Pics: Joe Cockle Photography, Tiree Wave Classic
Reuben Shaw, Amateur Vice Champ, gives us a quick snapshot of what it’s like competing on the British Wave Sailing circuit in the ams section.
“Vice” Champion sounds like I’m good at woodwork but it’s a kind way of saying you missed out on first place. In fact, I’m really pleased to make it to the podium at all in only my third year of competitive wave sailing. This was the first year I managed to get to the Wales event and we had a really exciting tour because quite a few of us made it to all the events. One aspect of the BWA tour I hadn’t appreciated until now was that the different categories allow everyone to experience the excitement of competition at different levels of expertise. Although I’m not going for goiters and stalled forwards, the adrenaline and focus at the start of a heat is the same for everyone. And also that gutted feeling when you go straight out of your first heat in the single elimination – like I did at Cornwall. But luckily all the events that counted on the tour had double eliminations and this gives you a chance to try again.
It’s a great format as it really gets to the nitty gritty on rankings. In fact some of the 4th and 5th place battles have been the most fun. The Tiree event is what started it all for me 3 years ago when James “Coxy” Cox was looking for an unsuspecting victim to share a van for the long drive up there. Unsure whether to enter I gave it a go and had a great time, making it through some heats and learning how to compete. The Tiree trip is now a solid fixture in my calendar each year and dare I say it I look forward to the SUP surfing and island vibe as much as the windsurfing.
The whole tour is a great opportunity to travel and windsurf in different places around our stunning British Isles and to sometimes head out in conditions you wouldn’t normally bother with. It has really pushed my port tack sailing and everyone says competing raises your standard of sailing and it really has with me.
One highlight was winning the single elimination in Rhosneigr on port tack the first time I sailed there. Often it’s down to luck of catching a good wave but being in the right place at the right time makes it all happen. Having a good stop watch and putting down some basic scoring moves can get you a long way in the competition.
My first heat in Tiree was during Storm Ophelia and I landed a port tack forward, and got a solid wave ride with a big backside air and good front side hits that put me through to the single elimination final. Things didn’t go quite to plan after that but I was pleased to come away with 4th.
Each event has been really fun and the effort put in by the organisers and tour crew is greatly appreciated. The Avon comp was particularly fun even though we didn’t get the conditions to compete in. Maybe next year we’ll get some classic conditions at my local spot. I’ll need all the help I can get in the pro fleet…