Notes from Knox. February 2003
It’s a few weeks late but I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all our
customers past, present and future a happy 2003.
2002 was a good year for me personally and the centre as a whole. One of the
greatest pleasures this year has been watching my family begin to enjoy the
Watersports in the area. Already a keen sailor, young Tom Knox was out on his
surfboard a lot over the summer followed by his brother Duncan who is determined
not to let Tom get too far ahead. Ruby is already starting to adopt the attitude
of a Beach Babe and will no doubt be following in her brothers’ footsteps in
a few years.
On a personal level, I think the high point of the year was my holiday to Cape
Verde. To begin the adventure I flew down to the Canary Islands with Rob Jones.
Here we met up with some of my friends from the PWA circuit, both old friends
from when I was competing and new friends made during their visits to the Dingle
peninsular. After a very impressive tour of the Proof board factory we had a
couple of very good days sailing with Orjan and Vidar Jensen. Watching these
guys sail on their home beach was an awesome experience. The videos don’t give
you a perspective on how high these guys jump or how fast they string the moves
Anyway, it was soon time to head to Cape Verde so we boarded the plane and
settled back for the flight. On arrival we were met by John Webb, Duncan Coombs
and Dominic Harcourt-Webster, the skipper of our yacht. We also met up with
Josh Angulo and his lovely wife Claudia who are now living on Sal, the main
island of the Cape Verde archipelago. They made us feel extremely welcome and
showed us round the island they now call home. Unfortunately Josh was unable
to join the yacht for the trip but provided us with some invaluable advice on
where to go. Armed with this local knowledge, we scored some unbelievable surfing
and windsurfing. Being able to move our base by just pulling up the anchor and
setting sail enabled us to get to some out of the way spots that we would never
have been able to get to on a more conventional holiday. Check out the forthcoming
article in Boards for more info on this paradise spot!
All too swiftly it was time to return home. We had another stop over in Gran
Canaria, with some more epic sailing, before returning to Castlegregory. Coming
home from a holiday in one of the worlds best windsurfing locations is made
slightly easier when you are returning to another of the worlds best sailing
spots, although a pair of shorts is slightly more pleasant than 5mm of rubber!
One tip that I’d like to pass on is about the use of footstraps in these colder
conditions. We’re all wearing boots at this time of year and I’m sure you’ve
all set your footstraps larger to accommodate the extra rubber. However, just
expanding the straps with their adjustment gives you taller straps but they
will be to narrow. I’ve made my straps wider by using the next screw hole down
so I can get my feet right over the centre line of the board. This really makes
a difference when wave riding. On the subject of boots, I have been wearing
O’Neills split toe boots which are the next best thing to bare feet I’ve ever
tried. If you are wearing thick soled boots that feel like your sailing in flip-flops
try these out! O’Neill have also sorted me out on the wetsuit front with their
new FLX suit keeping me nice and toasty even during these howling winter strorms.
So, back to things closer to home. The school has now finished it’s tenth year
in operation and is going from strength to strength. Despite a very unusual
lack of wind in the latter half of the season, we were still able to help a
great number of windsurfers improve their sailing and get even more out of the
sport. Not that we’re going to sit on our laurels. There are exciting things
afoot for the school during the coming season. One of the more obvious changes
will be a dedicated demo fleet running alongside the shop. Interested in a new
board and not sure what size you need? We will have boards ranging between 200
and 80 litres with gaps of just 10 litres in the smaller sizes so you can try
a few and work out what size you would be happiest owning. Once you have decided
on the size and style of board that you need, we will have three boards in each
size from Fanatic, Starboard and F2 so you can fine tune your choice so you
end up with exactly what you need. This will be completely free, providing you
do buy a board, otherwise we will just charge you the standard rental fee. Can’t
say fairer than that now can I?
Another change to the hire fleet will be the option of hiring wave equipment
that you can take away from the centre and explore the many launch spots around
the peninsular. This is in response to a number of people wanting to come over
for a weekend or longer and not wanting to spend too long travelling. This option
will allow you to fly to Kerry airport, hire a car, drive to the centre and
pick up a full set of kit and be on the water less than 3 hours after leaving
On the subject of flights, they appear to be getting cheaper all the time.
The current record, as far as I am aware, was our Chief Instructor who flew
from Kerry to Stansted and back for a cost of less than six euro each way! It
costs more than that to park at a lot of UK beaches!
Among professional and expert windsurfers, the Dingle peninsular has enjoyed
an excellent reputation for wave sailing over the last few years. There is now,
however, an increasing appreciation of the free style potential of some of the
other spots, primarily our main teaching base at Scraggane. For those that don’t
know the bay, it is North facing so sheltered from the Atlantic swells that
Brandon Bay picks up so is ideal for freestyle, working on carve gybes, getting
in to the footstraps or just having a relaxing sail when you can’t face doing
battle with the waves. Being a mile wide and two miles long it’s big enough
to never get crowded, we provide rescue cover during the summer and with the
Maharees Islands providing a stunning backdrop to the North and the Dingle Peninsular
mountains looming to the south it’s not only one of the best bays for windsurfing
in Europe, it’s also stunningly beautiful as well. Many of the local sailors
can be seen spinning and tricking it up in the bay and we even have John "Skyeboy"
Skye coming over to do a week of intensive freestyle training for our guests.
As well as John, a number of my other friends will be doing Pro Clinics throughout
the year. This proved very successful during 2002 with a number of world class
sailors such as Francisco Goya and Tristan Boxford sharing the secrets that
allow them to pull off those moves you see in the magazines. Everyone who attended
these courses found the coaches to be approachable, motivated people with a
genuine passion for our sport. Inspirational was the word most commonly heard
at the end of course knees up in the pub. Confirmed at the time of writing,
we have Jem Hall, Peter Hart, Guy Cribb, Ben Hanbury and Kirsty Jones all coming
over at various times to pass on their hard earned knowledge to you and we have
also had a number of my PWA friends wanting to come and teach. Watch this space!
Give us a ring at the centre if you would like any more information on any of
Obviously this will run alongside our school which will continue to run RYA
and ISA accredited courses from level 1 to level 5 and beyond under the continuing
guidance of our chief instructor Mark Grainger, a level 5 instructor with many
years of coaching experience at all levels. With new widestyle boards and lighter
rigs this year’s school kit makes it even easier to improve your sailing whatever
level you are at. Again, feel free to give him a call at the centre if you want
to discuss any coaching issues. If you feel your windsurfing has been stuck
in a rut for a while we can help!
Owen Waters, now well into his second year with Jamie Knox Watersports will
continue to head up the Shop and Lodge as well as running all the behind the
scenes stuff that most people don’t see. Definitely in line for this year’s
‘Unsung Hero’ award! If you have any questions regarding booking, events and
such like, he’s your man.
So, as you can probably tell, I am very excited about 2003. There is a whole
autumns worth of wind stored in the wind bank, there’s trailers full of brand
new spangly 2003 kit and there are perfect sandy beaches and clear waters to
enjoy it all on.
How the hell are we going to top this for 2004?
So, here’s raising a glass of the black stuff to you all and wishing you a
windy one. Remember, from here on in it just gets warmer!
PS. If you know any windsurfers that haven’t received a copy of this letter,
please feel free to forward it on to them!