Brandon Bay Delivers Again, Ireland 2019
For the third year running WSC headed to the beautiful Brandon Bay for what promised to be an amazing week. The forecast looked to be pumping, with some really windy days and waves predicted to hit 5m in height. The group met at the usual starting point for any great week in Brandon Bay, Spillanes Pub. The atmosphere was great, old acquaintances reminisced about the previous years and the new faces were warmly welcomed into the fold. There were more than one or two worried looks at the forecast but with calm assurances from Colin and Luke everybody was ready to brave whatever the weather would bring (the Guinness and Whiskey likely helped the courage a little).
It was the day with the lightest wind forecast for the week, so with that in mind the call was made early to grab SUP boards and head down to Killcummin, at the far end of the bay, where the wind would be closest to offshore and the best place to be if the wind increased. At the beach we were met with a light cross shore breeze, not nearly enough to windsurf. Everybody got in for a SUP in the waves and the conditions were difficult with the chop and small waves but we still saw lots of smiles and waves caught.
The afternoon began with a good bit of beach theory covering kit set up, making sure that when the wind blew everybody would be sure of how to rig and get there gear feeling well balanced.
The rest of the afternoon was spent waiting/hoping for the wind to increase, which it failed to do in the end. The bonus was that with the tide now pushing and the wind having dropped completely the late afternoon SUP session was really good, with the waves glassy, clean and a foot bigger than the morning. We all supped till sundown before calling it a day.
Wind was forecast but not until the afternoon, after deliberating at the beach with some tired SUP stars from the day before we convinced everybody this was another SUP morning at Dumps and not to be missed. The waves were clean, long lines with some good size sets. The whole gang got on the water together and the atmosphere was great, lots of smiles, shared waves and we even had the pleasure of being joined by Jamie and Tom Knox to show us how it’s really done.
With the afternoon came the wind, we ended up at Stradbally with some small waves and cross-shore wind, the perfect opener to get everybody warmed up. The action was great, some good little jump ramps and some ride-able waves gave us lots of action. There were lots of stand out performers that day, big shout to Mauro for showing us what he learned in cape town with a absolute belter of a forward. Great forward attempts were also thrown by Paul, Paolo, Vincenzo and Mungo, so good effort boys. The wave riding was dominated by Dirk on the Monday who always seemed to be shredding a wave with great style and timing.
This was the day that everybody had worried about at the start of the week, but as the day dawned it was apparent that it perhaps wasn’t going to be quite the Redbull storm chase we had hoped/feared. That said the conditions were good but forecast to only last the morning. An early start got everybody to the beach for 9:30, where after a quick bit of wave ride theory we hit the water. It was windy with sails ranging from 4.2 to 5.3. The waves were clean and on the sets a good ½ mast high. Everyone did really well in some tricky wind and pushed themselves on the water. We saw massive improvements from the first day, the first sparks of the sailor Mark used to be as he cut some really nice turns and both Ians were keeping much more speed on the wave and turning smoother. Steve was having so much fun he completely forgot to take his wife to the airport. Geoff was ripping, sailing the biggest part of the break, catching the set waves and getting some super late smacks on the lip, resulting in at least one stylish aerial. A definite highlight was the incredible rainbow, which lasted for 2 hours, reminded us of the beauty of this special place. The wind dropped as forecast so the day ended earlier than most would have liked. We retired to the green room for a couple beers and a little video debrief of the days action.
Three action packed days in and everybody was feeling the burn, a few aching muscles and a couple of injuries. Mungo and Grant returned to the water but Paolo rested, nursing a little tweak to his knee. The wind was light and Mark and Jason raced out immediately for a SUP session, the minute they hit the water it was clear that it was windier than it looked! It was not long before the sails were rigged and people were enjoying the small but clean waves that the offshore winds were giving us. The wind lasted all afternoon and everyone sailed until their body told them it was time to finish. The progression in everyone’s sailing was clear to see with Pekka, Samuli, Vincenzo, and Dirk all attempting aerials, leaving their top turns as late as they could. Ian Phillips was ripping the waves on his SUP with his sail getting nice and animated through the turns.
Strong SW winds and a good size swell were what we woke up to on Thursday. High tide was late afternoon so there was no rush to get there as the conditions would only get better as the day progressed. Killcummin was the spot, with everybody neatly parked on the beach tactically positioned to offer the most shelter from the torrential wind and rain that battered the beach. Small sails were the order of the day with gusts out back in excess of 40 knots. These were great conditions, challenging, but soooo much fun. In the squals the rain had you sailing with your eyes closed, looking backwards to try and shelter your face, navigating blind in 40+knots! The reward was some really epic waves when you caught one.
Today was the day when all of the previous coaching came together and the whole groups skills were at their peak. It is hard to single out any individual for praise when every single person sailed so well. Jason (the slayer) finished the day with bleeding hands and a crazy grin having really pushed himself to the next level. Grant found his timing and smacked the lip on a number of occasions, finally understanding how late you need to go. Dirk, smooth as always, just got a little later and a little more aggressive with his turns which was all he needed to get airs. The Italians; Paolo, Mauro and Vincenzo, all searched for the latest sections to hit and really looked smooth… maybe some wave riding rules of the road needed for next year! Ian Matthews got the wave of his life, with 4 to 5 turns, keeping his speed, cutting some spray and improving with every turn. Mungo consistently ripped all day with a very smooth and easy style. The Fins; Pekka and Samuli, looked at home in the extreme conditions, both getting the confidence to hit that late section every time. Geoff continued to hunt the biggest waves and got some sweet aerials in the bag. Steve, Mark, Ian P and Paul’s style and speed improved allowing them to gauge some really nice turns.
The westerly wind was a very slow starter on Friday so the morning was a quiet one, early afternoon after a trip to Killcummin the decision was made to have a bit of a foiling session at Scraggane. It turned out to be tricky foiling conditions with gusty, west winds and the high tide making the launch a bit tricky. It was a gentle way to end the week and a few got their first foil flight, which is always a special feeling. The day ended as the week began, in Spillanes Bar, rounding off an action packed clinic, where we SUPPED, wind SUPPED, surfed, windsurfed and foiled, showing that whatever the conditions Brandon bay has you covered.
Special thanks to the legend that is Jamie Knox for being a big part of what makes this place so special, his knowledge and willingness to share it makes sure that anyone visiting Brandon Bay gets the best the place can offer.
Big thanks also to our photographer, Mar Saude, for braving the conditions all week to capture the amazing moments on camera, the pictures are incredible. Its not a easy place to stand all day, especially if you come from warmer climates, and the photos perfectly showcase the action and beauty of this place.
Final thanks to Lizzie at Black Sands Travel for arranging the accommodation. We took over 3 great cottages on the same plot, perfectly positioned for the bay and the pubs!
We have already set the dates and reserved the accommodation for two weeks next year; 26th September - 3rd October and 3rd - 10th October. With names already on the list and a sell out clinic for the last 2 years don’t wait to book your place.