John Skye and Nayra Alonso had a cracking Sylt event. John finished 5th and Nayra 3rd. Considering Nayra started off her year with a broken foot, that result and final third overall in the wave rankings was even more impressive. John’s fifth saw him finish in the top 16 of the wave rankings guaranteeing him a seeding in next year’s events.
We asked them to document their daily lives at the gruelling 10 day Sylt event.
Photos by John Carter
Nayra: Woke up ridiculously early to get to Stansted to catch the flight to Hamburg (actually miles away from Hamburg , but hey, it is cheaper this way!). Got to Sylt in the afternoon. First stop: rent the bikes. Second stop: get the apartment keys. Third stop: change the apartment, that one too small to fit three people in it.
Nayra: Got up early again. Go to the beach to unload gear from truck, carry to the Severne tent on the beach. We have the opening ceremony. Everyone is looking really nervous, forecast looking insane for the week!
John: Day one is always a nightmare. Firstly carrying all the bags into the tent, then rigging everything, and finally putting stickers. To make it even worse I had to help carry all Nayra’s gear to her private Severne tent right on the beach. I am in with everyone else with a 200 metre walk to the beach through the crowds and she is ready to go in a second!
Nayra: Got up “all right” early. Go to the first skippers meeting at 10:00 . No waves, light wind. Racers: get on your wetsuits! Did some Fanatic signings and I start feeling the cold weather in my body. Fear of getting sick, I get million of natural drugs: echinacea, honey, vitamins, garlic etc.
John: No wind forecast today but Nayra was stressing a bit about getting to the beach early. Talk to everyone for a few hours but then run out of things to do. I think this is going to be a long week. Have one of Nayra’s garlic pills. It’s supposed to be good for fighting off illness but all it seems to do is give me vicious breath and I keep burping up garlic all day!
Nayra: Skippers at 10:00 again. Spirits are high but it’s another day for the racers. More signings. The tent is going off by the time we leave the beach, but forecast is looking good and I don’t want to be stupid. Need to be strong and go home to sleep to get ready for the comp.
John: Another long day at the beach. Really difficult conditions for everyone as the wind picks up in front of clouds and then drops off. Highlight is watching Ross (Williams) take the lead in the racing. He has been doing so well this year so it’s nice to see all his work paying off. The tent was looking good in the evening but we managed to escape relatively unharmed. The absence of Scotty McKercher this year makes it a lot easier to get away.
Nayra: No wind. Relax and have another long day at the beach. Running out of things to do on my computer already!
John: My goodness, this is the hardest Sylt yet. More rain, more squalls, more possibility of wave sailing but without actually being able to get out. Get to go on the stage today talking in front of loads of Germans and transmitted around the world on Sylt FM. I don’t actually think anyone understood, but it’s all good for a bit of promotion.
Nayra: Some wind, finally. Skippers at 9:00 and they run the freestyle but I get on the water for the first time to get used to the cold. It is horrible!! I don’t last much, only half an hour. Well, better than nothing. My Fanatic and my Severne feel great.
John: More waiting around but a bit more wind so at least the freestylers go out. Conditions were pretty close to competable for wave sailors, and you never know when they might just change disciplines and put us out there. Today was not the day though so we watched Anxton (Otaegui) take the event lead in the freestyle.
Nayra: Windy! Nervous! They run the men’s first round. I get on the water again to keep getting used to the cold. John beats Bernd Flessner. I nearly have a heart attack watching the heat, but he makes it!
John: After a long day waiting around they send out the first round of the men’s wave heats. By the time they got to mine it was already pretty late and half dark. Right before my heat the wind picked up loads, then right at the start it pissed with rain and dropped to almost nothing. I was just starting to panic but the wind picked back up two minutes into the heat and I could try to get some jumps. Very difficult conditions but I just about managed to fill the score sheet and advance. Next up (Robby) Swift. We have a lot of history in PWA heat history and the stats definitely aren’t on my side.
