|WAVEJAM 4 - Rhosneigr|
|Thursday, 28 August 2008 00:00|
THEY CAME FROM FAR AND WIDE
Words and pictures by Simon Crowther.¬†
This Jam attracted sailors from all four corners of the British Isles, many driving 6-7 hours. With the arriving weather lighting up the whole West coast we feared that only the locals would show. After all with juice at ¬£1:30 a litre why would anyone leave a firing home break?
Well, it would seem we aren't the only idoits out there. Representing team Scotland were Scott 'self appointed clan leader' McDowell, Ian 'hard man' Gibson, Davey and Gregor all the way from Troon, crossing the border with arses out and faces painted blue. South East nutter Mark Bell made one of the longest journeys of the weekend - Anglesey is a fair old drive from Esssex! Nottingham's very own Crazy Horse also put in a show, and was keen to get right in on the action.
One guy in paticular deserves a special mention for turning up -Lewis Merrony. A member of the Pembrokeshire massive, on impulse he dropped everything to attend, even though West Wales was getting pounded by solid lines. A surprise entrant for us and just the type of sailor WaveJam is keen to attract. Lewis is yet another capable amateur who'd chanced a showing at a national wavesailing event only to spend the whole weekend on a windless beach. His first and last competition experience. When he first read about WaveJam in BOARDS back in Feb, he knew it was for him.
Ending a late shift at work on Friday night, Lewis tipped his boss off that he wouldn't be in the following night, jumped in the car and headed for Rossy. Now I'm going to have to buy this guy a map for the next one, 'cos his journey was both random and monumental. He set of on what should have been a 4hr journey and headed vaguely for the valleys. The people of Bala hadn't heard of Rhosniegr, so pointed Lewis to the hills. A few hours later and the hillmen of Snowdonia provided a route worthy of a Top Gear road test. Six hours total journey time with endless views of hills and sheep - I think James May would have made it quicker in a Morris Minor..
Many of the usual suspects were missing though. It seems we're in silly season, with Stag do's and weddings almost every weekend. Half the sailors were otherwise engaged, including Steve, who left me to run the show alone.
SATURDAY 9th AUGUST
As Saturday dawned Rossy was being blasted by strong Southerly winds -the beach was under siege! The Scots hit the water at 7am fully tooled up with 3.5s as the waves steadily built up to create the classic jumping paradise. Feeling 'the quickening', cries of ''there can only be one!'' were ringing out on each of Scotty McDowells jumps. And with conditions improving fast, it was time for the locals to take back their beach. The expression session was scheduled for 1pm to accommodate late arrivals, so I had a rare chance to get out there. Result!
The morning session was alive with aerial antics; locals were answering the call and fighting back with an impressive array of consistent forwards, backies and pushies. Greg Martin was hunting down every ramp, making effortless backloops. Dave Horrocks was stamping his authority on the Welsh waters with some fast, clean push loops. Even Funsport's owner Dave 'Bucky' Buckland managed to get out for an hour. Proffitt was warming up and now reaching for top gear, busting out one-handed backies, well timed stalled forwards, and some of the cleanest doubles I've seen for a while. Not one to be outdone, Phil Horrocks looked like he meant business, and it's clear to see why he's enjoyed some solid PWA results of late. He has really found good form and the consistency crucial for scored competition heats. Looking to inject a bit of sparkle into his jump arsenal, he's taken to throwing down the amazing push loop forward. Much respect! He's not just flirting with it either, -the forward rotation is fully committed, and although he's still landing wet I don't think it'll be long before he has this seemingly impossible trick nailed.
Lewis arrived just in the nick of time, frantically rigged... and within seconds of hitting the water a deep sea fog descended on the bay. (Lewis you're a jinx!) Ten minutes on and a fine mist lay on the front of my lens. All my lens cloths were soon soaked and the water build up was playing havoc with the camera's autofocus. The light was deteriorating rapidly and an eerie mood lay over the bay. I was unable to continue shooting and the session had to be abandoned. If only we'd started earlier...
SUNDAY 10th AUGUST¬†
Sunday was altogether different. The wind was light and more onshore, the sun was up -and Troon's troops were already out. Christ these Scotsmen are keen! By 10am both beach and water were a hive of activity. The morning's briefing was for an 1am start and all out 'power hour', with jumping being the primary focus given the conditions. The wind was so onshore, and the waves (which were quite sizable due to the overnight wind) convexing so much that jumping was easily possible on both tacks! This produced a melee of jumping manoeuvres, riders appeared to come from all angles, and where they converged it was mayhem.¬†
The power hour didn't pass without incident. A freakish move occured involving two of the big guns, Scotty McDowell and Russ 'Crazy Horse' Tetlow. Both were heading for the same wave on different tacks. Both had spotted the same take off.. ¬†Russ-''our masts touched ten foot up. Funny how we both had the same thing to say on lift off and how we both laughed our arses off after landing unceremoniously at the back of the wave, 'close call' now has a whole new meaning''¬†
So this had been an altogether different Wavejam. Much busier with the warmer August temperatures ad more manageable conditions, and a refreshing mix of both amateurs and pro's putting on a really good show, with the jumpng proving particularly entertaining.
In the Power Hour Phil Horrocks and Ben Proffitt clearly stood out. Phil headed out back of the bay to pick off the larger, more infrequent ramps, putting in some big back loops and forwards on both tacks. Ben concentrated on the more perfectly formed stunt ramps in the middle of the bay, mixing it up with well-timed smacks, taka's and clew first Ponches alongside his impressive arrry of port tack forwards and backies. Mark Bell showed good skills attacking the wave on both tacks, putting in some impressive and consistent jumping.¬†
For the amateurs, having intimidated everyone else on the water daring to challenge him, Scotty McDowell shone through in the first place. Particularly memorable was a huge stalled forward -I guess he figured he'd go over the top of people as opposed to round or through them. Ian Gibson was also on form in second, and put in a strong performance for team Scotland. Lewis 'I've finally made it' Merrony showed great skills too; his big jumps and smooth riding placed him third. You could see that given more favourable conditions , this guy could really rip.
Overall standout from the Pro's? From the Power Hour alone this was impossible to call. Had we been forced to choose a winner based on that , it would likely ¬†have been a split decision betwen Ben and Phil. It was a similar situation for the whole weekend's sailing, but in the end we felt Phil had edged it with his truly crazy push-forward attempts. Well done Phil!¬†
Thanks to everyone who made the trip on such a late call. Rossy prooved to be a great WaveJam location. Thanks must go out to Bucky and Lucas from Funsport for donating amateur prizes and being such great hosts. If you love your port tack jumping, you simply have to get yourself to Rhosniegr on a South to South-westerly, when the wind almost always produces great ramps and big moves.