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Portland - 10 Oct 2004

(rescheduled from Saunton due to adverse wind direction)

What a difference a day makes.

In windsurfing there appears to be a strange mental attribute, let’s call it Get Off Your Arse factor or GOYA for short.

For various reasons (house, kids, work) I haven’t sailed much this year. In fact I’ve probably sailed in planning conditions twice since Christmas. When I have made the effort to get to the beach it’s turned out that the wind has died or worse the wind never arrived but its raining instead.

After a few such sessions, your GOYA level drops dramatically and next time you get the opportunity to sail you find a ton of reasons why you’ll give it a miss. Forecast a bit sketchy, wrong wind direction, too far, in the doghouse, etc..

The only known way of breaking the cycle is a) move to Hawaii or b) have an epic days sailing

Apologies for the lengthy preamble but Portland this Sunday was one of those days. Forecast looked windy enough but also rain was forecast and I had work to do on my shed so GOYA factor was low. However, Sam seemed happy for me to go so, with some misgivings I packed the van and headed off for Overcombe.

Arrived at Overcombe to find plenty of wind and what looked like excellent but challenging conditions: 5M cross-shore weather, big swells, nicely formed waves. However, I couldn’t find any Nomads and there was beginning to be a lot of ‘creative’ parking in the small car park. I decided to check out the Harbour instead but found that I was boxed in by two other cars. One minor road rage incident later I was en-route to the harbour.

Driving down the sea front I was reminded that there is excellent sailing to had off Weymouth’s main beach (out of season as there is a by-law banning sailing during the summer months). Most locals launch from the old pier on the promenade.

Eventually arrived at the Ferry Bridge car park to find Ian, Neroli, Chris and Gerry already starting to rig up. Whilst not as ‘ideal’ as the conditions at Overcombe, the wind was a few knots stronger and more or less on-shore, the conditions seemed ideal for a ‘bump and jump’ session with plenty of wind driven ramps and some patches of flatter water for gybing. The biggest decision was “what sail?”. Ian decided to rig a 4.6 which he flattened to within an inch of its life, whilst Gerry and Chris rigged 4.7 and 3.7 (borrowed from Ian and Neroli) respectively.

The wind looked pretty gusty and felt like it was picking up so, discretion being the better part of valour I rigged my old 4.2 Gaastra Freewave (complete with ‘free cam’) and hoped for the best. I was, literally, blown away later to find that Neroli had also been holding down a 4.2 (FYI, one of us is c. 14 stone 5’11”, the other 7.5 stone 5’1”. I’ll leave you to figure out who’s who!).

On to the sailing. A strong Easterly in Portland Harbour, whilst not ‘classic’ conditions, can create a great playground. There is enough fetch for the wind blown chop to form into jumpable ramps, furthermore, the waves seem to curve around so that it is possible to jump on both tacks. The breaking waves also left channels of relatively flat water behind them which was fun to blast down or gybe on.

Given that the conditions were too tricky to try anything fancy, jumping was the order of the day and I made it a mission to go for at least one jump per run. Not having sailed for a while I was quite please that I could get reasonable height on both tacks, although I had quite a few ‘crash and burns’ and tired quickly. At one point I did try and show off by pulling out a big jump as Ian sailed by only to fluff the landing. Ian mentioned afterwards that he was surprised I’d kept it together – so was I!

There were quite a few people out and, given that most people were trying to get upwind away from the beach, there were one or two near miss incidents. The state of the water was also very confused in places leading to spinout and some fairly spectacular crashes as air got under people’s boards. There were a small group of ‘freestylers’ out using the conditions to perform some fairly serious contortions although it was sometime difficult to work out what was deliberate and what was accidental.

The need to concentrate on the water ahead, combined with the fact that we were using unfamiliar sails, meant that I didn’t spot other Nomads that often but all seemed to be relishing the unusual conditions even if that meant switching to survival mode occasionally.

After a couple of hours I decided to come in for a break. Neroli was already getting changed and Chris and Gerry got the hot cross buns out. I too decided I’d had enough but the others went back out for another dose of punishment. If anything the winds picked up slightly and shortly afterwards all decided to call it a day. I would have been surprised if everybody’s kit had survived intact. Normally it’s me who breaks things but in this instance, Gerry managed to put a ding in his Techno just at the end of the session. Fortunately it happened at the end of the session and he managed to keep the water out (good luck Gerry!).

In summary, a fantastic day’s sailing. I ended up tired but buzzing and, on the way home, I found myself thinking about buying a 4m sail and planning my next trip - a sure sign that my GOYA factor had received a huge boost.

Carl Edgar

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