This blog post begins the story of an attempt by three windsurfers to sail around the Isle of Wight this summer.
George Mallory climbed Everest "because it was there". I can't speak for the others, but I want to sail around the Isle of Wight for much the same reasons, but also some more practical ones. I'd add: "Because it's quite close and I'm at work all week. Because it's quite hard to get away at the weekend too these days what with a young family, dog and diy commitments (we're going to cook crystal meth in the loft to pay for the kids' uni fees, it's amazing what you can pick up on tv these days). Because I live in Bournemouth and it's not too far away. Because I can windsurf better than I can swim. But most of all, because I don't like heights.
Actually there's one more reason. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty happy with my lot these days, but weeks and weeks can go by as one unending routine of get-the-toddler-ready-for-the-day, go to work & get bored, pick up the toddler and secretly feed it biscuits to keep it quiet, watch tv, sleep, and do it all again. And while watching your own child grow up is wonderful, somehow whole months can slip by without anything really happening. So sailing around the Isle of Wight is a chance to do something different, a bit more memorable.
While I can't claim to be the first person to consider circumnavigating the Isle of Wight - it's actually been sailed around three times just while I've written this blog post, and plenty of people have windsurfed around before - I thought of it this time. But for reasons that will become clear, I've asked two others along too, firstly my brother Jono, who has some experience of sailing around islands, having been the only known person to sail around Minorca on a windsurfer, and a very good raceboard sailor. Secondly Clyde Waite, the owner and chief contributor to this blog. Clyde is also a very good raceboard sailor, but I asked him along as I thought he might have some spare kit. It turned out he didn't, but it was too late by then.
There's no doubt that the Isle of Wight offers a real challenge. I haven't really bothered looking, but I expect it's at least 100 miles around, it probably has the strongest tides in the UK, presumably the busiest shipping lanes in the world and an outside chance of killer sharks, jellyfish and unexploded WW2 mines as well.
But before I get to that. I've also got the challenge of sourcing some kit to attempt the challenge on. I don't own anything bigger than a wave board and 5.2. There's two reasons why that's no good. It would take a week to get around (did I mention my other half is having our second baby in May? I haven't got a week). More importantly, if it's 5.2 weather I'm not going to piss around circumnavigating the Isle of Wight, I'm going proper windsurfing.
No, I'm going to need something a bit more 'fit for purpose' (that's a term I like to use in meetings these days). After not much thought, and a happy hour browsing Ebay, I reckoned an old fashioned raceboard is the way to go. So part of the reason of writing all this on Clyde's blog - I may as well be open about it - is that I'm hoping someone out there reading this might have something suitable rotting away under their garage and feel inclined to lend it to me. Or even that one of the UK importers might happen upon these words and want to lend me some brand new kit for the incredible exposure it might get them (8.5 freerace, something with a daggerboard and throw in a new wetsuit, it'll look better in the pictures). It's a long shot but you never know.
Because the funny thing is, that it turned out that neither Jono nor Clyde really had any kit either, so we've all been scouring Ebay for something suitable. So if you take nothing else from these humble words, remember this. If you've got a spare 490 mast, large boom, 7.5+ sail or functioning raceboard, within after-work driving distance of Bournemouth, lend it to me and ignore all begging requests from Clyde or Jono.
The baby's due on May 20th, so that date's out. We're going to need some time to get kit together and plan the trip. Two of us work during the week so we're looking at weekends only. (Not much point pulling a sickie then writing it up on the internet). I'd say the first two weekends in June look like a good bet.
Whenever and whatever, we'll all be using this blog to tell the story of planning the trip and hopefully giving a report of a successful rounding sometime this summer
In the meantime. Here's a picture of the Isle of Wight.