Words Finn Mullen // Photo Tam Mullen
Originally published within the January February ’16 edition.
The front door is bleeding a mix of arctic air and rain, not your normal rain, this is the winter sort that runs rampant like an angry hose spraying hypothermia. My wife has baby in her arm rushing upstairs to higher ground, she manages to point to the leaks with a look that says fix it or we will drown, rapidly. I press my finger to the wood, it has the consistency of sodden loo roll and the insulation quality of a sieve. In crescendo to the high pitched squeal of drafts and turbo injected hail knocking down what remains of our ‘door’, the boiler is wheezing the dying gasps of a mechanically unsound oil burning bagpipe. Welcome to winter, it’s conservatively 50 knots outside, there’s more darkness than light and temperatures are plummeting faster than Hilary Clinton’s approval rating. As a windsurfer there is only once choice, go sailing. I ‘duct tape’ the door in a work that mimics MacGyver and early Jackson Pollock. Emergency boiler man is enroute, I tell him I can’t be there to meet him in person as I’m going windsurfing, the phone line goes silent like I’ve just delivered the best drop mic moment in telecommunication history. “What?”, he eventually splutters, clearly sensing the unsound mind of a person he can charge what he wants times four to. “Windsurfing!”, I say, asserting my sport defensively to his derision that windsurfing wasn’t the wisest decision that day. Maybe he was right, I dinged my board when a gust threw me judo style onto a rock. The sea flushed me up and down the beach, colliding with, not riding the waves and the wind thumped on my sail like a bully beating the little guy. To an outsider, our sport must seem on days like these to be a strange form of self-torture. For us, it’s all pleasure. The attraction is the distraction but it’s a healthy one. From the moment I rigged, I’m focused. No matter what is happening to the door or boiler, it’s quickly forgotten in the pursuit of wind on sail. It’s that purity of thought and purpose that can dissolve worries faster than any medicine or mediation. Who needs a yoga mat when you’ve got a 4.0 metre and a force 7! “When I am in the water I forget about any problems outside.”, says a philosophical Iballa Moreno.
This issue we examine how a focus on windsurfing has shaped people’s lives from amateurs to pros and designers to photographers. “My dreams keep me focused.”, says an inspired Matteo Iachino after achieving a remarkable maiden PWA world slalom title. Read more on how the PWA champions of 2016 achieve their winning ways in our ‘Focus’ title feature this month.
Focus on your own performance as we kick off 2017 with Jem Hall’s boundless encouragement to work on our fundamentals with his top ten tips for improvement while Harty takes us to the sea again focusing on the techniques required to master the “undulating environment”.
The test team focus on crossover kit this month, 105 litre boards and 5.7 sails, the stalwart of many a UK quiver. Staying on native shores, we look at Tiree, long the focus of UK wave sailing competition. To celebrate its thirtieth year we speak to some of the locals to learn what a difference windsurfing has made to their lives and community. “It opened my eyes to possibilities that I didn’t know existed until I came into contact with the event and for a young island kid, this exposure was vital in terms of opening up my mindset to options and alternatives in life.”, confesses William Angus Maclean.
Exposure of a different kind is discussed in our profile of Sofie Louca and Paul Karaolides A.K.A. Fish Bowl Diaries as we focus on their work as award winning windsurfing photographers, who until very recently were based in the UK before locating to their new home in Maui.
A more temporary relocation to sunnier climes was the trip by the Severne team to Mauritius featured this month. Long serving rider Scott McKercher tells us about the focus of Ben Severne – “intensely driven and a perfectionist .. who likes to make ‘cool shit’ to make windsurfing more fun” and why “a trip like this truly lets you remember why you became a windsurfer.”
In such a diverse sport, it is challenging to distill windsurfing down to a core focus but we will leave the last word to reader Matt Farrah who we think sums it up sweetly. “We’re a lucky bunch, us lot. It’s more than just sharing (varying levels of) skill in a sport. We all know and sense that. Whether you can push-loop off a mast high wave, or just about beach start, it’s the deep, primal emotion we tap into after experiencing raw, wild nature – that’s the essence of it all. If only all the world windsurfed it’d surely be a better place? Of course, if all the world was to head to Bigbury on the next windy day it’d be a frigging nightmare down there. But you take my point!”
PHOTO Finn Mullen focuses on his landing on a stormy winter’s day in the Irish Sea off the coast of his native county Down, Northern Ireland.