Cup 4 - Mumbles

21 July 2009

UKWA National Championships Round 4, July 18th & 19th 2009

Last weekend the UKWA was again given a warm welcome by Mumbles Council as the 2009 series moved on to Mumbles Yacht Club for the Welsh leg of the UK tour. Mumbles bay is a beautiful location with the club set in the far corner of the bay with views of the beeches to the left and the lifeboat station perched on stilts above the clear blue water to the right. Knab Rock car park was a mass of motor homes, caravans and associated vehicles with windsurfers, locals and holiday makers all enjoying the spectacle of the UK's top course racers in action. Our thanks to the council for permitting use of the car park and to the attendants for all their help.

87 sailors turned out to race last weekend 18th & 19th July for Round Four of The UKWA National Championships, Cup 4 at Mumbles Yacht Club.

Saturday greeted competitors with clear sky's and sunshine. Once registration had been completed and an early morning briefing held it was clear that we had good wind 10 to 12 knots so Race officer Jay Williamson and his crews took to the water early and a course was soon set.

After the last couple of events it was at last good to have enough wind for all fleets, and the crew set out a more traditional box course. Once out on the water sailors found the wind to be building slightly and a fair swell giving them some interesting waves. The small but well equipped committee boat was pitching from side to side, no place for anyone suffering from seasickness.

The race officer ran 2 round of racing for all fleets in the morning session, which proved to be very competitive and exciting. Wisely Jay ran a third race for Formula, making sure they had a counting event after the disappointment of Christchurch.  After lunch as the wind built with highs of 22 knots being recorded a further two rounds of course racing for raceboard fleets & for formula were held.

On Saturday night there was a committee meeting for some of the UKWA faithful, but for the rest of the competitors and their families it was barbeque time the traditional way to spend Saturday night. The club had laid on an unexpected party for competitors for which we are most grateful.

Unfortunately on Thursday Paul Sibley one of our top crewmembers picked up an injury playing football and had to cry off from this weekends event. Kevin Profit a crewmember for many years but now retired demonstrated the true spirit of our organisation. On with the dry suit and re installed at the helm of Tariffa. Little did he know what he was letting himself in for?

Overnight there was very heavy rain and strong winds and early morning conditions did not improve much with low cloud and continuing heavy showers. However by race time things began to improve and no delays were expected. The local forecast was for 22mph surly not an issue for a quality UKWA racing fleet. Race officer Jay set the same courses for all fleets as used so successfully on Saturday with only a small change for formula. The wind was fairly steady at 12 to 15 knots but as the squalls came through the wind averaged 24 knots.

As the sailors headed out to the start line all looked well, but those late to leave the beech soon discovered things were beginning to change. As the first race began a further squall came through and this time the wind built to 36+ knots. Unfortunately this time it did not dissipate and it became clear that many sailors were experiencing difficulties.

Ironically this is when one gets to see the best of the UKWA. Everyone associated with the UKWA is a volunteer but they operate to the highest professional standards. With three rescue ribs and two support boats, which by now had also changed their focus from support to rescue the big challenge to recover sailors was under way. Coordinated by beech master Mike and fully supported by the admin office sailors were counted ashore. It's a completely unsaid rule but the first sailors brought ashore crowded the shallows waiting to assist the next group to be brought in by the ribs. It soon became clear that the crews could not bring sailors and kit in quickly enough to guarantee safety, so in a well rehearsed plan, its sailors first and the kit is left out at sea anchored and tethered together for later collection.

28 sailors actually finished the race to their credit and once a tally count had been established it was clear everyone was back on shore. Those missing equipment were now relieved to see the crews heading back into the swell to recover their kit. 16 boards had been left out at sea. Methodically and with care the kit was brought back to shore but 4 sets were still unaccounted for. As the day progressed it became clear that an anchor line had snapped and the kit could be any ware. Give up! No not our guys searching the bay all the way to Port Talbot. By 3pm all the kit was back on the beech some 5 hours after it left.

With many sailors reluctant to go back out and with a last possible start time of 4pm there was little time to rest the crews and re-lay the course. It was therefore decided to finish racing for the day.

There are those who out of ignorance, lack of attendance or just plain foolishness feel it necessary to question the commitment of this organisation to further the sport of windsurfing in the UK. The truth is that the UKWA operates with total professionalism in a calm and organised manor following procedures, which they have developed over years of voluntary service to offer competitors both safe and exciting competition in a healthy and friendly atmosphere. If in doubt then come along and join in, you might just be surprised but you can be assured its no surprise to the regular sailors attending the UKWA racing events.

It is also extremely gratifying to see the many e-mails received at the UKWA office with messages of thanks and appreciation for the crews hard work and dedication to the cause.

Whilst heaping praise on all concerned it should not be forgotten what a great days racing we all had on Saturday and those 28 sailors who did finish the course will surely have some good stories to tell for many years to come.

Thanks to Mumbles Council for making us so welcome, to Richard Lewis and his associates from Mumbles Yacht Club, the rescue crews & support boats, the race officer and his team and the admin staff who all contributed to make this such a successful event

Particular thanks to Overboard, for the product prizes going to all fleets.  To Tushingham / Starboard & North for the prizes awarded to the Raceboard fleet.

21 Raceboards

1st Dave Hackford

2nd MarK Kay

3rd Robert Kent

1st Unlimited Andy Mexome

6 RS:X

1st George Bowles

2nd Callum Stewart

3rd Jamie Ingram

42 Techno

1st 6.8 Kieran Martin

2nd 6.8 Adam Purcell

3rd 6.8 Saskia Sills

1st 7.8 Sam Sills(1st overall)

2nd 7.8 Matt Brown (2nd overall)

3rd 7.8   Stuart Hards(3rd overall)

16 Formula

1st Keith Atkinson

2nd Tim Gibson

3rd Dave Coles

2 Freerace

1st Gavin Nicholson

For all the results by John Eskdale go to or or