January 2007



No change there then ....

The same as it always was
Another Andy?
The return of the Wookie

And so to the first windsurf after Christmas. Would much have changed?
For most normal people 'after Christmas' was Friday 29th, although we hear that Paula was out on her lonesome earlier in the week. Thursday night saw big gales so most of the 10 or so people who went out came down relatively early on Friday ie by 11am, well it is the holiday season. Something around 6m was the order of the day, but it was very gusty so 6m was a happy medium between struggling to plane and being blown off the board. The kelp had obviously had a good Christmas as they were lying around in the water in plentiful clumps ready to catapult the unwary or the still hung over.
I happened to be first out and, finding my lines weren't right, sailed over to Pig Island to adjust them. I was standing in knee deep water when I heard the unmistakeable sound of Andy (big happy shriek - and no that's not a mis-spelling) as he flew in to do his usual planing 360. I shouted to him to watch his fin, but too late as he slid past me sideways, muttering. And so the post-holiday windsurfing started off much as it had left off, with Andy borrowing other people's kit. Same as it always was - 1.
Russell, Pat, Paula, Andy, Ronnie and I had a couple of good hours sailing while dodging the kelp. Some sad people also sailed from the carpark, taking advantage of an exceptionally mild day (12 degrees). David Brown appeared as the wind died around 2:30, but headed out anyway. Andy went out again at this time and sank his way over to Pig Island in search of his fin. That nice long walk back must have helped work off the Christmas turkey.
I'm pleased to say that there weren't too many offensive Christmas presents on view, although Paula's woolly Rasta hat does take some getting used to. Andy has a new wet suit, which he was afraid might be too big for him (write your own comments on this bit) and which he holed on a rock during his walk of shame back from Pig Island - for the first time however the hole is not in the crotch. Yet. And I've joined the ranks of the 'senior' windsurfers, now owning one of those winch thingies to apply downhaul without the risk of back injury. With my penchant for using old bits of rope, regular windsurfers will no doubt miss my backwards summersaults down the rocks and into the water - famously one time when a rope broke while down hauling.
Despite the forecasts, Saturday wasn't much kop. Russell rigged and went out and promptly sank. The rest of us got up, looked out the window and went back to bed.
Sunday was windy - seriously windy. It had been mental during the night and Andy was first up, so early in fact there was a danger he might be sailing in his PJs.
Some serious windsurfers including Raptor, Simon and Timo Mullen went out at Kearney. They lasted only some minutes - and Timo was overpowered on a 3.3!
At the club, when I arrived Andy was out on 5.5 in winds which were so strong I immediately rigged my smallest ie 4m. Trevor Gabbie also had a family pass and stuck up a 4.5m, being the smallest he had. Debbie was starting to read in the high 30s and even walking down to the water was a pretty dangerous occupation. I followed Trevor down the slipway, but he seemed to be having problems with the shorebreak and gusts now in the mid 40s - can't think why. So I backed up the slipway to give him room and then when he looked like he was in control I moved down into the water again - only for his rig or his board to flip so I had to back up. So it was that the 2 of us performed this sort of synchronised dance for quite a while - we could probably have won a couple of rounds on Strictly Come Dancing with it - although perhaps our outfits might not have been up to scratch. With high tide it was not easy and it took about 10 minutes and some pretty interesting drubbings on the rocks before we both got out. Andy of course had taken the madman's route, choosing to launch towards the jetty in a bid for death or glory. He got glory!
Once out it was survival time, at least for Trevor and I. Andy, by now on a 5m, was getting serious air cracking some excellent gybes. We'd just about learned to live in what was rapidly becoming one of the biggest seas we'd ever seen at NSC when the wind ratcheted up another 5 knots. Gusts over 50 mph soon blew us all in. It was so bad that Trevor had to be rescued by 2 others when he got into a real mess and nearly lost his board and sail - and that was in the club car park, not even on the water. Unsailable.
Naturally, after we'd derigged (working in pairs) and showered (not working in pairs!), the wind dropped to only mental. Same as it ever was - 2.
At this point Mark Herron and John Glover appeared from the car park and had a very good sail. It still took some skill and the number of gybes the normally reliable Glover crashed showed just how hard it was. In fact, he was in danger of ruining that famous hair of his...
After this brief period of relative sanity the wind took off. Ronnie tells us that it was reading over 60 mph, the gates blew off the club and even Mr Glover and co. were forced in. After 30 minutes of waiting, as the wind grew even more, they shivered off home. How do people sail from the car park when it's so cold? They could have been in the showers with us (now that's probably the reason they prefer the car park). They even missed to 2 young ladies who walked in on us while we were in the shower - happy new year from NSC....
And I have to mention that the Skid Mark of the Year Award goes to Trevor Gabbie who while rigging in his normal clothes slipped on the wet and muddy grass and got a really good 'brown arse'. No slight muddy patch, we're talking a full square metre of seriously soggy brown stuff.
New years day and no-one started too early. Paula appeared relatively early, but was suffering from cold turkey. Not from her drug habit you understand, but from food poisoning. Confusion was caused when Ronnie lent her his Fisherman's Friend rigging jacket and we all thought she was Ronnie. Now if she'd just grow a white beard she could really have carried that off.
The forecasts were unanimous, steady 22 mph all day. So naturally it was blowing over 30 and 4.5m was the right sail. Same as it ever was - 3. Tim Moore had a good early sail (before the family woke up) and Tony and Ronnie too. Tony actually had a good and bad day. The good bit was a good sail and some nice gybes on his 2 sails 4.2 and 5m - sailing with only 1 at a time you understand. The bad bit was that during a squall he went to change sail and his 5m got blown by a gust, over the side the rocks and his mast was smashed. So the glory of breaking a mast in big wind conditions - except he was on dry land at the time. I had a good time on 4.5m, despite a 20 minute spell when the wind got up seriously and every gybe ended in a crash or planing out - nothing in between!
The wind lasted until about 3pm and we retired for cuppasoups. It did come back with a vengeance but by that time it was just too cold.
So, the new year has started in fine form. If you're going to bother making a resolution, make it to get on the water more often!
Actually there isn't much, as I've been too busy getting fog-bound in airports and being knocked out of the sky with bird strikes. But the work-in-progress is :
GPS event - to run from March to June with sponsorship. We may have a kick-off event with possibly Dave White (current waterspeed record holder) as a speaker and a prize giving ceremony.
The old boatshed will probably 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.
We will be organising a talk by a physio on how to look after your back and how to exercise for windsurfing.
The most likely scenario for the windsurfing holiday is Tenerife for late August. We're currently trying to find a windsurfing coach who reads their e-mail and who might be persuaded to come along. Sorting this out is our biggest priority right now.

Rambo returns from sailing

Don't panic, there could only ever be one Mr Tease. What we do have however is Andy Warwick who is now also a RYA certified instructor. Congratulations Andy - we look forward to you competing with the other Andy to teach all the young ladies a thing or two...
Just to let you know that Wookie has returned from 3.5 weeks in Brazil. Only 1 day not on the water, waves and 4-5m weather every day. If he wasn't such a smiley, happy go lucky sort of chap you'd just love to hate him!


Wookiee Waxing – The Big Insane Happy
Since, as far as I know, none of us have been out to Jeri before I've asked him to write up something about his trip and share it with the rest of us. His photographs are very good too, especially the ones of the Wookette....


Wookie during his pint phase hangs out with Bin Laden



Slimline Tonic
Tenerife - 14 booked and counting!
Fancy a good night's craic?
Guy's new name
Yes, it's true - Harold is in danger of getting a new nickname. Having had such a good time at Pras, Tony was determined not to let it go over the Winter so he decided to get fit. We all talk about it - he did it. The results, in the words of one of the world's few remaining great philosophers (A Tease) are 'f***ing fantastic'. Not just is he a slim shadow of his former self, but he's sailing like a demon. In the recent gales he was out on 4.2m, planing out of gybes, jumping like a teenager and having a great sail. While others were struggling - not least poor old Wookie (too used to sailing in less dense, warm winds in Brazil) who retired muttering. We think the real reason was that he was missing all those string bikinis - although frankly we're not sure he could get them on over his wetsuit anyway ... Tony ended up having such a good sail on a new Ezzy Andy lent him, that he promptly bought the sail.
Actually, this January has been fantastic. It's been windy and relatively warm. Global warming has it's advantages - now if it could just continue to the point where the city of Lisburn was sailable I'd be a happy man. Last weekend there were over 10 sails out every day. So much for those of you who consider windsurfing only a warm water sport.
Saturday was very windy but up and down a lot. I started on 6.3m but ended up on 4.5m. Wookie had a great sail on 4m and there were quite a lot of 5s out too. From this you can see that it was a bit variable. And in the later afternoon there was a huge hail shower which left some of us shivering under our sails and wondering if they'd be punctured. And a 90 degree windshift (plus about 2 more on the Beaufort scale) left some of us with a long walk having been effectively left downwind with too big kit. Still, there is something heartwarming after struggling with a long walk against waves and over rocks to be so nicely greeted by your true friends - jeering as you arrive back!
A whole pile of people were out including Andy, Wookie, Tony (another fantastic sail), David Brown, Colin, Alan Yeates, Nigel, Ronnie, Guy (couldn't see how much bling he was wearing under the wet suit), Dawn, Chris Loughridge, Paula of course, Alex, Casper (earlier than usual ie before dark), Big Robert and Jarleth. Plus Mark and Simon were out from the car park. It was actually quite mild, no real complaints from people about cold hands. Tony was once more out on his luckly sail showing off his physique.
Some of us used to like the idea of going on a trip to Brazil, but there's only so much we can take of hearing just how wonderful it was from a certain fur-ball. However in fairness Wookie told us he learned to loop out there - and he proved it with some rather excellent loops in front of witnesses on Saturday. We're wondering now if perhaps Tony might like to learn too?
And talking of Loopers, Mr Yeates actually sailed! Recently he keeps appearing at the club, but not actually going out. When asked he mutters sadly that Nambarie teabags have changed and are no longer as strong as they used to be. Some people sail based on fine pecks and a 6 pack, clearly some sail on high caffine levels. And of course some of us just sail on the six pack - of draught.
And Sunday saw a slightly smaller group out although it was colder and the winds weren't quite as strong. Tony was at it again, but this time even his new found energies failed him and he crawled off the water exhausted. No doubt to go home and sleep with his lucky sail.
And of course we opened the bar on both days and sat enjoying a rather excellent pint of Guinness in the warm new clubhouse while watching the sun set on the fabulous view - and talked of little else other than how wonderful Slimline Tonic's sailing was.
I'd like to add that we all immediately resolved to join the gym and get fit too. But pigs might have to fly first - although there are some who think that at least some of then do.....
After only 10 days, we've now got an amazing 14 people booked for the NSC annual holiday. And so far the flights have stayed at the low cost. It can't last.


Ali - twice the man he is today?

And the good news is that we have a really first class instructor fully booked to give us 100% training for the entire holiday.
The details are repeated below. So don't think about it, if you're going get booking!


Are you any good at trivia? If so, why not join the windsurfing team for the club quiz night to be held on Friday 26 January 8pm at the club.
You know the form, rounds on general knowledge, music, sailing and plenty of drink to help ease the pain of almost knowing the answers. The format is quiz tables so there's no individual questions to answer, just the derision of your friends when you're sure you've got it right but haven't.
We're hoping to put out a team, maybe 2 if we get the numbers. So if you're interested, just reply to me and you're on. Don't worry if you're crap - it's only the sailors we need to beat!
And do bring partners, in the past it's proved a fun night for everyone.
Let me know and come and help uphold the good name of windsurfing. Or just come and help us drag it down.
Guy McConnell has just booked his flight to Tenerife (with extra bags booked for his bling) - and in celebration he wishes to announce that from now on he is to be known as the Gybe King. Clearly he's rather proud of the effect that Jim Collis's coaching had on him last year.
Those of us who saw those 70's dirty movie star trunks he wore might have other names for him - something close to the things boat use to moor in deep water.
However, I'll let you be the judges of this....

Baltic Boys
Tenerife update
No slip, Quiz, Speed, Body and Store
There'll be some of you reading this who think that at this time of year no-one in their right minds goes out windsurfing. You're right of course, which means that quite a few of us actually do go, even if we're one plain brown envelop short of a knighthood.
After all the recent wind, it's got rather cold. However 2 weeks ago found quite a bunch of people out on Sunday morning. I'm sorry to say I was first there as I had a plane to catch in the afternoon and so wanted to get my fix early - so much a rush was I in that had to do McDs drive through instead of the more usual leisurely approach. It was forecast for 20+ knots all day, so naturally when I arrived it wasn't. I went out on 9.4m and got well past the cold hands stage before the wind picked up and the crowds arrived. After that it was 6m or thereabouts and quite a few people about. Certainly more than enough to fill the swamp aka our diminutive rigging area!

