Finn: What does winning the 2007 Irish Wave Title mean to you?
Finn: I was still nursing a back and hip injury courtesy of a runaway stand up paddle board whilst out surfing in Tiree during the PWA event so I wasn’t sure how things would go. But it hasn’t really sunk in yet; I couldn’t get my head round the maths on the beach even though people told me I’d won.
Oisin: How does it feel not being the Irish Wave Champion after holding onto it for so many years?
Oisin: It feels amazing. I’m so happy I can hardly tell you. It’s what I have always wanted. (Note the hint of sarcasm in his words!)
Was it a good Tour this year?
Finn: We had five events scheduled but only three had wind and were all in mighty Mayo at Louisburgh, Achill Island and Belmullet. Out of the three events there were six rounds in everything from a Force 9 with snow to sunshine and light winds, sometimes in the same heat! Over the course of the championship we had just about every sort of wind and wave combination on both tacks so it was a very all round season.
Oisin: Well we had pretty much everything you could imagine. Small waves to nearly double-mast, cross-onshore, cross-shore, cross-off. From 2 degrees Celsius with snow & 55 knots to 12 knots and sunshine – with wind coming from both tacks. So you could say a pretty rounded set of conditions. You had to be ready for anything on this Tour!
Irish Champion: Finn Mullen.
Was the title race close going into the last event?
Finn: Really close. With such a variety of conditions it’s a challenge to maintain consistency across the series. Oisin was leading the series coming into the last round but myself and Galway ripper Morgan McGuire had a chance. Along with Oisin’s phenomenal competition record and the experience of people like Jeff Cochrane and Dave Garvey there's a healthy pool of new talent like Morgan, Mikey Clancey, Dan Gardiner and Pat Kavanagh so the title was never going to be a walkover.
Oisin: I was leading going into the event and basically messed it up by badly spraining both my ankles on the very first morning during the warm up. I only needed to win one more round to seal the deal but that didn’t happen. Thanks to Finn for giving me the ankle supports, ibuprofen and duck tape or I couldn’t have sailed at all.
What kit did you use on the Tour?
Finn: I used every sail size from 3.2 to 6.3 (Severne Blades and S1’s). I don’t have a board sponsor but use mostly Starboard Evos; they work well in the confines of a heat environment but I have some Tabous which I really like too. The most important bit of kit to have competing in Ireland is a good wetsuit. I tend to use my 3/2 O’Neill suits a lot and only the winter ones on the coldest of days.
Oisin: JP Pro Wave 66, Real World Wave 68, Pro Wave 79, Freestyle 90 and Neil Pryde Combat Waves from 3.3 to 5.6m.
How do you earn your money?
I work at sea as a Navigator on ships in the offshore oil industry. I studied Navigation at Plymouth University which is the best choice for anyone who wants to windsurf or surf. Timo and I both went there as well as the King brothers and a lot of the top UK surfers like Sam Lamiroy and Jesse Davies.
Working at sea is not a way of life for everyone but it allows me to see the world and still have some time off for windsurfing. People see the time off as a big draw but you don’t get ‘time off’ without good reason. The best way to explain it is think how hard you would have to work for your boss to be given a few months off every year!!
Oisin: I’m an international man of mystery.
Vice champion: Oisin Van Gelderen, man of mystery.
What motivates you to compete?
Finn: I love sport and have always been pretty competitive due to growing up with two brothers! Competition is a good way to push yourself; sometimes in a close heat you are forced to throw a big move like a double in the last few minutes which I guess you would never do free sailing. My parents were always into sport too. Our father was a champion racing and rally driver and grandfather an Ulster rugby player so it’s probably something in the gene pool!
Oisin: Well the bottom line is that competitions push your limits and improve your ability much faster than just free-sailing. I guess it’s partly from wanting to do well, partly from learning from mistakes & also learning about your gear and never being picky about conditions. Windsurfing is a sport you just cannot perfect; there are so many moves I still want to learn and I guess competition is an extension of that - it’s like a test. All you want to do in an event is sail to the very best of your ability, not make mistakes and show what you can do. That’s really the main aim.
Would you like to see an amalgamated tour between the UKWA and the IWA?
Finn: I think plans are in the works for the first combined event in 2008 at the Dingle. Practically though, it might be a struggle timewise running a whole Tour with a large fleet when you’re limited to weekends and the vagaries of UK/Irish weather. Also financially, criss-crossing the Irish sea isn’t really viable for most competitors.
Oisin: Yes, no, maybe, whatever! I can’t see the Irish guys leaving the West Coast and sailing in the UK though.
If you could only sail at one Irish beach for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
Finn: A one spotter? That’s a pretty harsh call in Ireland! Probably Magheroarty in north-west Ireland for its mix of beach break, reef and good wind stats. In Ireland the joy is the lack of crowds but sometimes sailing by yourself all the time gets a bit boring. At Magheroarty come rain, hail or shine there is always a good bunch of sailors.
Oisin: I could never choose just one, that’s why I don’t live on the west coast. I have more options living where I do (in Dublin ) and travelling on the forecasts to the best spots. Put it this way though, it would be in north-west Ireland.
What are you winter training plans?
Finn: At the minute I’m just working on getting back to full strength from my back/hip injury sustained in Tiree. When I’m fit I’ll go to Maui and try out some twin fin boards from Quatro, then I’m hoping to go out to Western Australia as soon as I’ve finished my next stint at sea.
Oisin: Right now it’s physiotherapy on those ankles to get me back on the water, and take it from there. All going well, I will get back to Cape Town in January/February.
Finally, will you be doing the 2008 Irish Tour once more to defend your title (Finn) and to reclaim you title (Oisin)?
Finn: Maybe, I’d like to. I think Timo is going to do the events next year so that should make it interesting!
Oisin: Yes - I’m injured, not retired! As long as I enjoy doing it and I’m motivated then I don’t see why not.
Finn receiving the award. PHOTO: Mikey Clancy