Slalom 2 Report

29 April 2015

Starboard / Severne UKWA Slalom at Hayling Island

All week the wind forecast had been promising and anticipation had been building for an exciting weekend of speedy slalom action. As we approached the weekend all forecasts (however far we searched!) were in agreement that it was not going to be particularly windy. Nevertheless, there was an encouraging 13-14mph in many forecasts helping to ensure there was a good turnout of competitors.

Saturday's early cloud burnt off quickly and a moderate south-westerly breeze inspired all competitors to rig their largest sails, plus a change-down in many cases. I was pleased to see plenty of our Starboard and Severne team riders out in force in both Pro and Amateur fleets. The first guys to hit the water were planing most of the time and things were looking promising for a great day of slalom action. Unfortunately the wind eased rather than built so planing was only sporadic, even on large 85cm wide slalom boards and 9.5m sails. 

The excellent UKWA crew ran a fun race that allowed competitors the chance to refine their light wind settings. Those on extra large slalom gear had an advantage with very light winds. Scott Harrison stormed ahead and while most competitors were floundering he planed most of the way to take the win on his 9.5m. I was impressed with my new 8.6m Reflex 6, maximising the best gusts coming through but despite my best pumping efforts it wasn't quite able to mix it with the boys on the 9m+sails and I finished around fourth or fifth.

The light breeze hovered a few knots below what was needed for racing so during the afternoon some of the Pro Fleet riders, led by James Dinsmore, talked through the slalom rules making for interesting debate. It was interesting to see how few sailors were actually aware of the rules: time for a little bedtime reading perhaps?!! Events can be as much about the social as the sailing and while some hit the bright lights of Portsmouth on Saturday, others enjoyed a beer or two at the Inn on the Beach.

The early risers on Sunday were greeted with another tantalising breeze but this time from the north (offshore). Initial hopefulness for some Pro and Amateur fleet racing diminished as the wind eased back during the morning. While the Pro and Amateur fleets chilled out, under command of the evergreen Brian Tilbury, the Master Blasters (who race in all winds, even non-planing) took part in an impressive EIGHTEEN rounds of slalom. Great effort from both Brian and the racers!

It may not have been a windy event but plenty of stories were shared between like-minded windsurfers and everyone seems fired up to race hard for the rest of the series. Many thanks to all of the UKWA team who work tirelessly behind the scenes to run superb racing across the UK.

- Paul Simmons