On the topic of the rigging area, it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better, but it will get better. The committee have agreed that after the slipway repairs in April, the entire area will be redrawn to make it bigger and reseeded. We'll be looking for helpers at the time to do this.
More recent activities on the water have seen the double As (that's Andy and Alan Yeates, not a rather poor bra size) up in Donegal chasing waves and the odd Wednesday afternoon medical brigade doing both the club and amazingly Ballyholme. In this respect we have to give credit for Ming the Merciless (Chris Loughridge) who actually went out at Ballyholme on one of those real ball-freezing days and sailed - without even a warm shower to revive him afterwards. As most of you know, Ming is mostly made of titanium as a result of a long (and clearly unsuccessful) sporting heritage. So now we know 2 more parts of him that must also be made of titanium.
And then this weekend was both really cold (4 degrees) and easterly. Faced with the prospect of a car park and no warmth since the club would be unsailable, we put out the word to the winter regulars that we would sail from the Wookie's Lair - Whiterock. It's funny how many of these normally hardened individuals suddenly developed sore throats, urgent engagements or a huge desire to watch England (try to) play rugby (badly). So it was only the Baltic Boys - Wookie, myself and Paula who rolled up to the Old Post Office for a good fry aka the condemned man's last meal. It was certainly windy at Whiterock, but very cold. Wookie's Brazilian has clearly not grown back as he had to be persuade (or shamed) into going out. But fair play, out he went. He and I went on 6.3m and larger boards fearing a drop in the wind. It was the usual mad maze of buoys and then into the clear channel - where the wind was very strong. I had great difficulty holding the 6.3m on a 102 ltr Z ride and both of had found ourselves rapidly going up wind. Getting back was both scary and hard on the (gloved) hands. We changed down boards and after that the 3 of us had a good sail. The gloves came off and Wookie played with slalom gybes and we all dodged the buoys like mad. 2 hours was all we could stick, it wasn't the hands (they'd gone numb long ago), just the overall zapping of energy by the cold. Still we had the joys of a warm garage to change in and hot stuff at Wookies to sustain us.
One other piece of sailing news concerns Ian Carlisle. Ian was actually booked for Tenerife and also his usual round of snow boarding etc. But he's done his knee in, big time. So the poor sod will not be in the water or the piste for at least 9 months. I am assured however that he will still be on the piss, so all is not lost.  We wish him well and look forward to hurling our usual insults at him again when he's back.
Well it was 19 people, but with the loss of Ian it's 18 right now. We're aware of 3 more people who are still thinking/scheming to go, so it's clearly going to be the largest club holiday by a mile. The current situation is :
    18 bodies (and I use the term loosely)
    Accommodation is now booked
    A top class instructor is booked with so far 11 people taking up his services
    We can still take more if you want to go, it's not too late
It's clearly going to be amazing, with conditions to suit all abilities. My biggest worry is not to be sued for defamation when I write about it afterwards...
OK - a few updates for you.
A massive upgrade of our very well named slip way is about to happen. It will be pretty big with a huge crane sitting on (or sinking gently into) our rigging area. The slip and that entire side of the club will be cordoned off for 3 weeks from 16 April (date to be confirmed). You will still be able to launch but will effectively have the choice of launching on the other side of the jetty or going down to the car park. However you will still be able to use the changing rooms and the bar! It's going to be worth it, but it will be a right pain while it's happening.
We put out an appeal to form a quiz team recently and got enough people to run two! Despite this we still didn't win, but at least were beaten by the Old Gaffers and not by our own sailors! It was a fun night and I recommend you join in when it happens again.
The speed event is still coming and we still don't have full details for you. One of the problems is of course the slipway work, but I'd hope to have some more concrete information soon. The plan is still to have a talk on speed (on the water, not the powder) by Dave White combined with an on-the-water set of speed trials. Then it will be a ladder-style challenge for 2-3 months with a prize giving at the end. We will of course ensure that drink plays a good part in this - at least for the off-the-water bits.
And the physio event is still in the pipeline. This threatens to be in March - but no firm date yet.
And finally in update mode, the fate of the old boat shed has been decided. It won't be knocked down, but it will be given to us. We'll review it shortly and decide how to lay it out, but we will make it available to members for kit storage. There will be a cost, but the initial users will have the chance to help fit it out in return for a reduced rent. More information when we sort it.


Business as Usual
Work those bones (and other bits)
Lost in France
Tenerife update
Slippery Update
After such a great windy and often (relatively) warm January, February has been a bit of a disappointment. It has remained warm, but the winds have not been there so often and when they were it's been midweek.
One great midweek session occurred 2 weeks ago and saw the terminally unemployed out on the small stuff. 4-4.5m was the order of the day, with most people out around the club. Raptor did go and eyeball Kearney, but even he declared it madness. Andy was ripping it up on 4.5 and totally overpowered. He claims it was often too strong to gybe so he had to just plop in and then waterstart in the other direction. This no doubt added to the big waves as well.
Talking of ripping it up, Big Robert decided to put his head through his sail. And why not. However he only made a small hole - clearly the 'big' bit doesn't apply to his head, anything else is pure speculation. Anyway, he committed the foul deed near pig island and so had to sail back before he could change the sail. So it was that he suffered the ignominy of watching the small rip get larger and larger as he had to sail back. By the time he reached the club he was in need of a new panel.
Others out and often blown in included Wookie, Jarleth and Raptor.

It got so desperate for the rest of us as forecasts promised and then waned coming up to each weekend, that forecast watching was at fever pitch over this last rugby filled weekend. Oh yes, that reminds me, for any of our English readers, rotate on that Brian Moore..... Anyway, back to less pleasurable activities, the forecasts vaguely suggested that there might be a hint of some wind coming in late on Sunday. But at lunch time it was still near flat calm. Bravely Wookie and I went to the club and rigged around 3ish and hoped that some wind might come. In the meantime Colin, Paula and others decided there was enough north that it might happen at Bally-poo. I can't tell you how stupid you feel sitting on the soggy bog that is our rigging area, fully rigged up and scanning the horizon while the sailors laugh as they hop into the bar. And yet it was worth it. By 3:30 we were having a blast on big kit. Wooks was on 7.5 and I was having a real ball on 9.4. And yes you can plane out of a gybe on a big sail! Colin and Paula had a similar experience and then had to change down as the wind built later on. Back at the club we stuck with it until blown in on by now 5m winds! There is overpowered and there is silly - this was silly! And by the way, we were on the water (just about) until 6pm - the days are getting longer.
As promised we have a physio night arranged. We will have professionals on hand to give some background on how to look after yourself so you don't end up with a bad back or other relatively common windsurfing injuries.
It's amazing that more of us, especially those of slightly less tender years, don't take more care. How rarely do you see people warming up before they go out and sail? And how often do physiotherapists see 'windsurfers' back'?
This meeting will set out some simple basics you can do, you don't need to go out and purchase your own plentiful supply of brightly coloured overly tight lycra along with a multigym. Just some simple steps which should help you prolong your windsurfing and might even make you feel better.
The date is Saturday 31 March, 7:30 at the club. This is open to non-members, just come along and we can sign you in for the night. There is no cost.
If there's wind during the day, why not have a sail and we'll send out for a Chinese before the meeting. I feel sure that large high fat meals will form an essential part of the best practice we're going to learn about!
Put it in the diary and come along, it could change your windsurfing without even getting wet!
Do you know any young sailors/windsurfers who'd like to participate in the Nautical games between 13 and 16 July 2007 in Morlaix, France.
I understand there is funding assistance and they are looking for a team of about 4-6 people. It could be great fun.
If you know of anyone - maybe even your own kids, please contact Karine McGuckin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07786 338 036. But do it quick as deadlines are fast approaching.
The definition of 'young' is a bit open, I take this to mean teenager. So I don't want to see any of you trying to sneak in via plastic surgery or Botox. Not that some of you couldn't use some plastic surgery mind you...
Still at 18 people after the loss of Ian's knee. There are still some more people thinking about it.
The Ryanair flights have gone up a little, but it's still outstanding value. If you're thinking about it, be very tempted!
As I warned, a massive upgrade of our very well named slip way is about to happen. It will be pretty big with a huge crane sitting on (or sinking gently into) our rigging area. In fact they ran a trial with the crane which is why the rigging area is already a serious mess.
The slip and that entire side of the club will be cordoned off for 3 weeks from 16 April. You will still be able to launch but will effectively have the choice of launching on the other side of the jetty or going down to the car park. However you will still be able to use the changing rooms and the bar! It's going to be worth it, but it will be a right pain while it's happening.
And afterwards we will be organising a working party to rework the rigging area. By rework, I mean we'll redraw the boundary lines so that we have once more the right space we need. So for those of you who have been moaning (and there are many), we expect you to vote with your feet and your shovel and muck in and help!
MARCH 2007

Business as Usual
Reminder to get boned
Don't Slip in April
There are certain traditional signs of Spring, the clocks going back, the first cuckoo, Chris Loughridge wearing his shorts again, Wookie wearing his cool sunglasses - well actually he wears them all the year round, he just bumps into things a lot more in the Winter.
But this year, with global warming, hedgehogs coming out too early and starving and some amazingly warm (well, relatively) sails in January and February, we wondered if the traditional signs would still be valid. So it's reassuring to report that one good old reliable indicator of warm weather has not changed - yes, Trevor Pollen had his first sail of the year! To be fair he did pick a forecast of 13 degrees - and true to form he killed the wind for everyone else. But it was good to see him out and retaining all his usual enthusiasm. To be totally fair to Trevor (well, OK - just for once), his reasons for not sailing in the coldest parts of the year are good ones, he's taking care of himself so as to be able to continue to enjoy his windsurfing.
And even better news - he still hasn't rescued his famous Arthur Daily coats from under the dog. No doubt it's just a matter of time....
And what did this harbinger of Spring come out for? Well, not what was forecasted anyway. Saturday was supposed to be 15 knots, mostly in the afternoon. So naturally the lazy brigade came down around 11 only to find the inevitable Paula out enjoying 5.5m wind. And of course it vanished by around lunch time. Since Trevor had officially pronounced Spring to be here, there was quite a crowd. Chris Loughridge was out initially on something small but moved up to 7.8m on his Isonic and periodically blasted and at other times floated as he admired the scenery - it was that type of day. He did manage to generate a bit of excitement when we finally noticed he'd been gone rather a long time. Turned out he'd bust his mast - quite an achievement in such light wind. Apparently he was sailing along and there was a loud crack - we're just thankful it was his mast and not some part of his titanium body. Chris has a winch, so he does crank on rather a lot of downhaul. Indeed there is speculation that once he's used the winch he then connects the downhaul to the back of his hippie camper van to give it another good tug. Still, he enjoyed the walk back.
We've now got another 'couple' who always turn up together - Pat and Gary. Just for the avoidance of doubt, Pat in this case is a boy's name. But you never see one without the other - Guy and Harry look out, competition boys. When asked about how they got together, Pat just said they 'got mated up' - it just gets worse doesn't it. They spent all of Saturday at the club having sailed for the good bit and being convinced it would come back - which it didn't. Wookie had a short but satisfying sail on 5.5m, while I enjoyed 5.5m and then struggled on 6.3m as it died. Other rare species who came out of hibernation included Richard, Guy, Tourettes, the aforementioned Trevor, David Brown and Muriel.
And as the wind died Raptor went on an impossible 5m and proceeded to plane all afternoon while the rest floated by. There is speculation that he only eats wafers and so weighs nothing.
Andy meantime was in Donegal with Alan Yeates - now there's another double act, is there something in the water at the club? They went up to Donegal for the second time this week and spent most of the time watching some very brave and probably foolish windsurfers tackle killing height waves at Maghoroarty. One broken mast, one carbon boom smashed and one tricky rescue by jetski. Big Robert by all accounts lived up to his name (on the water) and had a good if somewhat scary sail. Alan and Andy meantime sailed on the inside bay and (wisely) did not venture out into the waves.
Sunday - and the forecasts were unanimous, the wind would come in overnight and be gone by noon. So it was that I got the call from the hairy alarm clock - 7.30 am on a Sunday, I ask you! So Wookie and I were first out shortly after 9 - without McDonald's breakfast too - enjoying 5.5m and 6.3m respectively. We had a good sail and by 11 it was dead. Other objects found floating in the water at this time included Pat+Gary and Colin. There were a few sails from the carpark too. Wookie declared the wind over and left - so naturally 30 minutes later it came back and we got another couple of hours of excellent 6m weather. This was a bit of bollix for Colin who went out on his 8m in the lull and promptly got splattered when the wind came back.
So another fun filled weekend at the club - with the added joy of Ireland beating Scotland.
Next weekend some of us are heading up the west of Donegal, so no doubt there'll be some craic. Whether or not I can report it remains to be seen....
Just a reminder that the physio night is Saturday 31 March, 7:30 at the club. This is open to non-members, just come along and we can sign you in for the night. There is no cost.
It's your chance to find out from the professionals how to look after yourself so you don't end up with a bad back or other relatively common windsurfing injuries.
This meeting will set out some simple basics you can do, you don't need to go out and purchase your own plentiful supply of brightly coloured overly tight lycra along with a multigym. Just some simple steps which should help you prolong your windsurfing and might even make you feel better.
If there's wind during the day, why not have a sail and we'll send out for a Chinese before the meeting. I feel sure that large high fat meals will form an essential part of the best practice we're going to learn about!
Put it in the diary and come along, it could change your windsurfing without even getting wet!
Another reminder, the slip and that entire side of the club will be cordoned off for 3 weeks from 16 April. You will still be able to launch but will effectively have the choice of launching on the other side of the jetty or going down to the car park. However you will still be able to use the changing rooms and the bar! It's going to be worth it, but it will be a right pain while it's happening.

MARCH 2007

Force 10 from Portnoo
Club update - and submerged hazards
Competition from another club
As threatened, a bunch of us spent St Patrick's weekend in Donegal, at Portnoo to be exact. I'm not going to give you a full blow by blow, I haven't had enough time to consult with my lawyers, but here's a few alleged facts you might find interesting :
    7 people in a house at Portnoo. Excellent location, great facilities, sleeps 8 or more and it's
    rentable for £150 for a weekend
    Friday was 5m weather at Portnoo, but loads more elsewhere - we know because we spent half the day
    driving round all the beaches looking for the right one - and ended up where we started. Andy and I went out quite
    a bit until we realised that we kept losing sight of each other ie mast high swell
    Don't try and sail from the caravan park at Portnoo because you may be confronted by a humpy old git (allegedly) -
    either that or he's a kiter. Mind you, Wookie was trying to sweet talk him - no wonder he got a bit humpy...
    There are 2 bays at Portnoo with an island in between which isn't an island at low tide. The result is, depending in wind condition, an
    easier and a harder beach - good for mixed abilities
    Some excellent wave riding in mostly westerly winds. As the tide comes in you get 2 different sets of waves meeting round the island and
    it gets very confusing as the wave fronts mix - if you're into wave theories you can work it out mathematically. Actually in these winds
    it was less wave theory and more chaos theory.
    Saturday we got out early (before the forecast big winds came) on 4-5m. It gradually got ballistic. In the end we were in some of the
    strongest winds we've ever had to drag boards along the beach in. 50 mph + which created a sandstorm
    Some excellent highlights - Wookie's highest jump ever (he was well up when the wind gusted and took him higher - I'll spare you the
    details of the 'landing'). Andy's excellent wave riding. Me getting flattened after offering to help sail Gary's board back for him. Tony's
    wipeout. Colin waveriding on 110 ltrs. Pat's board taking off in the carpark and impaling itself on Tony's trailer
    Taxi drivers in Donegal are insane - we thought wave riding in 40-50 mph winds was rough, trust me the back of a 7 seater taxi was
    10 times worse!
    The Guinness was excellent and the music in most pubs was great. We also now know the pub which has the worst pub band in the
    world, ever - and it's in Ardara
    A 1 mile walk back from the pub up hill, against a 60 mph wind in sleet and snow is not clever. On the other hand Tony and I are
    clever because we did it in a taxi
    Andy is an excellent cook - 7 of the largest steaks you've ever seen in your life with all the trimmings
    Gary and Pat are the slowest cooks in the world, 1 hour to cook up a greasy fry for breakfast
    We'll spare you the sleeping arrangements, except to say 'Gary Fitzpatrick' (not true, but you had to be there). We also have a new
    name for Pat, but I can't repeat it here as he wants to be elected to the NSC committee...
    The forecast winds blew us off the water on Saturday, nearly taking the roof off that night (at least, that's what Andy said the
    noise was) and stopped us going out at all on Sunday. I'm not sure what force 10 looks like, but that must have been
    close. Oh yes - and it was snowing too!
    No masts, booms or bones broken. Just 1 board (on dry land) and 1 harness line. Amazing in the conditions.
Our thanks to Colin for organising it - and even volunteering to run another one in May. Hopefully with less wind (did I really wish for that?).
And while we were away, it was business as usual at the club - including Muriel who was practising her beach starts so vigorously that she broke her new board (again). We'd all better take cover when she moves on to trying waterstarts!

