Timo Mullen secured his win on the second day at Balephuil of the contest's week-long waiting period. Conditions on the second day were ideal with six foot waves with 15-20mph cross-offshore wind.
"It was pretty much as good as it gets for contest conditions," said Mullen. "When it came to the final I peaked at the right time. My first wave was a really good, solid score and then on my next wave I landed a couple of aerials and got one of the best scores of the day. I knew at that point that I'd done really well, but to beat John Skye, who's one of the best guys in the world, I'm really happy."
In the four-man final, Jack Hunt struggled to find good waves, but there was hardly anything to choose between the other three. Skye posted a high score early on, but then failed to back it up; Bruch performed well but, in the end, Mullen won by half a point.
Head Judge Duncan Coombes put Mullen's win down to a combination of good surfing and a smart choice of equipment.
"The wind was starting to drop by the final, so Timo switched to a board with more float in it," he said. "That allowed him to move around a lot more on the water and pick up the best waves."
After his win on day two of the event, the wind dropped and Mullen had to play an agonising waiting game. If wind conditions improved over the next five days, he knew he would have to take to the water again to defend his win in a second round known as a double elimination. If the wind stayed down, however, his first place finish on day two would stand as the overall result.
There was no shortage of waves, a powerful head-high swell was rumbling in from the Atlantic all week – but the wind stubbornly refused to co-operate. Had the wind speed climbed back up to 15mph at any point then Skye, Bruch and Ben Proffitt, who was unlucky to be eliminated first time around, may have been run him close.
In the end, though, Tiree remained calm and a relieved Timo Mullen hung on to his first Tiree Wave Classic victory.
And in the female fleet, Marie Buchanan’s course racing background has instilled a competitive streak. When she heard about the “Coll Challenge” (a multi-sport event held during the GMFCo Tiree Wave Classic) she jumped at the chance of competing, especially as running and cycling are amongst her many sporting hobbies.
Always keen to push herself, after some gentle encouragement from both Louise Emery and Sarah Cotton, Marie also entered the wave competition despite only really starting wave sailing less than two years ago.
After two rounds of competition, thanks to good wave selection and smooth riding, Marie was leading the ladies fleet. The wind failed to show in the last days of the event and so she was crowned Champion. To win the judges’ decision ahead of experienced competitors such as Tanya Saleh and UK champion Louise Emery was a special highlight in Marie’s competitive windsurfing history.
Unfortunately there wasn’t enough wind for windsurfing to be part of the Coll Challenge but nevertheless it was a commendable performance here too for Marie, finishing sixth, narrowly behind Jamie Hawkins and ahead of certain other experienced pro windsurfers. Tushingham team-mates George Shillito and Muzza filled the top podium positions after a gruelling day of running, cycling and SUP racing.
“I can’t believe I have won a wave competition, especially one as famous as the Tiree Wave Classic! It was hard work as the winds were offshore with big holes between the gusts but the waves were good Thanks to the organisers and to everyone who has encouraged me to have a go here. The event has been an incredible experience!”