Jamie Hancock crowned in Brandon Bay with extreme conditions

What an event! Brandon Bay delivered like never before provided the most extreme conditions ever seen at a UK contest. It also gave us the best amateur wave competition for years once the mast high rollers calmed down the head high jumpers!

Gowlane was working from about 8.30am in the 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’!

Pro Single Elimination
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.

Amateurs Single Elimination
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.

Pro Double EliminationSo 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.

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!

The double elimination was all about Phil Horrocks and Rob Jones who fought their 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.

The most impressive UK competition finals we have seen for many years. Stradbally was 40-50 knots with mast high waves, absolutely howling cross-off, totally gnarly.

The top 6 men (Phil Horrocks/Rob Jones/Ben Proffitt/Andy King/John Skye/Jamie Hancock) were taken down to Stradbally in Knoxy’s trailer with all their kit from the main base at Gowlane. The rest of us slowly made our way down in the vans, to watch the best in the UK sail in classic Brandon Bay conditions.

Rob Jones .v. Phil Horrocks: This was pretty close, Rob beat him in the waves but Phil beat him on jumps with a tweaked pushloop and backloop.

Phil Horrocks .v. Ben Proffitt: Ben had the better waves with some sick, late hits but also nearly brained himself by going for a double pushloop. Well not quite….. a howling gust sent Ben around again re-shaping his boom with his nose. A good comeback for Phil after his early exit from the single elimination to finish 5th overall.

Ben .v. Andy King: Andy didn’t have a great heat. He didn’t get out the back and floundered in the mass of white water, not like King at all which showed just how harsh the conditions were. He did impress the beach crowds with a huge backloop and the best wipe-out of the event but Ben was really on a roll and choose good set waves riding them all the way into the beach (literally).

Ben .v. John Skye: A knackered Ben may have got the highest wave score in this heat but Skye was all over him in the jumps with a big pushy and a stalled forward as Ben limped home with a sore hand and a re-arranged face.

Skye .v. Jamie Hancock: Hancock got a real baptism of fire having not been out all day. He just didn’t get into the waves till the end of the heat and by then Skye had racked up the points and the victory was his.

But this being a double elimination, Skye had to beat Jamie again and this time Jamie was warmed up and ready to go! With a better fluid style and wave choice, Hancock took the win and was absolutely delighted ringing all his family and friends – it was really quite sweet!

The Masters, Ladies and Amateur double elimination were completed today in perfect conditions: 4.7m weather and head high waves at Fermole (the one right in the corner of Brandon Bay). The Pros then took part in the Boardseeker Expression Session at the tide rolled in.

Two rounds of Masters saw Nigel Treacy and Big Davey battle it out for first place in both finals. Davey and Nigel kept meeting on the same wave and the atmosphere was tense but it was the Scotsman who took both victories and Davey now leads the Masters going into the final day.

Word should also go to Damian De Backer who probably had the best day of his ’short competition career’ to make the finals. We think he will be back for more fun at Rhosneigr next week.

The Ladies also had a good day of competition. Katie McAnena won Round 1 held at Gowlane on Wednesday so Louise Emery was on a comeback keen to regain her Irish crown. So in the second round, Louise caught two good waves and got the required jump to succeed against Katie who really didn’t sail up to her usual standard.

So now to the ’sail off’ (round 3) but it was Sarah Finney who was looking good, catching a good wave out the back. Louise rode on right into the beach, doing as many turns as her skills would allow. Katie had a much better heat and got the jump in so it was very close. Unfortunately for the girls Head Judge Duncan Coombes held onto the result and it will be announced at 9pm Friday night at Spillanes.

Onto the Amateurs, and Rhosneigr local Alex Tritten was firing right up until he broke his UJ in the heat against Ian Gibson. Who knows how far Alex could have gone - the judges nick named him the ‘Secret Weapon’ and suggested he would have done alright in the first few rounds of the Pros.

But it was Scot McDowell who really had a good day coming from the back of the fleet to beat his fellow countryman and camper van companion Ian Gibson on a head to head to see who would meet local hat maker Niall Mellon.

Half a point was all it was between Scot and Niall with Niall edging ahead in the waves. McDowell was heart broken and was last seen painting himself blue and white whilst looking for a big stick down on the beach muttering ‘Revenge, revenge’!

Niall then meet Steve King, fresh from a world of advice from his brother Andy, Steve ripped through the heat, out jumping Niall and proceeding to the first showdown with the single elimination winner Dave Horrocks.

Rolls were reversed today as Phil Horrocks became the rigging monkey for his younger brother. All the latest JP/NeilPryde gear was rigged and ready for young Dave and again Phil gave him lots of advice on how to beat a KIng.

