Ireland Freewave - Andy’s Craic
The aim of the event was to give it some in true Andy style - both on and off the water - and I think we did him proud! I for one started, along with Charlie Connelly, John Metcalfe, Neil Gent and friends, on the ferry from Swansea the Sunday before the event! Nights were long (and well fuelled) and the days were too - sailing some nights till 9.30pm. The rest of the crew arrived on Friday and it was a freesailing day - I was guinea pig as no-one believed it would be windy and as soon as I got planing on my gorgeous new 78 ltr Tabou Pocket Wave (it really has revolutionised my sailing - I love it!) there was a manic rigging frenzy and a sail until sunset on 5.3s.
Friday night was a messy warm up for the main event on Saturday, starting at Spillanes and ending up with and an impromptu party, to the inadvertent hosts’ delight! The last stragglers were leaving as the sun was rising, by all accounts.
The Comp started on Sat lunchtime at Dumps - onshore but pretty windy - and off we went for a sail. It was such a delight not to be stressed about missing heats or briefings - to the extent that despite numerous horn blasts and flag raising no-one did actually come in for their heats! The judges realised that everyone was quite happy sailing so decided to judge everyone - no mean feat, and they managed to get something on everyone, apparently! I am not sure what - a roll of honour is to follow…
Saturday night was the main party - Andy’s Craic - and we all wore t-shirts / vest tops designed especially for the occasion, with a picture of Andy mid-loop on the back. Most of the lads looked very fetching in their khaki t’s to the extent that it felt a bit like being in an army camp. I say ‘most’ as Jamie Hancockdecided to buck the trend and wear the girly blue vest top in true camp style and the unfortunate nick-name ‘Boy George’ predictably followed! He may have regretted his clothing decision when he was awarded a special prize (and thus photographed a lot) created by the Boat Show organisers, to the winner of the men’s jump at the Indoor Championships - a glass plate engraved with Andy’s image, as the previous Indoor Jump winner. Trevor wasted no time in taking it back of him and into safe keeping until he was more sober though! The party was ace - strawpedos all round - and another, bigger and better, party over the road followed!
The next day was pretty chilled and in the evening we all decided to get to the beach for 6am the next day as it was going to be windy! Even the judges said they would get up to watch the action - there was still a £150 bounty for the first double loop to be claimed after all! I was up, eagerly, at 5.45am but struggled to rouse some of the others and by the time I made it to the beach it was 7am and Steve King, Timo and Jamie Hancock were already out in pretty gnarly conditions at Gowlane. I held off going straight out after wise words from Steve (’its really gnarly, I wouldn’t if I were you’) and instead watched for a while. The best bit was when Phil Horrocks went out at 7.45am on a 4.4m and stood at the water’s edge, pensively for a while. Everyone thought he had had second thoughts about his sail size (the others were stacked on 4.0s) but after a few moments off he went into the thick of it and almost simultaneously up drove head judge, Julian, on the beach behind him. Seconds later round he went - and round again into one of the best double forwards most observers said they had ever seen (and these guys have seen a fair few!). I was more impressed with the timing, to be honest, it was spot on and £150 was his - to the dismay of those who were still rigging / deliberating on the beach!
I went out after a while of trying to figure out if the wind was dropping (classic procrastination tactics, being displayed by many on the beach - some all day!) and came back with a completely wrecked 4.0 - but was strangely not too upset as apparently the wave that got me was huge! And after a swim back in, Andy and Mark raced back to the beach and dived in to rescue me - I was actually standing deep by this time but I thought it was so sweet, I let them help me carry my kit in - after all, its not every day a girl can say she was rescued by two pro windsurfers!
Later on the wind and waves were good at Kilcummin so we got yet another sail in, before the final briefing at Shitties, where we finally laid Andy to rest. It was where he had last had a really good sail, so was a fitting place for his ashes to be scattered. An emotional moment for all - followed by a swift Guinness at Spillanes before we all headed off to various ferries for the long sail home…
A few of us got a cheeky sail in in South Wales on the way home - I cancelled all my prior plans and had an awesome sail. I really felt the effect of the week on my enthusiasm and attitude to my sailing and randomly started going for forwards without even really thinking about it - something I have never had the bottle to do before. I think I took some of Andy’s go-for-it attitude with me from Ireland and I intend to keep it with me. We have all learnt that life is precious and may be tragically short, and I think we are all determined to enjoy it in the way that Andy would do if he were still here.