Andy King has made a last minute decision to make his way up the BWA event in Tiree, after an impressive performance he will be one to watch in this year’s competition. Here Andy joins Boards to reflect, in his usual amusing fashion, on his last session before heading up to the Hebrides.
“As October arrived the mediocre summer was finally put to bed and autumn was officially upon us. Down here in the south west that usually signals the onset of some serious waves with the size to start lighting up some of the more sheltered spots. These spots tend to offer the best shaped waves come the autumn as their sandbanks have sat dormant all summer, fattening up like a turkey before Christmas.
This particular morning I arrived a little later than hoped but was cheered up immediately to learn that local boys Andrew Fawcett and Harvey Dawkins had been here since 8:00am frantically waiting for the wind to fill in! The swell had clearly been overhyped by the various online forecasts with the exception of www.bigsalty.co.uk who seemed to have it spot. Head high set waves were being well sculptured as they refracted out of the west. Not big by any means but super clean faces. Confident that bigsalty’s wind increase was imminent I opted for a 5.3m Goya eclipse and my 92 Goya quad as I figured I would need a bit of float to help get back upwind after each long, perfect ride. It also looked like the typical conditions that you tend to get at Balevulin, Tiree so I figured it would be good practice for the forth coming BWA Tiree Classic event there. The dry weather appeared to be holding out which was a major plus as I had Nigel, my father in law in tow with his camera gear, which he doesn’t like getting wet! My only concern was the springs tides which were dropping out at speed. Not a complete disaster at this spot but the race was on to get out in time to catch the conditions before the water completely drained off that pristine sand bar which was busy creating perfect left after left, which were being feathered by a moderate side offshore wind.
Harvey was first out and as he planed off the beach Andrew starting cursing the fact he had underestimated the wind from the shelter of the car park.
Once out the key was to have the patience to wait for the right wave. The best waves were those that had refracted more from the west and surged through with more volume than initial wave height. As this hit the sand bar the water in front would physically suck away leaving a wedge of a wave thicker than it was tall but with a power that was unconceivable for a wave of its size! You could just sit on this lump of water as it marched in and then it would just implode, at which point the race was on to scrape through the first section and get your timing right for the second. Getting this right meant getting launched; getting it wrong meant getting smashed by a three foot wave punching well above its weight.
The fun continued for an hour or so until the tide dropped so low that the wave was breaking into about a foot of water. Even with multi-fin boards you would finish the wave and have to jump off and run or get catapulted into the sand. Given the last it was probably not the best idea to try a goiter off the end section of one of the set waves. It was one of those times I approached the lip thinking this doesn’t seem like great idea but hey what the hell. Spurred on by watching the wonder kids in Klitmoller I knew I needed to launch off the pitching lip to stand any chance of landing in front of the wave so that is what I did. It is surprising how quickly you realise all is not good as the bottom of the wave dropped away so quick it slowed my board causing me to hesitate in throwing the rig which left me out of sorts contorted back to sail above the pit of a little ASBO of a wave breaking in a foot of of water. Hoping the money shot was in the bag I braced myself for my punishment which I was expecting to be the usual where you land on the top of the sail and scrape your face across each batten whilst getting sand driven into every orifice.
However, this didn’t happen instead I cracked my head on the bottom hard enough to make me see stars and feel sick. As I surfaced and was physically able to stand I realised just how lucky I had been. We all take chances windsurfing and the risks are usually relatively low, however, shallow water has got to be one of the most underestimated dangers we all expose ourselves to far too often. With the onset of multi-fin boards we can now sail in mere inches of water but remember this depth of water does nothing to slow your body prior to impact with the bottom. I could easily have suffered a serious spinal injury due to split second mistake so on a serious note learn from my stupidity and take care in any shallow water as even a fin snag catapult could send you head first into the bottom.
As it was that near miss put pay to sailing for me for the day but it could have been forever so I gratefully stood watching Andrew, Harvey, Jim, Dudley and others catching wave after wave before I made the slow shift necked shuffle of pity back to my van. I probably thought that things would only get better from here on in untill i got back to the van. Having got changed I jumped in the drivers seat to warm up and was pleasantly surprised. Having left the dogs in the front my initial thought on feeling warmth radiating from my seat was that one had been curled up there happily sleeping. However as the feeling of warmth changed to a feeling of dampness my still dizzy brain finally figured out I was in fact sitting in a puddle of warm dog piss, great!”
For all pieces on Boards about Andy King check out his page here.
Andy King is sponsored by:
Amex rigging solutions
Pat love Accessories
Flymount Camera Accessories