April the 18th /19th, the first National Water sports Festival (NWF) speed challenge at Portland with the OTC with a few day to go the forecast looked windy and sunny. Sadly not the best direction, an easterly, which brings in big rolling swell all the way from the harbour wall so we knew before we got there is was going to be a challenge..
Sat morning arrives, the suns shinning the winds blowing 20 knots and the waves are rolling across the course, it was going to be a tricky day, with the forecast staying solid 20/30 knots easterly ,it was time to rig up and get motivated i rigged my point 7 ac1 7.2m sail and got my starboard isonic 90 ready to roll, equipped with a drake R2R 36 carbon fin ,i got suited and booted ready to race The NWF speed challenge wasn’t just about the fastest peak speed, but also the fastest 10s and 250m , which in really choppy condition 250m was enough with a double dip tide to boot , it was get out as soon as you could .
On my first run i quickly realised this wasn’t going to be easy , no problem getting on the plane , more of an issue keeping the fin in contact with the water , if you can imagine coming off the back off 3 /4ft swell at 30 plus knots ,fin control and keeping the board straight was going to be the challenge for sure after a couple of runs the conditions seem to get a bit easier ,with the failing tide the massive swell gradually became a bit more manageable ,not flat my any means but 2/3 ft , so you sort of tried to wave sail down the face to get more speed .
I remember 1 run ,following a fellow sailor down the course, thinking I’m gaining on him, this could be quick ,not sure if i got the 250m before i popped of the back of a wave, in a classic speed crash 🙂 obviously not concentrating enough it was soon low water which made the water state much better, with a very low tide we stopped for lunch and a quite tune up ,the wind had slightly changed direction going south a bit , and it seemed to drop a bit in knots so a change of board was on the cards , time to get my starboard isonic 107 out with a 38 fin , this turned out to be a great decision, as the 2015 isonic 107 is an awesome board , with 95kilos of me on it ,it works well with a 7m up to a 8.5m so back to the speed challenge with the course being moved out further into the harbour, we were running along the swell which was a lot easier , still a challenge for sure but not as much as the morning session .
With a lot of runs in the bag it was day 1 over lots of people had an awesome day, great to see so many kids out there flying along…after a tried and challenging day the results were in, totally stoked with the 4th fastest 10s, and 6th fastest 250m, now that’s not bad when you think half the guys above me are locals, and top racers. so pretty stoked with that so time for a chill out and a beer Sunday day 2 of the NWF speed challenge the winds where still fairly strong first thing ,but due to drop rapidly as the day went on , the sun was blazing though my camper window ,so a quick cuppa and off to get rigged after checking the forecast i decided to rig a 7.8 ,kindly lent to me by Allan Cross ,as my new point 7 ac1s where stuck in customs waiting for clearance after the briefing it was straight out to catch as much of the wind as you could ,knowing it was dropping every second , just about managed a couple of runs on the 7.8 before the wind died i decided to head in and change up , again kindly borrowed from Mr Cross a 9.5m sail and on my 2014 starboard isonic 130 and BPF 47.5 . I hit the water once again, keeping an eye on the failing tide, as big fins
and a very low tide don’t mix very well it was the best decision id made all day , the 9.5m sail was super powerful giving me massive lift and drive to get me flying down the course , with the course due
to close by midday ,i had just enough time to make in a few good runs the guys from the NWF team and the OTC did an amazing job , with clinics from Zara Davis ,Pete Young ,Kev Greenslade and Steve Thorpe, a great turn out from young to old ,families ,all held at the best and longest speed sailing venue , Weymouth home of speed sailing , it was a great atmosphere ,lots of banter and every body in high spirits
, the sun was shining all weekend over us, which made it a pleasant weekend for spectators to watch
prize giving time and I’ll be honest i had no idea, as the event was a 2 day event, both days counted, and with my persistence in the light winds i bagged first place on Sunday stoked with my Sunday victory, my average for the whole weekend was good and i bagged first place, it was close there was less than a
knot between the top two still buzzing as i right this event report, I’d like to thank the NWF
(National Water sports Festival) and the OTC for running this awesome event, which i hope just gets better each year.
Big thanks to my sponsors Starboard, Point 7, Robin Hood water sports, Rocker line clothing, Black Project Fins, A&D signs. Who have helped me get my first event win.