The Mount Batten Centre – Plymouth Tide Chase Charity event in support of Windsurf 4 Cancer, Sunrise to Sunset Challenge Day.
Event Date – Sunday 1st May
To windsurf around the perimeter of the Dock Yard Port of Plymouth, including the River Plym, the Southern Seaward boundary, then the River Tamar as far as Cotehele before returning to the Mount Batten Centre.
The 6 Windsurf Plymouth team riders successfully completed the challenge in 13 hours having windsurfed a total of 42 nautical miles.
The windsurfers met at the Mount Batten Centre at 5am in the morning in preparation for their Sunrise start. For Tom Bradley, a Plymouth University Student, the surreal adventure had already started as he had been picked up from the City Centre having been waiting with his board bag and other windsurfing gear outside a City nightclub surrounded by late night revellers and escorting Police officers going about their usual Saturday night business.
On meeting at the Mount Batten Centre rig’s and boards where prepared in the pitch black with much anticipation and excitement about the day there was already a decent breeze blowing which was forecast to stay all day; Easterly 5-6. All participants had both a long board for the river sections and then a short board for the open water sections, the spare boards water and food were all loaded into the support launch which would accompany the windsurfers around the route.
A final safety briefing was held were the decision not to sail to the most Western seaward boundary of the port was made, this area would have been extremely rough with the port authority already giving wind speed gusts of 33 knots out at the western entrance of Plymouth Break Water. Instead to ensure that the correct distance was covered the windsurfers would head out of the Eastern entrance and reach a further 3 miles off shore staying up, before then broad reaching into Cawsand bay and then back inside the Breakwater through the Western Entrance.
To add to the challenge Reuben and Lucy were attempting to test their relationship by windsurfing the total distance on a tandem using a 4.0m and 4.5m combo. The rest had elected to use 5.4 – 5.8 sails for the challenge and just swap boards to meet the different conditions of the day.
With the wind howling through the adjacent marinas the windsurfers set off at 0644. Wise words from Reuben to Lindsey that the secret for success would be to avoid falling in and the associated wind chill for as long as possible, with seconds of launching this was totally ignored as Lindsey throw himself in to a forward obviously this was his preferred choice of a warm up for the 13 hours ahead.
In the early morning light and strong breeze the small fleet planned across the flat waters to the East of Plymouth sound as they headed for the Eastern entrance. In the lee of Bovisand, except for the tandem those who were yet to swap to their short boards changed down for the section south of the breakwater. Once out in open water the windsurfers lapped up the open water rolling swell conditions the strong Easterly had created, with Lindsey still looping and Scott pulling the occasional flaka for the video camera a awesome windsurf was enjoyed as they then gybed their way the down into Cawsand Bay. The tandem was over powered in the downwind conditions, with Reuben commenting that at times the boards 104cm fin was completely out of the water, meaning that Lucy at the front shouting “make it stop!" Was a clear 2m + up in the air!
Once back in the calmer waters inside the breakwater the riders regrouped on the beach at Mount Edgecombe before changing to their long boards for the River section. Tom commented that it already felt like lunchtime ‘pass me my sandwiches’ – although Douglas had to point out that they had only been going 2 hours and the time was still only 0845.
As a group the sailors went past Devils Point and entered the River Tamar, continuing past the Torpoint chain Ferry, the Plymouth Naval Base and on past Brunel’s Tamar Bridge at Saltash. The wind on this section was very shifty and gusty with the Easterly wind blowing directly off the City. Once pass the Tamar Bridge the landscape opens up with rolling valleys funnelling the Easterly wind across stretches of flat water. The sailors then enjoyed good flat water blasting conditions all the way to Weir Quay with it approaching LW.
Once past Weir Quay, the journey turned into a nature trail with Herons and Seals being spotted on the river banks, having now been stood up for 7 hours and the random winds now slowing progress the tiredness from the early start, started to take a grip, Lindsey started to look longingly at the support boat as a premature end to his challenge. The jeers from the others stopped this from being a reality.
At 2pm they had arrived at Cotehele, much to the bemusement of its regular National Trust cliental. After a much needed loo stop it was time to then tackle the 15 miles back to the Mount Batten Centre.
With the tide now flooding and with the whole of the return route going to be spent fighting the tide, much banter was had as to why they had agreed to take part, and that they would certainly be ensuring friends and family donated to W4C in appreciation of their efforts.
4 hours later at 6pm they once again reached the open waters of Plymouth Sound, they were then able to plane their way upwind into the River Plym before tackling the last non planning up wind slog, in the swirling gusty Easterly wind of the Cattewater, and to add to the challenge HW had now pasted and as they entered the River Plym they were having to again fight against a contrary tidal flow. Dougal was the first to return to the slipway at 1928. The rest of the team then followed in the dying light of the day with all safely ashore by 2000. With all the kit away, a well-earned pint of Tribute along with food was enjoyed in the Mount Batten Centres bar.
To show appreciation for the effort these windsurfers gave in completing the challenge and to give your support to the Windsurf 4 Cancer Charity please visit www.windsurfplymouth.org.uk and use the just giving link to donate some pennies!
The Mount Batten Centre and Windsurf Plymouth would like to thank the Cattewater Harbour Commission who kindly provided the loan of the supporting launch and covered the cost if its fuel. A special Thanks has to be reserved for Richard Lerigo (Event Safety Officer) and Leah Bolton, (Video & Photo’s) who volunteered their time to spend the day aboard the support craft. Without a support crew or boat this Charity Challenge would have not been possible. A thanks also has to go to Tsinghai, Starboard and Reactive who all assisted the riders with loan of various pieces of kit and boards.
Dougal Orr– It was fantastic to take part in a unique challenge and have the opportunity to windsurf in locations that you would not normally choose to with out the knowledge that a support boat was there, the conditions 2miles south of the breakwater this morning were just fantastic!
Rich Lerigo – I was tired after my long day in the support boat so I can really appreciate the effort the windsurfers have given in achieving this challenge, superb.
Lindsey Coyle – What an awesome way to create awareness for the Windsurf 4 Cancer Research Charity, thank you to all those who have donated thus far in support of my efforts.
Lucy – After 13 hours on the Tandem we are still talking, we are both exhausted, if you haven’t already donated I really believe our efforts are worth the support.