Although I haven't been at the club this weekend, I understand that some initial work on the slipway has started. The ever present Paula writes :
At the club, on either side of the slipway, about 6-8 feet out are piles of rock and large pieces of rubble. Work has started on breaking up the slipway but the debris has been left, waiting to snag someone's fin. The rocks cannot be seen at high tide, so everyone is passing on the warning to others.
So clearly work has already started - so be careful. Officially the slip and that entire side of the club will be cordoned off for 3 weeks from 16 April, so it's only going to get worse before it gets better. And once it's finished, we'll sort out the rigging area properly (both size and grass).
And a further reminder that the physio night is Saturday 31 March, 7:30 at the club. This is open to non-members, just come along and we can sign you in for the night. There is no cost.
The speed challenge is almost finalised. The good news is that we've arranged sponsorship so there's some fun stuff to be won. The less good news is that we haven't been able to get the big name speedsters over for a kick off event and so will go without them. More details very soon, but expect to be able to sign out GPS units and just go for your maximum speed any time you're out with friends.
And word is reaching us of another wave clinic to be run in Donegal this October. More information soon.
For too long we've had it all our own way, let's face it - NSC has been effectively the only real windsurfing club for quite a while in NI. But I'm pleased to say this is changing as our man from the deep south, Barry Poland, tells us that things are moving in Newcastle. They've even had the audacity to abbreviate their club (Newcastle Yachting Club - pity about the Yachting bit) to NYC, I thoughts that was New York City -

Well I thought you may like to hear about the new developments at NYC.


We are ( at last!) going to go for the RYA RTC status as a club. In reality this will happen next year, allowing us to work towards the administration & requirements this year.So that is good news.


We have also been approved funding for equipment , although not too much at this stage, it  is enough to get started & test the water so to speak. We have even managed to make a new simulator (they enclosed a photograph of something which looks rather like a 1960s Russian spy satellite - wonder what they're simulating?)


If we are successful this year..then we hope to purchase more equipment the following year.


I may as well ask (as I know around this time of year  you guys sometimes replace your equipment) if you have anything in the way of old rigs, or any equip etc that you do not need, or are thinking of scrapping could you let us know as we may have a use for it...IE we need a very old low cost  rig for the simulator as we don't want to use the good ones we hope to get for the training boards.


Also the club hope to receive a grant soon for a new windsurf /sail training boat (something like a commando). Again in reality this will most likely happen next year.


This is excellent news and we wish them every success - at least that is until we get to the point of organising interclub events - at which points we fully intend to give them a good hiding!

If anyone is interesting in sailing in the NYC area, or has some old kit to off load, let me know and I'll put you in touch with them.


APRIL 2007


Easter Bunny Hops
Social Intimacy
Garage Update
Slipway Update
Speed is Coming

It isn't my fault - honest guv. I know the wind's been awful, but despite threatening legal type letters from Tourette's (aka Ali Todd), it still isn't my fault!
There was a Sunday a few weeks ago when Wookie got a few hours in the morning - easterly, 7.5m at White Rock. And the next week Chris Loughridge scored at Ballywalter - and he got a good run on his 9m too....
But that's been pretty much it for weeks.
But at least the Easter Bunny got a few (small) hops over the holiday. Sunday saw the desperate few gather around the remains of the rigging area. Pat arrived and started reversing his trailer. Ronnie was first out on 12m, but soon down to 9m. Pat meantime was reversing his trailer. Later Pat was 'maxed on my 7.8'. So you can see how bad it's been when maxed on 7.8 is headline news. Later, when everyone was gone, Pat was still reversing his trailer - clearly he can't be that good with a trailer, so if you see him reversing I recommend you get out of his way....
Despite continued dire forecasts, the hopeful assembled again on Easter Monday. Ronnie, Pat+Gary (aka Plug and Play), the ever present Paula, the very rare Mr Yeates and a few others had a repeat of Sunday. More maxed 7.8ms and no doubt more hazardous trailer manoeuvres from Mr Lyner.
However the ever resourceful Mr Wookie had done his homework and with a mate (that's a friend, not an animal mate) headed up to Antrim. Apparently the runes in his tealeaves had said it would be windier in the middle of the province. Standing at Antrim Boat Club surrounded by clouds of flies watching the jetskiers (bet you didn't know flies liked jet skis - but then you do know what else attracts them), it didn't look such a good idea. After an hour of Wookie saying 'I'm sure it's coming up' every 5 minutes, the path of least pain was to actually go out on the still water and hope. Launching from the carpark opposite the boat club (there was a danger that the last member might leave and lock the gates behind him), they headed out and practiced water ballet for about an hour. And then it did come up. They had a great sail on 7.5m and as the waves rolled in found themselves bouncing and jumping - yes the Easter Bunny really did hop.
In case any of you haven't sailed on fresh water - well in the case of Lough Neagh not salt water anyway - it's very different. Your board is less floaty and can really feel very different, especially in carves. Water starts with a big sail can become harder since you tend to sink more. And the waves are a different shape and seem to have a different weight, probably density in fact. But it is good as long as there is enough wind to remove the flies - otherwise learn to sail with your mouth closed - clearly Alan Yeates had better not try this (and we've photos to prove it).
So it hasn't been all doom and gloom - but 4m in Portnoo does seem an awful long time ago.... And Pat is probably still reversing that trailer.
News of 3 social events, 1 completed and 2 to come.
The Physio night was a great success, many thanks to Tim for procuring Amanda Baker who spoke excellently. We weren't sure how many to expect, in the end we were well into double figures and the length of the Q+A session showed just how interesting it was. And thanks to new NSC committee member Pat who ran the show and even managed to run the bar (after much coaching).
The next social event is Saturday 28 April, it's officially the club opening supper dance - but don't let the title put you off. It starts at 7:30 and gives you a 2 course meal with coffee and music afterwards for only £15 - clearly a snip. Now we know how these things go and windsurfers tend to work on the avalanche principle ie if all their mates (as if windsurfers ever had mates) are going then they will go. Well you'd better start grabbing tickets now because we've already got more than 1 full table of windsurfers and their partners - or should that be a table of full windsurfers? Anyway Paula, Gary, Pat and others are going - there is even a rumour that Andy might turn up with his girlfriend - surely worth £15 a pop for this alone.
So contact either me or Pat Lyner (e-mail above) and get those tickets booked quickly. Non members are their partners are welcome by the way.
And a word of warning - there's another quiz night coming up. We managed a couple of windsurfing teams last time and had a really great night - despite losing in the end to the Old Gaffers ie to sailors! So revenge is set for Friday 11 May - fear is not an option. Get it in your diary now and be there. And just to whet your appetite here's a question from the last one - which country has the largest  road network after the USA? Answer at the very bottom... And from which film is the quote - fear is not an option? Again, non members welcome - provided they're good a quiz questions.
We had a great turnout to sort the garage out a few Saturdays ago. The old boat shed is now empty and ready. A whole pile of Dexion will arrive soon and we also hope to get a bunch of lockers arranged. The way it will work is that for £30 for a year, you will get 2 racks and a locker. You can keep your small (but walkable) stuff in the locker eg fins, mastfeet etc. Your board and sails go on your rack, you can either chain them or trust that they are too big to walk - the garage will have a combination lock on it.
Anyone helping to set it all up will get a discount on their first year's storage fees. There will be a simple contract to sign - really just acknowledging that you have to be a member and pay the fee - if either changes you need to clear your stuff out.
And anyone storing kit in there without paying will find their gear locked up elsewhere until they do.
We hope to have the storage up and running this month. Those of you who've expressed interest will hear when we need your labour - anyone else interested just contact me or Pat.
The club is still open (just) to sail. We had cleared a bit of grass where boats are normally parked so that we could have a temporary rigging area. However it wasn't clearly marked and so of course some plonker has plonked a boat there. We'll get it moved.
However from 16 April the heavy work starts and you won't be able to sail from the club. But it should only be 2 weeks. And after that we'll fix the rigging area once and for all.
The GPS speed event is about to be announced. The prizes will include 2 GPS units plus wine and meals and stuff. There will be an entry fee of £10 (£5 for a beginner) which will entitle you to try as many times as you want. We'll probably run the scheme right through the Summer with the prizes in September/October but this isn't finalised yet.
So full details soon.

MAY 2007

Silence of the Lambs
Slipway Update
NSC Speed Challenge
Garage Update
Regatta Race
Wave Sailing Course - October

You've had a great time recently - lots of wind and nothing in your inboxes from me. Well after a mega business trip to the USA in which my suit was shredded (and it was in my suitcase at the time - thank you Continental), I'm back and hearing nothing but tales of the fantastic wind I missed! Thanks guys - and also for all those text messages while I was away to tell me too. So I'm back and the silence is over, now all I need to do is find a tasty windsurfer to have for dinner (with a nice claret).
The word was that the bank holiday weekend was lethal, especially in Donegal. Wookie, Big Robert, Tourettes and Andy were at Magheroarty where a windsurfer on the outside appeared as a microdot against the huge rolling waves. No damage to report surprisingly enough, but some very tired and but happy bodies at the end of the days.
Back at the remains of the club (more on that below), there've been some good sessions. The medical crew, who always sail every Wednesday - don't get sick, have a baby or get toothache on a Wednesday - scored a great 6m day last week.
Sunday finally saw me on the water as hoards of windsurfers defied the weather forecast and willed it to be windy at Ballyholme. And it was! Not mega but most people had an excellent run on 6-7.5m in flatish conditions and nice hot sun. Changing in the carpark was actually fun - or at least it was until Guy was seen bending over without the use of a towel -anyone got a motor bike they need to park? Actually talking of Guy, you'll have noticed how much bling he wears, a sort of 70s sex symbol throw back look. Well even he can't wear this stuff out to sea (it's so heavy he'd drown) but instead I've noticed he wears his keys on a sort of necklace thing outside his wetsuit - as near to bling as you can get. Hey, he's cool....
Lots of people about - Wookie, Chris, Plug+Play (Pat and Gary), Guy and Harry (still together), Trevor, Keith, the every present Paula, Ronnie Lough (great to see him on the water doing so well these days) and piles of people I sort of knew but couldn't name. The car park was so full that the circling police cars (they drove round every hour) could hardly get in. We're not sure what they were looking for - strange men in rubber in the public toilets perhaps? Or maybe they were after a suspicious windsurfer - actually Andy wasn't there so maybe it was him they were after - if so, they'll need to start looking when it's F5 or above.
And did all of these people go straight out onto the water? No they did not. Instead they stood and gawped in awe at something that has been missing for years at Ballyholme. No, not sewage-free water, the pole at the end of the pipe and groyne. Yes, Trevor's Knob is standing erect and proud. And pink! For those of you who are wondering what I'm talking about (join the queue), when the old post at the end of the pipe fell down, we found it hard to know when we were about to hit the groyne. Several of us damaged kit on this and we all muttered. But it was Trevor who wrote (in fine form, he knows how to blast and burn) to the Council and drove them into action. And low and behold, there it is. An eyesore, but a welcome one, actually rather like Trevor I suppose. But well done Trevor, we're proud of you and your knob. Long may it stand proud.
The only person to try the waste land of the club was the fisherman's friend, uncle Ronnie who worked his way down from 10m to 7.5 and had a good sail. Actually he had a great sail and made 37 knots on this GPS! Pity the NSC Challenge hadn't started - see below, because it has now.
You always get some buck iijit suggesting doing something daft. In fact there were a couple of buck iijits who went blasting off to Helen's Bay. It must be a 3 mile run which isn't easy on the legs. Later in the day Wookie persuaded me to go and of course when you get out of the bay it gets a bit rougher. By the time I got there and back I could hardly walk. I wouldn't have minded if we'd actually landed and had an icecream or something, but no it was straight round and head back.
Those of you who are not members at the club will no doubt have been having a wry smile at the sight of the upper class having to slum it with you at the car park. The reason is that the slipway at the club is due for a massive upgrade. Unfortunately the crane had to be parked on the rigging area which is now a mess.
Worse however is that there was a misunderstanding between the club and the authorities which meant that work stopped before it began (but after the rigging area was destroyed). There was a club committee meeting last night and the position has now been clarified. The club does now have the necessary permission to proceed with the work, however the window has been missed with the people doing the work - and they can't start until August. Clearly it's not worth putting the grass back for only a couple of months, so some large carpets are coming this week and will be put down to provide a soft area on which we can all rig.
So the good news is that the club will be back sailable again from this weekend onwards. We may need a working party on Saturday to rake out and smooth down the area, but we're waiting for the bollards, stones etc to be moved - we've been assured this is imminent also.
The result of this is that the club regatta (and windsurfing races) and indeed our Try event can go ahead. More on these shortly.
And in case anyone thinks that it's only the windsurfers who've been knackered by this, it turns out that the GP sailors have been unable to run any of their races this season (although some have sailed individually) and the powerboat guys have also been hard pressed to get out. So the pain is very much shared.
Hopefully this is all about to be resolved and you can all stop beating up poor Pat who's been taking in the neck from you all about not being able to use the facilities - sometimes I'm glad I was out of the country so much this month. Actually we're going to need Pat - we confidently expect to see him out on the new rigging area with his Hoover....
It's here, it's started and there are great prizes thanks to Pier 36.
In simple terms you pay an entry fee of £10 (£5 for a beginner) and you can try as many times as you want. The highest speeds in 3 categories win GPS units etc. The categories are :
Fastest speed male NSC Member (1st, 2nd, 3rd)

