The 10th edition of Irelands largest water sports gathering (Battle for the bay) was for sure the best event I have been to so far in my career as a watersports athlete. I know this is a bold statement but the three day festival blew me away this year. 60,000 people went through the event site over the whole weekend, the sun came out for the whole weekend, my good friend Zane Schweitzer had flown in from Hawaii and we had 4 days of incredible SUP action over the whole weekend.
I picked Zane up from Dublin airport on Thursday morning after he traveled nearly 24 hrs from Hawaii while having a bad run of food poisoning. He managed to rest up and have his normal affections energy read for the afternoon. First stop was RTE 2fm for a 10 mins radio interview about the event, life traveling around the world and big wave surfing. (Link below) After the radio interview it was straight to the final night of the Irish SUP race night were Zane presented the end of season prizes as well as meet n greet with the local SUP community.
Link to Radio starts at 24:15
After sleeping for 15 hrs we were fully charged for the weekend ahead. I have done the event for the past 5 years so I knew it is a marathon of competing, networking and partying. Zane had one of his trademark InZane SUP clinics on Dollymount in the afternoon. A small but enthusiastic group of people took to the water ready to learn race technique, paddle strokes and board control. Everybody came off the water with a new perspective on SUP. It was really nice to see seasoned paddlers develop there skills further.
The real party started bright and early Saturday morning with a briefing from Paul Byrne of Irish SUP on all the SUP events for the weekend. The Lord and Lady of the bay (SUP racing winners) is worked out on a combined result from a technical race which would be held on the Saturday, Liffey race on Sunday morning and the survivor race format held on Sunday afternoon. The Technical race was a 4.5 km course with 18 bouy turns, small runners and a beach start to get the blood flowing for the weekend. Zane and Myself had a good battle around the course with Zane taking the win.
After the crazy firework display party in the Bram Stoker on Saturday night. Plenty of tired and sleepy SUPers headed to the Liffey on Sunday Morning for the 11km river race. A 2 lap course from the Jeannie Johnson to the east link bridge and back up to the Ha’penny bridge. Once again Zane and Myself were out in front but this time we had company in the form of David Mangan who was grinding at our tails. De javu, Zane and myself sprinted the last 500 m to the finish with Zane claiming his 2nd win of the weekend. Back on Dollymount Beach the crowds were swelling to over 25,000 people. The last and final event of the weekend the Survivor race was by far the best action of the weekend with lot’s of close racing down the entire field. I got the win over Zane in the event but it was a close finish. Zane had managed to add to his long list of titles with Lord of the Bay 2016.
A last minute photo shoot around Irelands eye. Finished with a beautiful feast in the King Sitric with fresh sea food and a couple of pints of the black stuff.
Side note (My windsurfing background)
As a teenager growing up addicted to windsurfing I know the challenge of getting to the beach with your board and rig. Begging my parents every weekend to take me to the nearest beach. Then making them wait hours while I rigged up and went sailing. It’s a sport which is equally a logistical challenge as a technical challenge but I still love it!!!!
I am lucky now to work along side the largest windsurfing brand in the world. Starboard. I concentrate more on the SUP side but I am still as keen as ever to rig up some windsurfing gear. Starboards reputation for Innovation and Quality in windsurfing is something they do very well. 2016 is probably the biggest year for innovation because of one product which has pushed the limits of inflatable technology to the limit.
The product is the Airplane. The first fully planning inflatable windsurfer. A board which you can put into a backpack, pumped up and blast around like a free ride board. After using the Airplane 225 in Costa Brava in September 2015 at the Starboard world dealer conference I wasn’t completely sold on the idea. I had only used the board for 15mins but the board behaved extremely sluggish and slow responsive but it did get me thinking. It got me windsurfing!!!
Fast forward to January 2016 and I am in Auckland, New Zealand working with NZ Boardstore and a Airplane 225 shows up on a container fresh from Thailand. Lucky enough it was a demo board. So, once the first windy day hit. I decided to pump the Airplane up and rig a 7.8 overdrive. Firstly I knew I would be fully powered or even overpowered. I wanted to try it fully powered up something I didn’t get in Costa Brava. The board felt completely different then before more responsive and remarkably stiff. After my 2 hr session I kept having to remind myself of the board I was using was an inflatable. The same technology that only years previous was so under – developed most people overlooked.
Key points on how the board performed.
- The board sails like a large free ride board. It’s a unique feeling when you are fully blasting along. Pushing into a inflatable rail.
- Gybing the board actually lets you really feel the rail edge technology come into effect. (It’s a hard bit of mellable plastic which goes around the bottom tail of the board. Creating a hard edge.)
