Oisin wins Irish Speedsurfing Champs round 3

Duncan Slater

Oisin Van Gelderan
Oisin Van Gelderan

Irish Speed Surfing Championships Round 3 kicks off with a bang!

After a long windless winter, and the postponements of rounds 1 & 2 of the Irish Speed Sailing Championship due to a lack of wind, the Irish Speed crew were finally in luck for Round 3 with a good wind forecast. The race organisers were monitoring the wind forecast earlier in the week and with good winds on the cards for Ireland’s West Coast, it was decided to try out Brandon Bay in Kerry. Brandon Bay being better known for its legendary wave sailing spots such as Gowlane and Garry William Point, proved that it also has speed potential when the swells are low for Speed Sailing. Fermoyle with its close proximity to the Connor Pass and its unique thermal effects in a S-SW wind was location of choice for the weekends action.

The weekend started with a quick briefing at Jamie Knox’s Watersports centre before the sailors headed off for the quick drive over to Fermoyle. On arriving at the beach everything looked promising, 24knot off shore winds and seriously flat water had everyone rigging quickly to be the first on the water. 6-6.5m’s sails were the order of the day and most opted to try their small slalom boards for their first runs. Unfortunately the wind decided to play about and dropped just as the sailors got their feet wet.

After a short break, the wind came back in force, Oisin van Gelderan (Neil Pryde/JP/Surf Dock) was first on the water on the water and showed straight off that he was the man to beat! Posting some seriously quick speeds and really enjoying the conditions, he already had 4 or 5 runs in before the other competitors started posting speeds. With the results being based on the fastest 250m runs, many of the competitors decided to take the vast beach in Brandon Bay to their advantage by sailing greater distances to squeeze every last bit of speed out of their boards.

Speed virgin Stephen Williams and veteran speed surfer Keith Gorman (Naish) who travelled down together had the toughest battle of the day, both started the day trying to out-psych each other, Stephen being one of the lightest competitors took to the water on the biggest sail, realising how powered up he was then decided to go one further by being one of the first to switch to a dedicated speed board. Keith showing his experience had posted some quick runs initially on his slalom gear before deciding to switch to his speed board to show Stephen how to do it properly. While the gamble would have paid off if we were racing over longer distances, unfortunately for Keith, Stephen’s light weight was more beneficial for quicker acceleration and over the shorter distance he managed to be fractionally faster than Keith and taking 3rd place overall.

Last year’s Irish Speed Championship runner up Steve Flanagan (North Sails/Fanatic/Surf Dock) was back on the water after breaking several ribs only a few weeks ago in a speedsailing related accident. While still visibly in pain, took his new sails to the water managing to clock a few quick runs and confirmed himself 2nd place overall.

Alastair Nichol (KA/Chinook/Wind and Wave) was late to the water after scouting out some nearby possible speed locations; unfortunately he managed to miss the best conditions and struggled to get going on his small gear. Managing to clock one fast run before the wind died, he also managed the most spectacular spinout of the day with the board bouncing out and the fin coming completely clear of the water (see photos).

Contrary to the forecast, the wind died off later in the afternoon, we all decided to hang about and see if it would pick up again. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and at around 5 o’clock we decided to pack up and head over to Scraggane to see if the wind was any better there. The wind wasn’t going our way so we headed up to Spillane’s for a feed and to work out the results before holding the prize giving in front of the incredible backdrop that Brandon Bay has to offer.

A great weekend was had by all with some competitive racing, Surf Dock’s sailors shone through taking the top two podium positions; Oisin was the overall event winner which also puts him ahead in the Championship. Steve Flanagan followed closely in second with Stephen Williams in third. Keith Gorman also won a special award, while coming in just behind Stephen over 250m he managed to show him up over 500m!!

A special thanks to Chinook for providing the prizes for the event and to Jamie Knox for having a rescue boat on standby. Claire Metcalfe is owed special thanks for weathering it out the beach and taking some great photos of the action. The Speed Championships will take a short break over the summer months and will return in the autumn for some more action packed competition. In the meantime, get your GPS’s out and start clocking up some speeds; they all count towards the end of year ranking!

For more information on Irish Speed Sailing, check out www.IrishSpeedSailing.com

Results as follows:

Pos

Name

250m

Max

1

Oisin Van Gelderan

34.38

36.25

2

Steve Flanagan

32.30

33.77

3

Steve Williams

30.90

33.51

4

Keith Gorman

30.12

31.55

5

Alastair Nichol

22.14

24.75

Article by Steve Flanagan, Photos by Claire Metcalfe

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