          Fastest female NSC Member

          Fastest non member (non beginner)

Fastest beginner/early improver (member or kit hirer) (defined as uphauling only)

It runs from now to the prize giving in September/October.
And yes - you can do it away from the club (2 members needed to verify instead of 1) and non members can enter!
But remember, no speed count until your entry fee has been received by a committee member ie Pat Lyner, Richard Young or me.
Full details are at the very end of this e-mail.
Read the rules, pay your money and start borrowing those GPS units (they'll be available shortly for sign out at the club).
The club garage is nearly ready to be used for kit storage. Alan Yeates has done an excellent job with dexion and has constructed an excellent storage rack for boards. We have some more Dexion and will probably construct a further rack.
We're hoping to get some lockers shortly and at that point we'll be ready to let you store kit.
The deal is :
    Any member can store kit in the garage provided he's paid his fees and signed the agreement
    The fee will be £30 per year, but only £20 for this first year (since the year runs from March)
    All payments will be to the club membership secretary (Stuarty Wilson)
    You get 2 spaces (may be increased to 3) in the racks. These will be numbered and you must use your own
    You will get a locker for small stuff like fins, mast feet etc. You have to provide your own lock
    Your equipment is not insured under the club insurance
Any 'extra' equipment found being stored will be dumped outside the garage.
I'll let those of you who have registered interest in the garage know shortly that it's available. You may need to provide your own padding for the racks as they are presently just metal.
If anyone else wants to use the facility, please contact me.
Saturday 16 June is the club regatta. Now that we've got a rigging area, Ronnie, Gary and Paula are going to run some fun races. The plan is to run some races a couple of times this year to get everyone into shape for next year when we hope to host an IWA racing event at the club. So get those fins polished (or in some cases knives, guns and other weapons) as the fun is about begin. We hope to get some good photographs too, preferably of Ali, Wookie and Chris all killing each other at the gybe mark.
Details will follow but there will be a number of races including some for beginners/intermediates (ie uphaulers) - so there is no excuse, everyone can join in. And there'll be prizes both serious (well, a bit) and fun.
So put 16 June in your diary, bring your Hoover and let's race!
More shortly on this.
We've done it again! Another top windsurfing instructor is lined up to get you rocking in the wave in Donegal! The details are :
    Jim Collis - the expert pro who's been so brilliant at Pras and will be sort us all out in Tenerife
    14-19 October
    Cost to be confirmed but under £200 (that's really good!), plus accommodation (not dear)
    Numbers limited to 10, so hurry because we've 3 booked already!
Last year was spectacularly good. We learned a huge amount - including the fact that the water isn't cold in Donegal in October.
Numbers are limited to please get onto me quickly and get booked!
MAY 2007

The cracking of the booms
NSC Speed Challenge Underway
Break out those Flares and Tanktops
Garage Ready to Roll
Donegal Waves

At last, a couple of nice warm windy days which included a weekend! The spring flowers are up, the birds and the bees are hard at it, Andy's in love and the spring air is filled with the sound of booms breaking! And the rigging area is just about usable as well. Life is good.
Friday was windy and both the club and carpark filled up with happy smiley people. It was a funny day with most people settling on 5.5-5.8m but having to endure the extremes of the range of these sails. Mostly it was good and fairly steady with the odd lull of a few minutes of wobbles and sinkings. Then about once per hour a sort of squall would come through, first causing big speeds, then out of control tail walking and finally huddling in the water under sails or struggling into the bay with great difficulty. But the rest of the time it was great with some nice small waves built up and the water was surprisingly warm.
The first of many boom casualties was Gary, probably his own fault for going out without his plug and play partner Pat. Pat, or course, appeared later but not before Gary had completed a long walk with his tackle in his hands. The best bit of course was that it wasn't his boom, it was Andy's. The big lad appeared much later on having been in Donegal and was really nice about the mangled wreckage - clearly he's a happy bunny these days.
In case you're wondering what Donegal was like, the answer was stupidly windy. Magheroarty found the usual suspects including Wookie and Andy (poor sods left Belfast at 7am) and of course Big Robert (still no word). Wooks and Andy were on their smallest sails , 4m and 4.5m respectively and only managed a few runs as the wind just went ballistic. Long way to go for 4 runs. Robert and the locals fared better, but they had 3.3m sails. Wookie is now in the market for a 3.3m sail, which no doubt means we'll see no decent winds for months.
Back at NSC there was quite a crowd. Alan Yeates took time out from doing an excellent job building racks for the garage and Trevor Pollen and Son (sounds like a good name for a scrap dealer - mind you it's rather appropriate, have you seen the age of Trevor's kit?) managed to wrench themselves away from admiring Trevor's knob (at Ballyholme) to enjoy a good blast. Ali Tourettes Todd came of the water grinning, and not because he'd managed to cut up the Wookie, having had 'a great day's jumping' - we're not sure who on. Ronnie and the ever present Paula appeared later and others included Nigel, Richard Young, Russell, David Brown and plenty of others.
A few people, not realising the club rigging area is usable were still using the carpark. One of these was Guy who tells me that I'd got it wrong and Harry was not out last weekend (actually quite a few people have speculated on when Harry's coming out - but that's another story). I should have known as word has reached me that Harry is now strictly a once a year man - I refer to his windsurfing, I can't comment on anything else and Guy's lips are sealed...
And just to make Gary and Andy feel slightly less sore about breaking that boom, I hit a rock on my brand new fin. The fin survived but certainly no longer looks brand new, more like a saw blade.
It was a good day and there were some tired bodies creaking into their cars afterwards.
Saturday of course was the cup final, but of much more importance was the fact that the wind had held. Another great 5.5m day. Many of the same people came down but supplemented by Tim, Raptor, Lewis, Chris and Wookie. We also saw John Bedford on the water. The wind was a bit more steady, although still with the odd big squall. But again it was warm and sunny. I saw quite a few people just blasting along with a big grin on their face - just simply enjoying the simple pleasures of our sport. And when I say blasting I do mean it, despite some waves, the GPS units recorded speeds of up to 28 knots! Yes, the speed challenge has officially started.
Early on Wooks and I were blasting together when I felt the boom go slack. I just stopped in time as half of the boom broke off, fortunately not going through the sail. My ever faithful bit of string (like me, you do always carry a spare bit of string with you don't you?) came to the rescue and I could sail in slowly. It's a salutary warning as this was a 'carbon boom' I bought a couple of years ago and these shouldn't really break. However the head was made of aluminium and this broke. So if any of you are buying an expensive carbon boom, make sure it's 100% carbon and not 90% - as the other 10% will let you down.
Reaching for my smaller boom, last used in the gales at Portnoo, I discovered that it was severely bent. The last thing I did on it was a spectacular wipe-out and I was so dazed I never noticed that I'd knackered the boom!
And then later on Tourettes limped in with his boom arm hanging off. Cracking day as I said.
There were some good moves and great wipeouts about. Chris Loughride in typical form took a 7m out to 'try for some speed' when the rest of us were struggling to hang onto our 5.5ms. In his words 'it got a bit silly' and he certainly wiped out well - but he did also record some great speeds. My best moment came with a really perfect gybe where I shot out faster than I rocketed in - I'll be living off this one for a while as sadly I don't get many like that.
Another great day which was completed in the bar alternately watching the FA cup final extra time or looking out on the still windy and sunny water where Trevor and Keith were still blasting away.
The first entrants have paid their money and the first speeds are in. These will be on the website soon and you'll be able to watch the competition right through to the Autumn. So don't be a couch potato, get your tenner in and get moving. There are great prizes and not just for 1st place. It's great fun trying to go fast and very good for your technique.
There are separate categories for beginners too (non waterstarters) and this only costs £5 to enter. So don't say 'this isn't for me, I haven't a chance' - you do!
And non NSC members can enter too - you've even got your own category.
The full details including the prizes are at the end of this e-mail, but here are a few relevant details :
    No speeds count until you've paid your entry fee of £10 (£5 for a beginner)
    You can go for it at any time from now until October
    You can do it anytime, you don't need to wait for any special event
    2 GPS units will be available at the club to use
    You need 1 witness if you're sailing at the club, but 2 if you're elsewhere
And if you know any female windsurfers, get them to enter as they've a fair chance of winning something!
If you don't have a GPS of your own, remember that £10 is actually a cheap price to be able to use one over the next 6 months!
Windsurfers, being so cool, are renowned for their fashion sense - you've only got to look round the rigging area any time it's windy to see this. You always see a lot of amazing fashion about - it's just not always clear which year the fashion is from. So we're perhaps being very brave with our next idea. We've had some good get togethers including a quiz night a couple of months ago and the physio night. Well now we're going to risk going one further - a retro disco night.
We are planning, but yet certain, to run a Try event on Saturday 30 June. You know the formula, free windsurfing 'try out' lessons, a chance to try out GP14s in crewed boats (note the spelling is crewed not crude) and also rib rides for the kids. Assuming we get the green light, you'll hear much more about this soon. It is a great chance to push some of your relatives and friends (assuming you have any outside of Belfast Zoo) to try the sport we all love. Or even to just push them - into the water.
The brave bit is that we're going to run a disco afterwards. The rough plan is to charge £10 per head, send out for carry in food later in the evening (included in the price), to show windsurfing videos on the walls and to enjoy the music of the 70s, 80s and whenever. We have a windsurfer who used to run a nightclub with a loft full of vinyls and the intention is just to have a good night's fun. We may also set up some minibus trips to get most people home afterwards. There'll be a chance to play the Bits and Pieces game, as you used to hear on 247 and a lot more.
All this is up in the air, but for now please put 30 June in your diary. This is a time to bring the kids to the day and the wife (or anyone else's wife) to the evening. Dressing up is not officially part of the plan, but any of you are mad enough - well go raid your attic. Chris Loughridge is already threatening to do this (actually looking at what he was wearing this weekend we thought he already had). I'm nearly sure I've got a few good pairs of flares set aside - not sure about the hot pants though.
And this sort of reminds me, you haven't seen too many windsuring lessons or even RYA windsurfing courses run - something to do with the lack of a rigging area. However that's all changing now. So if anyone reading this is interested in or knows someone who is interested in learning to windsurf, let us know. We've got highly qualified Fast Forward instructors, the latest kit and of course a great location.
And while I'm on it (what I'm on is I have discovered a topic of much debate), I must also remind you about the regatta races. Saturday 16 June is the club regatta and we will be running some fun races. The plan is to run some races a couple of times this year to get everyone into shape for next year when we hope to host an IWA racing event at the club. It's not to be taken too seriously and there will 2 fleets ie the semi-serious-let's-kill-Wookie racers and the beginners/intermediates (ie uphaulers). There'll be prizes, photographs for the website and it should be a lot of fun. So mark it in your diary and just be there.
More details shortly on this.
We've now got lockers and racks and so are almost ready to rent out the former boat shed for kit storage. There are simple rules, the most important of which is pay £20 in advance.
I'm about to e-mail those who've previously expressed interest, but there are 8 places to start with (more to come when we build more racks), so if you want to store your kit at the club - e-mail me!
The club garage is nearly ready to be used for kit storage. Alan Yeates has done an excellent job with dexion and has constructed a great storage rack for boards. We have some more Dexion and will probably construct a further rack.
JUNE 2007


Get wet this weekend
The scores on the door
The revenge of the slipway

Yes, I know - this weather is rubbish! Made all the worse by loads of smiling happy people sporting too much red and burnt skin as they strip the shelves of icecreams and BBQ material - enough to make you sick as another windless weekend grinds slowly by. However help is at hand - in the perhaps unlikely form of the club regatta which is coming up next Saturday! Often this has been a weekend to avoid the club with crowded carparks, fretting sailors and the perception of too many brass buttons (allegedly). But in the last few years this has changed as we've organised windsurfing races and a master blaster in parallel. Last year saw a good crowd of windsurfers run a couple of major races with prizes given out in the main event. And this year, with the speed challenge running, it's set to get even better. Here's the deal, all subject to wind conditions of course -
     11:00 Main race number 1 - all comers for a couple of miles course
     12:00 - 13:00    Beginners races relatively close to the shore
     13:30    Main race number 2 - all comers for a couple of miles course
     15:30    Master Blaster - across the lough and back - all welcome (who can reasonably expect to make it) - this one is for fun, humiliation and just perhaps some glory
     In the gaps - NSC speed challenge - take the GPS and try your speed
     Prize giving - approximately 16:30 - prizes for the races, beginners, best speed on the day, master blaster and of course biggest wipeout and the Hugh Jarse award for doing something really stupid
    Steak BBQ - £10 for as much as you can eat
If the wind is high, we'll modify the course to suit. If it's really much too high we'll all be enjoying ourselves much too much to worry about anything else.
The races are being run by Ronnie, Paula and Gary - so get down early (to bag a parking spot) and come out and play. We particularly want to see -
    Any beginners - you've a great chance of winning in your races, plus there's a special category for you in the NSC Speed Challenge! Remember you don't
    have to be very good and falling off (and in) is allowed. But you can learn a lot from just having to sail a course and possibly avoid other people
    Any female windsurfers - again you've got your own category, so come down and post some scores, you might win your own GPS
    Non members - I know it's a club day, but guests are welcome, all we have to do is sign you in, so you can sail at no cost and you have your
    own category in the NSC Speed Challenge (£10 to enter for the entire Summer) so what have you got to lose?
So get down next Saturday and get some speed (the abstract variety, not the amphetamine) and most of all - get wet!
Oh yes - it's hotting up. Loads of people have entered the Speed Challenge, well after all it's only a tenner (£5 for a beginner), and it's providing great fun. Last weekend, while your humble scribe was punting on the Cam, there was some good wind and some good scores went on the door. Actually, they went on the website, so if you want to see who's doing what and to whom, then you know where to look - there are links all over the site. However for those of you who are struggling to get the hang of this new-fangled web thingie, then here are a few scores -
    In the lead with 29 knots, some great catapults and a titanium skull is Ming the Merciless (see the film Flash Gordon - much better than looking at Chris Loughridge directly). Just
    to really annoy Pat, Chris borrowed Pat's kit for his lead taking run. Perhaps need to buy some more kit Chris?
    Alex Raptor Dugan with 28 - but that was on a waveboard with a hanky for a sail, wonder what he'll do if he can borrow some proper kit (and doesn't stop in the middle of the run to     do a Vulcan)
   Trevor Pollen - showing old is best, at least when it comes to kit, put up an excellent 26.7
And there are plenty of others in the lower 20s including Pat, Gary, Tony (Harold) and Keith.
There's only 1 problem, one of the GPS units was lost! Word hadn't got out well enough that if you aren't using the Aquapacks you must put the unit under your wetsuit and so one unfortunate person lost the unit. In fact it could have been anyone, it was pure bad luck. A subsequent search at low tide failed to produce the unit, so we're working on sorting out a replacement - all very messy. The Aquapacks are here now, so there's no excuse.
As I mentioned earlier, we are lacking in entrants in some of the other categories, noticeably women, non members and beginners. So if you're one of these, then get entered as you've a good chance of winning something!
The rules are on the website, but one detail I want to mention is how to post scores on the door - e-mail me! I need your name, speed (knots or MPH), the location and the name of the club member witness(es) - 1 at the club or 2 if somewhere else. Any further information is useful, number of catapults, size of board/sail, drugs taken - anything like that. And remember, no scores count until Pat, Richard or I get your money first!
We've hardly recovered from the excitement of March and April when cranes were making a bog of our rigging area, bollards were leaping up and attacking Ronnie's board and just launching from the club was like entering a game from It's a Knockout. However the slipway renovation was pushed out to August and we could all relax and curse the lack of wind. But like a very bad curry, it's back to haunt us. The latest news is that the slipway work will start again immediately after the Regatta. It is planned to only take 2 weeks, but of course things could slip.
So, we've decided to postpone the Try event on 30 June. With a bit of luck, it'll be in July or August and we may yet decide to run the retro disco. So keep those flares and tank tops on ice (or at least under lock and key), because the fashion world may yet be assaulted.
More news on the details of the slipway work when we get it, but we may end up joining the poorer classes in the carpark for a while.

