23 windsurfers, beach starts and finishes, non-stop pursuit racing, an exhausting full tilt professional world tour size course of 6 death defying broad reaches, in 15-18 knots of wind made some people say this weeks Poole Slalom was the best yet!
Guy Cribb was race officer and set a lethal course that turned tanned men pale with white knuckle broad reach rides over wind against tide chop. The first two races were absolutely full on, with most of the fleet on 7.5m- 8.5m ish sails totally stacked, right on the edge of control. One of our committee members, was quick to ask for the course to be shortened, (admitting in front of a large crowd of worried men that he was a girl) – a sacrifice he said he was prepared to take on behalf of the other Poole Slalom sailors who’d been catapulted, hung, drawn and quartered on a real man’s race course.
It was not to be though, another six reaches of neck and neck racing, where the top sailors started last and were seen carving through the fleet with superior experience and speeds, whilst the less experienced were given a head start to face the broad reaches alone. Mountains of spray erupted as sailors exploded on the downwind course, and some gybe marks looked like a waterstart class as scores of rigs crashed out.
By race three though, the wind dropped a little and the course had to be changed with a strong tide and slight wind shift, reducing the torture to only four downwind reaches but now fatigue begun to take it’s toll on the wide variety of non-professional sportsmen who frequent Poole Slalom beer nights.
Cribby won the first three races on his new 2009 North Warp Race 7m fresh out of the wrapping and his trusty steed that carried him across the Channel last year- the Mistral 110 SL, all five kilos of it. But with the course size down to only four legs, and Cribby having to start last in every race, he couldn’t catch the leaders in the final three races.
Will Law who’d been trying to convince people earlier in the car park that he was finding slalom boards a bit too tough to sail, and that he thought he should buy a freeride board(!), then borrowed a Mistral 110 SL and managed to sail it flawlessly around the course, not dropping a single gybe and showing blistering speed to take his first ever Poole Slalom win ahead of all 23 other racers hot in pursuit. Massive congratulations to Will, but commiserations to Loz (his wife) as he’ll now have to splash out on some new slalom kit!
James from Poole Harbour Boardsailing recovered from a massive catapult in race one and pulled himself together to take the lead in race five, holding off the pack breathing down his neck the whole way round, keeping cool on his gybes and super fast on the reaches. Until now, all races had been won by North Sails and Mistral, but James was riding North Sails and Starboard to take this bullet, also his first of Poole Slalom.
The final race, due to the beer addicts needing a fix, saw a great battle at the front of the fleet between Ed, Andy Summerfield and Dan Macauley, who makes the trips from Chichester for some of the action. All of these guys had been right up there in every race but had yet to taste the champagne, and it was Dan who finally nailed Andy to take his first win of the week on KA Sails and Starboard, in the last race of the night.
Glen Truswell, our latest committee member/ event co-ordinator first came to Poole Slalom with a home made sail and a freestyle board, but has now invested in a second hand Neil Pryde RS Slalom and combined with his dinghy racing tactics and pedigree, was one of the top dogs this week, always up there at the front of the fleet, even though his board has a few too many home improvements on it.
Andy Summerfield was also consistently up there with a few top three finishes on his V8 and Fanatics, with Jono, Fred marathon man, Russ, Steve, both Rogers all up there from time to time too. (Apologies if I missed anyone else’s results.)
It was an awesome night of pursuit racing that really helps everyone improve their skills under pressure, with testosterone and adrenalin pumping to beat all the other queer looking chaps in rubber suits. 23 racers, all right on the limit of their control, all neck and neck, only when the wind blows- Poole Slalom is now firing on all cylinders for the year.
Massive thanks to Paul Beames photography again- check out all his images of Poole Slalom here-
And big up to H20/ Nik Baker for the Mistral Slalom boards on demo, and FC Watersports/ Neil Pryde UK for their demo kit.
Hope to see many more of you here in the future- there were at least ten regulars who were unable to make it this week and with over 100 members, we’ll surely have plenty more action over the next weeks and months.
Some Predator Camera footage can be seen at:
Viva Poole Slalom!