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Broad Haven - Sept 11/12, 2004. Where was everyone?

Saturday 11th:

Almost getting blown off the old Severn Bridge by the crosswind just had to be a good portent of things to come.

Without stopping to collect £200, passing "Go" (The Presili cafe), and avoiding the downpours, I got to Broad Haven car park about 10:30, some time after Adrian & Jackie had taken up residence in the prime spot. On the point of just phoning to say there was no wind (just for laugh); Phil & Judy arrived.

Actually, there wasn't all that much wind, but there were some brilliant wave faces - around 3-6ft and holding up well in the SSW breeze. Although the wind was a little light for 6.2m on the 86l wave board - that's what I went for anyway! Getting out wasn't as difficult as I'd expected and then there was some great wave riding to be had. I even managed a few frontside rides.

After an hour or so I came in to tighten the downhaul as wind was picking up - & the heavens opened. Big time. I took to sheltering under the sail on the beach, but the rain was so horizontal - blown by gale force wind - that it just came straight underneath. Adrian kindly sat just upwind from me, so he took some of the sting out of it - Thanks Adrian! There was about 1cm depth of rainwater running down the beach. After the squall, that was it - game over. Time for a kip in the car.

About 4pm, the wind started to fill in again, firstly from the East (??), eventually settling down to W, so back out I went. After 15 mins of being slightly underpowered, it picked up to a solid F6. Ok, time for board & sail change... Out with the 78l JP wave & good 'ole 4.7m Zeta. Trouble is, the wind had now swung onshore (NW) & the sea was really messy. Heading S, there was a little bias enabling you to get out, but the beach was getting quite short now with the tide coming in, & the waves & wind down the S end of the beach were both a force to be reckoned with. So a tight gybe & then a really tight reach into the wind heading back up the N end of the beach, with the waves pushing you back onto the beach all the time.

I'm glad I opted for the 4.7m: Phil & Adrian had both gone for something 4.0m ish which - although they were good for the first 20 mins or so - just weren't quite big enough to get them out or to head upwind.

Still, had a good, tiring time. Packed up about 7pm, by which time the tide was almost up to the slipway.

Quick rush up to the campsite - pitch tent in the inky darkness, then back down to Broad Haven with Phil & Judy to meet up with Adrian & Jackie. We went round to The Royal: Sorry - just too late for a meal (20:45 - despite the sign outside saying food 'till 9pm). Round to The Galleon: Our request for fodder was greeted with a highly unfriendly "Oh good heavens no. The kitchen's fully booked". Time to try the new Nautilus restaurant: Packed to the gunnels & very pricey-looking.

Jackie's suggestion to do something with some pasta in their van prompted a headlong stampede for the Londis store, where we prevented them from locking up until sufficient supplies had been procured. Whilst Jackie prepared the delicacies, Adrian & I thought we'd better get out the way by heading back to The Royal for a couple of quick pints!

Many thanks, Jackie for saving the night!

Funny how the tent flogged itself almost to death overnight in the wind - despite being sheltered by a thick hedge - to ensure I got no sleep. By 8am - time to get up - the wind seemed to have died.

Sun 12th. AM. Aching slightly. An overly-tired feeling.

Southerly wind. Funny wind direction, this. There was practically nothing at the top of the beach, but Adrian was out looking well powered up with 5.5m. Neil Bass had arrived earlier & had gone out on his Cross 120 with 5.0m'ish sail (??) and was struggling to get off the beach, and regretting it when he did ;-)

So I plumped for my 5.5m too, on the JP 78. Mistake. Wind had picked up several notches & I felt overpowered just walking down to the water. And incredibly gusty & fluky, too. I got trashed around in the shorebreak whereupon a sail panel gave up the ghost. Bugger.

Long walk back to rerig - 4.7m Zeta.

I dunno. Maybe I was tired from yesterday, but didn't have a great time. Really underpowered on the beach, totally overpowered on the outside - with some huge swells - at least 1/2 mast high! At this angle to the wind, jumps - and big ones at that - were unavoidable. And if the wind died just as you approached the wave - as it all too frequently did - MUNCH! Adrian's nice 100% carbon mast opted for the 3-piece autumn collection.

I decided to pack up about 15:30 & head back to camp.

Neil Bass had already left much earlier after not really getting off the beach and resorting to the more sane pastime of body-boarding (1st christening for his brand-new, 2 year old bodyboard!). Phil had likewise departed, though he'd had a slightly better time of it. And Adrian was still out there shredding when I left!

I had intended to stay overnight & sail again on the Monday - the forecast had been for loads more wind. But when I got back to the tent & saw how much rain was dripping in through the roof, I confirmed the decision to run for home. Pity, really as Monday was really windy & really sunny, too. Ah well.

Fantastic weekend; trying conditions, but so few nomads???

Martin Farrimond

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