Congratulations to the Carters!
This month started off with romance; the wedding of John Carter to his lovely lady Susan. It turned out to be a really nice day on the Isle of Wight; loads of food, loads of drinks and JC’s award winning speech.
SIX Mars Bars & TWO bottles of water
Sunday dawned slightly hung-over and with a missed call from Guy Cribb. He had put us on 24 hour alert for his Bournemouth to Brighton mission. I was leaving the country early Tuesday morning so the only chance I had to join in would be if it were held on the Bank Holiday Monday. Everything was looking good with strong winds forecast, so Sunday night I and Chris Audsley attempted to organise ourselves a bit. This basically involved putting SIX mars bars and TWO bottles of water in a back pack. Not quite the proper preparation but it was about the best we could do.
Sure enough, Monday turned out windy and arriving in Bournemouth the big question was what size sail to rig. It was around 5.7m weather near the shore, but we knew it would be howling through the Solent. I was keen to rig small, but as always, everyone got competitive and rigged big. I still had the smallest sail with a 5.7m whilst Jamie Hawkins took a 7.0m!
The first part was quite fun, from Bournemouth to Avon beach, then on to Hurst Castle along with about 30 other sailors. We luckily arrived at the top of the Solent with an incoming tide. Still, however, it was horrendous getting through the opening; so much water moving around and the nastiest chop imaginable. I am pretty sure if the tide had been the other way it would have been impossible.
The next leg was the real mission. The further down the Solent we went the windier it got. Sailing dead downwind it wasn’t too bad, but the moment I had to go across the wind it got pretty tricky. Sailors at Hillhead were on 3.7m’s as we sailed passed with on our 5.7’s! I called in briefly at Calshot to say hi to the guys at Naish, then continued onwards towards Lee on Solent, the next rendezvous. At this point though I lost everyone. I was pretty sure my sailing buddy Chris (Audsley) had gone home, (passing his front door, knowing his Mum had lunch on the table was too much for sure) but I had no idea where the rest were. I didn’t know whether to carry on going, or head back to Chris’s. In the end I came up with the plan that I could probably get to Portsmouth OK and hopefully could contact Jem Hall (who lives around there). It didn’t quite come to this in the end though as I eventually saw Matt Wemms and Cribby sat on the beach, with the rescue boats waiting. It was about this time that I realised the so called rescue boats weren’t really rescue at all, they were just Cribby’s support. The rest of us were pretty much on our own!! Sure enough Jamie and Simon Dawkins were lost somewhere in the Solent, so at this point I was pretty happy to be in one piece.
After the Solent it all got pretty easy. It was actually really nice to sail past a lot of the spots I used to go to in the past; Hayling Island, Witterings, Bracklesham and on to Pagham. By this point it was pretty mellow, a few tricky moments going around Selsey Bill but all really good fun. For me it was the last bit that seemed to go on for ages. Every half a mile there would be a group of sailors out enjoying the waves, in fact it had been like that the whole way down. We must have passed over 200 windsurfers on the trip! In the end it took nine hours from B2B. It was one of the best things I have ever done and I would love to give it another go, next time more relaxed and actually enjoying the sailing on the way down.
The next part was actually the hardest though. By the time I got back to Bournemouth it was 11.30pm. I then had to pack my gear up in board bags and then leave again at 2am to get to Gatwick for my flight. So after nine hours in a wetsuit I had one hour sleep and then it was off to Morocco.
Windsurf Challenge: Morocco
Morocco luckily started with no wind so it gave me a day to recover. The event was part of the Windsurf challenge contests. It’s basically a fun contest between selected sailors, and judged by the sailors themselves, so there is a really good atmosphere both on and off the water. It was my first trip to Morocco and we were based at Moulay, home spot for Boujamaa Guilloul.
Conditions were sic although we had to wait for them. Swell finally arrived giving us one day of riding followed by two epic days of full power wind and massive jumps. Boujamaa showed everyone he was the boss at his home spot. Victor Fernandez got second and Baptiste Gossein was third. Boujamaa and fellow Moroccan Fettah knocked me out in the semi-final. The tide was changing loads throughout the heats and I ended up so lost on the water I couldn’t find a wave to ride or a ramp to jump! Still it was so much fun and great training for my next stop; Guincho.