However, it mustn’t have been the right advice as Dave lost in the first final and under double elimination rules, Steve King had to beat him again. Dave didn’t have a good heat, Steve was all over it with goita’s, good wave choice and a nice forward loop. He win again to become Amateur Champion.

The Boardseeker Expression Session had a top prize of 100 euros (60 for second/40 for third) which meant most of the Pro fleet got out there and busted some big airs. 16 sailors, 4 man heats with ONE sailor making it to the final.

No surprises to see Phil Horrocks make it, John Skye and Ben Proffitt who did a double and a taka in his heat. A name you may not be familiar with outside of Ireland - Mikey Clancy also made it to the final and really impressed the judges with his radical style. Slightly controvesial but Mikey took the win with a high backloop, Horrocks in second with a wet-landed double and Ben in third with a pushloop.

The wind blew though the night and sailors waking up early thought they would have to do it all again. But by 11am the winds had died leaving only a 4ft swell. Brandon Bay had blown itself out and all there was left to do was clean all the sand out of the vans whilst enjoying some long awaited Irish sunshine!

Rank Sailor
1. Jamie Hancock (Gun Sails/Quatro)
2. John Skye (Naish Sails/RRD)
3. Ben Proffitt (Simmer/Quatro)
4. Andy King (Goya Sails & Boards)
5. Phil Horrocks (JP/NeilPryde)
6. Rob Jones (NeilPryde/Seven)
7. Timo Mullen (Severne/Starboard)
8. Steve Thorpe
= 9th Finn Mullen & OVG
= 11th James Cox & Rich Potter
= 13th Nick Moffat & Chris Murray
= 15th Mikey Clancy & Dan
= 17th Adam Simms & Sam Neal & Jack Hunt & Graham Woods
= 21st Murray Saunders & Steve Jarvis & Mark Bell & Mark Kileen
= 24th Chris Cunningham & Rich Jones

Rank Sailor & Individual scores Points
1. Big Davey (3/0.7/0.7) 4.4
2. Nigel Treacy (0.7/2/2) 4.7
3. Mark Seaney (5/3/3) 11
4. Damian De Backer (5/4/5) 14
5. Gerry Wilcox (5/5/5) 15
6. Sav (2/7/7) 16
7. Chris Wilcox (5/6/6) 17

Rank Sailor
1. Steve King
2. Dave Horrocks
3. Niall Mellon
4. Scott McDowell
5. Tom Knox
6. Alex Tritten
7. Ian Gibson
8. Nathan Reagan
= 9th Darren Thurston & Alex Mitchell
= 11th Daniel King & Steve Pickles

Rank Sailor & Individual scores Points
1. Louise Emery (2/0.7/0.7) 3.4
2. Katie McAnena (0.7/2/2) 4.7
3. Sarah Finney (3/3/3) 9

Rank Sailor
1. Tom Knox
2. Nathan Reagan
3. Alex Mitchell

Pro Session
Rank Sailor
1. Mikey Clancy
2. Phil Horrocks
3. Ben Proffitt


As in the previous year the 2009 Auckland Freestyle Champs was run again on stand by to get the best conditions possible so the stand by period was set for the whole month of May with each Saturday and Sunday being a possible event day.

The weather systems during that time of the year are normally a bit windier and consistent - but what is normal in these days anyway? The first weekend in May had a terrific forecast, 30+ Knots for 4-5 days in a row but it became quickly apparent that the direction was SE, which is the most unreliable of all for the Auckland area.

After a bit of gambling the decision was made to postpone the event to the following weekend. As it turned out the wind never arrived for the first weekend – luckily!

A similar scenario showed up on the weather charts for the second weekend – but this time it was going to blow SW for most of the week. That was the forecast we were hoping for as the westerly winds are the most reliable for Auckland.

The news went out and all thumbs up to run the event that weekend. It was scheduled to start at 10am on Saturday 9. May, which was a good timing as a lot of Mum’s would have missed out on some family time if it would have been run on Sunday, Mother’s day.

Pt. Chev was once again chosen as the comp location as it offers the best and biggest wind range in these conditions and plenty of water even at low tide.

Once the registration was completed and the competitors were divided into two groups, one thing became obvious: This comp was not going to be easy to win, as the sailing standard of most competitors was very high.

After two big local names moved from the comp last year straight into the judging panel this year it made it even more interesting to see who was going to take the trophy home this time. Pete Smith from Auckland Windsurfing (Winner of the Auckland Freestyle Champs 2008) and Mario Leitner, Auckland’s freestyle import from Austria brought their expertise and know how to the judging sheet and made for a fair competition.

