In the trench at West Wittering

September 16th, 2014

I have had a long, long wait for some windsurfing. There hasn’t been any wind down south for months but this weekend it finally came. I guess that it was my fault for jinxing the wind by buying new equipment but Sunday evening down at the West Wittering trench was really special.

I was out on my new Starboard Flare 100l and new 4.0m Severne Freek which is now my new weapon of choice. The 4.0m is still incredibly duckable for such a small sail. I am getting on very well with the board too it is a bit more user friendly than the previous model which is great for freestylers around my level.

Thanks to my brother Hugh for taking the pics and fingers crossed for some more wild weather this summer!

Contributed by: Jack K108




Ultra Distance SUP Race – June 2014

July 3rd, 2014

Yes – Racing!  Family and friends who have known me for a long time would not have me down as a competitive sort.  Yet here I am, writing up my experience of the 6th instalment of the UK SUP Clubs 10 race series, of which I have competed in 5 to date – How did that happen?My initial entry into water sports was by way of rehabilitation following a car accident in 2000.  An Open Day at Bray Lake Watersports enticed me to try something new whilst seeking to regain lost fitness and satisfy my need to avoid impact sports.  Windsurfing became a great weekend outlet to blow off the cobwebs of the working week – but what to do when there is no wind to speak of?  I dabbled a bit in a Kayaking, pottered about on a boat but they never really took hold.  Then arrived SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard), accessible, simple and the perfect Windsurfing compliment.  Having spent time leisure paddling on the lake and venturing out onto the river I was slowly drawn in by the race talk of club members already participating in this fledging pursuit and so it took hold.  The 10 mile Battle of the Thames in 2013 was a personal challenge that grew in 2014 to a diary mapped out now until September.

Billed as the Ultra Race, the 16 miles was intimidating but as this was my home race there was no ducking out of this one.  It’s fair to say I was not alone in being a little worried.  Despite being on familiar territory having paddled the various parts of the course many times, I’d never actually joined them all up before.  Last year I chose the Adventure paddle, completing a slightly shorter 12 miles at a more leisurely pace in keeping with my capability at the time.  The race from Hurley to Windsor incorporating the portage of 6 locks was the longest distance I’d paddled, let alone raced.

Still nursing a few aches and pains gained in training and in the unfamiliar coastal conditions two weeks previously I was keen to finish the race unscathed.  If I don’t push hard enough I’ll be disappointed in myself, but push too hard I may not make the finish at all.  Whilst I know I’m improving my fitness through paddling regularly, being new to this climate of competition I have work to do on my understanding of the fitness, nutrition and hydration needed – When to push? When not to push?  Maybe I’m getting a bit competitive after all.

The sun was shining race day which was great for pre-race banter and milling about.  Race build up is always a good catch up session with familiar and new friendly faces from far and wide. The race briefing detailed the course and safety observations – To avoid a nasty bottle neck at the first lock the classes had a generous start interval – 14′ Men, 14′ Ladies and 12’6 Men all 5 minutes apart and then there I was lined up with the 12’6 Ladies.

Go! Go! Go!

Or not… The start not a great one for me – A couple of my fellow Bray ladies miss timed the start procedure finding themselves side on as the fleet surged forward and I was stuck behind them.  Not that it mattered – my starts have not lit any fires to date so why should this be an exception.  I find it takes me a while to get into my stride and relax into a steady constant paddle and lets face it I had plenty of time to get back anything I could.

I initially settled into a strong long stroke to pull myself into the first lock. Having on a previous occasion witnessed the seriously competitive with skill leap from board to bank, run the length of the lock and determinedly throw themselves and their boards back into the water again I can confirm in comparison my portage to be a much more considered affair.  Glide in easy, place yourself carefully so not to fall in and most importantly don’t damage your board!  Following my Miss Daisy approach to the Portage I took a little advise given to me and put in about 20 quick strokes off the lock before settling back in to a more long game pace.  I wasn’t hitting it so hard that I missed the beautiful scenery or worried about not finishing, but then didn’t give myself the opportunity of taking on the interior design styling’s of the riverside homes, moorings and boat houses either.  It was a pace to allow appreciation of obvious architecture which I could maintain without draft or train as the field was pretty spread now and whilst I always had paddlers in sight I was very much working alone.

More miles, more locks and words encouragement along the way and only one mantra reigned – My race was with the one in front – Whoever that was.  I got into a bit of a stride pushing and easing incentivising myself with a number of gains and new targets in my mantra.  It was hot, and I could feel myself tiring and unlike those unfamiliar with the route and un-researched I wasn’t sure if knowing how far I’d come and had to go was an advantage or disadvantage to the psychology of my race especially as I’d been feeling my shoulder pull since Marlow – certainly didn’t take it long to let me know it was there.

On approach to the final lock I glanced back hoping to have built up a sufficient distance to those behind me to maintain my place knowing I was tiring significantly now – I had – Phew!  As I hit land I could see fellow Bray 12’6 lady Lisa stretching at the far end of the pontoon in front of me, upon seeing me though she promptly jumped on her board unbeknown to her I didn’t have it in me to close the gap.  Having grabbed a sports gel and mouth of flapjack at the previous lock I had hoped it was going to kick in about now – It was not to be.  Just had to keep paddling with whatever I had left.  Being a member of Windsor & Maidenhead SUP Club, Windsor Castle on the horizon is now a familiar sight to me but it has never looked so magnificent as it did to me coming into view that day – Such a welcome sight, but it was not the end.  The final navigation of rowers and pleasure boats felt like the longest stretch until the sight of Eton Bridge and the shouts and cheers from the guys confirming the end of my race.  Whoop! Finished at last!

