Thursday, 03 November 2011 17:20
Tracht beach in Kinvara, Co Galway again played host to the final series on the Irish Slalom Tour 2011. 2011 has been a fantastic year for breeding new slalom racers as new faces showed up and shook up the mix. Overall conditions were mixed over the 6 Series Events but when it was good it was real good! From Cork to Kerry up to Newtownards and Donegal; back by Dublin; there was nowhere better to finish than in the fishing village of Kinvara. The community of Kinvara invited us in 2010 for the first year and we promised we would be back. The October Bank Holiday weekend was lining up to be a good one, and it delivered. Saturday was forecasting 18-20 knots with gusts up to 25 knots and Sunday similar with slightly less gust. A few sailors arrived on Friday evening to give the course a run through and give a few local spectators a taste of the action to come.
The Irish Slalom Series were delighted to welcome a number of new racers (but experienced windsurfers) to the competition Gerry Staunton and Keith Gorman at registration. The youngest competitor at this weekend's event and new competitor to the series was Cathal Breathnach. His aggressive and skilful windsurfing all weekend did not go unnoticed and it was widely agreed this kid could be a future champion. Definitely one to keep an eye on! Damien Cross was up from the deep South supporting a brand new Tabou slalom board. Few of the lads had tried it out for him on the Friday evening (just to warm it up, as it had been sitting in a box)..
Racing commenced with 32 registered sailors across the Gold and Silver Fleet. Greg Day was race OD for the weekend. Greg gets tired with all the plaudits but we can't thank him enough for dedicating his time and skill to another great weekend. When others would give us a break, Greg always raises the flag giving us the 5 minute race warning.
Racing commenced on Saturday on the beautifully flat Tracht beach. Throughout the day the wind and swell developed to give us some of the best racing all year, comparable to the Kerry event. Sail range was from 5.8 up to 8m sails with a downwind slalom course. Hannes Louet-Feisser was back in Kinvara to sustain his Number 1 position in the overall Irish Slalom Series and fend off his close competitors like Maurice Owens, Stevie Williams, Cormac O'Brien and Gareth Nihill. Pearse Geaney (2010 Champion) returned to action for the Kinvara event in fine form securing a number of 1st places. He scared everyone a little by announcing their new born baby would be ready for racing next year…….. watch this space!
Some other competitors were showing some fine skill over the weekend. Aiden Granfield found some magic dust over the past couple of months as his early planing was leaving most behind and those in front a little nervous. Probably the most unlucky sailor this weekend was Neil Sandes. Neil arrived to registration on Saturday morning with his usual smile until he realised the trailer was lighter than usual. He had somehow managed to drop a few sails and a mast on his journey to the event. Fortunately for him a local had seen 'fishing-rod' like equipment on the road and had put it aside. Then just as he was about to launch from the beach, a mast broke! We did intend doing a collection for him that night, but we drank it instead :-).
A big thank you to Paul Rayner who turned up despite a bad back injury and took some great photos. Looking forward to seeing Paul next year again. Another massive thank you has to go to Suzanne Bowman who helped out with lunch times on both Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully Richard picked up the bill in the Carlton because it was well deserved!
The Silver Fleet has been competitive all year but with a number of new entrants for the Kinvara event, things were heating up. Steven Lawless (from Tullamore) had one of his best events and could be seen smiling from the beach. With two first place finishes he was putting a lot of pressure on Gerry Staunton and Keith Gorman. Gerry in the end had the resolve and technical skill to stave off the competition and finish 1st overall for Kinvara. Gary Browne showed like the lads he is ready for some Gold fleet competition with a number of podium finishes. A lot of kudos have to go to Eilis NiDhuill who was unfortunately the only female competitor this weekend. A number of great finishes saw her finish 10th in the Silver fleet this weekend and 1st overall for the Silver Fleet Series.
Saturday evening Kinvara hosted the Irish Windsurfing Association AGM. Gareth Nihill was deservedly returned as President after another very successful year in charge. The AGM proved to be a great forum for discussing windsurfing in Ireland and the number of new initiatives proposed by the IWA.
Sunday's racing was a little more relaxed with the stronger winds forecast not coming through. 8 fun slalom races were ran back to back and a number of master blasts with all 32 competitors. Conditions could not have got any better for windsurfing in Ireland – flat water, warm breeze and an impending thirst after two days on the water. The standard in Irish Windsurfing is consistently improving with competitors like Paul Reid and Barry Whitelaw securing top 5 finishes. Cormac O'Brien and Stevie Williams have been fighting it out all year with Cormac edging it this year.
Prize giving for the weekend was hosted by Maurice Owens of the ISS on the beach in Tracht. Prizes were sponsored by Rusheen Bay Windsurfing and presented by Danny Mulryan. A big thank you has to be extended to Danny and the RBW team for financial support and organisational assistance with the event. A lot of background work went into getting the boats on the water and sandwiches delivered. We were also delighted to have the support of two Zapcat boats and crew.
Gold Fleet - Kinvara
- 1st Place Pearse Geaney
- 2nd Place Hannes Louet-Feisser
- 3rd Place Cormac O'Brien
Silver Fleet – Kinvara
- 1st Place Gerry Stauntan
- 2nd Place Steven Lawless
- 3rd Place Keith Gorman
Silver Fleet Ladies Category –
- 1st Place Eilis NiDhuill
Sunday night saw the end of year dinner hosted by the Pier Head Restaurant and Bar and the presentation of the overall Slalom Series prizes. All competitors had a big cheer for newly crowned ISS Champion Hannes Louet-Feisser. The nice guy of Irish Windsurfing who has been taking fashion tips from Paul Galvin, was also crowned worst shirt of the night.
The ISS Team with the help of the IWA President Gareth Nihill issued the prizes for the final round of the Irish Slalom Series
The overall winners for the ISS Slalom Series Gold Fleet 2011 are:
- 1st Place Overall Winner Hannes Louet-Feisser
- 2nd Place Overall Maurice Owens
- 3rd Place William Revels
- Glen Worden
The overall winners for the ISS Slalom Series Silver Fleet 2011 are:
- 1st Place Overall Kevin McGuinness
- 2nd Place Overall Stephen Lawless
- 3rd Place Gene O'Hare
Overall Winner in Ladies Category
- Eilis NiDhuill
The success of this event is down to the contribution of Greg Day and Rusheen Bay Windsurfing. Our events wouldn't attract such numbers if it wasn't for our sponsors and we would like to thank Jurys Inn who sponsor a weekend away, Boards Magazine for its annual subscription and Cloudmaster.ie (Cormac O'Brien) for his GPS tracking of races. A special thank you must be extended to the people of Kinvara, especially the Pier Head Restaurant and Connelly's Bar who gave us such a warm welcome. Finally the event would not have happened without the assistance of Maurice Owens and Kevin McGuinness.
GPS replays Kinvara.
Thanks to Cormac O’Brien and
Enjoy the winter sailing and see you next year..