Notes from Knox. February 2003

Hi,

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

together.

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

the UK!

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

these clinics.

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!

Aloha

Jamie Knox

PS. If you know any windsurfers that haven't received a copy of this letter,

please feel free to forward it on to them!