Exhausted, but such a huge sense of achievement – 13th placed 12’6 Female completed in 3 Hours 33 Minutes.  Happy for now, but plenty of potential for improvement with a bit more preparation.

Thank you & well done to all those involved in making it a great weekend.

Contributed by: Candice

Go Coastal – Dale Trip, May 2014

June 3rd, 2014

Thursday 8th May, and it’s wet.. I mean REALLY wet – 216 miles of solid downpour to be precise.  Whilst resigning myself to the idea that the first of our bi-annual trips to Pembrokeshire was going to be a washout, something changed!

Was that the sun creeping through?  Whoop – Yes! The final 13 country miles winding from Haverfordwest through to Dale were brightening.  On arrival into the bay some of the guys could already be seen out on water so what better way to unwind from a long miserable drive, than to grab an inflatable 10’6 from the boot and get out with them for a cheeky SUP before decamping to The Griffin for a bite and some banter.

Despite the poor outlook, 10 Bray friends and members turned out to be rewarded for their efforts.  Friday morning kicked off at various B&Bs with a Full English to fuel the day.  Gathering on the beach the enviable ponder of conditions and rig requirements commenced.  Following some faffing about, splashing about and profanity with a 5.5 – I got it right the second time.  An offshore provide some lovely flat water for me to get back into a Windsurf on my 4.75 whilst the big boys blasted along the bay.  We earned our dinner and beers, that’s for sure.

Saturday morning saw even stronger winds blowing through.  Was I man enough?  No – sadly not with limited water time to speak of in 2014 and nothing smaller than the 4.75 in my quiver.  Something to work on me thinks.  Instead Chris and I headed out for a morning walk along the coastal path before reassessing an afternoon on the water – glad the wind didn’t change direction and sweep us out to sea as I didn’t have my ruby slippers to hand to take me home – Let’s just say it was bracing.

Whilst the others took to the water in Dale again on the Sunday morning, I decided to head off for a stop on The Gower Peninsula on the way home.  Meeting up with UK SUP event regulars Alan & Emily for a SUP Surf at the beautiful Oxwich Bay.  Something new for me as the last attempt I had at surfing was a body board in Newquay as a child.  A fun few hours, albeit maybe not for the local fishermen.  My cackle was likely to scare off the fish – the whole bay knew I had arrived.  Mental note to self – when trying to SUP Surf – pack the right leash.  Those coils really do work!

Active, but a change really is as good as a rest.

Contributed by: Candice

UKWA Weymouth 2013

November 19th, 2013

It was an awesome event, loads of wind. On Saturday afternoon the wind was 50 gusting 60 knots. I had a mixed bag of results. I started awfully and was dead last after the first round but by the end of day one I had fought back to second in the amateurs.

On the Sunday I had a funny old day. Before heats started a slalom sailors board got blown down the beach and put a decent sized hole in my sail. I didn’t sail particularly badly all day and felt very aggrieved with the judges in some of the heats. I ended up 5th in the amateurs which is not to bad considering that on the Sunday I was very disadvantaged doing switch on port tack in serious chop. I did feel that I deserved a little better though and maybe I should start quibbling! With it being the amateur fleet though arguing feels a bit much and I was trying to live by the moto ‘what goes around comes around’.

The plan for the winter is that I am really going to work on simple moves like spocks and loops for next years series and hopefully I will fare a little better. Kieran Roans has dominated the amateur fleet once again. He is super consistent and always lands 5 or more solid, clean moves per heat. I just need to try and get closer to him in terms of consistency for next year and you never know.

Thanks for reading, Jack K108

Contributed by: Jack S

Worthing UKWA

August 29th, 2013

I came into the Worthing UKWA quite well warmed up for once. Saturday’s forecast was looking really good if not a little too good!

jack_sawbridgeFor those of you who don’t know me, punctuality is not my strong point, but for once I arrived at the event with time for a warm up. I was on fire in the warm up on my new 4.4 Severne Freek but was getting  way too stacked for much freestyle on the way in and was often getting slammed on shakkas. I was really banking on my shakkas to pay off for me today because usually they are consistent. Also the conditions were set up perfectly to do massive shakkas on starboard tack with the chop/waves. As it was still early I backed the forecast and changed down to 3.6 Severne S1 for the heats. This meant I had the smallest sail up out of the competitors (except for the kids). It was the right call and I planed the whole time through all my heats.

My first heat I sailed ok. I landed 2 loops on the way out, and very nearly managed a half switch kono on the way in. I also did some really big shuvitts but the shakka remained illusive. It is all very well controlling shakkas on flat water, when you are not too stacked but they can prove really tricky to control when you are staked and get masses of height off a wave. The heats were only 5 minutes which literally flies by, especially when you are rushing. I was a little gutted to discover that I came 4th, the conditions were super choppy so I was a little surprised. If I had gotten the Kono or the Shakka I would certainly have been in right up there.

My second heat I thought I sailed much the same but somehow managed to come 2nd. Maybe my shuvitts and loop were a bit higher. Usually I only managed 2 or 3 runs in and out in my heats. This makes things very stressful if you crash early! In the third heat, that was exactly what I did, got a bit flustered and only managed one very wet loop and dodgy shuvits. This condemned me to 4th place again and 3 heats sailed, no shakkas!

Sadly this was the last of the action as far as heats were concerned because of high tide and the shore-dump.

Overall I came 3rd equal with Ben Lee, behind Kieren Roan and Ollie Acton. Phil Richards sailed very well in the pro fleet and was narrowly pipped by Oscar Carmichael. I did manage some more windsurfing in the evening with Ricky when he came down. Sundays forecast was not looking promising so against my will 4 of us ended up in a bar in Worthing until the early hours.

Great weekend! fingers crossed for some wind in Eastbourne!

Contributed by: Jack K108