Thursday, 22 May 2014

Surfing Portugal and BWA Ireland

I spent 10 days just South of Sines in Portugal (about 2 hours South of Lisbon), at Pig Dog Surf Camp. Check out their site HERE! Its a great place away from the normal tourist areas of Portugal with great, uncrowded waves to play on. The surf trip was with some friends from Plymouth, about 8 of us in the end. It was great fun, lots of banter and warm, sunny weather too! The waves were pretty small however, we only had 2 days of headish plus, the rest fairly small. We did surf El Point though, more of a reef breaking barrelly wave compared to Bathtubs, our normal fairly soft spot. It gave me some good practise at taking off late and taking a few good wipeouts! Great fun though, I improved my pumping and my backside riding a fair bit! Here are some photos from the last day (we were pretty bad at getting the camera out for the bigger days!).
After Portugal, Stef and I left the surf camp at 2am to drive to Lisbon, fly back to Surrey, drive to West Wales and catch a 2am ferry to Rosslare, then drive 5 hours to Brandon Bay for the British Windsurf competition, what a mission! The forecast looked terrible, no wind and not many waves. We had committed anyway and drove the distance to beautiful Brandon Bay. Pre-BWA Boards released an article of 'BWA-Faces to Watch', check it out HERE
And here is the beautiful view overlooking the bay from our little house:
Monday was the windiest day and the pros were run at Hells Gate, but cancelled shortly after due to lack of wind. We had some fun shorey surfing later in the week, and drove through the Connor pass in the mountains, taking a walk round a lake and to another peak, I forgot how beautiful it is here!
Phil Horrocks hosted a BBQ at his house on the Thursday night, perhaps tatically getting everyone drunk the night before the competition was held on Friday!
The competition was on for all fleets at Gowlane, with cross off port tack riding, 2 waves to count. The wind was gusty and light, and the waves about knee to shoulder-not my best kind of riding! I took Stef's 75l Flywave and the 5.0 Icon for the competition-my first error, as I hadn't ever sailed his board before. My heat was against Sara Kellet and Justyna Sniady, both great competitors and doing well on the tour. I got some ok waves and some nice turns, but seemed to overcook them and crash a lot, the fins kept breaking out and I couldn't recover them. I also wasn't used to such small powerless waves, coming off the back of a fair few. I was out of the first round disappointingly. Here are some photos from event photographer Si Crowther (the good ones!) and some from our own camera (on the wrong setting by the looks of it!):
I should have changed equipment, I knew I wasn't used to Stef's board or riding G10 fins compared to K4's, which I find far more recoverable. Instead I stuck with what I had, thinking the wind was flukey and the extra volume would help. I then sailed against Ping, and the same happened again, I lost the tail on all my cut backs. I was out! 6th place, absolutely gutted! The double elimination didn't get finished as the wind died off. Well done to Justyna coming 1st, Sara 2nd and Lucy Robson 3rd, and also thank you to all the judges and especially Nigel Tracey for organising such a good event! I then sailed downwind and got some better waves, making myself feel better! Saturday was windier and slightly wavier once everyone from the competition had left. I had a really fun sail on my own board (69l with K4 fins) and 4.7, getting some really nice waves and hits, and only falling a couple of times-it made me feel so much better and that I can actually windsurf! I was just disappointed that I hadn't realised early enough to change equipment in the heats. You live and you learn! I guess I also need to practise in tiny waves too to learn to make the most of them! I also realised that competition sailing is very different to my normal style, which is go hard crash a lot and slowly improve. I need to work out a safer riding technique for competitions so I don't lose all my points, especially focusing on making every turn! Here are some pics from the end of Saturday's session. I think the tide got a little high by the time we got the camera out so again, we didn't capture the best action as the waves went a little tiny!
We stayed a couple more days in Ireland, taking another walk in the mountains and another surf, before heading to York to see Stef's family. I'm now back home working again for a few weeks before I head to Pozo to train for the first PWA competition!

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