Today saw yet another bout of nuclear breeze, huge waves and torrential rain. Most UK coastal locations have been taking a pounding – the devastation, and damage caused is wide spread. And yet, some of us actually relish these full throttle gales – watching a dart board shape low pressure form and head our way is a positive froth fest, once the garden shed has been anchored down!
Tez pulling the trigger earlier this morning – pic Steve Barrow
There’s nothing quite like a good hard blow to clear early morning cobwebs and at first light I was on the shingle ready to tackle Mother Nature. With gusts of 40+ knots, waist to chest high waves, relentless side chop and a mean old rip, the going wasn’t easy. It was super fun though and I’d hit it again in second.
In recent weeks I’ve been asked how we manage to play in such extreme conditions. Windsurfing in winds over 30 knots takes a few little tricks to make sure you come out unscathed, but it’s certainly doable once you have a bit of experience under your belt.
The next time you’re debating whether to tackle some hectic weather, keep these points in mind:
- Get hold of a sail (with suitable mast and boom) less than 4m in size.
You don’t have to purchase anything brand new, but it should be a modern design and in good nick. It’s no good buying something from the windsurfing Dark Ages, but it’s fine if a few years old.
This part of your quiver could end up gathering dust, in the back of your garage, for months on end, however, when the mother lode hits, you’ll be glad you can whip it out of your toy box!
- Invest in smaller fins.
Most windies will know that fins help to create lift but when it’s going off, and board control issues rear their ugly head, sticking some smaller skegs in your stick will help calm your ride down. It’s actually possible to sail a relatively large board in blasting winds; so long as you have a small sail and reduce your fin size.
- Pick your spot.
With Cornwall looking absolutely off the Richter (let’s not even mention Ireland!), and set to get increasingly mental this coming weekend, it stands to reason that many would prefer flight over fight. Some conditions are just too extreme for mere mortals to handle. Yet, it’s still possible to get a session in if you pick the right location, leaving the insanity of open water windsurfing to the Red Bull Storm Chase pros (now confirmed to be hitting the West Country this coming Saturday by the way).
High tide coastal harbours in the UK are pretty good as they offer respite from pounding swells. Lakes and reservoirs can also be good, just be aware that a gusty spot will be amplified – the differences between sustained wind strengths and harder puffs will be greater, making your windsurfing harder work.
- Go for it!
When the weather closes in and conditions ramp up, there’s nothing else for it than putting pedal to the metal and getting all gung ho. There’ll be crashes, lots of splashes and possibly the odd bit of carnage, but at the end of your session, while catching your breath and chuckling in disbelief, you’ll be thinking YES! I did it! I took it on, survived and had a blast…
So the next time it’s Def Con 1, man up and hit it, you’ll be glad you did.
Thanks to Steve Barrow for the vid footage, check his blog here – Windsurfer Steve