So far it has been a waiting game at the Production Board Speed World Championships in Dungarvan, on Ireland\'s south coast. The World\'s elite of Speed-sailing are rigged and ready for action, and over the weekend the fleet of 45 sailors have been enjoying the Irish hospitality and unseasonable calm sunny weather. Over the last few days a cold Northerly airflow has brought frosty mornings and windless sunny days. Great if you are a tourist wanting to do some sightseeing... not so great if you are a 100kg Speed-sailor looking to tear down the Dungarvan Speed Strip at over 45 knots.
Event organizer and Irish Vice-Champion Martin Waldron discovered this Speed Strip on Google Earth, and immediately came down to test out the course and conditions. Clocking speeds of over 40knots on mirror flat water, it immediately became clear that this was a special course that deserved more attention, and he single handedly went about organizing the sponsorship and support to bring the World Cup of Speed-sailing to Irish shores. Not an easy feat to pull off on a short timescale, and full credit must go to his determination and commitment to the cause.
On Sunday, the forecast wind looked like it was picking up enough to see some action, and a few took to the water to test the conditions, and find out what sailing in 5 degrees feels like! No problem getting planing for Ireland\'s Ladies Speed Champion Noelle Doran (JP/ Neil Pryde/ Surfdock.ie), who qualifies as being the lightest competitor in the event - at a mere 55kg she is probably half the weight of some of the bigger guys!. But some of the big guns also took to the course including Holland\'s Ben Van Der Steen (Simmer/RRD), before the wind eventually died and left them stranded needing to thaw out back at the Park Hotel\'s leisure centre. Monday again promised some wind, and is always the way at speed events when waiting for wind, many were at the beach rigging.. rigging some more.. tuning.. sanding fins, tweaking battens, getting the stickers sorted out etc... etc... Windsurfers are a restless bunch when there\'s no action to be had!
So who is looking fast? Well Bjorn (Starboard/North) is here with 2 caddies and looks like he is prepared for every possibility, with what looks like the entire Starboard range finned and ready to go. Anders Bringdal (A+B/Callenger) has been tuning his Challenger sails prototypes, with his 4.8m was getting a lot of admiring glances yesterday (if only it was windy enough to use it!) The strong French contingent is headed up by Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic/North), current Speed Tour leader, who of course is looking to take the event win and the Title for the year. But the UK\'s Farrel O\'Shea (Simmer) cannot be ruled out as a serious contender too. He recently posted times of 47.5 knots on a production board, and is the ranking leader for the year on GPS-Speedsurfing.com. A very strong Dutch crew is led by Ben Van Der Steen (RRD/Simmer), while the Irish are also here in full force, with Irish Speed Champ John Kenny (Starboard/Severne) hoping to upset a few famous faces. (Well actually he already has... but that\'s another story).
The forecast for later in the week looks better, with a promise of decent wind on Thursday and Friday, though possibly not from the magic SouthWesterly direction. The course can be sailed in various directions though, so hopes are high that the good guys can achieve some serious speeds from this course, and truly show the potential of Dungarvan as a World Class Speed-sailing venue.
Stay tuned for more updates as the action unfolds, Oisin VG (JP/Neil Pryde/RedBull)