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Porthcawl 30th November 2003

Portland was programmed in for the final away day of the year but during a well attended pub night on the Thursday before, a ground swell of opinion rose up and raised a challenge to the programmed venue and date. The challenge was raised on the basis of a) The club had been to Portland Twice previously [this year] and b) The forecast was force 5-6 on Saturday and force 2-3 on Sunday.

With that forecast there was not much disagreement with a change of date. As to the venue the majority put their hands up for the wilds of south Wales. So Portland was duly replaced by Porthcawl, as the official away day venue. A small breakaway group stayed loyal-ish to the programme and opted to go to Portland, but still on the Saturday of course.

Sunday Dawned with the forecast largely unchanged Wind and rain until Early lunchtime for Porthcawl and late lunchtime for Portland then wind for the rest of the afternoon in both locations.

Opting for the welsh option I set off in a traditional British medium grade downpour. Up the M5 with de-misters and wipers on. Change to M49 then M4 with the rain all the time getting worse and worse, rising to a grade 1 downpour around the Cardiff area. Powering out of the murk in the rear view mirror, a heavily laden Dark Blue Audi emerged (Steve & Viv) and promptly joined on to form a two car convoy, ploughing through the wet stuff. Off the motorway just as the rain began to stop, then arrive at Newton beach at about 10 o’ clock.

We were the first of the nomads to arrive, but saw one guy just coming in off the water. A quick enquiry solicited he had been out for a while on a 4.7 but after the rain had ended the wind had dropped and he was changing up to a 6 mtr.

We had arrived at around High Tide to find the wind almost directly onshore. Rig Up large-ish sails, 7 mtr for me, 7.5 mtr for Steve and 6 for Viv, and out onto the water. A bit dumpy at the tide line and gnarly swells further out. The wind was blowing almost directly onshore at just about planing force. It then gradually veered ever more westerly, picking up all the time.

Until about an hour or so later the conditions had evolved to clean-ish 5 to 6 foot onshore waves / swell, with side-shore winds that had built to leave me somewhat uncomfortable on the seven metre in those water conditions.

Came back in to find Ian Neroli and Carl had arrived - 6 mtr-ish sails now appeared to be the order of the day, but was it going to hold?? Another uncomfortable run on the seven and definitely time to change down.

So Rig the 6.2 and chase the others onto the water. First time on the water for Neroli after her shoulder injury. Glad to say it held up. That purple board of her’s is certainly distinctive.

The sun came out to set up an idyllic scene, Glorious onshore waves with side shore winds of just about enough force to get planing even on the way out. Shame about the colour of the water the background and the temperature, still there were no complaints at this juncture.

Sadly it didn’t last: A couple or three runs later the and wind started to drop, falling quickly to frustrating force two / three of not enough power to get planing even after picking up a wave on the way in. At this point damage control reported in with a large hole in Steve’s sail; and the current modern board tradition, of a busted nose on Gregs new Board (JP I think). So all back to shore, where as compensation the now traditional away day cake was brought out and shared between the six nomads present – large portions of chocolate cake for all.

Sun was still out, and with the characteristic optimism of the windsurfing fraternity we waited in the hope the wind would pick up. A few minutes later Sav arrived only to be greeted by the words we all hate to hear “ you should have been here earlier”. And he missed out on the cake as well.

Brief conference later and with the wind shifting even more to the west, the still unloaded and dry Sav opts for a beach 10 mins or so further along the coast. Although this is almost certainly the sensible thing to do. Its now about 1:30 – ish and none of the six already there in there wetsuits and rigged feel like the de-rigging, changing, loading, moving, changing and re-rigging exercise. So we waited it out at Newton.

Sav dutifully rings up a half hour or so later and informs us that on his 88ltr freestyle and 5.7 he can just about cut it on the way in. Encouraging but is the decamping worth it ??. Apathy saves us from making a radical decision, Ian goes out for a wobble or two returning to report its so nearly there, so near but not quite, and an addition to the damage list – bent boom, although how it came to be was a mystery.

The little group look forlornly on at the expanse of the Bristol channel. But just then a few white caps are spotted out in the bay. Worth a try ?? You bet, so quickly plug in the seven metre which hadn’t been de-rigged and out onto the water. And yes after a bit a of a wobble past the point, the wind cuts in and Yahoo we are up and running and planning reasonably well. But not jumping as the waves have now been pulled around by the wind to run cross on, to the wind’s cross shore direction.

Out and in; uut again half way in and sh***t the wind has dropped again, so it’s wallow the remaining distance back to shore and watch as a couple of locals enticed out by my runs seem transfixed in the water-starting position, holding there sails up waiting for a gust of sufficient strength to come and pull them out of the oggin. The gusts came but not for several minutes. Wind now down to a force 2; time about 3oclock. That’s it, time to pack up and call it a day. De-rig, say goodbyes to the others, load up & home. A frustrating sort of a day really.

A brief time of real enjoyment, a hour or so of OK conditions, a fair bit of waiting, but at least a sail was had, and in very good company. Although it was noticed that a number of the “Porthcawl Voters” in the Pub on Thursday were just plain not there on the Saturday. - Boo – Hiss. – Well its no use hiding! We know who you are; and unless you can bring to the next Pub night / Away day, a note from your Mum excusing you from playtime, then the drinks are most definitely on you.

Brian Derrick

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