Last weekend was the first UKWA slalom event of 2009 and boy were the conditions tough for us newbies! There are windy days and there are days when Dave White says that his 4.7m sail is too much and that he would like a 4.2m! Saturday was the latter and the smallest sail that I took was 4.7m so needless to say, I was somewhat overpowered (although not so much as when I tried my 5.4m race sail). It was blowing >30 knots on average (regularly gusting >40 knots) and the outer mark was amongst logo high waves. I have to say that being overpowered in that size swell didn’t make gybing easy!

We did 3 races on Saturday but most of our fleet didn’t manage to complete the first one. I was amongst those who didn’t finish, despite having a good start and being at the front approaching the first mark. Unfortunately a big wave took me out just as I was about to go into my gybe, swept me downwind and I couldn’t get back up to the mark! Anyway, I got a 6th in the second race (stupidly letting two people past at the finish) and 4th in the last race.  I even caught my biggest ever wave during race 2… a weird thing to do on a slalom board with sharp rails and no rocker! Racing finished on Saturday when the buoys would no longer hold in the waves and it was deemed too dangerous for the rescue boat to stay out.
On Sunday I felt that I was sailing well on my 8.4m (after initially trying the 7.2m which was too small) and was looking forward to some races within my comfort zone. Sadly the wind disappeared and racing was cancelled.

I was placed 6th overall in the challenger fleet (out of 14 competitors) which I’m quite content with, bearing in mind that I’d  never sailed in such wild conditions before and didn’t have a small enough sail. It was all good experience and I can take away some positives as well as things to work on.

Here are a variety of links: – I am in photos 24, 25 and 28 (K888) - report - video - results