Nick Icke (GBR 85) reports from the Stena Line Formula Cup at Herne Bay last weekend. Â
Interested in formula racing? Check out ‘Formula Windsurfing Can Change Your Life’ by Chris Bond.Â
Welcome to all, the title; tales from the ever-expanding middle comes from the fact that normally these reports tend to be a little bit more race orientated, (this is however not meant to be a dig in any way to the normal report writers who do a marvelous job) and hopefully I can now get the chance to tell the story from a little bit further back down the fleet and sometimes from just over the lip of a pint glass.
So here goes,Â Friday began with, little, if not no prospect of any wind materialising at all. Considering the latest forecast dribbled out by my bookmarks menu on the Mac, which meant that the numerous phone conversations earlier in the week arranging a Friday pre event training session for the formula fleet was rapidly being replaced by the prospect of a cold beer and a sunset on the beach (my kind of training session any day).
The pre bank holiday weekend drive down went pretty smoothly with just a little bit of M25 mayhem, But I still managed to arrive in good time to claim a pretty peachy spot on the beach front within crawling distance of the club house and the race office, â€śsweetâ€ť, also parked with us were
- Tim (Iâ€™ll only give up when Iâ€™m dead) Gibson,
- Dave (the Dolphin) Coles,
- Chris (A.K.A the Bondage) Bond,
- James Briggs (A.K.A Briggsy)
- JasonÂ (A.K.A Does this look like the face of concern,,,,,,,,,,I didnâ€™t think so) Clarke.
- Keith Atkinson
So letâ€™s paint a picture the sea is as flat as glass, the suns out in all of its Sunday best the company is fine the Cool boxes is full and the food is beginning to appear on the tables along with the first signs of BBQ building. All was looking fineâ€¦until, the wind arrived.
In the space of 20 minutes Herne Bay went from being a relax chilled out evening on the sun drenched beach to, seven frantic formula sailor all trying to rig two to three sails on a relatively small beach with limited area, the Residents of Herne bay must of wondered if this was some sort or budget opening ceremony that the UKWA puts on to entertain the locals pre event what with all the commotions unfolding before there eyes.
First on the water was the Bondage followed by just about everyone else in a matter of minutes some of us had opted for12mâ€™s, that was a big mistake as wind carried on building, Jason (GBR 1515) and me soon found ourselves back on the beach collecting the 10mâ€™s, this proved to be a pretty mighty move on both of our behalfâ€™s as it turned out, because even though we only got to tune one sail in the Friday Practice Session. As it turned out it would be the only sail we would end up needing for the entire weekend.
Saturday Morning arrived all to soon, and so had the wind, it was now blowing a steady 15 knots and forecast to build throughout the day. The thin wedge at the top end of the fleet were already busying themselves with the Three Râ€™s, Rolling, Rigging, and Registering. I however along with a number of other riders who had only decided to Rig one (Very well tuned Iâ€™d like to add) 10m sail were chilling with Owen Gibson a young sailor who had come down to the event to try some Formula Experience kit that had been leant to the formula fleet by a few Riders that could not make the weekend, Graham Baster, just to name one.
Registration over, the first race began at around 11.30ish, (not one hundred percent sure because I was underwater when the race started thanks to Tim who had obviously singled me out as a threat, and had taken me out with a skillful gybe amidships leaving me with a face full of clue,) After recovering from the depths I set about analyzing the field ahead, From what I could tell there were a hell of a lot of windsurfs out there and that could only mean one thing,,,I was defiantly not winning. So after a number of pretty funky moments and a lot of fear I found myself after a couple of laps fighting hard with the likes of Adrian Wallis (GBR328) and Jason Clarke (GBR1515).
Up front Tim (GBR40) was riding Dolphin (GBR69) pretty hard in first and second with the Bondage (GBR98) tying up Briggsy (GBR91) and Keith (GBR 56) to hold down a solid 3rd. As for me, what was looking like a sound recovery to 7th only got better when on the last down wind leg Jason Clarke (riding the Black Exorcet Beast death machine) got chucked out the front door, in a spectacular fashion, handing me sixth place, sweet.
The rest of Saturdayâ€™s racing carried on with lots of different moments for everyone involved, we had awesome wins, mental crashes and some brilliantly tight racing, leaving everyone more than ready to hit the showers.
Later that night, thanks to: the North Sea Cup Organizers, the UKWA and last but not least the wonderful Herne Bay sailing Club, we all had a great meal laid on for us before hitting the Bar for a few drinks and then Bed (at one, O clockish ish).
Sunday dawned, and it was harsh cold raining and rough. Still, the hardcore had already woken rolled and rigged. The not so hard, core on the other hand, cruised around laughing and joking at the expense of the organized hardcore few lol…..
