Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What goes up must come down

HeyHey Friends!
Well, that was a crazy month. It's been a mix of the best highs and worst lows of my life. Like I said, what goes up must come down, and it seems this month my life decided to take those polar emotions to the extreme.
I suppose I should start with the lows. I arrived home on Monday 7th January to an onslaught of emails and texts asking me "what happened to Mikey". Most of you reading this will know what happened and we are now left in the wake of Mikey's death. It is not appropriate or tasteful for me to try to articulate the details of what happened or how we all feel. I am speechless at the loss of such an incredible person and incredible friend. My heart is broken and I think of him every day. All my love and thoughts are with his amazing family, Michael, Bernie and Sean. If you get the chance you should read the article that was written for him in the Sunday Independent which took extreme bravery from his family to put out there so publically.

This is the last photo I have of Mikey and I from the IWA wave event in Kerry

Boardseeker did a really nice article series about Mikey and tributes to him from all the windsurfers who loved and knew him. There's a little piece I wrote about the craic we had together which you can check out here 

Ironically both Mikey and I missed the biggest event in Irish Windsurfing history since the PWA last came to Kerry 10 years ago. The Red Bull Storm Chase called all systems go for the 1st round of their epic storm chasing escapades in Brandon Bay. It looked off the hook amazing!! 74 knots of wind clocked and double mast high close out sets paired with freezing Irish winds and water. It was the perfect showcase for Irish sailing and conditions and made me even prouder (if that's possible!!) to be from Ireland! Mikey would have loved it and I am so glad his Mum Bernie and Dad Michael got to make it down to watch it and be a part of the action. The out-pouring from the international windsurfing community has been monumental, only reiterating how truly loved, admired and respected Mikey was. 
Here's a clip of the tribute Legend Josh Angulo paid to Mikey at the storm chase:

It's definitely worth checking out all the action from the event; Putting Ireland on the map!.... INSANE!! Hurricane Mikey Clancy on fire!

And lastly I organised a paddle out for Mikey's months mind last week here in Cape Town. So many people came and I’d like to thank them so much; John Skye, Ross Williams, Chris Murray, Andy Bubble Chambers, Max Rowe, Jem Hall, Jamie Hancock, Steven Van Broeckhaven, Sam Neal, Chris Friis, Amanda Beenan, Manuel Grafenauer, Dave White, Mike Archer and many many more. Again I am speechless at the loss of an incredible person, an incredible friend and an incredible windsurfer. I honestly have nothing to say that can articulate how the wind has been punched out of all of us and we are truly heartbroken. All our love and thoughts are with his amazing family; Bernie, Sean and Michael Snr today, and every day.

Just click on this link to watch the video of our paddle out;

And so to the highs that have been dominating my last month. Wow, there have been so many! It seems that it wasn't just the international windsurfing community who ventured to the West of Ireland for some beefy, Atlantic conditions this month. The surfing world turns it's attentions to the North West Coast as the myriad of reefs began exploding off the coasts of Counties Sligo and Donegal. I've been lucky enough to watch Jaws break on Maui but for similar waves to be crashing against my home's coastline is pretty dang exciting for me!! My Mum also adores big waves, having grown up in West Clare she has a deep respect for the sea and an innate sense of how big and dangerous these swells can be. SO we hopped in the car and burned up to Co.Sligo to sit on the cliff at Mullaghmore in our warmest thermals (pretty much full on ski-bunnies!) and watch the cocktail of local Irish, Hawaiian and European big wave chargers tackle the beasts that were rolling into the bay. It was EPIC! 
Check the footage of Clare man Peter Conroy getting soooooo pitted at Mullaghmore and now a Billabong XXL nominee 2013..... g'wan ya good ting!

Click here to watch him go XXL!;

Finn armed with a paddle, a 6mm wetsuit and a hood. Mum and I armed with ski gear, hot cups of tea and a cosy heated car.... wonder who won that battle ;-) 

Finn SUP on a bigun'. Shame you can't see the snow capped mountains in the back

The day after I got home and the day after Mikey passed the charts were lighting up for some glassy, peachy Irish reefs to go off. Probably one of the most cathartic, emotional days I've ever had on the water. A mixture of elation over the stunning backdrop of Irish mountains and fields paired with offshore, peeling right handers and sadness over the loss of a friend made the day one I'll never ever forget. Also the hypothermia setting in as air temps maxed 5 degrees and water temps a balmy 8 degress was another way for nature to remind me just how human I am....jaysus I miss the auld bikini like ;-) Cheers to Finnbox for the piccies;

Not quite Billabong XXL but also once upon a time in Sligo..... hehehehe. 
Just me, a little spec on the big blue sea

Sea Schweepin'

