Wednesday, 13 February 2013

SWA Puravida wave series: 2 – Plym/Exe, and some more Cornish road tripping

It seemed like a very very long time since my last SWA event, only last December, but a lot had happened since then, a windy wavy Christmas, some exams, and now back to uni.

Plymouth and Exeter uni’s joined forces this year to run the second event of the SWA Puravida Wave Series, with some beginner tuition also on offer at Siblyback Lake. On Saturday, half went to the lake, whilst I joined the others at The Bluff, Hayle, where the weekend’s wave competitions would be held. Conditions were pretty light and flat, and after an equipment talk from Jim Brooks-Dowsett, Ian Ross, and others, Sam Ross made the call for a wind-SUP contest in the gradually improving waves. Equipped with some Starboard SUP boards and 5.2 Tushy Edges, we got into our wetsuits and hit the water despite the knee high waves and force 2-3 wind. Initially, the waves were a little messy and small, but as the tide came in, conditions improved and got really fun. It was all about being patient and sailing out to wait for the biggest waves, because between the sets it was just choppy. After some nose dives, crashes in the shore dump, and some spinny backside, back-winded wave-riding and light wind freestyle, I made it through to the final with Tom Firth and Jo Wright. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite find the waves I was looking for, and finished 2nd behind Tom who got some solid waves. The Women’s final was won by Rachael Ince, who got the wave of the day.
WindSUP freestyle in the Lagoon. Photo by Sam Ross
After the long drive back to Plymouth and a lot of Pizza, fancy dress was constructed in accordance to the ‘Double Acts’ theme, and we went to the Student Union for a night that is beyond the scope of a windsurfing blog!

It was up bright and early on Sunday to make the most of the promising strong North Westerly forecast.. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the wind was light and onshore and the waves small. We rigged up anyway, and by 12, the wind had built to some nice 5.0-5.3 weather and competition got underway. The waves built as the tide pushed up the beach, and although the wind was gusty, it was pretty solid 5.0 weather for me. Unfortunately, the wind dropped at the start of my heat, and I spent half of it underpowered, downwind, and struggling to make any jumps, I should have just run in and let some outhaul off, but was pretty powered up before the heat, so thought the wind would return pretty quickly. The wind did pick up in the end, and I got a couple of nice backside waverides, a jump, and a backloop attempt. The wind was really onshore, and finding a good ramp was actually quite hard, as was any frontside waveriding. My performance wasn't quite enough to get me through to the next round, and I finished 3rd in the 5 man first round heat, giving me a joint 9th position in the event. Combined with the same result at Portsmouth, I am currently joint 6th in the SWA Puravida wave series. Hopefully the next event hosted by Cardiff will also deliver some good conditions and I can make it through some more rounds! I still had a great time, and spent the rest of the day freesailing, the wind picked up and I was pretty stacked on 5.0 some of the time, so changed down to 4.2 - perhaps a little too small for the gusty conditions, but it gave me some more confidence to try some loops - still yet to land one though!
Well done to the finalists:
1. Ben Page (Southampton)
2. Jony Price (Cardiff)
3. Mike Ellis (Southampton)
4. Will Jones (Cardiff)
and to Jo Wright for winning the womens competition. Full results at
Thanks to all the people from Plymouth and Exeter for organising the event, Jim from Puravida for sponsoring and helping to run the event, judges Sarah Bibby, Stef Hilder, and Ian Ross, and to Sam Ross and Luke Green from Tushingham for providing the kit for the wind SUP contest.
Photo by Will Jones
Two weeks earlier, exams had just finished, and I hadn't got much work to do, so with a massive forecast for Cornwall, I hit the road with Chris Guest and Jan Zaucha from Bristol. We had an awesome session on Sunday at Daymer, starting with some choppy bump and jump, then some nice cross on port tack conditions. I was expecting some nice down the line riding on the other side of the river, but timed it a bit wrong, and spent most of the time practicing my cross on riding and jumping, which was good fun, pretty powered up on 4.2 most of the day, and tried my first backloops - such an amazing feeling to get the rotation on those! When I decided to head to the other side a bit later, I arrived just as a massive, massive squall hit. I don't know exactly how windy it was, but I could barely sail or even waterstart with my 4.2, I was so overpowered. Luckily I survived, and mustered the energy to head out again, although by then, the wind was far to light for my 4.2!

After heading to the pub in Padstow, and a lot of sleep in Falmouth, we decided on trying Gwithian or Hayle, since the wind hadn't picked up to the forecasted 50 knots yet! By the time we got there, it was low tide, and the big swell was looking pretty heavy, preferring not to break our kit in the cross offshore wind, we decided on a quick bump and jump session at Exmouth on the way back to Bristol rather than waiting for the tide to come in and the waves to get less heavy (but bigger), and the wind to pick up to 50 knots!

This weekend, I'm heading home to try out my new Raceboard kit from Tushingham and Starboard, and collect my new stash of Overboard waterproof bags and cases. Keep an eye out for some photos and a press release in the near future.

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