- 22 June 2009 | Windsurfing
Round three of the Irish Slalom Series (ISS) took place on June13th/ 14th at the world famous windsurfing location of Brandon Bay, Co. Kerry. Based just outside the small village of Castlegregory on the Maharees peninsula the event was hosted by Jamie Knox Watersports.
With a poor wind forecast throughout the week, some regular faces of the series choose to risk not taking the long journey south – boy did they miss out on a great weekend!
To begin the weekend, the ISS Crew were delighted to announce the new title sponsor of the ISS for 2009; DiscoverIreland.ie. Castlegregory has always provided some exciting racing over the past few years. Some competitors begin their preparations early and got some training in on Friday at Dumps beach.
The official start of Round 3 began early on Saturday morning at Jamie Knox’s. With such a wide choice of top notch beaches, Jamie decided to call the beach on the day to best suit the conditions. With registration complete, each entrant was presented with a shiny new racing bib supplied by DiscoverIreland.ie.
Five minutes later 40 vehicles headed off in convoy on the short trip South to Sandy Bay – which ended up as the race venue for the entire weekend.
After twenty minutes the car park was a wash with colourful sails and supporters banners. Despite the poor forecast over 14 Gold Fleet and 19 Silver Fleet competitors were on the beach ready to battle for some national championship points.
True to form Ireland’s most efficient race officer; Greg Day, had competitors on the water straight away. With a large Silver Fleet contingent it was decided to run both fleets separately. A strong 20 knot breeze allowed the race crew to set a large downwind slalom course for the Gold Fleet and a slightly easier course for the Silver Fleet.
Four tightly contested races were completed for both fleets, before competitors were given a chance to recover and grab some lunch. With the constant 20 knot breeze and a large course, some of the most hotly contested close racing ever seen on the series took place.
The first few races in the silver fleet saw Glen Warden, Paul Green, John Kileen and local sailor Tom Knox take the top positions. For the first time a full ladies fleet was also looking very competitive with Johanne Murphy and Alison Beirne sharing the number one slots.
The Gold Fleet also unusually saw several sailors taking first place in the morning session. Race winners included Danny Mulryan, Maurice Owens and Hannes Louet-Feisser.
Despite some heavy showers and gusty conditions Jamie Knox used his vast local knowledge to send competitors far out in Brandon Bay for the afternoon session. While most organizers would have called it a day, the 5pm start for the second session paid off!
Three more races were completed for both fleets. This time in gustier 15 to 20 knot conditions. The lunches from the local Spar seemed to have spinach like effects for some of the competitors. Current National Champion Pearse Geaney was back in flying form taking two race victories in the Gold Fleet.
Also on top form were Fintan Day, Gareth Nehill, Steve Flanagan and Tom Slomski. The Silver fleet was also finding their feet with greatly improved performances in the tricky conditions by: Seamus Breathnach, Gildas Bechet, Paul Reed and Dave Minton.
After a great days sailing, the convoy left Sandy Bay at 7pm and headed for another famous site – Spillanes Bar. Dj Debbie was on hand to provide the tunes to what could be considered to be the best display of dodgy dancing ever seen at an Irish Windsurfing Competition. The party continued on into the early hours with tired sailors retreating for rest after word spread of Sunday’s forecast.
Sunday morning provided warm, sunny conditions for the rigging session. The fleets were now joined on the beach by a constantly growing crowd of inquisitive spectators. Once again both fleets took to the water.
Despite the best efforts of the race crew – the wind did not play ball. Shifty 2-22 knots conditions saw the Fun Racing flag raised. Not to be disheartened each and every member of the fleer took to the water and completed 5 more races in some challenging conditions.
The level of sailing in the silver fleet continued to rise and with a full days racing behind them, newcomers Kevin Cunningham, Stephen Kelly and Cormac Daly looked like seasoned racers blasting out into in the middle of Brandon Bay. While the top positions of the ladies fleet remained unchanged – both Alessia Stocca and Eilis NiDhill sailed very well in the challenging conditions.
The Gold Fleet on sails up to 10.0m2 was also pushed to the limit. The gusty conditions took its tole on some equipment and some lobster pots were involved in several spectacular high speed stunts.
While the familiar faces at the front sailed very well, they were joined by a new specialist team of Gareth Nehill, Barry Whitelaw, Cormac O’Beirne and Gul Molyneux. The guys worked extra hard in the light conditions and were consistently at the top end of the fleet. Despite some periods of 20 knots, the wind failed to remain consistently above the 12 knot limit for ranked racing.
After lunch the race crew took both fleets back onto the water. In the afternoon session, both fleets started together giving the silver fleet some insight into the mayhem of a gold fleet start. After such a great display of windsurfing, in one of the best locations in the country, it was time to announce the winners. Jamie Knox helped out with the prizes and ensured all those who sailed their hearts out were duly rewarded.
The Boards Magazine prize for the weekends most improved sailor went to Johanne Murphy who managed to beat many of the male contingents in the silver fleet, scoring several top ten finishes. Glen Worden took top honours in the Silver fleet, followed by Paul Green in second and Richard Bowman in Third.
The ladies fleet was won by Johanne Murphy with Alison Beirne in second followed by Alessia Stocca in third. Tom Knox won the youths. In the Gold Fleet Maurice Owens took the valuable championship points followed closely by Pearse Geaney with Danny Mulryan in Third.
The next stop on the series takes competitors to the far north western shores of Downings, Co. Donegal. Guaranteed to be Ireland’s biggest windsurfing event, current forecast suggest in excess of 100 competitors. With a big function planned for Saturday night and fleets to suit all abilities – you would be mad to miss it!
The Dodgy Dancing Award