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Hamworthy Park - Sunday 22nd May

Version 1

Following Neil & Graham's postings [on the forums], Neroli and I decided to head down to Hamworthy. We weren't totally convinced by the forecast and weren't sure whether we were going to find no wind, light winds or strong winds, hence ended up taking nearly every piece of kit we have, as well as the mountain bikes to cover the no wind option.

As we were approaching Poole, Adrian rang to say the forecasts were saying 8-9 knots along the south coast, so riding looked the most likely option. Rather than Kimmeridge where he was intended, Adrian decided to meet us at Hamworthy and change his puncture while he was waiting for us.

When we got to Poole, the rain had started. We got to the car park and saw cars/vans belonging to Neil, Graham, Matt and Adrian. Neil and Graham were bravely rigging up in the rain. Matt, Adrian, Neroli and I were sheltering in vans, drinking coffee and waiting for the rain to pass to see whether the wind was going to stay once the rain cleared.

Pretty much perfectly timed with the end of the coffee, the rain stopped and there was still some wind. A beach inspection suggested large sails and large boards, so the decision was made - go windsurfing. Just after I had got the Techno out, the wind still seemed to be pretty consistent. I couldn't decide between the 7.1m and 8.6m. In the end, the wind made the decision for me, it picked up a bit more, so the 7.1 it was. The Techno went back in the van and out came the Screamer2. This pushed Neroli down to a 6.0m and her Starboard.

Adrian had picked up a new 6.0m Storm from Windsurfers World yesterday, and to Neroli's concern, announced he thought it was 6m weather. So he to rigged a 6.0m sail.

When we got out on the water, the wind had filled in a bit more. The 7.1 usually got me onto the plane without pumping and there were some nice little ramps to practise hopping off. Adrian was looking underpowered but was still managing to get onto the plane despite only sailing a 89lt board.

Every now and again, strong gusts would come through that made the 7.1 quite a handful, and gybing a good test of your nerves. Progressively as the afternoon wore on, these gusts became more and more consistent as the wind continued to build. By about 3 o'clock we were sailing pretty much overpowered the whole time and Adrian was starting to look pleased with his 6m selection.

Eventually around 4 o'clock(?) the water was getting shallower and after a few very overpowered runs to Brownsea Island and back with Adrian, I decided I was going to call it a day. I would come in, do my final gybe and step off - or so I thought. With about 100 yards to go to gybe point, I hit something submerged and the board stopped dead. Alas I didn't and ended up catapulted, under the sail with the harness line twisted round my harness hook with a pain in my thigh where it had made contact with something hard. While sorting out my harness I had that strange feeling that I was actually in my sail.

Sure enough, by the time I had figured out which way was up etc, I was indeed sticking through my sail. Our 7.1m now has an Ian sized hole in it which goes pretty much from leech to luff across the panel above the boom. There is area of monofilm about a foot square which is actually missing! What was strange was that I was in waist deep water at the time, so I really have no idea what I hit.

Never mind, an expensive end to what was otherwise a pleasant days sailing - particularly as the rain stayed off all the time we were on the water. Half way home I had to hand the steering wheel over to Neroli - my eyes were getting heavy, sailing too long overpowered had obviously taken its toll.

Ian Long

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Version 2

Pretty good day all told which nearly didn't happen for me.

After a Bristol Rugby supporters party the night before, I dragged my self out of bed at some silly time far too close to the time I went to bed. Have had the storm come through the night before, and there being no wind in my part of Wiltshire, I checked Windguru to see next to no wind forecast.

I text'd Neil to see if he was going, and fortunately for the both of us he'd set off. If he was not already on his way, I'd have gone back to bed. Left baby Techno at home as it didn't seem worth adding it on top of Cyrano who had been left on the car from Friday's session at the lake.

When we got there, it was blowing "OK" and there were people just about going, although far too many things the size of a "F"ootball pitch with several acres of sail to really tell how well it was blowing. So it was a case of lets rig up and see what happens, which normally for me means I've got the wrong sail, or the wind dies. It was about then we met Matt for the first time, which seemed to be a cue for the rain to start and the wind to be killed. Matt was the first of the Van drivers who seemed more interested in Coffee examining the inside of their vans than getting wet.

I went for my 6.5 Storm, and Neil on his 7.5 Heckler, on a pair of Techno 1. As the novice Seas sailor I didn't want to get in trouble to quickly, and as it turned out this was my second good decision of the day. Neil put his wetsuit on while I got soaked carrying my kit down to the front, and as usual I faff'ed around for ages, whilst Neil was already on the water. However this was no bad think as it was only when I finally got to the water that the wind started picking up, and the thing neither of us could understand after a good few runs was where on earth were the van drivers.

One thing that was concerning me though was what was it with all this lumpy bumpy stuff, water is supposed to be flat I don't think Cyrano liked it much either, he's a bit too fat to be thrown round like that. That feeling somewhere exhilaration and being petrified doesn't do much for your stance.

As a result I've now developed a new technique of using the straps, which involved getting both feet strapped in almost before planning. There was more than enough wind for this not to kill the run, and once locked down I felt a whole lot more confident. Even started fine tuning some foot steering. On the lake the rear strap is really visited territory. Not quite text book, and seem to confuse the hell out of Ian, but this one worked for me. But I was very grateful for all his and Neil's advice through-out the day.

I had mixed success with my deep water beach starts, again what's with all this lumpy stuff making it harder. I'll take up you offer of advice next time Ian, but this was more of a confidence thing for me. I really couldn't work out why sometimes it worked perfectly, and others I either got flung round the side of the board, or struggled going head to wind for a few meters before having the rig fall on top of me in a big heap. Cyrano nose band got tested a couple of times, and various bits of me picked up a few bumps and bruises. Also got totally knackered.

After a food break, the wind seem to increase more, and most of my lunch ended with the seagulls as the sandwich box got picked up by the wind. I really thought I should changed down, but what the heck. I struggled on reasonably successfully fitting the 6.5, although I think I was the only one on the water who was up-hauling.

After another session of beach starting, coupled with chatting, I went out for one last blast. This was an interesting experience of being the other side of several moored boats, but getting more percussion out of fin than student rock band. Tried even further out, with the board at an angel and but he was still playing the drums on the bottom, boy had the tide gone out, although I think Cyrano was significantly the biggest lump with a 46cm. on the water by that time as Neil had switched to his small board.

Decided before I hit something big, and did some real damage, I'd best call it day, although it was really annoying to see everyone else still blasting away. This is were I discover the wonders of mud, algee and sand do not make a great combination on windsurfing kit. Oh well you live and learn. Although I think Ian's approach to avoiding this effect by ventilating his sail, was a bit extreme. I hope you can find a suitable replacement/repair.

All in all a great day for me, and my first success on the sea in this country, so looking forward to more.

Graham Utteridge

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