What a day for the first round of the UKWA Wave contest in Brandon Bay, Ireland! Gowlane was working from about 8.30am this morning; 4-5m weather depending on the gusts coming down from the hills with logo high waves.
Competition got under way around 1030 with the Pro single elimination and the Amateurs, Masters, and Ladies starting after the first round of the Pros.
Conditions started to get trickier and by lunchtime it was hell out there! Massive gusts requiring a 3.7m sail then pockets of no wind just before a nice, logo high wave were wiping out a lot of the fleet and indeed some of the Pros. The cross offshore wind held up the waves nicely but as the day progressed and the tide came in they had more and more ‘punch’!
So how did the 42 strong fleet fair?
First shock was Phil Horrocks losing to Jamie Hancock and Rob Jones in the second round. Rob is a sail repairer (brother of Rik of Riks Windsurfing) and also the local school bus driver. He had to leave soon after helping Phil out the contest to go and deliver some children to school then missing his next heat. But there was always the double elimination for Rob and Phil to make a comeback.
Back to the single and Hancock remained on fire all day storming into the final, although not before a close shave against Timo Mullen. Timo protested the result (putting Hancock through) as the Judges didn’t see his goiter back onto the wave. They re-ran the heat and Jamie won to get into the final against Andy King, John Skye and Ben Proffitt who had beaten Finn Mullen and Oisin Van Gelderen in the semis.
The final was all Hancock’s; he got a belter of a first wave and was ahead from then on. The other three were NOT making it look easy and timing was all over the place which just proves how tough it was out there. Skye got the second, King third and Ben fourth.
Scott McDowell was having a bad day! He was seeded No.1 in the Amateur fleet but the conditions were not to his liking and he didn’t shine in the gusty, cross off waves. Steve King (Andy’s twin brother) and Dave Horrocks (Phil’s younger brother) were the real contenders for the crown today choosing good waves with Steve pulling off goita after goita. Niall Mellon wasn’t too far behind riding Gowlane like a real local which of course he is! But in the 4 man final Dave got two decent rides against Steve’s one and only top scoring ripper (its two waves to count Steve)!
There were mutterings amongst the Masters fleet that no ‘oldie’ should be allowed to go off for three weeks winter training in Cape Town. But that’s exactly what reigning Masters champ Nigel Treacy did and it paid off. He got the best wave in the final, followed by the blonde dreadlocked Sav in second and a disappointed Big Davey in third.
There was an upset in the Ladies where Irish sailor Katie McAnena beat favourite Louise Emery with Sarah Finney in third. Louise beat Katie last year but after a winter in Oz and Maui, Katie’s wave riding was much better and she choose waves on the inside to earn her points. Louise went out the back, waited for a big set and then got punished scoring ‘nil poine’! But there is plenty more rounds for all these fleets so competition has only just started!
So the double got underway at 4pm to the dismay of a few exhausted sailors who had arrived very late the night before and were knackered from dealing with the testing conditions. Now they had to contend with driving rain but at least the waves cleaned up and the wind became more consistent as high tide approached.
The double elimination was all about Phil Horrocks and Rob Jones who fought there way back through several heats to meet in a head-to-head. The winner would meet Ben Proffitt (who finished 4th in the single) and then the winner of that to meet Andy King and so on. Phil went out the back, miles upwind, waiting for a heat winning set wave but all of a sudden the wind dropped and being on a 68 litre board, the Welshman was literally out of his depth, wallowing around whilst Rob jones was taking advantage of the waves on the inside. But then the wind really disappeared and the heat was cancelled. The wind swung onshore, the sun came out and that was that for the day.
So Phil, Rob and Proffitt, King, Skye and Hancock all remain in the Double elimination. The forecast is looking good again for Thursday so just one night to clear the pile of sand out of the vans, wash down the sand infested mast extensions, clear the grains if sand from the back of your retina (you get the picture) and then we do it all again!
More amateur, masters and ladies comp tommorow as well. We can’t wait!
PHOTOS: Event leader Jamie Hancock, Sailors Breifing at Gowlane, Scott \’Braveheart\’ McDowell, Phil Horrocks, Gowlane at tea time, Ben Proffitt
Photo Credit: Simon Crowther