JUNE 2007


Racy weekend
Quick round up

Three things in life are inevitable - death, taxes and rubbish weather forecasts. I could add finding Andy in the bar and Ming's awful choice of shorts (we can only speculate, indeed risking throwing up in speculating, at what he might wear under said offensive garments).
But I meander, the point is that we've been sweating all week as the average windspeed for the Regatta weekend has been about 3 mph. But all change, Guru is now showing up to 15 knots - that's nearly as fast as some of the scores in the NSC Speed Challenge! So there will be a full series of races - including beginners. So rock up and come on down.

At last - there's been some windsurfing! Only after weeks of sweltering in lovely hot sun, today it was windy - and cold and horrible! Well, relatively anyway. I still can't believe that I was in a winter wetsuit and wearing my winter - let's rob a post office - balaclava in June. But it was worth it.
I shouldn't name those who 'escaped' from work aka bunked off and spent the afternoon at Cloughey. So they were Ali, Andy, Wookie, me (but I had permission), Russell, Jarleth, Big Robert and Pat. Well, now they've all lost their jobs, was it worth it? Actually yes, most people were on 5m, many on waveboards. Cloughey bay was fairly flat - excellent for the speed challenge, but no-one had thought to bring the GPS units. So, sacked and stupid. Quite a few made their way upwind to the reef and found some excellent wave conditions. Lovely smooth sets with nice gaps in them, 'even you could gybe in there Alan' was one comment I got.
Pat, Tourettes and I stayed in the main bay - me to practice my gybes fairly obviously. Ali was taking it easy after a big crash 2 weeks ago which cracked a couple of ribs. Horrible this, we almost feel sorry for Ali. There's no treatment and it takes a while to heal and in the meantime every bump hurts. On the plus side, he only cracked his ribs, but his kit was undamaged. Pat on the other hand managed to break a UJ, although fortunately in the shallows.
We've often speculated as to why Big Robert is so named. I can now tell you that the reason is nothing to do with the size of his masculinity, but it is to do with his generosity. You may recall that I wrote recently how I managed to break not just one but two of my booms on the same day. Knowing this, he still lent me an excellent carbon boom today. It take a big man.... Talking of which reminds me in an opposite sort of way that I also got a very unpleasant surprise today when I looked into the back of Andy's van and found Ali bollock naked getting changed. Fortunately I'd already had lunch, otherwise I might have lost my appetite (along with the will to live). There is a rumour that is not the first time there's been nakedness in the back of Andy's van....
No big changes in the NSC Speed Challenge - you need wind for this to happen. But that will change on Saturday - so get down to the club and join in.

JUNE 2007


Rocking Ronnie's Regatta
Fancy a week of excellent windsurfing this Summer?
Discount Olympic Boards

You might not have believed it was half way through June, but we had the club regatta in grey horrible looking conditions - but we also got wind!
The numbers were a bit lower than in some years, clearly you were put off by the weather, the flooding and of course the fact that BBC had scooped the Ladies England Lacrosse Championship - pretty stiff competition for a day at NSC.
The breakfast club met up horribly early at McDs in Newtownards. Suitably greased up, we got down to the club and bagged all the best parking spots before the most of the sailors were awake. Ronnie Miller was organising the races and he did his usual excellent job. The only problem is that he's short of flags and so he had to devise a sequence with just two - one being a nice green for go but the other was sort of very off white and frankly looked like he was hoisting up a pair of his old undergarments - not the sort of thing to get the adrenalin pumping at the start of a race. Ronnie was aided in the boat by Richard Young, who'd been up to 4am pumping out old ladies
cellars, due to the floods. The effect was similar to Spam Gary who'd been on the beers rather hard the night before - actually he looked like he could have used a good pumping out by Richard himself. Tim also appeared down and helped out in the boat, clearly there were no special offers on at Tescos on Saturday.
The wind was mostly easterly, so at the shore it looked useless. Dirty Debbie was showing 3-5 mph and the water looked horribly flat. But you know what optimists windsurfers are, we kept looking out past the mooring buoys and thinking it sort of might be windy out there. So Pat and I rigged big and wobbled out in swirly, nothing puffs - and lo and behold there was good wind about 500 yards out. Soon a whole pile of people were out on 7-9.4m and going rightly. Pat had his new RRD Xfire which proved very fast, although he must have got it in a hurry as it seemed that they'd not had time to paint it.
I grabbed the club GPS to see what could be done on a 170 ltr FV2 and a 9.4m sail. The answer was 25.2 knots, which was considered pretty good for such a big sail. Paula recorded the first woman's speed of 13.1 knots - come on the rest of you girls, get in and get out there - there's a GPS to be won!
The first race was rescheduled for 1pm and Ronnie and Richard headed out with their dirty washing on sticks - just as the wind died. Much muttering on the rigging area - which I have to tell you is fast growing a better stubble than that funny thing on Thomas's face. Oh yes, and just to be sure we put out the carpet on the grass so were able to rig in style. Some of us thought, what the Hell, we'll just go for it anyway and wobbled out to join the race. Some of the wind snobs didn't bother and decided to derig and just sit in the bar like a bunch of sailors, so we're getting very worried about Wookie, Tourettes and Andy. Time to buy a GP14 lads?
The first race saw light winds and my big sail gave me an unfair advantage. Still, at least I had had the good sense to rig it, plus I didn't drop any gybes, so I won and also lapped the entire field for good measure. The best crash of the day was when Paula, representing the woman's fleet, crashed at the gybe mark and Gary went careering into her. Being the total gentleman that he is, he also dropped his mast on her head. However no harm done as the mast was undamaged and he was able to sail on. Pat was a very creditable second.
The second race saw similar results, although with more wind it was closer. Gary was clearly the fastest board on the water, but sadly it wasn't his day for gybes so there was a lot of under water swearing going on. I too managed to drop a gybe, after I'd crossed finish line and then provided much amusement for everyone when my uphaul broke sending me shooting backwards into the water. Sadly for me this tweaked my back, so I couldn't go for the Master Blaster.
Having set up the races, Ronnie then joined in for the Master Blaster - which he promptly won. Ronnie rocks! So the regatta plaques went to me, Paula and Ronnie. We will cherish them and display them proudly to all visitors. We also have to give a special mention to Paula who was summoned from the shower to be presented her prize. Sadly, she didn't actually step up in front of the crowd with only the towel covering her modesty, she did manage to put some clothes on. We're all hoping the Chronicle's photographs won't actually show her hair dripping on her plaque!
The sailors had a slightly reduced turnout for their races, but still managed quite a day. An encouraging thing was the number of boats racing crewed by juniors. They do much better than us in this respect. We didn't have enough beginners to run a race for them. This is probably due to the severe havoc caused to our beginners lessons by the slipway issues. But we need to do better next year.
So a good day out and when I left the music was on, the food was being guzzled and a huge crowd has appeared, noticeably after the part of the day that involved getting on the water.
I wonder who won the Lady's Lacrosse?
You know it's coming - those warm Summer months, warm water, even crapper TV, silly news stories and of course light winds. If you fancy improving on this, there is still time to get involved in this year's NSC windsurfing holiday. And BTW, it's open to all comers, not just NSC members.
The format is simple, we fly to Tenerife on 22 August, we stay for a week getting 6.5 days on the water with near guaranteed wind. We have top rate coaching arrange in the form of Jim Collis - he proved himself to be excellent last year in Prasonisi. And there are a mere 18 of us going! Costs are modest and all transport, accommodation and kit hire are included. On the subject of kit we're using the Official Test Centre, which means just about every make of board and sail you can name, all just waiting for you
You can look up the OTC and also the conditions at El Medano. In effect you have everything you can want here - safe and relatively easy, good blasting and also waves. And of course it's just a tad warmer than back home.
Although we have a great crowd of people booked, as it happens we still have potentially 2 places left because of the way the accommodation has worked out. We have taken a number of apartments and right now they don't exactly match the number of bodies.
So if you are thinking of getting some excellent windsurfing this Summer, stop thinking and get in touch. We're going to close this shortly, so don't prat around.
Maurice Owens has been in touch with this interesting idea from the IWA. If anyone is interested, contact him directly.
An Olympic Dream or Pie in the Sky?
You will know that we have been pursuing an Olympic Dream in the IWA for the last while and that Ireland could be represented at the Windsurfing Olympics in Weymouth in 2012  - almost on our doorstep.

It looked like an opportunity to get a windsurfer or two and offer them the opportunity to have a real go!  UK is the most successful sailing nation in recent Olympics and we could race there at the very best level for a small financial investment?  International events would appear to be possible here in Ireland as teams from around the world would like to train in and race in similar conditions to Weymouth!

Now, we have approval for E20,000 from Sports Capital Programme  via the Lotto.  The concept here is that a few Training Centres or individuals would invest in RS:X gear (at about one third of the cost as the grant will fund 2/3).  The Training Centres would make the rigs available and organise a race event (for all racing, not just RS:X) each year.  An individual would agree to compete in a specified number of RS:X competitions in the UK (or elsewhere).  The rigs cannot be disposed off and would be returned to the IWA if no longer in use.

There are lots of details to be agreed and finalised and we are looking for an expression of interest from any Training Centre or individual interested at this stage.  We need to get the our heads together and move this along.  Could anyone who has any interest in progressing on these lines or who may have a suggestion as to an alternative or concurrent approach let me know.

Maurice - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

JULY 2007


Golden Brown
NSC/Pier 36 Speed Challenge - Change of Rules
The Glamour of Windsurfing

Would you buy a used car from any of these kids?

Have you ever listened to the Stranglers' Golden Brown. Excellent track of course, but I mean have you ever really listened? It's in 7/4 time which means there's an extra beat in every other line. Listen to it some time - it goes 123 123 123 1234. Honest!
Well that piece of particularly excellent useless information might not win you the next pub quiz, but it is a great introduction to last Monday's session at Ballyholme. The usual people had skived off work (Andy, Wookie etc), while others scurried down to the brown waters edge as soon as they could get away. I couldn't make it myself, but my correspondent tells me there were lovely rollers around the boat club corner - and I don't think he means the type Wookie would use in his hair. Sail sizes were around 5-5.8, Andy started on 6.5m but had to change down to 5.5 - clearly worth being there, especially after so much rubbish weather recently.
By late afternoon when most people were out, the tide was rising and nearly full. Much riding and fun were reported to me, some of it on boards. Ramps of up to 6 feet launched quite few people in to the air and subsequently into the water or the mast or whatever.
Now it's not often I have a good word to say about Tim - unless of course Tescos is closed and he's actually about (he doesn't work there you understand, he just lives to shop there). But today he got it right. Searching around in his usual manner to find a good reason for not going out, he spent some time looking at the water. Now we joke about Ballyholme and the poor state of water cleanliness there (it is rumoured that work is underway to fix this). But it looks like Monday was one of those days when the Victorian machinery (and I don't mean Trevor Pollen's boards for once) was having a bad day. What Tim saw was pretty unmentionable, which means of course that it's OK to talk about it freely in this column. We're talking human waste, apparently in some cases still attached to the paper. Not a pretty sight - both Tim and what he saw. So Tim didn't go out.
However others did go out and paid the price. At least two hardy windsurfers (Andy and Pat) were laid low with mysterious symptoms the very next day. Co-incidence? You decide, I suppose it's possible that these two were sharing bodily fluids, but probably not each others'. But Tim was feeling pretty smug (special offer day at Tescos perhaps?). Now you perhaps get the bit about the song title.
As you know, I'm always very loathe to report anyone injuring or making an ass of themselves. So it is with deep regret that I have to tell you the tale of Gary (Mr Spam) and his groin - bet I've got your attention now! As I said, there was a lot of jumping going on and it was here that Gary and his groin came apart or perhaps came together. Either way Gary limped off the water - the first person to have groin trouble at Ballyholme instead of groyn trouble. Still, at least he didn't bend his new boom.
Late arrivals included Richard, Guy, Pat and Colin. Some good racing was enjoyed by this lot and Louis - but no speeds were recorded for the Pier 36/NSCChallenge.
Usually my reports consist of a number of people and some pretty harsh words to say about weather forecasters. Just for a change however I can give you a tale of a single windsurfer (me) and a great forecast. The Sunday night before all the crap floating on Ballyholme, all the forecasts said that the wind would come in, but late and northerly. So, living beside Lough Neagh and desperate (to get a sail - or just plain desperate), I went down to Oxford Island and rigged up in 8 mph of wind - didn't the forecasts all agree it was coming? The local Sunday drive crowd and the jet skiers were highly amused at this lost windsurfer who didn't seem to know it wasn't windy. Since I'd missed last week's sailing and was about to jump on a plane to the States, I stuck it out and eventually went out for a float around on my 9.4m. An hour later and the wind died completely, my Sunday dinner was nearly ready, the flies were out in force and anyone with any sense would have gone home. But I'd seen the weather forecasts, it definitely was going to come up - my God, I sound like Wookie, still at least I don't look like him. And so I went out for another float - and the wind came up. I had an hour of good blasting followed by a further 45 minutes of hanging on and being blown planing out of just about every gybe. The wind had arrived and I crawled home exhausted to a burnt roast!
Another windsurfer arrived, Richard who uses the e-mail alias Ricky Dangerous. Turned out to be very apt as he attempted to learn windsurfing on an old style board, probably a screamer. It was a scream, but he stuck at it painfully until another passing kind soul offered him the use of a Starboard Go. We hope to see Ricky at NSC soon, both to improve his technique and on the principle that anyone who calls themselves Dangerous has got to fit in well with the assorted lunatics and self-destructs who sail with us at the club.
Anyway, that may have been my last windsurf here for a while, but since I'm off to somewhere very windy and very warm - I suspect I can live with it.
It can hardly have escaped your notice that we are running this excellent speed challenge. The website scores are not up to date right now as the webmaster is off on holidays. However speeds are creeping up. So if you haven't paid your paltry entry fee, then do and take out one of the club's 2 GPS units and see how fast you can go. Full rules on the website, but there are categories for females, beginners, non-members and titanium-built Botox peddlers - so basically anyone can win a GPS unit between now and October.
However we did run into a problem where one well meaning soul took a GPS unit and it became detached and was lost. So now we have some aquapacks and to go with these there is a change in the rules -
    If you sign a club GPS out, then you must either wear it permanently under your wetsuit arm or in an aquapack (these are in the locked cupboard with the GPS units)
    If you lose it, you pay £100 to the club to replace it
We are greatly indebted to Lewis at Pier 36 and the person who lost it, together they generously paid for a replacement.
So get rigging, but just be careful!
Let's face it, we don't get much of a chance to include any glamour in all of the bollix we (and especially I) talk about windsurfing. Magheroarty in a force 7 in January has it's own glamour, but it's hardly the stuff to get Sun readers salivating.
But hold hard, this is all about to change if Jo Millar gets her evil way! Let me just emphasize for the terminally illiterate the Jo is a girl. You've probably seen her in the Summers at NSC, not because she's a fair weather windsurfer, but rather because she's studying medicine at Edinburgh. Now if you can windsurf in Scotland at any time of the year, you're clearly pretty much a hard man. And we know just how much of a good bloke Jo is as she once came down to Kerry with a couple of van loads of blokes and Andy and survived.
You may also have noticed that Boards is running a competition called the SB Factor. It's a play on the X factor, but instead of Sharon Osborne, they've got Simon Bornhoft - you can make ip your own mind which you prefer - a clapped out showoff held together by surgery - or Sharon.
So how often do I get a particularly attractive young lady contacting me and begging me to help her out - clearly not often enough - so here's what she said :
Hello Alan,

