Tony Tiffen at Brogborough Lake reports from their recent ‘Come and try windsurfing for free’ day…
And our Lord looked down upon the multitude on Brogborough’s shore and was impressed by the numbers that gathered there. Loaves and fishes were arriving (well burgers and sausages) and all was set for Brogborough’s annual have a go at windsurfing sessions.
This is our third year that we have tried to get as many people as we could to give our exhilarating sport a try. I hit the local press with everything I had, in every local Magazine and Paper I could find I splashed out on adverts. Then sat back and held my breath! “Would the capital outlay bring dividends?”
We had planned two weekends plus a bank holiday to hold the even,t May 21st,22nd plus May 28th, 29th and 30th. Bookings came in slowly at first, but soon accelerated to fever pitch. My original plan of three sessions each day with a maximum of 12 in a group had to be upped to sixteen to accommodate this rush ( I hated turning anyone away because we were full,) and in any case surely they wouldn’t all turn up?
New records were broken as the numbers passed the two hundred mark. So as the first Saturday dawned we all girded our loins for a very busy day. All we needed now was a warm day with a light breeze!
Now I have nothing against the wind God, I’m sure he has his good points, I’M JUST NOT SURE WHAT THEY ARE! Every weekend we pray for wind, what do we get? Nothing!
So just for once I get down on my knees and ask for a light breeze and wake in the morning to an on shore force five (it really isn’t fair!). Undaunted we carry on and the rescue boats work flat out carting boards upwind to give them a chance, but as if fastened to the bank by invisible bungee they hurtle back into “Walley’s corner” in a blink of an eye.
The first day is done and we lie exhausted on the bank. I return to my Tepee and pray to the wind God yet again. “Have mercy on us Lord”
I peer tentatively from my abode the following morning fearing the worse for unless my ears deceive me trees are coming down. I am greeted with the sight of white water everywhere and waves crashing onto the shore. Force seven left us with no choice but to cancel. Well at least the instructors and helpers had a good day.
After the first weekend they we all went back to work and licked their wounds. I then spent the following week in meditation and prayer, I considered perhaps the sacrifice of a team fifteen member might appease the wind God, But then again I suppose a parent might object, but then again maybe not!!!
Surely it wouldn’t blow an on shore gale again the following weekend?
It didn’t, it blew it off shore instead.
“I DON’T BELIEVE IT”
It was decided to cart the victims into a wind shadow on the left hand side of the lake, this had the effect of trying to teach windsurfing in some kind of vortex, slithers of wind hit them from all directions until eventually they cleared the wind shadow and were swept with amazing speed towards the bulrushes at the bottom of the lake a full mile away. The rescue boats spent all day searching for several members of Moses’s family.
With the day done, it was decided to leave the boards all tied up in the far corner in that wind shadow, for the forecast for Sunday was no better.
That night I was seen chasing one of the smaller members or our Team fifteen group brandishing a hatchet and chanting some strange incantations. Members grabbed me before the deadly deed was done.
Result! Sunday morning Force seven off shore. We had no choice but to cancel yet again.
I awoke bank Holiday Monday to find that at last the wind had dropped, only to be replaced by a Monsoon. Rain or no rain we carried on and I was amazed how many punters turned up, considering the conditions. Drowned rats in the shape of Instructors and helpers were revived with coffee and Burgers before setting out again, muttering under their breath as Oates once said “I may be gone sometime”
I went on my knees to the overworked instructors and helpers and asked if they could manage one more extra weekend to accommodate all those that we had to cancel.
For reasons that were beyond me they agreed, what a fantastic bunch they were, I got on the phone to all the disappointed clientele.
All that was left to do was sail 20 beginners board back from the corner in an off shore gale.
It was an experience like no other, more reminiscent of a rodeo event than actually sailing. Primos and Starboard Rio’s were seen battling through the elements on 2 metre sails, bucking and rearing and spitting out instructors and yours truly through the air as they went.
Jesus how do people learn on these things?
The week went by, it seemed that sacrificing children was not on the cards, so I contacted the devil with a view to selling my soul.
Confident that I had done a deal with the devil, I viewed the following weekend with confidence,
Apparently my soul is not worth anything, Saturday dawned force 4 to 5 off shore again. We couldn’t cancel again, so we struggled on. They Left in droves towards the bulrushes as if the very devil himself was after them (maybe he was!)
By Sunday I had given up, I was resigned to wind and wasn’t disappointed, force 5 again, same direction. By the evening we were shattered; over 200 hundred budding windsurfers had passed through our hands in what can only be described as atrocious conditions. Considering those conditions it was amazing that we only had one small cut lip in the way of accidents.
I cannot praise enough the commitment of all the instructors and helpers who all gave up their time free of charge (when they could have had three great weekends of windsurfing). I know of no other club that would give so much for the cause of windsurfing
‘Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.’
The upshot of it all was two hundred and four people tasted windsurfing. Twenty three of these booked RYA Start windsurfing courses, we enrolled loads of children onto our Team 15 and On Board sessions On Saturday morning to such an extent that we now have a waiting list. We broke all records this year despite the Wind God’s attempt at foiling us!
Will we do it again next year?
Don’t ask me now, for time heals memories. Maybe when twelve months are up, we will have forgotten the hell we went through!
More at broglake.co.uk