After an hour of waiting and chatting on the beach the first heat started off at 11.00 am with 7 sailors showing off everything they could in a marked off area for 20 min in an expression session. The top 4 was drawn out of that first run but with very shifty and gusty conditions it wasn’t an easy heat to win.

Tim Haxell and Eric Torvelainen, who both came up all the way from Wellington, made it through to the next round next to Auckland local Jebbe Unthank and Katja Oberhofer from Switzerland.

Getting heat B under way proved a bit more difficult as the wind wasn’t in our favor this time. As every cloud that came up on the horizon had the potential to start the heat with that little bit of extra wind, all competitors decided to be on the water close to the safety boat and watch the flags carefully.

Once a bigger gust arrived heat B was started as well and all 8 competitors sailed the best they could in those conditions. Planning one minute meant parking the other. Showing a good repertoire of moves even when not planning was the key to make it through to the next round.

Read more ...

Ross Willliams conquers the 2009 PWA Podersdorf

Opening the 2009 slalom season in style, Austria’s Lake Neusiedl took its cue to deliver both sun and wind in equal measure to christen slalom’s newest World Tour destination.

In total, four race eliminations were completed over the event’s six day holding period, in winds ranging from 7-25 knots. On Predictably good form, 3 x World Champion Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) set the pace for the opening race, seamlessly winning all of his heats before sailing to victory in the elimination’s final.

Hot on his heels was the UK’s Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) who looked calm and collected as he picked a path through the elimination to bag second place ahead of France’s Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) in third.

Race two saw the early departure of Albeau in the first round following a start line collision with George Manev (Starboard / NeilPryde). With the elimination depleted of the multiple World Champion, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne) seized the opportunity to take reigns and claim his first race victory.

Behind him, Finian Maynard (RRD / NeilPryde) showed class by securing second place in the highly testing Austrian conditions, leaving Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet / MauiSails) to make amends for his second round departure in race 1, by filling out the final podium position in third.

Moving into the second day of competition, the wind stepped up a notch to deliver some classic slalom racing in 15-25 knots of breeze. As the third race elimination was narrowed down to the semi finals, Costa Hoevel continued to exert his dominance by winning his heat, equally, Maynard’s campaign grew momentum with some slick sailing to hand him second place.

The following semi final proved to be close fought battle, ultimately going to a newly invigorated Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra / Dakine), who fended off advances from Albeau in second, and at-the-time event leader, Quentel third.

The elimination final proved to be an Anglo-French battle between Williams and Albeau. Despite Albeau’s blistering straight line speed, Williams’ faultless gybing and tactical negotiation of the race course rewarded him with a convincing victory. Close behind, Albeau made his presence felt as he chased in second, and Quentel continued his run of outstanding consistency in third.

The fourth and final elimination of day two saw more consistent sailing from Maynard, who executed three back-to-back heat victories to advance into the race final. Rising to meet the challenge, Costa Hoevel mimicked the British Virgin Islander’s run by stitching together his own faultless run into the final eight.

Looking more comfortable in the Austrian conditions, Josh Angulo (Angulo / MauiSails / Dakine) posed a potential threat as he tapped into his usual form to bag a spot in the semi finals. His run would be halted by a false start; in effect ruining his chances of posting a top ten finish in the overall event standings.

As the final rolled round, a selection of familiar faces took their positions to finish up the day’s racing with one last high-speed slalom bout. From the off, Williams showed he was very much in the groove.

Taking the lead on the first reach, the four gybes looked to be a mere formality for the Brit, who consolidated his lead on the final reach, allowing him to savor the moment he secured his second race win of the event, and in turn the event lead.

Giving chase was Costa Hoevel, who finished the race in second, ahead of Albeau in third.

The remaining four days of the event were lost to scorching sun and long periods of waiting on standby while the wind refused to blow.

The final day of competition would seal the event’s fait, as the wind completely backed off, ultimately handing Williams the event title thanks to a super consistent run of results. Albeau showed he’s still able to deliver the goods riding for the JP-Australia brand, finishing in second, and Costa Hoevel showed his caliber by taking third.

The top ten finishers at the Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup are as follows:

1 Ross Williams (Gaastra / Tabou Boards)
2 Antoine Albeau (NeilPryde / JP)
3 Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet / MauiSails)
4 Julien Quentel (RRD/ NeilPryde)
5 Björn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne Sails)
6 Finian Maynard (RRD / NeilPryde)
7 Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra / Dakine)
8 Peter Volwater (F2 / MauiSails)
9 Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North Sails)
10 Steve Allen (Gaastra / Tabou Boards)