Tuesday 29th Sept- Will started driving at 5.30am whilst I stayed in the back asleep. We stopped for Sunrise around 7 and were in Thurso checking the surf at the other end of the country, only 24 hours after leaving Cornwall! After checking Brimms and munching a quick bit of brekkie we watched one guy grab a few overhead waves at Thurso East so started getting in the wetties. As the guy got out wearing gloves we both looked at each other thinking ‘it must be bloody cold if a locals got gloves on’ so grab gloves and hats and ran down the reef. As the wind dropped off and the surf got better we were soon both cooking in our new 5/4 West suits and decided to grab a drink and loose some rubber so we could best make the most of waves which were getting better all the time. Fed and minus the hats and gloves we were back on it, 4ft clean and sunny with 4 other guys out. We surfed until we couldn’t paddle any more. Sweet!
We were then back in the van and checking out John ‘o Groats, with the accustomed picture and postcards and off to Fraserburgh. 41/2 long hours, most of which we could see our destination on the other side of the Moray Firth and we were in the hostel having a beer with Mogsy.
Wednesday 30th Sept- Registration at 9.30 and then we were straight down to the beach and the best spot on the day, The Waters of Phillorth. Cross on wind from the left and about 2 foot of mushy waves. Not my favourite conditions!
The seniors kicked off proceedings with the wind a bit up and down. We ran the first round then women and then the men. Dodgy wind which was up and down and a bit weak waves which were crumbling and not good for backside riding meant I went for a bigger kite, to be able to ride frontside. I took the 11 Rebel and went powered grabbing a couple of small ones but not doing enough to take the win placing 2nd behind Genty who progressed straight to round 3 where as I was in to round 2 against Richie Sills on his forehand, who somehow also placed 2nd in his first heat?
After another round of seniors we were back on and the wind had picked up a shed loads so now we were all powered on 7s. With only 2 waves to count and it being really setty I opted to try and grab the bigger ones and ride in my regular stance on my backhand, knowing fore well, Sillsy has a killer frontside snap. I managed to grab 2 good ones but in the end I lost by .5 of a point so ended up the first day a disappointing 6th. Both Will and Sillsy then won their round 3 heats to progress straight to the final, while Genty went through against Elmo from the losers final. With the wind now honking and the waves coming through more and more in sets, it was really a case of who got the best waves and be able to beat Sillsy's fins out hacks. Will just managed to pull it off, grabbing the biggest waves of the day and took 1st ahead of Sillsy and Genty. Celebratory beers with Will and then early to bed for the forecasted jump in swell in the morning!
Thursday 1st Oct- Meeting at 9 the wind was real light but we could hear the waves pounding the beach just over the road. The spot for the day was Burgh or Town End as the wind was more NW which gave cross off conditions and the swell was pumping at around 4-5ft and clean. With everyone looking out thinking it was a bit dodgy, I was keen to get on it as it looked much more my conditions and straight away pumped up the 11. We were up first as the seniors seemed to think it was too big and too light?
This time round I didn’t have any problems and caught a bomb right on the buzzer and advanced straight to round 3 where for the first time in competition I met Will. With the waves picking up and now double overhead, my 11 Rebel was performing brilliantly and allowed me to scoot back upwind to get the next set. I won advancing to the final, while Will placed 2nd and went into the losers final where he defeated Genty allowing me my 2nd crack at beating him.
The final was now set and all strapless. Me on my 6’3 Resin8, Will on his 6’1 Santa Cruz and Sillsy on a 6’0 JP. I grabbed a cracker right on the buzzer and milked it all the way to the beach getting about 5 turns and a nice floater. I could now wait around for the next good set knowing I only needed a back up score. After a long wait I eventually found it and again nailed some nice turns riding all the way to the beach to take the win ahead of Will in 2nd and Sillsy 3rd. Ye Ha!
A lovely treat was fish & chips for lunch supplied by Richard W who was also competing in the seniors.
We then tried to run the seniors but they just complained it was not windy enough, even though it was exactly the same as it had been all day and going off.
