Look up 'OBAN' on the Map of Britain, Go there, and take the ferry to Tiree. Granted its a way up the road and a wee way on a boat, but its beauty and its potential as a windsurfing heaven is more than worth the trip, its solitude adds to its appeal.
As events for windsurfing go, I think it would almost be impossible to beat the Tiree event. Even Non windsurfers were talking it up before we got to Tiree as they had seen a taster of what the event had to offer on the telly, so for a windsurfing event that's good PR.
Even when the wind is rubbish, when the event is running, there was still plenty to keep you occupied. There is a well run team behind the Classic and a small army of some exceptionally generous people who have donated a huge amount of themselves and their time to make the Tiree deserved of its name, it is a True Class Event.
I was there to defend my 2004 Masters Wave Championship title which was earned under less than credible circumstances the year before at Rhosneigr in Anglesey at the 2004 National Wave Championships. I entered the event pretty confident in the knowledge that I had plenty enough in my repertoire to retain the trophy for 2005. The Masters Fleet had a healthy turnout so I was looking forward to a bit of a contest. All I wanted was plenty of wind, some waves and some pain killers?
All the windsurfing events are quite rightly centred around the Men's Pro Fleet, so president is given to them when the conditions are at there best, these boys really know how to put on a show. The camera crews must have been having a field day, take a look at the www.tireewaveclassic.com and check it out for yourselves.
'when the conditions are at there best, these boys really know how to put on a show.'
By all accounts there were three very good down the line days at the 'Maze' (one of the beaches that offer exceptionally good wave riding conditions), but unfortunately only one of these was properly put to use for the competition, if you check any given beach at any given time and it looks crap! your guaranteed that as soon as you turn your back, your going to miss another epic session............. So on top of an army of people looking after everything from catering to judging, you also need a lookout on every beach to see if the conditions are doing what you want them to do, and they in turn have got to have a crystal ball with them that is fail-safe. Organising an event on this scale leaves a lot be desired and everybody is a critic!!!
The Masters Tournament
We all tear arse off from the briefing room and head off to Balaphuil (I can't say it either.) but for an Island this small its quite a way off. On arrival its looking sweet, windsurfers are all ready out there ripping it up on 5.3mtr sails. Like an old Sage I relax, let the heartbeat slow and pause to take in exactly what the weather and conditions are telling me. Unlike any one else I rig a 6.5 and a reserve 5.8, go out on the 6.5, nothing flash, just to confirm I'm happy and lay it down on the beach, job done. On with the suit, competition rash vest and over to the check in stand, ooohhh getting exited, with loads of time to spare.
The wind starts to pick up! and then pick up some more, shit! and the competition area starts getting further and further up the beach. My heat is getting closer and closer. I change my rig for the 5.8mtr and against my better judgement ask my buddy to rig my 5.2. Heres the problem - the 5.2 goes on half a 430 mast (currently up my 5.8) and half a 400 mast so he has no option but to try and rig it on a 400 mast!
"My mate is half way over to me with the 5.2 rigged like a double bag of shite,"
The start to the competition area is now 300 meters away from the van across a pebbled beach, and I am sporting a bruised instep that I can't walk on. I get my kit to where I want it, but the wind now starts to die, oh no, not good, at 15 stone I'm one of the heavier sailors, and 5.8 isn't going to do it. My mate is half way over to me with the 5.2 rigged like a double bag of shite, inwardly cursing I thank him, because he's gone to a lot of trouble on my behalf, and I start running back to the van to get my 6.5....the red flag is up 2 minutes to go. Well, you've seen the start to 4 weddings................
I flat out sprint back to my gear which has now taken on two ton of sand, and the green flag is up before I get on the water, absolutely bolloxed. Two days earlier, on this very same break, I'm out doing forward loops, one handed forwards and pretty darn close to landing some creditable one handed pushies. Today, planing would be nice! I get one pathetic little jump, and a ripple rinsing. Incidentally, if you should happen to go down wind, whatever moves you try, they will not be judged if they are not within the flagged off area. As you can imagine, under powered, totally spent physically, coming into shore to run your kit up wind for the last 60 seconds of your heat is asking just a little bit too much. My last ditch attempt is a run out with two under powered spin loops which are probably out of the competition area anyway.
'It gets worse!'
It gets worse! Almost unable to carry myself and my kit up to the start point again, I collapse for a 20 millisecond breather. After talking shite to Ian for two minutes, I limp off to get my 6.5. By the time I de-rig the 5.2, to get at the pulley block I require and re-rig my 6.5, get it down to the other end of the beach, then back to the marshalling point, by this point done in, guess what. I've missed my next heat! I've waited a whole year to justify my Title, and I then go and miss my heat. Oh Bother.(Foul language has been banned at the TTTTTTTTT)
This takes nothing away from Scott and Sav, 1st and 2nd, well done boys, and I now know why there's a Tit in the middle of competition!?
The Freestyle Competition
Picture if you will, not a great deal of wind, and not a lot in the freestyle trick bag. Both myself and Sav (short for Salivates when he sees me looping) were asked if we would be interested in doing a Masters Freestyle Competition. We are both wanting on the freestyle trick arena, so I declined the invitation, but Sav is keen as old mustard to throw salutes at the judges............... its an admiralty thing.
To cut a not too long a story short, Five Masters are due to enter according to the muster point, but after shaking hands both Sav and I go out alone to do battle. Sailing backwards, Sail and body 360's, miniature body drags, twirly board things and helly-plops put me just ahead of Sav on the rostrum, not a photograph of our efforts in sight.
After that non planing fiasco, the grand score sheet was looking like Sav, Scotty, Me. Unfortunately though, that's were my story comes to a close. After checking and rechecking the wind forecast, and with the Pro's double illumination still to run, I have returned home to earn some pennies. Apparently its looking good for Rhos on Sunday.
A HUGE thanks goes to the organisers of this wonderful event, to the Hynish centre for their warm hospitality and super grub and to everybody however involved with the event, spectating, participating or organising. I believe its safe for the next 6 years hence and would encourage all of you to give it a whirl, it really is money well spent.
Everybody is so dreadfully nice.
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