Friday 14 October 2011

West Kirby USM by Howard Rowson OPH

Farrel O'Shea at Full Throttle
Event: UK Ultimate Speed Meeting
Date: 6th October 2011
Venue: West Kirby 
Ultimate Speed … Ultimate League of Gentlemen

Long have the UK Speedsailing crews waited for a high wind forecast from the West to West Northwest, providing epic conditions for one of the worlds fastest speed strips.

Late September showed early signs from the main forecasting models that October would perhaps see a return to a mobile westerly flow, with a resultant storm track of low pressure systems off the Atlantic, tracking west to east just north of Scotland, setting up West Kirby for an “in the line of fire” serious high wind session.

Windy! Nothing more needs to be said about this.
Anticipation of the day, the waiting game
Monday the 3rd dawned. Forecast models from the ECMWF and MetOffice were looking highly favourable for a west veering wnw flow for Thursday the 6th. Forecast conditions remained solid as mid week approached, word was sent to Holland, and a USM was called. The MetOffice, on Wednesday had issued Severe Weather warnings for high winds for North West England, centred on Liverpool Bay.

Martin “The Maestro” van Meurs In the groove, slot closed,
head back and rocking the rockstar
Big Thursday – The Gathering
The early morning “ships” forecast giving a west 6 to gale 8, veering wnw later in the day increasing 7 to severe gale force 9, with the potential for gusts to F10.As dawn broke the West Kirby marina lake car park started to fill, with an array of SKTVs (Speed Kit Transportation Vehicles), from all over the UK and Holland.

Keen as” speedies were already on the water at day break in less than ideal conditions, with the flow shy of true West by a few degrees, giving a super flat course but rather tight for ultimate speeds. At least that was until Messer Kreisel and van der Hout hit the water accompanied by one of Belgium’s finest speedsailors Dirk Hacha.

Jacques van der Hout nailing a 47max

It was not long before the Infinity Rockstar team members Martin “The Maestro” van Meurs and The Surge arrived, armed and ready to rock. With an already continental feel to the event, speedsailors from all over the UK continued to arrive in their droves, with good representation from all the UK GTC teams.
Hans Keisel fully locked and loaded

The Surge” Serge Beumer cool, focused, committed
The morning session continued to see speeds improve despite the tight but windy course, with high wind tight course specialists Jacques and Hans dominating, with speeds in excess of 47 knots, in the pretty consistent 30-40kt WbS flow.

Regular breaks seemed to be the order of the day making the most of any squalls that came thru then conserving energy for the potential “nuking” winds later in the day.

The amazing Skyscape
Early afternoon there was a temporary lull in the proceedings, but by mid afternoon the wind was on the increase again, 10s speeds too on the rise. The sky up wind was looking ominous promising for some hefty squalls. Mother Nature, on queue, delivered a huge squall and a westerly flow. The veer almost caught all out. WKs windguru, maintaining a weather eye on the horizon spotted the sand shift blowing in over the estuary sand flats, went for his kit, only to see it blown into the lake, quickly recovering it, made for the course, powering down through the back edge of the squall and horizontal hail. As the amazing skyscape drifted downwind, the flow again took a further shift towards the WNW and ramped up 10 knots, with a solid F9. 

The Rolling Chop
Conditions on the course were taking a turn for the worse, as dusk approached, with a further veer of the wind to superbroad, 150 degrees, coupled with gusts to high F10s. The rolling chop waves by now, almost setup for some backside waveriding let alone flat water speed kit. Untroubled Steve Thorp and Farrel O’Shea gave an exemplary show as to why they are at the sharp end of UK, nay World Speedsailing. If there was a 5 second GPS Speed category, records may well have been broken today. Sadly conditions were just too broad too late for a super fast and usable 10s speedcourse. Despite this, Steve’s 50 knot peak viewed from a few metres away was truly epic, and for sure the icing on the cake of what finished possibly the most exciting USM the UK has ever seen.

Pete Young showing you can never have enough negative outhaul

Jacques van der Hout taking the day, in hot pursuit were Hans Kreisel, Steve Thorp and Farrel O’Shea, with Martin van Meurs taking the fifth spot, edging out fellow speedie Serge Beumer.

Many personal best speeds were achieved today, a reflection on how good West Kirby can be, and certainly prime spot for achieving the magic 4 zero.

Some other thoughts 

Steve Thorp … True grit, grinding out one of many super quick runs
Steve’s 5zero max was a milestone for West Kirby, bringing the spot in line with The Ray, Southend, UK (Martin van Meurs), Sandy Point, Australia (Chris Lockwood) and Vollerwiek, Germany (Thomas Doeblin). All spots having seen the magical 5zero.

Mark Hayford achieving a 40knot average.
Great personal satisfaction was gained today watching Mark Hayford destroying his long standing personal goal of seeing a 40 average. Many other speedsailors, also achieving their first 40 average.

The Author, USM and Weather guru Howard Rowson

It was great to see such a fantastic turnout, the guys over from Holland and Belgium, Bob Cunningham making a long overdue return to West Kirby. Norm “Normski” Petty showing us all great encouragement for the years that lie ahead, Ant “BA” Baker for bringing his wealth of knowledge and experience to the speed scene, and straight in at the sharp end.

And yes, most definitely the ultimate league of gentlemen.

Special thanks to Boards for sponsoring the GPS 2011 speed ladder, Pete Davis for running not only the International speed scene, but our UK ladder also, The Redsurfbus for gathering together all speed news feeds, taking the time out to report on all things speed, home and abroad, Daz Mathers for doing “as instructed”, calling the USM, and last but by no means least, all guys who took time out with their cameras, capturing the sheer essence of what makes West Kirby so special. – and thanks to all for travelling from near and far to participate in the “Big Thursday”

Pictures are from a variety of sources, mainly off friends 'stalkerbook' posts, thanks to Simon Burgess, Alan Jones and Sean Woods for their selfless work taking them.

West KIrby final curtain call courtesy
of Bob Cunningham.
Post wall Refurbishment Analysis.
Very little sand infill of the outer rock face of the wall has occurred over the past 2years, still the turbulent flow over the nw corner, exacerbating and enhancing the rolling chop when high winds occur from a broad to superbroad angle 140-150 degrees. The preferred fast angle would probably be closer to west than wnw, perhaps even a tighter course with flat water and hardcore bear-offs.

Until the next time
Good wind and speed to all - 'OPH'

Thank you for doing this OPH, your writing style is really pleasing to read. I just hope no-one minds us using their pictures. If there are any problems let me know = - 'The Bus'


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