Mincing in Donegal

More Mincing - This Time at Pier 36

Your Chance to Get Your Own Back!

Almost all photographs gratefully acknowledged as by Danielle Lucus.



Mincing in Donegal - The Story of an Epic Windsurfing Course! Sept 2013

OK - define 'mincing'. The book says :

  1. Cut up or grind (food, esp. meat) into very small pieces, typically in a machine with revolving blades.
  2. Walk with an affected fastidiousness, typically with short quick steps.

And I have to tell you that both really applied to the two Donegal windsurfing courses this year.....


You don't believe me? Here's the scores on the door for this year :

  • 2 - windsurfers in A+E

  • 3 - number of cars damaged

  • 2 - number of sails trashed

  • 2 - number of masts broken

  • 4 - number of extensions broken or bent (yes, we're back to the other definition of mincing here)

So, yes, for the first year ever we got serious wind and the result was that we all got a good mincing from Donegal. And even with these superb conditions, there was still a whole load of 'mincing around' going on each day with people talking, drinking coffee, talking some more, rigging and still not going out - and generally talking bollix. So a lot of people minced before they got minced.

Now in case you've spent a lot of time on Mars recently, or queuing up in A+E and wondering why there were so many windsurfers queuing up ahead of you, this is how the courses were organised. There were actually 2.5 courses. Firstly we had 6 days of wave sailing, however the last 2 days included some of the flat water people from last year who had progressed enough to come and sail with the big boys. And straight after we also had a 4 day long weekend course for intermediates.

The waves were based around the Loch Altan ie we sailed (and were minced by) Magheroarty. However the intermediates was run this year at Downings where most people stayed in luxury at the Downings Bay Hotel - while a few lucky souls went first class at Ming's Palace. This isn't the local Chinese, but a fair description of Mr and Mrs Ming(er)'s luxury pad in the village.

Both courses were very full and were coached again by our excellent friends from the Shire aka Hayling Island - Phil and Danielle from Get Windsurfing. Known to us as the Hobbits, these two provided excellent professional coaching, video feedback sessions and of course Danielle's top class photographs. The only thing missing was a few shots from inside A+E just to round it all off.


The format of any day goes something like this :

  • Huge fried breakfast (well, it is Ireland)
  • Mope around the garage/shop to get food, drink and in Wookie's case bananas for the day (also a good bit of early day practice at mincing)
  • Go the beach and talk/mince/procrastinate
  • Go out windsurfing, receive coaching sessions, have lunch, windsurf some more
  • Eventually Andy would run out of excuses and go out too
  • Crawl back to the hotel for The Salty Pint - not a reflection on the excellent Guinness there, but a rather smelly reflection on salt encrusted windsurfers drinking before they had a shower
  • Enjoy the massacre which is the video feedback session. Phil and Danielle give always positive feedback without actually using the phase 'you total dick, what a crash', or 'that was sh*te'. However all your so called friends will fill this gap with equally well chosen and humiliating phrases. Not for the faint-hearted, but a great fun way to learn (or die)
  • A huge meal while the banter and abuse continues
  • Repeat for 4-6 days

 And so after all the excitement of the build up, frantic scanning of forecasts and discussions over conditions, the first Saturday saw a smaller group assemble at the car park at Magheroarty in bright sun and warm conditions - with almost no wind!

Ming, as merciless as ever, Gary, Ashley - former NI windsurfer and now a sheep worrying dentist in Wales, Andy Tease, Michael McLister, Wookie smiling at everyone (or not) and of course the Lord ie me to look down on everyone.

So it was SUPs in some nice small waves with much muttering in the ranks about having to provide our own engine power. Ming, Wookie and Phil checked out the reef while the rest of us minced about in the smaller waves at the main shore break.

The first new arrival, and indeed the first indication of the week's carnage to come was when Nigel aka Fanta Pants aka Nigela (at least after 4 pints) arrived with a rather bent looking car. He'd only gone and shunted someone in Dungiven. Fortunately no-one was hurt, but Nigel was very worried he might not be able to make the course. Some friendly locals, though the medium of a large hammer, had made him drivable again but the front wing did look a mess.

Little did we know that this was an omen of what was to come.

I said the waves were small, actually they weren't that small - they just seemed that way with so little wind about. However in the afternoon the wind picked up to the point where you could just sail on a SUP. So most of us abandoned our paddles and took the lazy man's route. It was hard work, even on a SUP, to wobble out through these waves, but it was doable and we started to ride them back in.

