There were around 15 L.A.R. Team Riders up for the Windsurf4Cancer sail in the initial stages, somehow we ended up with six. Those six were highly organised & highly motivated, waiting to set off at the main car park at Hillhead by 10.30.am. That’s not quite true!! The organised bit that is!
Tom The Guns Hughs, Power XT was a mess & didn’t work, Rob The Slob Sotherons fin wouldn’t fit, Mike Murch forgot his uphaul, so who do they Call? That’s right the Old Man who has to fix it all, take drinks, food, camera & with all that messing around I forgot my own phone, which was to be used in case of an emergency but also to contact Stan when & if we got near to Hayling. He would then send out the Ribs with camera crew on board to take our pictures. We needed to be at Hayling between 1.00pm & 2pm to be in with a chance of getting on TV with South today!
The decision to go was made by Rob, he had got his sponsors so was determined to go no matter what, this inspired Tom, which in turn inspired Phil Anson, Mike Murch, Lez Seldon & Yours Truly.
We finally set sail around 11.30 & headed across to the I.O.W on a slightly down wind course, in about 8 knots of wind & the occasional gust of about 11knots & at times not a knot at all!!
Lez was flying out in the gusts, but decided not to continue on & went back. Mike went off into the distance followed by Tom, both on high volume boards which left Phil & Rob struggling on their very small boards. Spirits were high, the L.A.R song was sung & I was fine on my 190 litre Fanatic Viper. We did finally make it across to a deserted part of the Island some where between Fishbourne & Ryde which was very pleasing.
Now I for one thought that was going to be it & we would just head back to our vehicles at Hillhead, but oh no this was just the start. The call now was to head across to Stokes Bay, so off we set. I remember some one saying this was going to be easier, I will never listen to Mike again!! As it turned out it was a lot harder, more & more yachts seemed to appear & when they get that close they are a lot bigger than you think, the Guys who were having the hardest time were Rob & Phil as they were hardly moving & at the same time having to get out of the way of these on coming vessels - not easy & very tiring. The singing had now totally ceased!!
The one bit of luck we did have was the rip which was taking us in an Easterly direction, the way we wanted to go.
We finally touched down at Stokes bay right next to the Yacht Club. For once Tom had used a bit of initiative, he had some money with him & kindly bought us a coke & Mars Bars to help us on our way, although I was fine with my own bananas, chocolate & drink which I brought along in my rucksack (I was in the Scouts). Rob also used some initiative & collected donation from some of the Club members who were in the bar, collecting around £28.00.
By now the very little wind had almost gone, Phil reluctantly but very sensibly called it a day, Robs Girl friend Hannah very kindly drove around & picked him up, leaving just the four of us to continue & take on the most worrying bit Crossing Portsmouth Harbour. Now as I said not much wind, about 6 knots along with the rip , Rob looked to be sinking as we tried to cross the very busy entrance, now the Yachts we were getting used to, but the bloody great big ferries were another matter altogether!! Rob was heading right into the path of one of them, all we could do was watch & hope. The ferry gave two loud long blasts of its horn telling Rob to get out the way, when the ferry finally past there was Rob still plodding along, I for one was very relieved to see he was ok, still it was not all over for Rob just yet as he was now far to close to shore with no where to put down due to the sea wall being made up of rocks. Mike & Tom were well out to sea, I was closest to Rob so saw just how close he was to all these disasters. Some how he made it to dry land on Southsea beach, and we all had a good laugh & joke at Robs misfortunes. We were safe, on dry land at South Sea, we could have called it a day & gone home proud at what we had achieved, but oh no Rob was not going to give up & seemed quite prepared to take on what ever was thrown at him. So after a small break we set off again, the wind now dead off shore & about 2 knots , we all struggled just to get out, Mike went right out to sea to try & find more wind & sail back on a broad reach to Hayling.
I managed to get out enough to round Southsea Pier, but Rob & this time Tom fell in, they drifted into the Pier getting caught up in some very angry fisherman's lines. From where I was it was very funny but glad it wasn’t me! After a lot of shouting, fist clenching, arm waving & swearing they finally got past the angry mob.
Once they past the Pier they managed to get into deep water & sail on with Mike & me out in front . With Hayling Island now in sight we all thought we were home & dry, dry being the operative word as the tide was now low & Hayling Sand Bar was high & dry. This was all we needed, tired with little strength left the boys carried their boards over the Sand Bar to deeper water, I on the other hand took my fin out & sailed most of the way, Tom spotting this assumed it was deep, and not realising I had removed my fin, so he too tried to sail on but just kept getting stuck.
We were finally there, lots of sailors, paddle boards & Kite surfers on the water & as we neared the beach Phil Plum sailed out to greet us, in fact that was our only welcome home. No boats, No cameras & no TV. “Such is life” as some Scott's man once said, at least we had made it!!!
We have raised over a Thousand pounds, which will be sent on to Dave White. To all who took part A BIG WELL DONE & I have to say to Rob, you are either plain stupid, totally mad or incredibly brave, but what ever it is, you are the man. There is no way I would have even started out on the small kit he was on, Total & utter RESPECT!!!!
That journey took us about four & a half hours, if the wind had played ball we could have done the trip in under one.
The distance we covered was about twenty miles, which doesn't sound much, but in those condition it felt more like sixty.
I’m sure there will be a next time as there is already talk of doing the original trip from Lepe to Pagham, but only on a good forecast. If you are up for it let me know, keep your eyes on the Team Rider Web page for more updates www.larwatersports.co.uk
Until then enjoy the wind & Sun it’s on it’s way!