I was wondering if you might do me a huge favour?

I entered the SB factor in Boards recently and got through to the top 30 so its all down to the votes now! I've got some very bitchy men who are competing hot-headedly alongside me as I found out looking at the forum on the boards website... apparently being a young female is perceived to be a large threat in competitions that require some amount of bikini photography in a mainly male-focused magazine! Ha!

So what I need is as much support from you all at the club as possible and as I know you are the crutch of the communication over there I thought you could lend me a helping hand. All people have to do is text 'BOARDS X JOANNAM' to 60300. Texts are a mere 25p so wives and children might be persuaded to get involved also...!

The competitors pics are all on the website : www.boards.co.uk/sbfactor

Don't laugh at my pic... I am not so naive to think that being a young female cannot benefit one in certain ways and so have tried to take advantage of that while maintaining dignity!

Well, help would be much appreciated in whatever shape you can muster it and I'll be back in the first few weeks of July so will most likely pop down to see what's going on. Am off to do another season in a slightly windier location (not difficult!). Looking forward to catching up.

Many thanks,

Now I'm not quite sure what being 'the crutch of communications' means - possibly a reference to the physical aid which might cure my gybing problems? But if you lot want to help Jo out, then get texting. Clearly all of you are in the 'whatever shape' category, goodness knows we've got a good variety of shapes at the club.
It is nice to see a Norn Iron contestant and all joking aside about her looks, Jo is a very keen windsurfer and deserves your support. And if you must letch at her photograph it's on page 67 of this month's Boards - but you can't have my copy as it's already cut out and stuck up on the wall.
JULY 2007


Harry Potter and the Deathly Shallows
Andy and Woman's Magazines
Some Kit for Sale
News of Irish Windsurfing

Well - have you read it yet? I have, great book but not one mention of windsurfing in it. Harry may be a wizard and may even have discovered girls, but if he hasn't hit on windsurfing yet clearly he's just not that clever. We may not have Lord Voldemort sailing at NSC, but we do have the next best thing in Chris aka Ming the Merciless and he certainly discovered how deadly the shallows can be this week as you'll see below.
However, you're right, it's been too quiet recently. Normally this means that there's been no wind and so I don't have any of your antics to spread humiliation with. This time however there was wind, F4 at least everyday, F5 some days and nice and warm. But sadly (for you) that was the weather I got somewhere very far away and not what you got here in NI. Now unfortunately I'm back, so it's back to scanning all the forecasts (and I do mean ALL) for the slightest sign of wind.
At least however, the elves have been busy while I was away. I arrived back to find our new slipway is finished! OK, it was supposed by months ago and there's been a lot of disruption to the rigging area since, but it's done and it is a whole lot better. For a start you can walk down the new wide version with a large sail rigged and not scrape it on the sides or the rocks. And it's nice and flat and smooth. The only thing is that the step from the seabed to the slipway sides is much greater now, so it does take some getting used to. You'll need to reorientated yourself otherwise you might do as Gary did and sail over it at high speed. When I say Gary sailed over it, he did, however his skeg did not and is currently still the subject of a search and rescue mission at low tides.
I know the issue of our much reduced rigging area has been bugging a lot of you, however Pat did a good liaison job as the slipway was being finished up and new lines have been drawn. We have some topsoil to put down and grass to sow, but basically we're back to having a good sized rigging area again.
There was actually some sailing this week. Wednesday saw an assortment down at the club, the day time crowd including Mr Yeates, Paula, Pat and Ming the Merciless got some good wind although mostly on 6-7m. Those of us with crusts to earn appeared at teatime as the wind died away. Ever hopeful (aka mad), we rigged at 7.5m and floated out. And floated back in again. After much talking of the bollix, we floated out again to do some water ballet. Mr Wookie ran a quick helicopter tack session for a number of hopefuls including Colin and Gary which was accompanied by much swearing - most of it underwater, sounding more like gargling. As we derigged the wind started to pick up again and so a few hopefuls went out for another float, but it was not to be.
We note that Paula came back from her annual week of waiter-chasing in Turkey (she says she goes off their without her husband to windsurf). After her exploits last year with the massage, we're still trying to worm more details out of her about this year. I'll keep you posted.
Two things stand out from Wednesday. The first was that Ming (Chris Loughridge) discovered something deadly in the shallows. He was standing in the water when he met a jellyfish. Now you might feel sorry for the jellyfish, especially knowing Ming's predilection with wearing short shorts. But on this occasion it was Ming who came off worse, indeed when he insisted on showing us his legs (honestly, the things I have to put up with just because I'm on the NSC Committee) they were up like angry red baps. Naturally Ming had broken into his copious drugs supply, but since most of what he does is Botox, the legs were still bright red - but not a wrinkle in sight. Although we do see jellyfish at the club, mostly they don't do any of us any harm. So either Ming was very unlucky or he has a magic attraction for some particularly nasty sort of sea monsters - well we've always wondered who or what was attracted to him, I guess now we know. I wonder if I should tell JK Rowling?
The other abiding memory from that evening was watching Colin trying to put on his downhaul with some nice new rope he'd bought from Jacksons. Sadly they'd sold him bungee rope ie elasticated. So far as I know he's still down there trying to get enough downhaul on.
Saturday saw the usual weather forecasts - more rain on those unfortunates in England (don't laugh, well at least don't laugh out loud) and no wind for us. But Wookie felt something in his bones, or at least careful studies of the charts revealed that a low would pass through overnight and just might provide some wind early on Saturday morning. So it was that the hairy alarm clock rang me at some ungodly hour and said there was wind - he lives by the Lough and clearly sleeps with his bedroom window open. I arrived early, to find the said Wookie blasting hard on 7.5m and chaos in the car park - the Ulsters were on which meant tents on the rigging area, boats everywhere and no doubt a roaring trade in the bars! Parking, especially with a trailer, was rough but fortunately Pat, looking like a 70s porn star in his supposedly cool shades, was shifting sailors about and opening up an entry into an unused but inaccessible area of the car park.
Around 9m was the call for some like Colin and myself, while Pat and Wookie were on 7.5m. Not just was the wind unforecasted and good, but it built. So by 11 I had to move down to a 7.5m and others were hanging on and blasting upwind rather a lot. We had an hour of really solid wind allowing us to successfully buzz all the slow coaches in their GPs. In fact with the sun shining and so many sails on the Lough, it all looked quite a picture. With warm water, it was a pleasant reminder of why we love this location so much. And by the way there was a great turnout for the Ulsters, it was great to see such a successful event being run at the club.
James was a welcome returner to the water and had a good sail on his son's board while Raptor came out and sailed for miles front to sail just to make the rest of look very ordinary. Gary turned up later and killed the wind and a number of us had a major wobbly return to shore in about 1 mph of wind. Naturally Phil appeared well after the wind had vanished and I can safely say he was the only windsurfer there who was smoking a cigar in a rather George Cole sort of way.
Now if I asked you to form a sentence (assuming that any of you are capable of such prowess in the English language) involving Andy Tease and a woman's magazine, I can guess what sort of magazine you might have in mind. But I said woman, not girlie. So you can appreciate that we were shocked and amazed to hear that the same Andy was actually appearing in Northern Woman. For those of you tough, rugged types who have no idea what Northern Woman is, it's a magazine for women who do (up market) lunch. It's like the Tatler without so many weddings. It contains adverts for expensive shops that we male windsurfing types simply do not know exist and indeed have no wish to be enlightened about. I would be really surprised if any of you read it, with the possible exception of course of Tim.
So the first shock was when Wookie told us about it. Our first thought was that Wookie is actually a closet reader of this type of magazine. The truth of course is that he doesn't read it (does anyone know, can Wookie's read?), but the Wookette does. She is of course always immaculately turned out (well they do say opposites attract) and must have got an awful shock while looking for the latest fashion, manicure and luncheon tips to find Andy beaming at her. We understand that some (retail) therapy will allow her to make a full recovery.
Our next assumption was that perhaps Andy was the one coming out of the closet. Various speculation circulated involving sex changes and or even him featuring in the bride of the year contest.
However the truth turned out to be that Andy was featured in a great article, large as life teaching a young female to windsurf. Those of you with good memories will know that Andy has always specialised in teaching girls to windsurf - remember Andy's harem? Well now he's gone one better and been photographed, interviewed and published doing it.
It's really great publicity for the sport, well done to Andy for being involved in it.
But we're still going to check the bride of the year results when they come out, just in case....
I'm always happy to publicise some kit for sale. Barry Poland (Newcastle Sailing Club) send me some details of what he is currently flogging and the bonus of an interesting story of why he's selling it.
At first I thought it was bad news as Barry said the main reason he wishes to sell it is a lateral move to kitesurfing. Does this mean we would have to strike him off our Christmas card list? But wait, he claims there is method in his madness! - well at least he's used the right word here - madness.
It turns out that he cannot sail Tyrella beach with the 7.5m due to the waves and Newcastle has not been giving southerly winds for some time which was its intended use. However with the Kite he can sail Tyrella & Newcastle - in fact he's sailing Tyrella 90% of the time anyway. He was wondering what to do and almost purchased the kite, but then made what he calls a 'bad decision' and bought the 7.5m. But with the conditions it didn't work out and he now regrets buying it.
So his plan is to use the kite in lighter winds, giving himself the better change of getting out on the water. When there are stronger winds ie 6.0m and below he says he will always be windsurfing. As he points out, Ards is a much better location for 7.5m sailing as there are no waves to worry about and you have a wider spectrum of the compass.
More from Maurice about stuff that's going on around Ireland -  
Heads UP for August!  National Racing Championships in Downings
The National Senior Racing Championships and the Final Event of the Youth / Junior Championships will be held in Downings on 18 & 19th August.  

Gold Fleet will decide the National Race Champions (Men and Women) for 2007.  (Course and Slalom races – wind dependant.)

Fun Fleet will just what it says on the tin.

More details on the IWA website soon.

More WOWI – Women in Sport Events in the pipeline.  Watch the IWA and WOWI websites!

YOUR Sail Number? – “Renew it or Lose It” After 14th July

Last year the association made great strides in terms of registered members.  It is NOT a coincidence that our requests for Grant Aid were well received.  The membership growth continues.  We have set ourselves the very ambitious target of another 100% plus increase in memberships this year.  We are on the way to becoming a credible sporting association – not just the FEW.  If we want windsurfing to be taken seriously, we need a presence in terms of membership.  Fill up the Registration Form NOW – bang it off!  

It has been the policy in recent years that we will “hold” a Sail Number if a registration is not renewed for one year.  The committee has now decided that any Sail Number that is not allocated to a Registered Member on 14 July will be “free” to be allocated to any new member.

So, folks, after 14 July, if a Sail Number is not on the website as being allocated to a Registered Member, it will be “available”.  (If you are not sure whether or not you registered for 2007, check out the list of currently registered members on the IWA website – LINK.)


18 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please - the story of the Tenerife trip
The Usual Bits at the End.

To read about this memorable trip, go to the Holday's tab.


