Lough Ennell was host to the first fun slalom weekend of 2011. Flights had been rearranged, plans changed and family occasions cancelled on the basis of a good long range forecast that ended up providing two quality days of racing and great fun; on and off the water. Barry Whitelaw (aka the Bat), ISS competitor and all round windsurfing 'super' enthusiast organised the event to the minuets detail. It has been 20 years since racing was held in Lough Ennell but with its scenic backdrop to Belvedere House, great facilities and flat water blasting, it won't be long till we are back.
The wind on Saturday was blowing 10-12 knots and gusting up to 20 knots out on the course. A figure of eight course was set up by Paddy and Ken Whitelaw. We owe the two lads a big thank you for their help over the weekend providing the safety boat and setting up the various courses. As race OD's go Paddy was proving to be a hard task master with nine races completed on Day 1. The racing at times was epic with heavy gusts and wind shifts providing the perfect platform for technical riders to excel. The floating start to all races allowed the action commence from the very start. Big sails were the name of the game with everything from 6.7 to 11.2 metre sq sails up, things were going to be interesting.
Cormac O'Brien and the Bat Whitelaw were competing for second place in most of the first few races behind the experienced ISS Champion Pearse Geaney. Paul Reid moved into contention on a few and picked up a 2nd place in race five. Maurice Owens turned up late, but shaked things up for a while until beaten by David Minton in Race 6, before retiring for the day. He was later overheard saying 'Minton was just too quick, couldn't catch him'. All the plaudits went to Munster and current ISS Champion Pearse Geaney. Paddy and Ken Whitelaw (in the boat) couldn't figure out why the rest of us couldn't keep up with him! The other Cork man Neil Sandes had some of his best racing of the season. Big thanks to Neil for coming down and taking a holiday from his holiday. Local Mullingar man Mark Corrigan enjoyed racing on his home turf, and we hope to see him at an ISS event soon. James Kelly got a visa from the farm (allegedly first one in weeks) and had a good days sailing. There was a suggestion he might have been keener for the night time festivities as he was the first out of the water and first on the dance-floor.
One of the fastest runs of the day went to the self confessed 'brilliant' Mick Dardis who was allegedly sailing Maurice's 9.6m Point-7 (it looked more like he was attached to it). Mick ended up getting rescued and everyone was happy. An event wouldn't be an event without the 'Day Twins' turning up so it was great to see Fintan and Greg later on in the day.
The best part of the weekend was yet to come. They all headed back to the Whitelaw's residence for evening BBQ and a few cold ones. Celine Whitelaw (with a lot of help from Pat and Alaine) put on one of the nicest feasts imaginable with homemade burgers, salad, chicken drumsticks and sausages, followed by dessert. We always thank those who feed us but this was particularly special because of the great atmosphere and warm welcome. The setting for the BBQ was spectacular and it was great to relax with friends. Kevin Cunningham and Eilís Ní Dhúill arrived from Donegal after a long round trip….he always arrives for the food!
The windsurfing crew then embarked on a long night of festivities that everyone managed to stay awake for, which was unusual.
Racing was a bit later on Sunday solely down to the mammoth breakfast cooked for all crew. The ISS and IWA would really like to recognise the Whitelaw family for their hosting and warm welcome. Wind was up when the crew arrived and racing commenced. Showers interrupted the racing a little bit but two races were held along with a Master-blast across to Cherry Island and back. Batman made an appearance on the master blast but all the other super heroes had sore heads. Kevin Cunningham got the award for most 'calamitous crash' of 2011. There are obviously no prizes for this just a pat on the back and a giggle.
This was another fantastic event on the IWA calendar and one I know the crew would love to see again. Pearse Geaney took overall winner and an honesty policy was adopted for the rest. We would like to especially thank prize sponsors for the event; Bigsurf.ie and Rusheen Bay Windsurfing. We would also like to thank Cormac O'Brien of Cloudmaster for supplying the GPS units. Some results were queried so we'll look forward to GPS replays. The whole event was a great success and was finished off with 'Ma Whitelaw' arriving up with sandwiches, cake and tea before everyone set off.
for more information on the Irish Windsurfing Association.
for more information on the Irish Slalom Series.
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The IWA are hosting a fun slalom weekend on Lough Ennell just outside Mullingar in August. The event is open to all levels from the absolute beginner to the more advanced and will take place on the weekend of the 13th and 14th.
For more information email Barry on firstname.lastname@example.org
or see the IWA website here