A quick photo recap of 2017 so far, competing and traveling through New Zealand, Hawaii, California and New York.
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
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.
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
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
My whole blogging dream never occurred I ended up making the same excuses as normal to myself. (It takes to long, who is actually going to read it, I have just paddled a million kilometres “I need FOOD” and I normally fall asleep before I build up any motivation)
Ok , so after coming home and every single person I have spoke to asked “how was California?”. Here is a brief recap of the epic adventure and event that was.
– I reached my destination Salt Creek-
-I competed at the 2014 Battle of the Paddle-
-Finished the event and explored California-
-Spent another 24 hrs going home-
Photos edited on VSCO cam.
Battle of the Paddle the biggest race of the season.
Salt Creek, California
2015 Starboard Allstar
Prepared Yes or No?
Maybe, I have been focusing on the B.O.P for the past two months but this race has a lot of luck involved.
Make the final of the men’s elite race. There is two heats in the morning and the top 50 percent from both races go into a final heat in the afternoon. Plus get some surf done in Californian sunshine.
Battle of the paddle has always been on my bucket list of races and every top sup racer shows up to this race from every side of the world.
Stay tuned to my blog for daily updates and photos.
-What is the B.O.P?(To all the non paddling folk)
The Battle of the paddle is probably the biggest race of the year. A unofficial World Championships were the best Sup racers battle it out for a faint hope to become B.O.P champion. The list of past champions is pretty epic. Chuck Paterson, Jamie Mitchell, Danny Ching, Connor Baxter and Kai Lenny. It involves racing in and out of the surf with a run in between every lap. To be any way competitive you need to know how to surf a race board(it’s like driving a f-one car down a mountain pass plus you have a few hair pin bends to take care of). These ‘hair pin bends’ are buoy turns in the surf zone. I forgot to mention there is 30+ people going around the buoy at the same time.’Carnage Guaranteed’