A typical week at NSC and Maghereoarty
The silly hugger
Prizes for speed - 13 October
Last week was actually a fairly typical week at the club, so for those of you who don't know, here's how it goes. At this time of year, it is still possible to sail after work (just), Monday turned out to be the day and a few of us had a good sail on 6-7.5m. Some of us had a not so good night - see below!
Little wind followed and the gruesome twosome of Andy and Mr Yeates went up to cosy up together in Donegal. The windsurfing was good (6.5m for Andy with good waves), but apparently the other side of the normally wouldn't hurt a fly Alan was seen when he gets behind the wheel of a van. We certainly know that he's been known to cast off a wheel (from his trailer) in the direction of the odd local up there....
For once the forecasts said Saturday and wind at the same time and a good crowd drifted in from just before lunch. The rigging area is to be redone shortly, so it got a little crowded but no-one minded too much as it was super warm - it almost felt like a foreign country. The usual suspects included Wookie, Fanta Pants (Nigel Boyd), Ming (Chris Loughridge), Peter, Phil, Paula, Colin, Brian, Andy, Plug and Play (Pat and Gary) and my good self. Sail sizes varied from around 6m to 9ish but the wind never quite played ball. You'd get a couple of minutes then it might drop off, come back for 30 seconds - and so it went on. Also, oddly it didn't seem to have the power you might expect - perhaps being so warm, the air was less dense. Clearly we were all more dense and we kept at it.
Ming almost atoned for appearing in a yet another from his extensive collection of garish shorts. Actually the shorts are only mildly vomit-inducing, it's the 2 scrawny chicken legs hanging out of them that really endanger your breakfast. Holding down (mostly) a sail around 8m on his Isonic he was fairly flying, then not, then flying - I did say it was that sort of a day. With the end of the GPS Challenge in sight, he's determined to break 30 knots (or every bone in his body - again). However today he was out-minged by Paula. I don't mean in the legs department, but very much in the speed department. Fired up after a great summer of windsurfing while her school was out (ie all Summer) and chasing waiters and masseurs in Turkey, she's come on leaps and bounds. She hit 18 knots and of course shot into the lead in the woman's section.
So excited was she that she went home without her clothes. Well, her wet stuff at least. A frantic phone call later on ensured that Andy's dream could come true as he was asked to go into the ladies' changing rooms and rescue her stuff. History does not record what else Andy may have done while he was in there....
Frustration with the wind reached the point where we gave up early - although part of this was in eager anticipation of watching Ireland hammer Georgia - how wrong were we! But we did open the bar and had a good crowd of windsurfers in enjoying some excellent Guinness, despite a rather dubious bar tender (me).
So off we went, knowing the wind was due to come up in the night and that it just might last into the first part of the morning.
I should have known really, if there's any chance at all of wind Wookie will be up for it. I should be grateful really, but to be woken at 07:30 AM on a Sunday morning by him yelling 'get up you b**, it's windy', is a bit of a shock. Still, at least I don't have a videophone. No time even to stop for a McDs (it was bought in the drive through and eaten on the road) so that by 9 we were on the water - this is Sunday morning for goodness sake, are we mad? Colin and Wookie were first out, despite the forecast it didn't look that windy - so 7.5m and 9m. I was next, rigging 9.4, but only got half way down the slipway before I realised it was a lot windier than it looked. Wookie went straight down to 5.5m, I flattened down a 7.5 and Colin bravely struggled on his 9m before staggering in to downsize.
The forecast actually said force 4 until 10am, then a change of direction and the wind would die quickly. In fact there then followed an excellent session at force 5 with some small waves. There were quite a few people sad enough to sail from the car park (just wait until it gets colder) including the usual group of Poles, John Bedford and others. Fanta Pants was back struggling to hold down a 6.7m, while Russell rustled about on 5.5m and David Brown rushed along in his distinctive white buoyancy aid. There were lots of gybes, the odd crash and Wookie and I knocked out a few carving tacks. And everyone was sailing along with a big fat smile on their face. Well, almost everyone. The first time I sailed behind Nigel he crashed his gybe and, taking advantage of the useful gybe marker, I gybed round him. The next time I sailed behind him he dug the nose in and crashed in a way that Blue Watch would have enjoyed. After that I became a sort of jinx for him, any time he saw me, he crashed his gybes. It's nice to know that I can bring a little happiness to other people's lives - like all Nigel's friends.
The forecasters got it exactly right, just 2 hours late. On the stroke of noon a wall of wind and mist raced along the Lough, we had 5 minutes of 35-40 mph winds, the wind swung north and died. Russell got caught out in the mini storm, but managed to hang onto his kit and then had a long walk home. Tourettes, Robbie, Thomas and Phil all arrived too late and that was that.
Oh and one other unfortunate effect of the change of wind direction. Wookie had 2 boards out both with sails rigged, all on the grass with boards facing down and sails pointing downwind - text book. But with the wind changing direction, he came out to watch one of his sails flip over and impale itself on his other fin. Not a happy Wookie.
Andy rolled up in his superior van, looking down at Wookie's van (which used to be his) and he'd had a good sail further down the lough.
We did wonder where Raptor was, but it turned out he was at the event at Achill where he was placed 6th overall in the Gold fleet after what he described as a 'big Kearney' - wonder if this is a friend of Big Robert?  Saturday saw everyone out on 5.3 side-on from the right and Sunday provided cross to cross offshore but the wind only survived from 11:30 – around 3pm and the finals had to be abandoned. Nice one Alex.
So that's a fairly typical week at the club. This week the winds are northerly, the evenings almost too short to sail, but at this time of year we should get better winds. After the summer we've had, let's keep our fingers crossed.

And as a postscript, quite a bunch of people headed up to Magheroarty this Sunday. All the weather was forecast to be in the north - plus it was to be warm. Well, they got that bit right, although the wind never quite hit what it might have. Most people put up 5-5.5m and their larger wave boards and much fun (and mincing) was had by all.
The crowd included Wookie, Andy, myself, Hern Dog (Mark Herron), Big Robert, John Adrain, Raptor, Mickey and Jarleth. Some of the locals were also about.

Viewed from my best side ....

Andy was making a weekend of it, Susan was seen sitting in the van while her man (eventually) went out and had a good sail. Given the choice between re-reading the final Harry Potter or watching Andy burning down the line, it was a no brainer really. We were also a bit concerned when young Raptor appeared in a van sandwiched between Big Robert and Jarleth. Nothing too bad could have happened to him as he had his usual good sail and indeed was last man on the water when most of us were driving away - this could of course have been to postpone as long as possible having to submit himself to the return journey with these two?

Mr Kelly in happier times. He would have had a witty caption to add here ...


There were some good swells and nice (but mostly not lunch-eating) waves. The shore break was interesting, especially as the wind hummed and hawed a lot. Most people got a good working over, none more so than myself at one stage. However kit damage was small - we thought Hern Dog had broken a mast, but it turned out that his webbing had slipped, that's the bit at the top of his sail, not on his thong we are told.

It was a good practice session - especially with Mr Collis poised to deliver the wave clinic up there in a few short weeks.
We all know Phil, he sort of ghosts in (usually after everyone else has finished on the water) and the ghosts out (usually downwind). It's for this ghostly habit and also materialising where you'd least expect him, that he's earned the nickname Casper. He's also one of the most laid back people we know - oh yes, and he's a very keen windsurfer.
Last Monday he appeared at NSC for once in reasonable time for some windsurfing. Wookie and I had run down after work, while the evenings were still long enough to do this, and rigged up for a blast. In truth it didn't look that good and it was forecast to drop - but it was still just the cure for a day at work. Wookie took out a 7.5m and I started on my 9.4. We couldn't believe it, after 10 minutes the wind came up - so much for the forecasts. And it was a hot, almost balmy evening. I just about held down the 9.4 but when I started planing out of my carves on a 170 ltr board, it finally dawned on me that the wind was trying to tell me something. Down to a 7.5 and the 2 of us had a great sail. With a large slice of north in the wind, it didn't look much from the rigging area. But once you got out and clear of the land there was a windline and it was very good. And to our amazement Phil came out to join us good and early.
Now Phil's version is that he went off to seek the best wind but when he found it, it was very flukey and kept changing direction. From where we were it looked like he headed off to the west shore of the lough and then proceeded to go down wind. Either way, after an hour of excellent sailing we felt the wind dropping and struggled in before it died. Phil didn't.
It was only after we'd derigged that we realised he was still on the wrong side of the lough and wasn't going anywhere fast. There was less than an hour of daylight, so he might be OK. But, with the help of the NSC committee who were meeting that night, we took the red rescue boat to the water's edge and kept an eye on Phil. Fortunately at this point the wind picked up a little and Phil started to make some progress.
Fast forward 30 minutes and there's not enough progress and it's starting to get seriously dark. So I had to go out in the rescue boat, at very low tide, unable to see and very worried that I might prang the prop and have to be rescued myself. I stooged around very carefully and listened for Phil. In fact he was on shore but miles downwind and I couldn't hear his calls. Fortunately as we pulled the boat back onto the slipway, Phil appeared in his usual ghost like manner dragging his board behind him. Relief all round and Phil took one look at me and said 'I need a hug' - and before I could say Vice Commodore I was being hugged. Trust me, I'm never going out in a rescue boat again!
So all was well, but it nearly wasn't. And what lessons can we learn (but no doubt ignore) from this?
    Firstly - don't go out alone, Phil didn't here but it could've happened to others who do
    Secondly - when you go out, go upwind first so you have this in the bank if things go wrong
    And thirdly, carry a light. Wise old sage Ronnie often carries a very small strobe light (left over from his diving days - not his disco days) in a little pack along with a few other useful safety items. How many of the rest of us do?
Actually, Mrs Todd bought Tourettes a safety pack for Christmas last year (he clearly doesn't have enough life insurance). This includes various useful things including rope (we hope to hang himself), flags, floats and flares. Just think what a difference these might have made.
We can all poke some fun at Phil, but deep down we all know that we take risks sometime. Just think about it and make some preparations. And don't be a silly hugger and if you are - please don't hug me!
As you'll know, we have been running a GPS speed challenge all summer - with sponsorship from Pier 36. The competition closes soon - Saturday 13 October is the last day - there's still an opportunity to enter (£10, £5 for beginners) and prizes are a mixture of GPS units and meals. There's still time to enter - indeed I know of quite a few (good) sailors who intend to enter but have been waiting for the windy season to start. Don't wait too long!
So what are we going to do for a prize giving. Well, not 100% sorted, but the general plan is to have a bash at Pier 36. This will take the form of a meal plus a talk from Jim Collis. Jim will of course be over for the wave clinic and he's kindly agreed to come early to do this. Not quite sure what form his talk will take yet - probably some video of some of his freestyle and maybe also some tips on moves. More on this later.
But the idea is to make it a WAGs event, yes there'll be windsurfing, but much more social. And also we intend to extract some extra money from you to help with the club. It would have been better to run this at the club, but that isn't possible. So, since we haven't actually run a windsurfing event at the club this year, we'll organise a few extra things to raise some money from you for the club. More details when we finally think of them.
Saturday 13 October is the date, Pier 36 in Donaghadee is the venue and all the rest of the details are still to be arranged. Get your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, Alsatian or nearest and dearest (no Wookie, you can't bring your Freestyle Wave) and ensure this Saturday is in your diary.
It should be a good night's craic and we've already got quite a big crowd who've said they're going.

Wookie bites Shark
Pier 36 Dinner - no legal action yet
It's a variation on the old theme of man bites dog, well almost....
The Donegal wave clinic has just finished and a slightly reduced 8 of us had, would you believe, not great wind for the week. Now where have we heard that before - well Tenerife and NSC pretty much since Easter for a start. We had Jim Collis with us, who combined his usual excellent coaching and video with a lot of light wind work. OK, we'd rather have been blasting over the waves every day, but in fact there is a lot to be learned and improved from concentrating on basics like head and hand positions. So we actually improved a lot, just not always in the way we'd expected.

The Emperor walks on water? Surfing the river.

We got fair wind on the Monday and the Saturday of the 6 day course, but in between we often struggled. Apart from the wind however the weather was excellent, warm sunshine and virtually no rain (or snow). We mostly worked at Magheroarty but we also had a session at Loinya (forgive the spelling, it's not on any map I've ever seen) and Lettermacaward.
Those present included the usual triumvirate of me, Wookie and Andy along with Barry, Ming, Bill, Colin and Richard - an import from England. Paula joined us for the last day as well. Wookie planed every day and sailed his usual immaculate piece, managing to get great speed in almost any conditions and then put it to good use on the waves. Colin and Richard had to sail bigger kit than you'd normally want in waves but both improved hugely. Colin was seen to be doing helitacks on the outside at Lettermacaward by the end - probably not something he (or we) would have dreamed of. Ming of course lived up to his 'merciless' tag by really going for it. He was out on waves a lot on a 7m sail and, with some good tuning from Jimbo, was soon catching and turning on some good waves. Barry showed his Tyrella background with some good riding before retiring hurt - not from the exertions of wave sailing but from an over-enthusiastic training session in the gym before he arrived! I managed to catch a few waves and also improved my carving tacks a lot while Andy became a convert to surfing. In fact a lot of people tried surfing, usually at the end of a day and with encouragement from both Ming and Bill who is in fact a body boarder. We hadn't appreciated there is a certain rivalry between surfers and bodyborders - surfers call the bodyboarders' kit 'sponges' - so naturally Bill became either Sponge Bill (Squarepants) or Lilow Bill.
In the conditions, kit breakages shouldn't have been a problem. However we had to think again after the first day when Richard 'Snapper' had done for not one but 2 masts. He calmed down a bit after that and only broke one more later in the week. Fortunately Andy was on hand to sell him some new ones .... there is no escape. A couple of sails, 1 other mast and a boom were the only other casualties (not all down to Richard!), more to do with sailing larger kit in waves.
Accommodation worked well, we were sent out of the Ostan Loch Altan every morning with a huge fry and the evening Jimbo video sessions were fuelled by some excellent Guinness and great food. So we were all very comfortable and could use the residents' lounge for the video sessions. As part of the package, the Loch Altan through in a 3 course dinner on the Thursday night - so instead of the usual windsurfing deal of camper vans and 4 in a room, we lived like kings.
The fun part started on the Friday late afternoon when the wind died and a few people went out to surf at Lettermacaward. I stayed on the dunes to video the wipeouts, but when the guys came back in Wookie was asking everybody if they'd seen 'the fin'. Knowing how too much Discovery Channel had make him paranoid about sharks, we didn't take much notice. Until that is we checked the footage of the video. The first thing we saw was dolphins or porpoises jumping in the distance behind us. But then close in (and circling Ming) was a fin. Closer analysis of the footage confirmed a large shark, certainly 10 feet maybe 15. Opinions are split as to whether it was a basking shark (harmless) or not. We're having the footage checked out by experts. But where did we go for our final day on the water - yes, back to the very same spot. Everyone went out, but shall we say our waterstarts were a bit quicker than usual and Wookie had an excellent sail all day - but never once fell into the water! Alan Yeates and Raptor appeared to sail with us and to add some extra shark bait, but no further sighting were made. Mind you, that didn't stop Wookie shouting 'shark' loudly everytime he say someone going for a gybe on the outside!
So an excellent week, only slight diminished by poor wind. All of us enjoyed a lot of sailing in sunny conditions amidst the beauty of Donegal. It was physically hard work, but just the antidote to the normal office life most of us have. And we also got to share in the local wildlife - seals, dolphins and Wookie's shark.
A big thanks to Jim Collis for running an excellent course where the conditions made his job a lot harder. And to the participants who all worked to hard - both at their sailing and also to down those huge breakfasts.
The GPS speed challenge was completed, despite a long season of poor winds. The prizes were given out by professional coach Jim Collis at the Pier 36 dinner and included overnight and meal vouchers for Pier 36, rash vests, champagne and rig pullers. The winners were
    Fastest male - Ming the Merciless (Chris Loughridge)    29 knots
    Runner up - Raptor (Alex Dugan)                                  28 knots
    Fastest female - Ever Present Paula (McCullough)        18 knots
    Runner up - Mrs Ming (Kathy Loughridge)                     14 knots
We also raised couple of hundred pounds for the club, so a big thank you to all of our sponsors - Pier 36 and Wookie Windsurfing and to the 26 people who came and had a ball.
After an excellent meal we had a bit of serious character assassination presented by the Lord (ie me) with the aid of my large collection of photographs. I should add that this collection while dubious was not so much of naked ladies (although naked firemen did feature), but more of windsurfers making a fool of themselves on, off and in the water.
As I go to press, no legal actions have been taken. Yet.