With no wind forecast for Friday, the organisers laid on a quiz night in the pub and we all had a nice few cheeky ones!
Friday 2nd Oct- With a lie in and a slight head, we met up at 10.30 and did some interviews for Scottish TV, The Outdoor Show and then went for brekkie at Tesco’s. As the wind swung more offshore we went back to The Waters of Phillorth and found some nice 3ft surf. We then tried some Haggis for lunch before returning to the hostel for a shower and then off out for some ten pin bowling all laid on by the organisers. I drove so as to keep a clear head for the forecasted gales the next day, which lead to great amusement for me as everyone got progressively more drunk and worse at bowling. Genty showed he bowls a lot and almost got a full run of strikes.
Saturday 3rd Oct- We woke up to it howling but not too windy and went back for the 3rd time to The Waters of Phillorth to find small waves and around 30knts of breeze. We went straight in to the seniors and women’s 2nd day of competition and managed to get though quite a few heats before even a 5m kite was too big and it was blowing around 50knts. We finished for the day and headed off to check out the wind near the lighthouse and take some pics. For the evening there was food laid on at the Tufted Duck pub which was all very nice. I drove again keen to keep a clear head with it forecast to be pumping again early.
Sunday 4th Oct- The final day and I rose early to check out several different spots on the way to the 9am meeting. After a bit of disagreement from the organisers we drove to a spot called the Boneyard, which I had already checked only to see for themselves that it wasn’t working before we drove back to Burgh where it was pumping up to triple overhead on some sets and 6m weather. I was straight out pumping up and urging everyone on so that we could get started and finished before the wind dropped as it was forecast to by 1pm. Eventually the seniors got ready and we ran the last of their heats before a round of women and then us.
For my first heat it was still blowing nicely and I was powered on the 6, grabbing a sick wave to start and finishing with a floater onto almost dry sand. I progressed straight to round 3 where I met up with Will and Genty again. By now the wind was dropping fast and I had to go on the 9 Rebel to have enough power. The heat started with a cracking set coming through and I took the first one with Will on the 2nd. Will then found it hard to get back upwind while the Rebel just flew and I was right back in the peak ready for the next set. The next one was even better than the first and I rode it all the way beating will for the 3rd time and progressing to the Final.
Will was then against Ibby in the losers final who was on fire on his 10 Vegas and loving the speed and power of the waves on the new North Kontact. Ibby got a couple of corkers and knocked Will out leaving me, Sillsy and Ibby in the final. With the wind dropping still I wished I had my 11 ready but had no time so had to go with the 9 knowing that I couldn’t win the overall but could still do it for Cornwall and beat Sillsy who had to win to take the 2009 title from Will.
It started off well and I got a sick one as did the others however. Sillsy was then left downwind and unable to get back while I had just enough power to stay upwind. On the next set I took off on possibly the biggest wave of the comp, cranking a nice top turn but hitting a funny bit of sideways chop off the bottom and falling. As I made my way back to try and grab the next wave Ibby powered past and turned onto the wave I needed and rode all the way to the beach. With no more set waves Ibby took the win and best wave prize ahead of me in 2nd and Sillsy 3rd which gave Will, his 3rd UK Wave Master Title in a row.
After prize giving where Will thanked everyone, we started the long drive home, stopping for a sleep in Carlisle before making the rest of the way south and to warm Cornwall where after dropping Will off I drove around the corner to people in shorts and bare tops. A bit of a difference to 3 jumpers, 2 pairs of trousers, woolly hats and coats we had on up there!
Big thanks goes to Mark and Maggie from Synergy, Richard for the fish supper, the BKSA and all the crew and everyone else who made it a cracking event. Especially the Scottish surfers who I found to be the friendliest I have come across anywhere in the world.
An even bigger thanks to my sponsors who have allowed me to have the best wave riding equipment you can get- North Kites, Resin8 surfboards, West wetsuits, Freeriders Surf Shop.
See you soon I hope
Lee ‘Pasty’ Harvey