Now they say that your memory gets worse with age and so it is that I forgot the hard lesson learned at last year's course which was the last time I sailed in waves sail on my SUP. Many SUP decks are soft, not hard, so when you fit a deck plate for a sail you need to tighten the plate much more than normal so it won't work loose. I didn't. And so it was that found myself on a wave with my rig in my hands but no longer connected to my board. It was a long swim in with the rig, the board was long gone to the shore, and it allowed Andy to provide a great commentary to the assembled mincers on the shore as each successive wave broke over my head.

Fortunately Phil took a more helpful approach and waded out to help me bring a 6.9m rig in through the shore break without it getting trashed.

Nice day for a swim though.

I said the waves weren't small and so it was that we also learned that SUP sailing in decent waves puts a big strain on kit. We've all been nailed by a wave and normally on wave kit you just let the board bobble about and it sorts itself out. Not in a good wave with a massive SUP attached it doesn't. The huge strain told and we broke 2 extensions and bent one so much it began to look like someone's sex toy. In my case a 40 cm Chinook turned into a 20 com extension.

There wasn't too much video from the day, but Phil filled in with some excellent video examples from his website. Check them out, but beware of some pretty strange hairstyles and board shorts....

After such a gentle breaking in as it were, Sunday came as a shock - with big winds and waves. Yes, Magheroarty was firing - and we were in its sights.

It didn't seem too wild at first but it just kept building. I went out on 4.5m and was OK until the first of the many squalls came through. I found myself completely out of control and had no choice but to just lie on the sail so that the whole board and rig didn't fly off. And I was on the beach at the time! Fortunately a friendly German, there were a bunch of them camped on the beach, came and helped me.

To give you a feeling for it, Wookie eventually borrowed Danielle's 3.3m sail on 66m and went out and sailed very well.

Ali, Tourettes, Todd had joined us by then and he went out and then came in complaining of a sore hand. The kit had been caught in a huge gust and banged his hand. Since he's a lawyer, we just laughed and felt that warm glow of contentment inside.

However by the evening his hand was up like a bap. Actually it was so big that Andy christening him Hell Boy (you need to see the film) and in the end Ali had to go home as he couldn't sail. Two days later when it hadn't gone down he went to A+E who told him he'd broken two bones.

We had our first casualty - and it wouldn't be our last!

There was of course more mincing  going on. Andy rigged his 4.2m but not his wetsuit as he mulled over the permutations - or minced about if you prefer. When he did eventually go out (late PM) it just didn't work for him and he ended up wallowing about and generally didn't have a good sail - despite having the most amazing multicoloured sails - he's hard to miss on the water normally, but impossible to miss on those sails.

Eventually it got so tough that just about everyone except for Wookie moved to Ballyness Bay. Normally a haven of flat water, it was anything but and with huge squalls and gusts probably of 40-50 mph it was actually quite hard to sail. A super high tide helped - and incidentally trapped the Peter Hart course later for a few hours. We were OK - we were safely in the bar at that stage.

Andy had such a rubbish day that he spent the evening trying to convince us that he was doing to give up windsurfing and take up fishing. We almost believed him.

There was plenty of video that night - not all of it pretty...

Monday promised more of the same - but when we went round to Magheroarty we reckoned it was pretty much unsailable. Huge waves, huge wind. We watched one of the Germans venture out on a postage stamp sail and immediately get trashed - so we motorcaded to Rosapenna beside Downings.This turned out to be a great call.

The conditions were very big, but sailable and back side riding was the order of the day - OK, make up your own jokes here.

Although we'd lost Hell Boy, we'd now gained Paddy Lyner and Cormac 'Con Air' O'Brien so we stretched the beach car park a bit.

After some tuition on the beach it was 4-4.5m and out for a good pounding. Cormac had decided to abandon windsurfing and take up flying instead. And he did!

Wookie and Nigella also were getting some serious air and even I was getting respectable jumps - so you just know it was really windy.

Paddy came in after a while saying he'd punctured his wetsuit - makes a change from our eardrums. But when he examined it more closely he'd got a huge gash on his leg. Ming, he loves gory stuff like this, examined him and declared it was right to the bone in places. So we had to bandage Paddy up and he drove home - with one leg that must have been fun. He joined Ali in the queue at A+E and got 5 stitches for his trouble.

So that we'd now lost two windsurfers. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one windsurfer may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness.

