The weekend of the 12th and 13th of November was the “roll over” window for the final Kerry leg of the 2011 IWA Wavesailing Tour and all was to play for in the overall standings. 2010 title holder Rob Jones and seasoned PWA sailor Mikey Clancy needed to beat current 2011 tour leader Oisin Van Gelderen by 2 clear places to have a chance of claiming the title for themselves. 

Jamie Knox Watersports had arranged for the head PWA judge, Duncan Coombes to be present to oversee proceedings, and train up a fresh panel of IWA judges for the upcoming seasons. Jamie Knox himself mustered his troops and provided his arsenal of event infrastructure, namely trailers and loud hailers, and also kindly organised a rather challenging forecast which guaranteed that this competition was to be something unique.

Saturday dawned with a beautiful swell, but as it was being groomed by a light offshore breeze and warmed by the November sun, instead of the more desirable howling sideshore winds, competition was put on ice, so to speak, and everyone went surfing. Duncan Coombes, no stranger to the waves of Brandon Bay, claimed the surf to be the best he’d experienced at this County Kerry beach, ever. After four hours of relentless paddling from some of the competitors this wouldn’t normaly be considered good competition preparation, but the surf was too good to miss.

A rather tame and relaxed evening in Spillane’s Bar, who kindly extended their season an extra week to accommodate the event, ended early as the forecast was for an early 8am start on Sunday. 

Despite unsurpassed knowledge of Brandon Bay and its surrounding area, even Jamie and Duncan were dealt a tough hand with the conditions that presented themselves early on Sunday morning. Howling Easterly winds on the Maharees meant that the preferred event site of “Dumps” was straight offshore and uncontestable. A quick drive round the Maharees though, revealed that one of the most elusive wavesailing spots known affectionately as “Hells Gates” was doing its thing, and would further improve over the following three or four hours it would be required to run a round of competition. All 17 entrants were squeezed into four 1st round heats, and competition got underway at 9:30 am in good overhead waves and 25 – 30 knots of super clean side off wind. Weapons of choice ranged from 4.2m2 – 5.0m2 sails and 65L – 95L boards. The structure for competition was 15 minutes heats with two waves to count.

All the top seeds got through the early rounds in far from easy conditions, but the biggest news was that Katie McAnena from Galway had made it through to the semifinals, bruising many a male ego on the way (again) and seccured herself the womans title in the process as well as joint 5th for the competition and 6th overall in the Gold fleet for the year. 

Tour leader, Oisin VG was looking like he had the event and overall title sewn up with his extensive experience in the increasingly offshore winds and tricky hollow waves, and advanced with ease into the final, along with young Ryan O’Leary who styled his way through to the last four with skills beyond his years.  Mikey Clancy showed off why he’s a regular on the world tour and took the 3rd slot in the grand final, whilst  Rob Jones only kept his hopes alive of  retaining the national title by scraping through by just 0.5 of a point in his semi final against local milliner and good friend, Niall Mellon.

With the eliminated sailors standing on the island beside the reef, and spectators lining the cliff above, the scene was set for the extended 20 minute final for all four sailors to catch plenty of waves and battle it out for the event and national title. 

Rob Jones opened up with two high scoring waves of big hacks and aerials in the first four minutes which had the rest of the fleet playing catch- up for the rest of the heat. Oisin VG seemed to have peaked too soon and fell on five consecutive waves in this final which put him under huge pressure for the last ¼ to get the scores he needed for the win. Unfortunately for him it seemed that it wasn’t meant to be and despite a last minute set wave, he failed to impress the judges and finished in 4th. Young Ryan O’Leary put on a superb display of agony and ecstacy landing a nice aerial on one wave and getting several beatings on others! He narrowly lost out to a beautiful Mikey Clancy aerial and finished 3rd, while Rob’s early lead proved impossible to catch meaning Mikey was 2nd and Rob 1st in what was a tense and action packed end to a great year.

But the drama didn’t end there either! A tabulation error for the overall standings meant that at the prize giving, Mikey Clancy was crowned IWA champion for 2011 and had ½ of his Champagne drank before the title was stripped due to an oversight on points and discards, and awarded to Rob Jones instead! A comical end to an epic event which Mikey took incredibly well, reporting on his blog that he had indeed been IWA champion between 2.00pm and 2:15pm on 13-11-2011!

Event results: 
1st : Rob Jones
2nd : Mikey Clancy
3rd : Ryan O’Leary

Overall 2011:
1st Rob Jones
2nd Oisin Van Gelderen
3rd, Mikey Clancy
Posted in: Windsurfing
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