if you need to
  • Up to 4 day flat water course (option of doing less)
  • Flatwater course plus a couple of days of waves
  • Special price for kids for just the Sat/Sun

September isn't that far away, so we'd appreciate those who haven't booked getting on with it. We're not at the stage of having to turn people away, but actually we're not far off it. So don't sit on your posterior, get booked!

And we will put the price up nearer the time (if there any spaces remaining), so if you're thinking of leaving to a weather forecast, forget it. Easyjet pricing and no speedy boarding.

To recap we run two courses, 1 for waveheads and one for flatheads ie anyone of pretty well any level who doesn't want to do waves. After the huge improvements people made last year, many of the flat water people are asking me if they can do the flat water course plus a couple of (gentle) days in waves. The answer is yes. If you can water start, then this is fine - you don't for example need to be able to gybe - which lets most of you in. We're quite happy to provide a mixed package for those that want to swing both ways as it were (including Robblie and Kev obviously).

And, in case you haven't noticed, the flat water course is 4 days this year instead of 3. More chance to improve. Oh yes - these courses are open to anyone ie you don't need to be a member of NSC.

The format and dates for 2013 are :

  • 6 day wave course Sat 14th Sept to Thurs 19th Sept inclusive
  • 4 day flat water course from Fri 20th - Mon 23rd inclusive (2 instructors)
  • Costs are likely to be similar to 2012
  • Both courses are likely to become fully booked
  • £50 deposit secures your place (£25 for grommets)

So contact me for bank details if you don't already have them and get cracking.



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