After we'd divided up Paddy's kit between us, Gary went out on a 4.2m. The conditions were difficult and it wasn't long before he was dragging up the beach with a big hole in his sail. Now this is some achievement because it is, or should I say it was, an Ezzy. The last person who tried to go through his Ezzy was Shipman in Egypt and he put his shoulder out - and still didn't puncture the sail. But Gary is made of sharper stuff and through he went.

Clearly he felt pretty bad until he saw Ming limping up the beach with his mast at 45 degrees and in two pieces. However this was OK as it was actually his son's mast he'd broken, not his own.

My favourite quote of the day was Ming the Merciless with 'F*** me, the Lord's wave riding'. Clearly more used to walking on the water, I had a really good day and found that back siding riding was right up my ... street. Again, make up your own here.

Later in the day, the triathlon started. Wookie was the first to lose his kit way out the back - only of course because he was doing some really great (back side) wave riding on the big boys. He's pretty fit but it was a long swim with lots of rinsings along the way. Andy then claimed he's done the same, although no-one actually saw him do it - just his multicoloured kit washed up way down the beach.

And Cormac also lost his kit a lot - but in his case it was always in mid air. He's really great at posing - for photographs.

The video session was awesome but there were some tired bodies in there and indeed Cormac fell asleep during it. No-one stayed up late in the bar that night...

Tuesday had to be an anticlimax after that and so it was SUPs at Magheroarty.

Actually it was very good as we had nice sized well spaced out waves. Our SUP work was already much improved and there was a lot of good waveriding going on. I managed to ride two right from the back into the shore and that was the experience of many of us.

My favourite has to be getting on a good big wave, settling down in surf stance and then realising that I was heading straight for Andy who was on his knees - either trying to get out the back or praying that I knew how to steer when surfing. The look on his face (sheer terror) was a delight.

Surfing of course is Ming's domain - he proudly tells everyone that he's surfed this break for over 30 years. Can't do much for his patient's one thinks - waiting lists much be long.

But today he tried a bit too hard first taking a SUP out with a sail and getting trashed and then a SUP out to the reef where he got no waves.

Andy didn't cover himself with glory when in his words he face butted his SUP (don't worry, the SUP is OK) and then retired for the day.

And we were all secretly rather pleased when the normally excellent Mr Wookie got a pounding and nearly hit the harbour wall. He celebrated by leading a bunch of people off to Dunfanaghy to drink coffee and no doubt do more mincing.

The video that night was actually pretty good as it became clear that just as soon as anyone saw a a wave that 'Wavestealer' Nigel would steal it. Andy did a running commentary on this and had us all in stitches - well those who weren't actually in stitches back in A+E in Belfast of course.

Wednesday saw us discovered a new place in Magheroarty we didn't know before - Gary's gully.

You'll know how the cavalcade tends to draw up in the dunes at Magheroarty much like the wild west wagon trains looping round before forming a defensive circle. Well Gary was leading the charge and was so excited looking at the waves that he drove off the grass. The Landrover went right in, 45 degrees, both front wheels stuck in mid air and the trailer still attached.

Yes it was funny, yes we made every remark you can think of about it and tortured poor old Gary. But it was actually a horribly expensive mistake. By the time we'd got him out, both valances were wrecked, the driver's door and front wing were bent - and there's every chance the chassis is out of alignment. Not funny!

Even getting him out wasn't easy - but I have to say that the good people of Donegal were fantastic. We rang the Loch Altan who rang some local farmers. Three turned up and worked for an hour, with a tractor doing wheelies. With 8 of us lifting plus the tractor we eventually got it up and away.

OK - he's in the dunes - but I've got to rig

And they wouldn't take a penny for all of their hard work. What stars!

Poor Gary had had enough and so we lost our third windsurfer. Even Oscar doesn't have a quote for this.

As for the windsurfing, it turned out a good not too mental day. 5-6m sails and nice but manageable waves. So Ming, Wookie, Ashley the Sheep and others cut a fine dash on the waves. Cormac did Vulcans and Spocks in the waves and the video showed that when he crashed he always stuck his toes up on a nice ballet 'en pointe'. We speculate that he might be about take up ballet - no doubt he'd get huge airtime there too...

Davy moves to waves


Now there was a new and very important development this year. Three people from last year's Flatheads course came up and did a couple of days wave. These are the first new wave sailors we've seen in a while and we hope to encourage many more to take the jump. Don't let the occasional mention of A+E, wrecked cars and smashed kit put you off - it's great. Honest!

So it was that Davy McC, Noel McB and David Corkhill joined the ranks of the elite. This was an ideal day to do this and all three did very well.