Photos above by K.Zingler
Nayra: No wind… the tension builds up. I want to compete and get it over with!
John: Just about enough wind for the racers but no chance for us, so another long day talking rubbish to everyone. No wind forecast for tomorrow and free beer in the Train Station, so we head out for a mini party. Nothing too serious, but plenty of others take things a little further. I was happy to escape the American bar before it got too messy.
Nayra: Classic. Last night the forecast was calling for less wind so pretty much everyone went out. Luckily my throat was bad so I stayed home and as it always happens, enough people made the sacrifice to get really drunk so the wind picked up unexpectedly the next day to compete. They started some men heats, but no chance of getting in time to the girls.
John: Well the sacrifice was made and to many people’s surprise today started windier than expected and with time the waves built up to make it fully competable by the late afternoon. Pretty glad I went home early the night before as clearly some guys were struggling. My heat against Swifty was a shocker. The wind was pretty light and I made a mistake going for the 5.4 instead of the 5.8. Scraped a couple of jumps, but was pretty disappointed with my performance and came up the beach cursing. Luckily for me Swifty had an even worse shocker and I took the win and moved on to face Nik Baker. That was a pretty important win for me so we went for a celebratory dinner and an early night.
Nayra: Skippers at 8:00. Very rainy and very cold, but it is windy. They keep running men. John beats Baker. I nearly have my second heart attack watching him. Girls compete in the afternoon. I have to get in the water and swim a bit before my heat to get over the shock of the cold. Had a miracle in my first heat: my board unplugs from the sail after a forward. I don’t know how but I manage to plug it back and make it through. I am on 3.3m sail fully over powered. We keep running until dark. I am so happy we are finally competing!
John: A really early start, considering the night before, but wake up pretty strong! Conditions are much the same as the day before; onshore, difficult and light. Start off well against Baker but eight minutes in I hit a rock groyne and lose a fin. I managed to race back to the beach and get my other board, but by the time I get back out past the shorebreak the heat is over. Again I come in cursing, as Nik is Mr.Consistent and normally you need to really kill him to get ahead. This time however I scraped the victory and find myself in fifth place. Before I get to go again though, the wind drops and we go on hold for the whole day. The forecast is insane for the evening so I spend the day preparing every sail I have from 5.8 to 4.0. As predicted the wind kicks in around 5pm and we are off. Despite having all day to prepare I still end up in a panic and can’t make up my mind which sail to choose. I choose to go big, and then have to change half way through. Have a good heat this time, but so did Jonas (Ceballos). We both knew that if he advanced he would be 3rd overall for the year, so I guess he wanted it more. Despite losing I was super happy for Jonas and 5th is my best result in a while so all smiles. Wanted to go out and celebrate, but Nayra is in the first heat with a skippers meeting at 7am, so I am told politely to come home early.
Nayra: Skippers at 7:00 so up at 6:00, at the beach at 6:45 . Fully dark, rainy and mega strong wind. When the sun comes up I poo my pant; the ocean is just crazy! They run the men first, they are on 3.3m and struggling. The organizers don’t let us go out until it drops a bit. They finish the men and the wind, drastically, disappears. The comp is over. I am third overall! John has to go Hamburg for a PWA meeting like always, but this time I decide not to go with him and stay and celebrate…. big time!
John: Nayra is now mega stressed. She is in the second heat and wakes up at 6am! As the supporting boyfriend I find myself at the beach at 6.30 in the pitch black carrying all her sails against the 50knot wind and driving rain. In the end she doesn’t even compete, but it’s all good as she finishes third equal for the event and takes third overall for the year. Really stoked for her but unfortunately I can’t celebrate with her. I have to head off to Hamburg for a meeting the following day, so I leave Nayra in the capable hands of 40 male windsurfers. I still haven’t heard all the stories!
The PWA Tour returns next year with the first competition hopefully back on Cape Verde in February.
To follow John’s winter travels: www.johnskye.com
To follow Nayra’s winter travels: www.nayrae4.com