After the serious problems with the Indoor Windsurfing pool which have delayed the start of the event, the new revamped pool has now officially been declared safe by the Health and Safety Executive, and the sailors are currently in training. For all the UK competitors other than Nik Baker it's their first time sailing in the 'indoor environment', and they are finding it pretty testing!
In a private practice session not open to the public and after many days of nervous waiting, the first ever indoor windsurfing in the UK finally took place yesterday afternoon. With a captive audience of tense competitors and bemused security personnel cheering and shouting, the fans were turned on one by one, transforming the quiet pool arena into a windblasted and deafening place. Nik Baker was the first man down the ramp on a 5.8 and Syncro 90 - only to fall at the first gybe! Second in the water was Guy Cribb who was barely able to plane in the super gusty conditions - the other competitors were cheering each fall and crash but looking decidely nervous themselves...
After some re-adjustments to the pool, removing the advertising boards the wind seemed slightly better. There seems to be a big lull in the middle and the back end of the pool (away from the fans) also seems very light while the wind next to fans is visibly overpowing all the sails. It's cold in there and you can't hear a word of the commentator. However, as a spectacle it's great.
As practice continued sailors swapped tips and hints for how to manage the weird indoor conditions, big boards seems the way forward and big sails are essential to stand any chance of getting upwind in order to complete a gybe. Hence the slalom sailors' practice looked more impressive at first than the freestylers! The big question on everyone's lips is will anybody actually be able to do any freestyle??? It's never been tried before. The answer seems to be a tentative yes - Chris Audsley, Ben Proffit, Phil Horrocks all managed to look pretty impressive with few spocks and vulcans.
The plan is to open the pool to the public later today and for competition to begin Monday - don't miss it!