Davy McC however did seem to have a magnetic attraction for the (very) downwind part of Magheroarty. And this seemed to happen rather a lot. But you kind of get used to it as you sail and in and out - the sight of a gradually more red about the gills Davy trudging back up the beach dragging his kit upwind. It's sort of reassuring.

That night we took the local minibus to the local Indian. Now everyone (except  us) knows it's slow and orders in advance. So we had a 3 hour meal. Andy, like any kid, gets easily bored and he went bonkers when they came out and said they'd no onion bhajis . 'What sort of an Indian restaurant are you if you've no onion bhajis' he shouted, forgetting that he was a lot bigger than the poor waiter and that, as he was in the middle of a game of pool, he had the pool cue in his hand. Menacing or not, somehow in the wilds of Donegal they found a supply of onion bhajis!

And after all of that, 3 hours later, guess who had come out with no money? Andy.

Thursday was honestly the windiest day I've ever seen in Donegal. When we arrived at Magheroarty it was nicely windy and I started to rig up a 5.5m. By the time it was rigged I needed a 4.5 and in the end it was 4m. So for the first time ever at a Donegal wave clinic, I finally got out on my 78l Wave Swallow.

To give you an idea of just how wild it was, 105 kg of Cormac went and sailed on Danielle's 3.3m sail on her 65 ltrs wave board. It was so windy that even Nigel's superglue hair gel couldn't keep his ginger tresses in order.

Some of the best wave sailors were up and the likes of Big Robert and John Adrain managed to sail, but for most of us it was just survival.

And that, bar the inevitable video feedback and general humiliation was the end of the wave course.


But of course, then the intermediates flathead course started the next day in Downings.

We had a big turnout this year, 18 at the peak for Saturday and Sunday. So the Hobbits had their work cut out.

Downing is an ideal location and so Friday was in the main bay in the morning moving to a now hugely calmed down Rosapenna in the afternoon. The rest of the course, which was for 4 days, was at Downings and included a good period of 5m weather on the Saturday afternoon.

The feedback and video sessions were particularly good, especially for the grommets - we had 5 kids there not counting Andy and they learned a lot.

Towards the end the wind was sparse, but there good use was made of SUPs.

And the mincing continued when Gary Hutton managed to break a mast and rip an old sail in mild conditions in Downings. OK there were some small waves coming in, but even so, this takes some doing.


And the final pieces of damage was reported by our sheep correspondent :

Hi Alan

One more casualty to add to your long list!

My cam belt went while passing Newry! Missed my boat but my recovery cover towed me to Dublin and then from Holyhead to Shrewsbury (only 120miles). Didn't get home until 4.30 Monday morning and I've been cycling 80mins to work since until I get a new car.


How about that for service. That's a 263 mile trip including crossing a country border!


Sitting down on the job


Cherchez la femme


Now this rant is supposed to be about the people, so here's a little about them all :