First Race of the day started (I missed this because unfortunately I wasnâ€™t rigged :-/ oops) and the fun resumed with Jay the Race officer opting for a windward leeward course which consisted of one upwind mark and a gate downwind near the committee boat which had a number 3 displayed on it telling us there would be 3 laps.
Owen Gibson Braving some of the gnarliest shore dump Iâ€™ve seen in a while and managing to coupe with it fine, was nailing the course which was pretty cool for a first timer because even after 7 years of Formula I still sometimes get it wrong (figure that one out with a windward, leeward!).
Everyone else seemed to be taking a bit of a beating with the conditions at high tied getting fairly mighty with some mixed results for riders, the finish line ending up set to far downwind after you came through the last Gate meaning places got lost right on the line depending on who gybed for the finish or not,â€ť Chrisâ€ť.
All of this finish line excitement However did not effect me because cunningly Tim had managed to hide up my Ratchet, meaning I was unable to bolt my fin into my board,,,,, (Wow Tim is beginning to make Michael Schumacher look like an amateur when it comes to skullduggery,, lmfao).
As the days racing progressed the formula fleet slowly increased in size as Bob (the Boss) Ingram (GBR 164) joined us from the beach along with Martin Allman (GBR206) and I finally managed to get afloat after Tim finally stopped Hostage-rising my Ratchet at Lunch time, (Again Iâ€™d just like to add that the reason I missed the first two races on the Sunday had nothing to do with the fact that the shore dump was massive and scary, but because my ratchet set had been Hostage-rised Lolz).
Once the racing got underway, after Lunch, the competition was hot with everyone jostling for position. Pretty much everyone had their own private little battles-taking place. Adrian Wallis (GBR328) had a blinder ripping into third just behind Tim (GBR40) and the Dolphin (GBR69). This moment of brilliance by Adrian was unfortunately short lived when his boom snapped, putting him out for the next couple of races. Other people on a flyer, notably ringing the hell out of their kit, was Jason Clarke (GBR1515) who was somehow pointing like a beast and flying off the wind like he had managed to find a sixth gear. After chatting with Jason about this he revealed that he was using a NEW experiment F-HOT Formula fin. These fins are under development but once the trials are completed later this year they will be released, along with a brand new F-HOT Slalom Fin range,,, one launch to keep a close eye on I think.
Throughout the rest of the afternoon of racing, different fortunes fell upon different riders with some suffering from OCS and other finding themselves (like Brigsy (GBR91)) in their own little puddle of pain with clumps of sea weed rapped around his fin, at one point whilst traveling past him I did briefly wonder why he was sailing his Board backwards but just put it down to a Guernsey Pro Rider thing.
One moment, which seems to really stick out over the weekend was a moment on the downwind in pretty maxed out conditions on 10â€™s involving me, Jason and up until now unmentioned Benoit Chauvin (FRA179) Who had been solidly finishing in the top 3 for most of the weekend.
What happened was this; Jason and me were fully loaded down the back straight heading for the downwind Gate with nothing more than two meters separating us, whilst launching off the backs of waves when suddenly from straight between the pair of us Traveling at least 8 knots quicker was Benoit absolutely on the ragged edge rinsing it like a poor guy chasing a cheese burger, however again this moment of brilliance was also short lived when it ended in the most awesome over the handle bars a little while later, still on reflection this balls to the walls approach by Bonoit had paid Dividend over the weekend with the fact that even if he fell off, he would soon fly past you again either way.
Finally, racing finished on the Sunday with 9 races having been completed. Dolphin, Tim, and Brigsy (having cleared every piece of seaweed on the course) divided up the top places with the Bondage (GBR98) holding down forth positions like his life depended on it. Meanwhile the rest of the fleet shared out the rest of the positions.
One person that does deserve a mention is Zak Page who after beating me to the line in one race managed to cut his fingers quite badly at the beach carrying his board and take a short trip to A&E for some stitches. â€śGet well soon Dude, I need to make amendsâ€ť.
Later that night just about the entire Formula Fleet went for curry and beers,,, the food was great and the company was awesome. The night ended up with a few more beers back at the Herne Bay sailing Club where RSX, Raceboard, Race Crew and Formula Riders finished up the night playing guitars and singing with the staff at the club until the last few made it back to their beds at about 3ish.
A perfect end to a perfect day.
Through the night the wind blew its socks off meaning that the following days racing had to be cancelled for safety reasons. This meant the event was over and time to go home. A sweet weekend was had by all. Herne Bay sailing club has to be by far one of the friendliest weâ€™ve visited in recent years and as for the Formula Racing, well what can I say apart from YOLO Formula Rocks!
1) Dave Coles
2) Tim Gibson
3) James Briggs
For more information on racing in the UK head to the UKWA website – www.ukwindsurfing.com