Thursday 8 December 2011

Clash of the Titans Day 2

Steve Thorp racing Izzy, or Izzy racing Steve, no one knows......
The results for both days are finally in, it looks like everyone made it home safely with a lot of people having a long way to drive. Steve Thorp went home (halfway across the country!) Wednesday evening, went to work Thursday morning and then decided to go back to West Kirby on his lunch break, I guess it pays to be a boss!

First of all I think its best to round off the results from Wednesday, day one of the epic forecast. Clearly this day must be taken as a 2sec day, it would not be fair to count it as a day for averages due to how broad the wind was. Martyn is the clear leader in terms of speed with a very consistent peak(49.4)and 2 sec(49.2) with a great run as well which I believe ended in some acrobatics without board and sail.  I think this puts the HOT Sails Maui GPS speed/slalom range well and truly up there with the best, along with Martyns skill, you can clearly see from the photo below how difficult the conditions were for 10sec runs.
Martyn Ogier caught on film practising cartwheels when he should be sailing fast (Pic by Steve Thorp/Richard White)
Proving the potential of the HOT Sails Maui GPS range of Speed sails with the top scores of the day, and their strength by the looks of it.
Finally Ant Baker and his protégée Dan Sweeney have put together a nice video of the Wednesday, clearly showing how much you bear off at West Kirby. I think this is needed for the Australians and others that read about events at West Kirby regularly and with interest, thanks Dan.

Another video from Simon Harris here.

Thursday 8th December
With many people only managing to get the time off to get to West Kirby for the one day, most chose the first day which had more consistent winds at about 10degrees too broad for the perfect angle. The Thursday still had a good forecast but it looked like it would change a lot through the day, and it did.

The runs for Thursday were more 'do-able' with the wind swinging into place in the afternoon allowing the preferred starboard tack at West Kirby. The morning allowed so good port tack runs though. Jacques van de Hout has a few interesting things to say about the wind directions and with his experience across Europe I think we should all listen.

Many times the locals told me that the other course with SW is not working as the wind doesn't fill in because of the mountains. Actually when walking down the course we thought the wind was super steady, strong enough and not gusty. On the water it felt strange, very short accelerations and no high speed in the same wind angle as the starboard course. 
Yesterday the wind was steady and strong, the course broad. This means the water has no time to calm down as the wind is fanging all day long. The broad angle was not the main problem, but the water conditions. Today it was different, the wind was up and down, these kind of weather conditions can be record breaking. Everytime when the wind dropped, the water in the lake calmed down and became super flat. The dark clouds gave us a sign the next wind was coming. Its all about perfect timing and make sure to make 2 or 3 runs in 10 minutes before the water gets wild again. Like this you have two positive things, perfect (broad) angle in combination with flat water. Something to think about. 
This makes a lot of sense, yes the wind is better to get consistent speeds when it is constant, but to peak above the current top speeds you need something special. The something special is either the conditions creating flatter water after a lull and an approaching squall, or the mind set and huge balls to keep bearing off into the death chop. Clearly our champ prefers the second option there and seems to get the best peaks when the conditions leave others on the shore too scared to sail in fear of damaging themselves and their kit.

Steve had this to say for the second day;
I had one fully powered run (during the rain squall) and managed my best 10sec run ever at 46.38knots on a fairly square course. Desperate to get another run in quick, I decided to sail straight back upwind and found I had to tack my way up through the strongest wind of the day. It didn't trouble the 4.5 and maybe if I'd waited 20 seconds I'd have gone quicker on the run with the broader angle?
It seems that he is also quite modest, he had a fair few more good runs and this has put him in the GPS top 10 for 2011 in 9th place with an average of 44.62knots (still to be confirmed and changed on This was the big news and it deserves credit as the level of the top guys speedsurfing this year has been incredibly high . Steve's own write up for the sessions can be found here -

Mark Bailey expressed the same sentiments as most in the latter part of his write up;
The first run was a real magic carpet ride, the course was like glass, sailing it was super easy and although I was underpowered on this run it gave my peak of the day - 40.32kts. All my other runs were within a knot or two of this and all-in-all I had a really good session. Came so close to quite a few of my PB's but unfortunately not enough so none claimed.
It was great watching the fast guys putting in some serious runs so expect some big numbers - its when you watch these guys sail it makes you realise how much there is still to learn.
I think that is one of the great things about this sport, there is so much more to learn and each time a few days like these happen the wind teaches its own lessons. Congratulations to all who sailed and did so well in those conditions, sorry if I have not mentioned you name directly as you all deserve your own little part of this.

Take care next week anyone who is up here in Western Europe, the winds look even stronger. Windguru is dark purple from Monday evening through until the end of the forecast on Saturday....
Good speeds and winds, I hope you have enjoyed reading this mini series.

'The Bus'

Pictures taken by Steve Thorp, Richard White and Alan Jones. Thank you for letting me use them for the report, without them I dont think it would look anywhere near as good. Cheers guys.


  1. freaky fast !!
    can you explain to an unknowing sailor like myself, why not heading back on the board ?
    have heard about fins and sails aiming at performance on one side more than the other, butt i imagine that is not the case?
    is it more about not disturbing the water for the next fellow/gal ??

  2. or are these really straight downwind runs ??

  3. To get good downwind speed you have far too much sail to be able to get upwind easily, and these guys are also on very very small boards and fins. All the kit is designed for the downwind run which means almost opposite parameters to the design for getting upwind.......i.e. flat sail max outhaul gets you upwind, baggy sail very negative outhaul is better downwind.

    It is possible to get upwind, but its a hell of a fight and saps energy as does any sailing in these conditions. With such big kit the walk upwind at the end is a sort of rest I find.

    There are fins and sails out there that will not work on the other side - such as the sail used by Anders Brindgal in his attampt at Luderitz last month. The fins can be angled for one tack so they are next to useless on the other tack........the real speed guys with the money / resources will have them in their quiver.......

    As for disturbing the these wind conditions the wind is doing that far more than a board sail can......if you look in the second vid you can see the people walking back upwind crouching so as to not disturb the wind when sailors are on a run.


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