26 May The Spring Summer Masterclass Tour May/June 2017
The 2017 spring/summer Masterclass tour kicked off in Kerry in early May. There’s a Gaelic word for the weather between mid April and mid May (it escapes me) and it translates as something like ‘gloriously unpredictable.’ And such it was this year with the emphasis on ‘glorious.’
We planed on most days in south or westerly airstreams so the temperatures were positively tropical by Atlantic standards.
On the last day, I made a half-hearted attempt to clean out the van and realised that I’d used every bit of kit I’d taken – sails from 6.7 down to 4.2, 2 SUPs, a 109 fsw, and 93 and 84 wave boards – now that’s the sign of a great trip.
Both weeks had a good mix. We had fun on the 30 knot days but the most memorable and fruitful were the 15 knot side off sessions with a head high swell – conditions most people just don’t encounter on their home waters. The easy wind and perfect direction gave everyone the chance to ‘get’ down the line wave -riding.
Apart from beautiful wave sailing with the best backdrop in the world, a highlight was, as usual, SUPing and sailing with Fungi the dolphin (still alive after all these years) in Dingle harbour. But even better this year was a day SUP surfing on Inch beach on oily waves and under cloudless skies.
And so to Vass …
A week later we roll up in a place that could not be more different in terms of scenery and conditions. June 4th was the earliest I’d ever run a clinic in Vass. In the high holiday season, Vassiliki bay can be insanely busy but it was gloriously uncrowded – and most importantly, the thermal wind kicked in every afternoon. It was well timed. The moment we left a 100º heatwave arrived and killed the wind for nearly a week.
It was classic Vass – light wind ‘twiddling’ (tacks, gybes, tricks etc) in the morning, followed by a classic Cosmos lunch, followed by a planing afternoon, followed by dinner in the town, which just gets better and better.
Talking of improvements, Stellios, the owner/manager of the Cosmos, has taken the hotel to a new level, with a new chef, new menu and new and very classy cocktail bar at the far end off the pool.
The Neilson operation is still as slick as ever.
They’re gradually replacing all the Tushingham sails with Severnes. Right now there’s a wide selection of Gators, Converts and Blades, as well as a few Ezzies.
On the clinics where people don’t bring their own kit, choice of board and rig each day is crucial. Given that most of the group were looking to improve carve gybes, I steered them towards big freestyle waves, notably the Starboard Kodes which turned out to be the most popular – they’re so early to plane and yet have the turning characteristics of wave boards.
Check out some highlights
…And then to Rhodes
After 2 days at home to recharge batteries (my own and those in the camera), it was straight to Rhodes. This the 5th straight year I’ve run a June clinic from the ProCentre in Ialyssos – and looking back at the stats, in that time we have had just 2 non planing days. It’s a place where you ignore the forecast. If it’s sunny, the wind usually comes no matter what Windguru says – and this year we planed every day.
I love all the clinic destinations for different reasons but I’ve grown to like Rhodes more every year. The hotel staff are ever more friendly; the standard of food in town for dinner is outstanding in terms of quality and value; the ProCentre kit is immaculate; and on the water I see people making real progress. I say ‘real’ because the swelly water state makes people think tactically, improve rig recoveries and waterstarts – and think not just about ‘how’ to gybe but ‘where’ to gybe. Initiating gybes at the wrong moment, up the back of a swell for example, is one of the most common reasons for messing up.
And now I’ve earned a little break!
Dates for Kerry, Vass and Rhodes 2018 will appear on the website soon.