That ****** Forecast!
Well, where do we begin? Firstly, that blooming forecast which got in wrong nearly every day, promising wind & waves only to produce three foot high surf and no wind or even worse, 5m weather but no waves, not a ripple. By the last day of the contest no one believed anything would happen. Sailors were already packing up, looking at earlier ferries, eager to get off the island and back home after 6 weeks of gruelling competition across the world.
So, as usual, the 50 plus vans gathered on the grassy hill overlooking Balevullin beach on Saturday 13th October, the last day of the contest. Now Balevullin is known for catching the heaviest wave on the island and that morning it looked not bad at all – logo high in the sets and some even bigger. But Balevullin needs a heck of a blow for the ideal cross offshore wind to make it any fun for windsurfers and it just wasn’t quite windy enough. The other alternative was the Maze where the wind would be blowing cross onshore. But the judges made the call to stay at Balevullin and wait for the wind to pick up as the forecast predicted.
They started, they cancelled, they started, they postponed…it was really frustrating to watch and even more so to compete in. During really lame heats, which really should have been abandoned, the mass of parked vans showed their displeasure by incessantly beeping their horns. Childish yes but then some thought the judges decision to carry on the heats was rather immature!
The Show Must Go On
But on it went with 20 minute heats allowing plenty of time for the one set wave to come through but even that length of time saw some sailors get no waves at all. Of course, like in all competition, if you win your heat you don’t complain, if you lose your heat, you blame the awful conditions. Sailors who weren’t happy included Scott McKercher who lost to Tiree Wave Classic Champion Phil Horrocks, Robby Swift who lost to Pete Volwater and Jonas Ceballos who lost to John Skye.
Then we had some really close heats; Ben Proffitt against fellow Brit Nik Baker was very close with folk on the beach saying Proffitt had it. That would have been a hell of a scalp, perhaps too much for the PWA to take and Ben went down. Straight after the heat, Nik broke his extension and promptly cut his foot in half so would have been unable to compete any further.
Another close heat was Andy King versus Levi Siver but again Levi got through against a very impressive King who had been ripping during the UK contest the week previous to finish second to Phil.
Kauli looked super slick in the port tack waves and was probably going to be unbeatable but it was such a shame not to have a Kauli/Victor showdown even just for Victor’s Dad who had made the trip to Tiree to support his son in what could have been a really close fight for the World Title.
Last 16 Standing
It was pretty clear the PWA were determined to get to the last 16 and therefore get some kind of result and sailors eventually gave in complaining and just got on with it. The wind did pick up slightly and the waves got bigger as the tide came in so although not ideal, the action still looked awesome on camera but once those last 16 sailors were left in the draw the Judges called a halt to the proceedings. The flags came down, the trucks left the beach and vans were slowly loaded with shiny '08 kit, some of it not even salty wet. All that was left was one man, out sailing on his own in the dying light in the best conditions of the day. You could almost see the tears in his eyes as he ripped down another set wave – Kauli Seadi was definitely the happiest man on Tiree that evening!
The PWA Tiree TOP 16
Ross Williams, John Skye, Victor Fernandez, Jason Polakow, Julien Taboulet, Pete Volwater, Levi Siver, Kauli Seadi, Boujamaa Guilloul, Kevin Pritchard, Nik Baker, Thomas Traversa, Phil Horrocks, Vidar Jensen, Marcilio Browne, Josh Angulo.
The highlight of the event for me was not Kauli’s impressive cut backs, more his highly amusing attempt at celidah dancing at the Closing Ceremony. But he wasn’t the only one. Jonas Ceballos was really getting into the live Scottish band, Skerryvore, jigging away with the locals. By the time ‘Strip the Willow ’ started (a traditional Scottish dance involving lots of spinning) the PWA superstars were really in their element, guided by the local lassies. I’ve never seen such a lack of co-ordination and balance from professional windsurfers.
It was a great night and I hope the PWA sailors will all return in 2008 and get to experience what Tiree really can offer (on the water that is as they certainly got the full Tiree experience off it!)