Big Robert
It's been a point of speculation for many years. Big Robert is a very good windsurfer, we've known that for ages - but why oh why is he known to everyone a Big Robert? There have been many theories, none I have to say borne out by my spies in the showers, until now that is. On Saturday Big Robert rocked up to Tyrella in the mother of all vehicles. We're used to Andy's love machine and the various Alan Yeates creations which are towed behind a variety of cars - even a Nissan Almera. But we've never seen anything like this. It's huge, it's body hangs over its middle on all sides, it has crap on top and stuff sticking out of its rear and it's flat out at 60 - actually sounds like a description of one or two windsurfers we all know.
However it is in fact a mobile home - and did I mention it's huge. Big Robert proudly boasts it sleep 8, the way Andy was looking at it I think he'd like to put this to the test. It has a cockpit where the driver looks down on lesser beings like buses and lorries, a kitchen (sorry no bar, but Robert is working on this) and a toilet! Most of us put up with a thermos flask and a huddle at the back the van. Big Robert can take his entire extended family with him and come in to a 3 course meal or a G+T when he needs a break. And it's very very big. The only problem is that if he parks it in the club carpark there'll be no room for any GP sailors....
The first time we saw this monster was at Tyrella on Saturday. For once all the forecasts agreed, it was to be warm and windy from lunch time on Saturday. Many of the participants on the recent wave clinic were there to finally get some wave action. Indeed half the NI windsurfing travelling community were there - which caused some worries for a film crew who were trying to shoot scenes for a feature film. Apparently they needed to stage a murder - and they didn't take too kindly to our suggestion that they shot some of the kite surfers instead. Wookie got a bit of wave sailing on a 5m and we were all encouraged when John was blown in on a 6m and had to change down. So we all rushed to the water on 5.5m or so - and the wind died. And it never came back - no matter how often someone said I think it's going to come back. So all 4 forecasts were right - they just forgot to mention that it would only last for 30 minutes.
Sunday almost saw a repeat performance, this time at the club. Colin, Phil, Russell, Trevor and I sat around, rigged and impatient. Those who ventured out were rewarded with the occasional planing run, but mostly just floated around. However a cup of hot coffee and a chocolate bickie or 2 (whoever said windsurfing was a healthy sport) was rewarded with some real wind. Fearing it might be another 30 minute job we all rushed out on 7-8m and were promptly nearly overpowered. Russell, Wookie and I spent a happy 2 hours racing each other - and simulating some very good racing pile ups at the gybe markers - round some of the GP buoys kindly left by the sailors. The tide was very high so we also took a run up to Newtownards - we can report that it looks just as depressing from the water as it does from land.
After a few weeks on the road, mostly in Donegal, it was good to return to a hot shower, no freezing changing in a carpark - and a good Guinness in the bar afterwards. The winter may not be here yet, but we're ready for it when it comes.
BTW, the grass is coming on well on the extended rigging area. We're still not using it, but it will clearly be ready for use soon. Come and try it soon.


Wind and Weatherforecasters
The 8th Wonder of the World
Club Updates
It's been a bad year for two things - wind and weather forecasters. One has been largely absent and the other might as well have been.
So it continued this week for most of us. However a text from Alan 'Scream' Yeates alerted me to strange rotations in Dongal on Thursday. 'Andy doing back loops at Rosapenna - awesome' it read. I naturally replied was he sure he didn't mean Andy was doing fruitloops at the Rose and Crown, but no it turned out that Andy was risking life and limb in some huge waves and was indeed back looping with some style and almost clean. Turns out that Magheroarty was simply unsailable and Rosapena was pretty risky, but our boy was out there on about 5.5 - at times nicely powered and at other unable to hold it down. Alan reckons that if Andy has bust any kit (or the seams on his wetsuit - what a thought) it could have been nasty. Amen to that.
Wednesday saw the same people along with Colin Kelly sailing Magheroarty in fairly big stuff. The Mullen brothers were out doing amazing stuff in the waves, Colin tells me he sailed well away from them to as not to be shown up!

There was some wind at the club, but the only incident of note reported to me was that Pat scored a direct hit - on a rat with a stone. Says a lot for the windsurfing.
Saturday for once had all the forecasters lined up saying the same thing - 20 knots all day. And we believed them! A decent crowd assembled in McD's for a good healthy start to the day, but had McMuffins instead. The morning crew did have a good sail, mostly on 5.5-6.3m. Marti, a new blow in from England was joined by myself, Wookie, Ali Tourettes, Tim, David Brown, Colin and of course Paula. We got about 90 minutes of good hard sailing - in quite nice conditions as it wasn't cold and no hoods were needed. Soon the ice-cream van rolled up with Ming ready to be merciless and Raptor - 8th in the world - Tim 2, Gary, Pat and Peter appeared . But it wasn't to be and the wind died down. We took a long lunch in the wet kitchen, it really makes you realise the value of the club when you can do this with hot coffee and microwaved food. Like a tart the wind kept tempting us out, but then failing to deliver the goods. Paula as ever led the way and just went out and did water ballet. Raptor too sailed about mostly rotating his sail like some demented washing line but occasionally getting going on the puffs - I refer here to the wind and not to some of the more dubious characters who hang around the changing rooms. Since we are already rigged, most of us went out and practiced tacks, heli-things and other character building stuff. This is of course the sort of thing we should be doing all the time when it isn't windy enough to plane - so we all felt just a bit rightous and smug.
With an awful inevitability we just knew that the wind would come in properly at dark and so it proved. However Ming, Peter and Raptor, clearly fitted with night vision goggles, stayed out and indeed did reap the rewards. It was very dark when they came in, but they did have a good sail. The rest of us retired to the bar and drank to the death of all weather forecasters everywhere.
Naturally the wind blew all night but was pretty much gone on Sunday. The club was checked out at around 10ish and there was no wind, but oddly there was on the west side of the lough as Mr Wookie got an hour on a 6.5m over there.
Nice one Raptor, he only went in for the IWA event at Belmullet but also came 8th overall for 2007! Pretty good or what - the wee runt.
His brief description of the event was -
Sat: 3.6m and 62L well powered with mast and a half monsters at Elly bay

Sun: 4.7m on 75L at the south of the peninsula clean logo high waves

Mon: 5.3m 98L at south of peninsula logo high waves again. (managed to beat Finn Mullen in the final Runners up heat!)

I placed 8th overall for 2007 and Finn Mullen is now the Irish champion of 2007!!


You are all already aware that money is tight at the club with the cost of the new building, the disruption to the bar profits from the building and of course that slipway. The committee have decided to leave the membership rates largely as they are (some small adjustments) but to remove the early payment discount. This means in effect a rise for most of us, but it's clearly fair enough for the new facilities we now have. We all want to see the club get back into the black and of course to have the money to finish off the grounds of the club which leave a bit to be desired right now. The main gate will be operational soon and the plan is to take a strong line on non payers by switching off their cards (and gate access) if they don't pay fairly promptly.
We had a good look at the new grass and it's coming on well. We did use it this weekend, although we tried to mostly use the old bit. However as it gets wetter, we need to be careful not to ruin it. So please use it with some common sense. There is a enough old grass that you should be OK anyway. But we'll have a good rigging area in good nick for when it's really needed as the Spring comes in.



Cold Feet
The Raptor's Delight
I know the weather has been strange this year, for one thing where has all the wind gone? But at least it's been unseasonably warm. Well up to now. This weekend was the first that I've had that horrible tingling as you warm up - in my case in the nice warm showers at NSC surrounded by prime naked flesh and fit nubile young bodies ...(takes a cool shower, recovers his dignity, continues as if nothing had happened). But normally it's the hands or the the ice cream (aka the head) that gets it. For me this weekend it was the feet! I knew something was wrong when my feet kept sticking in the straps, coming off the water I could hardly walk and then in the shower it was agony. The problem is now sorted and I can tell you that's the last time I go out in my summer booties by mistake....
So, there has been wind at times and some people have been getting a lot of it. Last Monday saw a number of people out and about. Cloghey's sand dunes were once more littered with sails as Andy, Mr Yeates and others had a good blow. Some waves, 5m or there abouts and smiling faces - at least until Andy came in and discovered he'd hidden his van keys too well. I can't tell you where he puts them normally but it's somewhere dark and inaccessible - that's on his van, not his person. But he'd shoved them in a bit too enthusiastically and nothing he could do would get them out. So he had to sit and freeze outside his van, looking in at his nice warm rigging jacket for over an hour until his (long suffering) father appeared with a spare set. Apparently it took another hour's work back home to extract the originals - this was of course done by his father while Andy soaked in a bath, with his favourite rubber duck and (... no, that's enough).
Monday also saw a perfect day at Tyrella - it's always a Monday isn't it? Barry Poland takes up the story -
You've often asked me about down the line at Tyrella, especially after that last time you NSC guys were there on that terrible almost but no wind day. Anyhow , I remember telling you about the westerly, and and how flukey it can be.
However, thought you guys might want to know, that I had the best down the line sailing I have ever experienced at Tyrella and it was in fact..a pure easterly...after it's been blowing some sort of southerly for a day or two and then switched due east.
Its a rare enough one, but I took a chance and took Monday off to see if it was any good and went with Kieron Black.
It was superb - but cold.
Straight cross shore at  logo high out the back. The were waves slightly mushy but still pretty hefty.
To be honest I have sailed pure easterly before, but its usually big bump & jump conditions,more swell than anything.... but with that blow we had on the Sat SSW, it was great down the line waves & I learned that  frontside is a lot easier when presented with the perfect conditions.
Prob not see it again for another year !!
Nice to see someone enjoying Tyrella - last time I went down the most exciting thing going off was someone being murdered (for a film)!
Saturday saw the usual crowd split in two. Andy, Wookie, Colin and Mr Yeates cosied up overnight (it's the only way to keep warm in Donegal they tell me) and then sailed Rosapenna. 4.5-5.5m in nice bit but not too big waves. Everyone enjoyed themselves and sadly no-one did anything bad enough for me to poke fun or abuse at them.
Meanwhile a similar crowd risked the forecasts being right and headed for the club. A solid 15 knots was reliably (!!) forecast, so when I arrived at 12 there was little wind and only Paula rigged. I'd just put up the 9.4 when it picked up and 7-7.5m was the general call. I had an excellent sail, but when I came out after lunch it had gone up further. Ming managed to hold a 7m, but even his titanium was getting a bit stretched. I went down to a 6.3 and enjoyed some well powered sailing until a mixture of darkness, icy feet and too much wind blew me in. It was 5m weather by the end. Raptor was down playing with his new Tushingham kit and then went out did more twirly mid air things while all the normal people sailed and crashed in their normal manner around him. Casper materialised early (for him), although actually we wondered if he was just super late for Friday. He went out on 6.5 and enjoyed a good sail as did Tim, Peter and Russell. Most people remarked on how cold the water felt - except Ming who's sensory system has long since been surgically removed, replaced by metals or deadened by Botox.
I should say that we were all very pleased to see the absent Tony on Friday. He's been forced off the water with a medical problem but is making a good recovery - his new breasts look very juicy and he really does suit that pink dress. So we look forward to seeing him on the water (and in the showers!) soon.

One or two of the older ones of you reading this title may catch the musical reference. But can you name the group?
You've heard recently how well Raptor did, 8th overall in Ireland. Well on the back of this he's now got sponsorship both from Marine Pumps (sounds like something Andy could use) and now Tushingham! No wonder he's delighted. It also means he is selling off his existing kit, so if anyone is interested contact him or me.
Hi guys.  The following is well loved gear but has to be sold as I am now sponsored by Tushingham and McCready’s.


2007 4.7m Blade (red/black/silver) £180

2007 5.3m Blade (red/black/silver) £180

2007 5.8m S-2 (blue/black) £200

2006 4.0m Blade £180 (mint condition)


2002 3.6m arrows impact £180 (looks like you’ll need judging on the forecast for sat!)

2002 8.4m rsx 2-cam £150 (hardly used)


You might wonder what Raptor means by 'well loved gear', well rotated might be closer to the mark. But either way it is in good nick so grab it while it lasts.
Some of you have probably wondered why he's called Raptor. Well, as you know the official giver out of the nick names is Andy - having had dinner with Mrs Minger (and others) last week I can tell you that not everyone appreciates their names! But when Alex was even younger (allegedly 18 but we suspect about 5) he was observed to have very small rat like hands. Just like those on a Velocaraptor. On such small things (and 19 pints of beer) are such names born. You would all be very wise not to be seen doing anything out of the ordinary or you too could get a name for life. So sayeth the Lord!


Our very good friend and long time windsurfing colleague Ronnie Millar passed away today quietly in his sleep at the Ulster Hospital.
We are all devastated, however our loss is nothing compared to Pat, Dawn and his family.

One of the last times we saw Ronnie (in blue) was at Pier 36.


Our thoughts are with them.