- The board has good constant speed. It sails through gust and lulls with good control and keeps on the plane. The board does need to be sailed slightly overpowered. I found between 1 – 1.5 m sail size bigger then normal made the board fully blast along.
It’s only the beginening of this technology and innovation cycle. It’s version 1.0. As with any technology it will develop and get a lot better. It is still a remarkably good board. Unlike it’s inflatable wind sup cousins this board is a legitimate modern windsurfing board.
Thanks to Georgia Schofield and Dominic Stuart.
Georgia Schofield Photography
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/georgiasphoto/
Thanks to NZ Boardstore for the use of the board.
Demo the Airplane at any good Starboard Windsurfing retailer or distributor.
More info @ Starboard windsurfing.com
Ireland – U.K – Channel islands – U.K – Spain – France – Spain – Ireland – U.K – U.S.A – U.K – Ireland – U.K – Ireland – U.A.E – Australia – NEW ZEALAND
The above list is the countries I visited from September 2nd 2015. Probably the best 3 months of my life so far. Traveling to event after event competing in Stand up paddle boarding races and having some down time after a hectic Summer. My long journey ended in the south Pacific island of New Zealand.
Today the 23rd of November I signed a short term lease for a place I am renting in Auckland. Causing me to stay in one spot for a few months. It’s refreshing to have settled down again. I have almost started a new life in N.Z. New Friends, Bank acc, Job, Phone Number, Tax, etc. Settling down is something I never thought I would do again but traveling constantly makes it difficult to actually focus on what I really want to do which is to push my performance in SUP racing?
My 2015 race season did not end to plan. Injury, loss of motivation and a general feeling of being burnt out caused my performance to go downhill. That is the draw back when pushing yourself weekend after weekend. I set out in early September to compete in 15 races over 15 weeks with majority of them being in a different country every weekend. The reality of logistics, traveling and budgets makes it more of an admin nightmare as much as a physical test!
The 2016 racing season is going to be interesting. I think it’s going to be another big year for the sport of SUP Racing and hopefully I can be part of it! I plan to stick around the Southern Hemisphere until March and then make my way back to Europe to start Summer SUP School back up and competing full time!
Check out K4fins.com to get your hands on one!
Interview with SUP Boarder Mag on location in Costa Brava.
During my first international race to Paris a few years ago I met the Jersey crew. A group of friends who live on a rock in the middle of the English channel with a common passion for paddling. I have traveled with them, raced against them but I have always wanted to go to Jersey ever since then. This week I travelled over for the 2015 Battle for the Rock.
Early this week I got to surfing in Devon on the Starboard 9’8 Gun.
The past week I have been busy finishing up Summer SUP School and starting the second half of my season which is going to be huge. I have sacrificed a lot of time during the Summer to work. Now I want to focus on competition 100 percent.
National Watersports Festival (NWF) was my first stop on my long second half to the season. In it’s 9th year NWF is a showcase for all the new gear from the waterspouts industry and also provides plenty of competition.
Starboard had the new gear on display. Development for 2016 is next level. I am confident to say the new All Star will see many of the world top podiums. I was given mine at the weekend and it is next level. The turning capabilities, acceleration and tracking combines for a board which is truly all round.
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The 2015 Battle for the Bay has yet again provided the perfect platform to showcase all that Ireland has to offer. Amazing weather 😉 , vibrant watersports community and last but not least the “Irish Craic”. I have been involved in this beach culture festival for 4 years now and the event keeps growing both in terms of watersports events and as a showcase for leading Irish innovation.
This year was special for a number of reasons.
-The first ever Liffey SUP race happened with 40 people racing up and down the river through the heart of the city
-I was a ambassador for the SUP divison
-Lastly a crew of drone pilots from I fly Technology captured the whole event from the air!!!
I used the 2015 Starboard Astro Racer for the Liffey SUP race. Starboard have been working hard to show that their inflatables are as fast and durable as all the other brands. I was surprised with the performance of the board compared to the Red Paddle Co. Elite which many other competitors were using in the race. Both boards are fantastic but both use diffrent technologies to stiffen the boards.
-The famous rocker Stiffening system (RSS) from Red paddle Co.
-The new dual stringer technology from Starboard
Racing the board to a 1st place finish in the race showed me that Starboard have put their time to good use. Small changed with the construction of the rails, fin box and the addition of the dual stringer technology made the board feel solid and responsive.
European and Spanish Freestyle Kite Champion Alvero Onieva was staying with me for the weekend. The spaniard from Tarifa had some bad luck in the Kite Boarder Cross event but his passion for the sport was infectious. He works along side Wainman Hawaii and runs his own company Clash to push the innovation of kiteboarding to the next level. At the end of the event he gave away his board to a local young gun showing his humble attitude to the young community of Kitesurfers.
Photo: Wojtek Kosinski