Great old craic that was..... I'm still thawing out though, yikes! Thankfully for my own personal homeostasis I managed to swing a cheeky trip to Cape Town just after this. I found sweet cheap flights with Virgin Atlantic, (who also take your gear for free by the by..... All Hail Sir.Richard Branson!! Ya big legend ya!..... reckon we could get Michael O'Leary up on a windsurfer/kiteboard any time soon?!!), and trotted off for myself for 3 weeks in South Africa's most southern city.  It's definitely a place on the world wide windsurfing map that's almost as much a Mecca as Maui, the Canaries and Western Oz for wavesailing. And with a who's who of the UK and Euro wave sailors all here to train for the winter sure I was bound to have a bit of banter with someone. Don't fear the chat!! I won't regail you with too many stories from the last 3 weeks here as I'll be writing my Boardseeker Diaries very soon so I'll keep all the juicy stuff for that. Instead, and as usual, I'll let my photos do the talking :-)

Car stuffed to the maximus.... well not really a car, more like a tin can on 4 wheels. In the driver seat is Simple Jack hahahahah, only kidding, Mike Archer, my UK buddy who kindly agreed to share a car and a gaff with me and also take some photos..... after hanging out with me for 3 weeks you should be canonized Mike ;-) Legend!

Down the old Cape of Good Hope

The only day in 3 weeks with decent swell, me sailing at Hakgaat

So when the wind died and there was no swell, we had to think of other things to doooooo...

The crew sets off to 'climb' Table Mountain as led by the Afghan Goat Herder Chris "Muzza" Murray. Can you sense the happiness....the naive excitement....?? Good cos it all ends THERE as Muzza convinces us to literally SCALE Table Mountain. Sweet mother of God!! Vertical, sheer cliff faces, hundreds of feet up with only our bare bloody hands and feet and no safety rope..... I could KILL you Muzza!!!!

The view from our.... ahem "climb".....

Can you smell the fear.....?! I am petrified! MUZZZZAAAA!!

Thank God for the cloud..... ruined the view but a view of a sheer vertical drop isn't exactly what I needed as we Bear Grylls our way blindly up...... Quite a few profanities were directed from yours truly to Muzz at this stage.... understandably.... pretty sure Elly, his girlfriend professed her undying hate for him about now too ;-) Along with all the other girls, Doireann and Lizzy.

And sure what would a trip to Cape Town be without a nice cleansing Ale to sooth the nerves post soul destroying ascent up a mountain?! My amiga Doireann and I channeling our inner Springboks ;-)

It's also Rugby Season, both here in sports mad CT and at home with the 6 nations.... so sure what else would we do on a no wind/no waves day..... off to the stadium to watch the Stormers trounce the Cavaliers 54-0 or something....... another cleansing ale anyone?! hahahaha

The rugby crew and Table Mountain.... Phil Horrocks, Bubble, Simple (mike) Jack, and Max Rowe

And then to the Blue Peter to watch Scotland and Wales take home the wins..... we won't talk about what happened the following day when a certain group of UK boys were lording it over a certain Irish girl after a fairly hopeless match at Lansdowne was played...... No place worse to lose than when you're with a bunch of English eh? Grrrrrrr :-(

The View from Doodles' Happy Hour of the ahem "hill"...... I'm pretty sure everyone got fairly fed up of my repeated mantra.... "Ya Table Mountain's nice like, but it's no Ben Bulben" yeeeew!!

Windsurfin' Ladies, Katrien (Belgian Wavesailor), moi and Lizzy (Dahab Freestyler)

Team Hot Sails Maui in CT.... Katrien, Jonas and me.....

Oh yes that brings me the most important update of my entire blog.... saving the best till last eh?! 
I am so insanely excited about joining Hot Sails Maui.... I can't even begin to describe! 

 Read the Press release below from HotSails taken from their Website;

The News also featured on the PWA site!!

And Windsurf Mag;

Me with the HotSails 4 batton Quad sail..... sooooo Happy!

 Giving them a spin at Hakgaat.... thank you Katrien for the loan :-)

I'll be riding the Firelight which is what is pictured in the photos above and here with Team Manager Chris Freeman

Chris asked me to write a review of the Firelight and this is what I reckoned:
" The Firelight is the incredible! It's the first time I have felt like it wasn't me vs the sail but finally it felt like the fighting was over and the rig and I could be friends! It is by far the lightest, smoothest, most maneuverable sail I have ever used. Even the slightest move I made I felt the sail completely responsive in my hands. From simply gybing to waveriding, the Firelight co-operated effortlessly and for the first time ever I felt in my hands a rig that was willing to do what I needed it to do without having to spend 8 hours a day in a gym and drink protein shakes to have the strength required. This is my review as a girl weighing 62kg and 5'6" tall, but I have no doubt even anyone twice my weight or height would have the same experience I did. All hail the Firelight!!"

Alrighty then amigos, jaysus that was a long old blog post! Hope you're still awake! Plenty more to come over the next few months as my schedule is PACKED with contests and travel and training.... only 5 months to go till it's back to work in the hospital so I gotta make em count. 
Off to Peru to represent Ireland in the ISA World SUP Championships next week...... hahahahaha!! Feel like I'm on the Irish version of the Jamaican Bobsliegh team.... hahahahaha! But what I lack in SUP skills I promise to make up for in chat and craic and am, regardless of the discipline, extremely proud to be representing my country at yet another international event :-) SO stay tuned for some hilarious photos of me getting my tooshie whooped in Peru by come pro SUPpers!