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Windsurf: Perspectives – reflections on 2016’s Tiree Wave Classic with Ben Page and Ruaraidh Somerville

Words: Ben Page and Ruaraidh Somerville

Pics: Richard Whitson and Finoa Somerville

Ben Page and Ruaraidh Somerville gives us their take on 2016’s Tiree Wave Classic 2016. Ben up first with Ruaraidh following. Over to the boys with more.

‘2016 saw the 30th anniversary of the Tiree Wave Classic blessed with firing conditions. Wind across two days allowed a full double elimination for the pros and triple for all other fleets. With extreme variation between port tack jumping and cross off starboard tack it was truly a test of versatility and crowned deserving champions. The beach of Balephuil was the venue for the competition, heats kicked off in strong cross-on winds with most sailors on 4.2-4.7.

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In the amateur fleet, Tiree local Tristan Levie held off reigning student wave champion Louis Morris to take first place with a powerful display of jumping, including planing forwards and pushloops.  In the masters it came down to a twilight super final between Justin Dennington and John McLawrence, with Justin eventually coming out on top. In the ladies it was Sarah Hilder who stood strong as the leader, beating young up and comer Jenna Petit into second place. In the fading light of the evening the pro fleet came to its conclusion. With big backloops and a tabletop forward, Phil Horrocks took first place followed by an on form Chris Murray with a planing pushloop, Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers took third.

The next day focussed on the youth element of the Tiree Wave Classic. This long running and highly successful feature of the event runs with co-operation from the RYA in Scotland and is generously supported by The Mailing Room. Thanks to Sam Ross and Robin Nicol, young windsurfers from across Scotland got to experience wavesailing, sowing the seeds for the future of the sport.

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Rumours of “Big Tuesday” proved to be justified when the competitors rocked up at Balephuil to find solid overhead waves with flukey cross off wind. As the morning progressed and the wind filled in, heats got underway.  I managed to stage a comeback in the double to face Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers for third place. Bubble proved too strong and advanced to challenge Chris Murray. After a fifteen minute exchange, Bubble’s perfect goiter made the difference and he went on to fight Phil Horrocks in the final. Bubble fought hard but Horrocks proved to be an unstoppable force. His massive aerials secured him his maiden Tiree Wave Classic title, placing him in a very strong position overall going into the last two events of the year.

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In the masters, Graham Petit surged through the field to face leader Justin Dennington. Justin was in fine form however and Graham had to settle for second place. BWA legend Geoff Hautman completed the podium. In the ladies, Sarah Hilder cemented her position at the top and kept Jenna Petit at bay once again. Perhaps the biggest drama of the day was the nail biting amateur super final of Louis Morris against Tristan Levie. Taking place in near darkness with logo high surf, both sailors gave it their all. Aggressive riding from Louis Morris wrested first place from his rival and he took the event win.

Massive thanks to Willy McLean, John Isaacson and the Wild Diamond team , Nigel and Geoff from the BWA as well as the judging team for making the event happen.’

Ben is sponsored by JP Australia boards and Neilpryde sails.

‘Ruaraidh Somerville, 13, from Lenzie, won the Under 16 category of the Tiree Wave Classic on the 30th anniversary of what is the longest continuously running windsurfing competition in the world, sponsored this year by Windswept Brewing and The Mailing Room.

Ruaraidh has been windsurfing since the age of 4 during summer holidays on the Hebridean island of Tiree. He is now 13, a member of the Royal Yachting Association “Team 15” and a Techno racer, but his interests lie in wave sailing.

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He has been windsurfing in waves since he was nine, and has added Magheroarty in Donegal, Troon and Tenerife to Tiree to his wave-sailing resume in the four years since he started.

The Junior competition is a collaboration between RYA Scotland, the Tiree Wave Classic and the British WaveSailing Association.

Young Ruaraidh battled his way through heats to the final, winning and then waiting for a second final, courtesy of a “double elimination” being introduced. Following a light wind (but in no way waveless) final, Somerville emerged as the champion of the under-16s category, beating Techno Scottish Squad racer Jude Nicol, who had fought her way up from fourth position during the double elimination.

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Somerville rode a Starboard Pro Kids 60 Litre Flare, borrowed his dad’s floaty Starboard 94L Kode and used a series of vibrant Naish Little Ripper sails to gain his victory.

The camp continued for another day until it ended, but the enthusiastic teen was in no way finished.

Event organisers Wild Diamond devised an open-entry Surf and SUP challenge, and garnered some dozen competitors. The surf competition was a two-heat series, involving the professionals from the Wave Classic, Somerville, and a few others, the youngest of them eighteen.

Somerville came out empty-handed after a gnarly double-head high session at Balevullin beach, but returned the second day for a following competition and came in second, beating adult pro windsurfers and others by scoring a beautiful head-and-a-half ride, as he was fortunate to paddle onto one of the cleanest waves of the day. (He even won some Windswept beer, which his dad immediately appropriated!

Head Judge, William Maclean of Wild Diamond Watersports said:

“It was inspiring for the Judges to see so much young and emerging talent was being showcased throughout the RYA Scotland Team 15 Wave Camp this year during the Tiree Wave Classic’s 30th Anniversary Event.

Of particular note was the performance of Ruaraidh Somerville, a young lad from Glasgow with an affiliation to Tiree through regular summer visits to Tiree.

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Ruaraidh dominated in the ‘Junior’ windsurfing class (up to 15 years old), then followed up by giving the adults a ‘tutorial’ in surf technique during an ad hoc surf competition run by the event organisers, towards the end of the week on Tiree.

‘A bit humbling’ was how one of the internationally ranked competitors attending the event described Ruaraidh’s overall performance after having been ‘shown how to surf’ in Tiree’s thundering surf on Thursday 20th October.

‘The future of windsurfing in Scotland is very bright with young talents like Ruaraidh’s”

More vids and pics on the Tiree Wave Classic 2016 Facebook page – www.facebook.com/tireewaveclassic

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