  • Andy Tease. Once he finally started going out on the water, he got some great waves and jumps. But I don't think they'll want to serve him again at the Indian restaurant. Quote of the week from a passing Alan Yeates during the big winds - 'you will believe pigs can fly'. And from Andy himself ' I had to give myself another toweling off after getting so excited over Danielle's jump'....
  • Wookie sailed brilliantly in some very difficult conditions. He was the guy on the big waves and doing the most stuff. He proved this shortly after at the Magheroarty Classic where he came joint 8th with Cormac.
  • Cormac. Sailed brilliantly when he was on the water - but spent most of the time flying high above it. Was so laid back and yet so excited at times, he got christened '(father) Dougal's love child' by Andy. You have to hear Andy doing Cormac as Dougal to appreciate just how true this is.
  • Ming was just merciless. First out, last in, finding every wave and then killing himself on a SUP too. He was also first at the bar each time buying rounds.
  • Ashley the Sheep. His sailing just keeps getting better and it was great to see him and his now wrecked car again.
  • Shipman. Tony was late up to the courses but, after a long period off the water, sailed really well and his gybes were especially good. Nice to see him back - pity he arrived too late to stick his needles into those deserving cases who had to retire to A+E
  • Ali Hell Boy Todd. His sailing was so short that it's hard to say how he did. 4-6 weeks in plaster and he had to be manipulated back into position under anaestetic which then wore off. He's a lawyer - proof there's a god...
  • Nigel Fanta Pants Boyd. Sailed a blinder, was in the air a lot and took his bent car on the chin. Took one look at Phil's new hair and asked if there was a sparrow nesting in it
  • Michael M. Always careful in big winds, Michael really progressed and was witnessed handling huge conditions and riding on some waves.
  • Pat Lyner. Knifed in the leg by his fin (although there is some interesting speculation about how else this might have happened) his time with us was brief. But he progressed well in big conditions before the call of A+E was too much for him. Remember Paddy, in 40 knots no-one can year you talk
  • Gary Pope. Until he nose dived into Gary's Gully, Gary was actually sailing well. He got some great waves on his SUP and we hope to see him back next year - if Jacqui lets him.
  • Gary Hutton. Despite trashing kit in 12 inch waves, he stuck at it and improved visibly. I think it was Gary who was heard to say 'When you're always on the bottom you start to object'. He might have been talking about his kit in the shared van - or he might have been talking about their sleeping arrangements - you decide.
  • Noel. One of our 3 cross over kids and he sailed very well at Magheroarty. He will be back and we expect a week of waves from him next year.
  • Robbie R. Despite him and Kev (saying they were) sleeping in separate rooms, Robbie had a great time. He was up for improving and did.
  • Kev. Ditto with knobs on - probably Robbie's...
  • Liam. We were getting worried he hadn't brought his smoking jack cum dressing gown to the beach, but it did finally appear. Not sure if he sailed in it or not though.
  • David C. Another wave crossover and predictably sailed very well. Distinguished himself by appearing at the bar with his hoodie on inside out.
  • David McC. Greatly enjoyed his walking tour of Magheroarty beach. But fair play he was out with the big boys - clearly an ambition of his, but not sure if this is anything to do with windsurfing.
  • Jenny McCready. Despite having hardly sailed since last September, she sailed well when not rearranging David's clothes for him.
  • Mark J. Another one who improved a lot in the course, despite getting some 'help' from me with his tacks.
  • The Tolands. James senior just manged to keep ahead of James junior and Mathew, but it's getting awfully close.
  • Rory Campbell. Another one ready to give his folks a dressing down.
  • Padraig. More improvement, when he remembers to be bothered to do what he's been shown.
  • Adam (mini Ming) Loughridge. We're not sure if he's forgiven his Dad for breaking his mast, but sailed well and enjoyed the competition amongst the grommets.
  • Andrew Daynes. First Donegal trip for relatively recent starter Andrew. Sailed very well and will improve more too.
  • Lowri. Worked hard so as not to allow her boyfriend (Andrew) to get too far ahead of her.
  • Alex Curry. The least experienced windsurfer on the course but she didn't let this stop her getting out there and giving it a good go.

We have to say a word about our two excellent instructors. Phil and Danielle are just about getting used to us now - remember everyone has at least 2 names for a start. Danielle's photographs were marvelous and her mini wave kit totally essential. Don't forget that she too sailed these mental conditions.

Phil provided most of the coaching in his own always positive manner. And he went out to inspire the kids with some freestyle too.

We're still slightly confused as to why Danielle started to call him Porky - there's not a pick on him, but perhaps she's worried about the effect of all that solid Donegal food.

Another year down and already we're planning for next year. Don't miss it, although please do take out adequate insurance for your car, your kit and any mincing of any kind.


 More Mincing - This Time at Pier 36

Just when you thought it was safe to come out (those few of you who haven't already) along comes the annual end of season windsurfing dinner. The available facts so far are :

  • Friday 15th November
  • Pier 36
  • Bring partners
  • Shorter entertainment his year - the windsurfing Oscars!
  • Paddy is sorting out the details

After Donegal, we do of course have some good ideas for the Oscars. However we'd greatly value your mad ideas too. If it's funny, a good dig at someone and we can make some fun out of it, we'd love to know. We're thinking of nominating Paddy for the biggest pain the leg award...

We will also be giving out the Speedie Ming prize for the fastest GPS score. If you're a club member and haven't put in a score please do so - otherwise Paddy will speak to you...

Stick it in your diary and prepare for some fun!


Your Chance to Get Your Own Back!

Windsurfcraic started life as the e-mail group for Newtownards Sailing Club. Many of our reader are members here, but this rant has widened to cover anyone and anything doing something interesting in windsurfing in Ireland.

If you see something fun, someone making a fool of themselves or you've just had a good day out on the water, we'd love to hear from you. We'll tart up your writing so you don't need to write in deathless prose (we're quite capable of killing people by our writing anyway). Some photo help too.

So if it's fun and on or near the water, let us know.