Andy King is well known for making it out on days when the conditions really deliver, and a week or two ago Cornwall was treated to one of these days. Andy reports from the incredible day at Gwithian with some other top UK sailors, storm force winds and images from Matthew Burridge.
It’s been a fair while since I had to dig out my 3.7m but on one Thursday in mid November there was no doubting what to rig…the smallest sail you had!
This became apparent on the drive down to the Gwithian as my van was being buffeted and side swiped by invisible surges of airborne rage. Having just finished a night shift I set off early and arrived at Gwithian beach as day broke.
The hazy morning light revealed a surprisingly tempting set of conditions; the waves were around head high with logo high sets. These sets were fighting their way ashore against an unrelenting cross offshore wind, which was frantically tearing endless plumes of spray off every wave that dared show itself.
Although clearly strong, the direction of the wind somehow made it look manageable from the relative shelter of the car park. Having slipped and slid my way down a saturated donkey trail with a broken toe from a classic Monday sail here and then battled with the whirl winds at the cliff base I was finally rigged with my 3.7m Goya Banzai, ready for its maiden voyage.
You know it is properly windy when walking to the waters edge involves imitating a drunken crab, yet finally at the waters edge I stepped aboard my Goya Quad 78l and was off.
No need to sheet in, in fact probably no need for even a sail at all as the mast and boom would have had enough surface area to have got me planing. This was full power, full on survival sailing. Thankfully the waves weren’t too big, as trying to wave ride with any element of control meant praying for a lull; and these were few and far between.
With an early forecast having finally delivered the goods, a lot of people were at the beach so there was no shortage of sailors willing to give it a bash, quite literally for some.
Newly crowned British Champion Jamie Hancock had made the treck down from Southborne and was handling the conditions exceptionally well especially given his slighter stature. The local boys never fail to put on a good show and there were still some radical jumps and slick wave rides seen in amongst the carnage. Many, like myself, looked to be pretty over powered and if wasn’t long before the incoming tide forced those remaining on the water upwind to Peter’s point.
Here the waves were a little smaller but they were breaking even harder as the ever increasing wind speed would literally hold them open until gravity and the sheer weight of water in the lip finally brought it crashing down like a man trap looking to ensnare a victim and shatter carbon like bone!
The wind picked up so much at this point that you could see patches of sea that appeared to be boiling. As these furious gusts hit you would be elevated upwards despite every effort to keep the gear pinned to the water.
After three hours fueled only on Mc Donald’s caffeine I was done and having derigged in the sand storm that was once a beach I started the climb up to the cliff path. Halfway up I stopped and looked down at Ian Black now sailing all alone as he tacked on to a nice looking swell. Using his size and strength to his advantage he fought through a super powered up bottom turn and positioned himself perfectly for a sick top turn throwing bath loads of spray about a 100 metres off downwind. He repeated this feet for the next ten minutes as I watched on from the cliff. Classic Blackie in his element out alone excelling in extreme conditions at his home spot.
On reaching the grassy comfort of the cliff path I assumed my ordeal was now over but no. The wind had got so strong that it physically blew me back to the car park faster than my tired legs could carry me. Not the most elegant of sights but no doubt highly entertaining to a fool hardy dog walker I rocketed past. Delighted to find my van still upright as I slid my way across the car park I managed to reach shelter just as the heavens open and the flood waters that would plague Cornwall for the next week began, but that’s another story…
Andy King is sponsored by:
Amex rigging solutions
Pat love Accessories
Flymount Camera Accessories
You might also like to read: