Wednesday, May 6, 2009

English People are Tougher

Last week, I visited some friends in the UK who live in a place called Tynemouth which is just outside Newcastle. Northeast England is not exactly known as a windsurfing destination per se, but everything we had heard is that April is a pretty good month there and there are tons of spots with varying conditions. I figure what the hell, it's an excuse to check out a country I hadn't been to and visit some really cool people who I had met in Maui last October.

So the trip was booked. I would join Dave from Epic Sessions on a trip to visit our friend Chris Peacock. We would indulge in local food and drink (or at least I would, ha!) and try our hand at windsurfing in the North Sea (I can't think of a colder sounding body of water).

Perhaps I should write a culture piece about my experiences with the local Jordy culture and the ominous food choices including pickled eggs and "BEASTY HAGGIS", but for now I'll stick to the windsurfing.

The North Sea is cold. True story. While I had some really nice beach weather it seems that most of the good windsurfing comes along with some pretty bitter weather. I might be off here, but I can't remember a photo shoot in the UK with really sunny weather. Can someone correct me?

The good news? The features of England's coastline create a HUGE variety of incredible windsurfing conditions. When you look at an aerial map, you can see that the coastline has limitless variation to it. It looks like a fractal diagram from advanced algebra. There are tons of tidal inlets/wave setups, and places where you can get in behind the chompy zones of beautifully breaking waves.

Did I mention the incredible scenery? You find yourself windsurfing in front of rolling bright green hills and beautiful castles. You almost feel like some modern day viking battling the cold seas with ancient architecture right before your eyes. I managed to neither rape nor pillage, as I'm sure my readers will be glad to hear.

I certainly could not claim that I caught extremely epic conditions, but we did get one day of powered 6.3 (easily could have been 5.5) on some tasty sets of crumbling windswell in a spot called Beadnell Bay. Since we were sharing gear, we also pulled out a Naish SUP board with a 4.5 and split time riding that as well. It was unbelievably fun. We didn't have harness lines on that kit, so that was definitely robbing me of hand energy.

So now for my editorial regarding the title. Maybe I'm soft (ok, I'm definitely soft), but given the toughness of the weather, I have to tip my hat to those folks that live in cold places and windsurf. Canadians, Englishmen, Norwegians, heck, even those clowns from New York and the Great Lakes. I'm originally from Florida and I gotta say I don't think I ever would have gotten into windsurfing if I had lived in one of these colder locations.

Now that I've caught the bug, it all makes more sense. That said, I can't imagine having spent time putting on a dry suit or 5mm wetsuit to uphaul a windsurfer unsuccessfully over and over. I always tell people that the most important quality for learning windsurfing is persistence. If someone from a place like Northeastern England wants to windsurf, it's gonna take even more persistence... and a pair of weatherproof brass balls.

I'll tip back a terrible American ale for that bloke tonight!

I'll try to post up a few pics this weekend... off to Vegas!