I'm really happy to win the student wave series. It was a shame to not have conditions at the final event at Cardiff, but we had wind and waves at the first two events where I finished 1st and 4th, so can't really complain too much.
The SWA has been a really good introduction not only to wave competition, but wavesailing in general. When I started attending these events as a fresher 3 years ago, I couldn't bottom turn, but the friendly atmosphere of the events and high level of the top guys really motivated me to improve, and so my obsession with wavesailing happened!
"Training" at Marazion. Photo by Mel Splashography
I didn't expect to win. In fact, I think it is the same in racing, sometimes my best results come from when I have no self expectation, then I'm more relaxed and can focus on just windsurfing!
The conditions at both events were pretty hard, for different reasons. At the first event at The Bluff, it was lighter than it looked on the inside, so I spent a lot of the competition underpowered, which wasn't ideal, because it was almost bolt onshore with some big lumps of whitewater to get through. I felt lucky to get as far as the semis, but then found me feet, and landed some big jumps, table tops, and forwards with some back and frontside waverides. I knew I'd sailed quite well, but I had no idea if I'd won, it's a bit different to what I'm used to for racing. In racing you can always see if you are winning or not, in a wave heat, usually I never see most of what my competitors do!
In competition at Rhosneigr. Photo by Jim Brooks-Dowsett
At the second event at Rhosneigr, it was a little less onshore, but a similar wind strength, perfect for my 4.7 Rock. The thing I found hard at Rhossy was finding decent ramps and wave-rides from the relatively soft gentle waves there. I had a decent semi-final, but in the final I struggled to find a good second wave.
The level at the top of the fleet is really tight and pretty high, with all the top 4 at Rhossy getting consistent forward loops and fluid wave rides even in the tricky onshore conditions we had on the tour. Yet these events are also perfect for anyone new to wavesailing. As long as you can waterstart, you can give it a go, Tushingham and Starboard provided 4 sets of 2015 gear at the first event, so you might not even need your own wave kit.
What could have been at the Cardiff SWA event if there had been wind and waves! Photo by Ben Bulson.
I definitely want to compete more in the BWA amature fleet, I did Rhosneigr and Gwithian last year and they both a really good experience with great conditions. I'd definitely recommend any of the SWA wavesailors who are at a level where they can get out, do a jump and catch a wave to come along. Unfortunately, the Rhosneigr event this year clashes with the SWA/BUCS National championships, but I'll definitely be at Gwithian, I'd love to get to Tiree as well, but I'll have to see how that fits in with my uni work. A few things are for sure though! You will see me at all the SWA wave events next year, and at a few UKWA events and the Raceboard world championships this summer (yes I can still race, I think...).
At both events I used my trusty old 74 liter waveboard with 4.7 Tushingham Rock (except in one heat at The Bluff, where I used a 4.2), which is a combo that rocks in all conditions!
Thanks to the SWA and especially Jim Brooks-Dowsett from Puravida for running a great wave series, and also to Tushingham Sails for supporting my windsurfing. I can't wait for my next session, it looks like the wind is returning soon, there must be time for windsurfing alongside writing my masters thesis surely!