With less than a week to go, excitement is building among Britain’s finest windsurfers ahead of the 25thTiree Wave Classic.
The world-renowned week-long event begins on the Inner Hebridean Island on Saturday 8th October 2011.
It is particularly special this year as it marks a quarter of century from when the event first began.
Three time winner of the Classic, John Skye, has missed the first two events of the British Wavesailing Association Wave Tour, because he took a break after getting married.
But he wasn’t going to miss the third – Tiree.
“It’s just so special,” says John. “Tiree’s always been the highlight of the UK tour. The beaches are stunning, and you have quality wave sailing no matter what the wind direction. Everyone loves it – and the fact that it’s the 25th running, well, I just couldn’t miss it.”
John, who’s from Dorset but based in Gran Canaria, is also pushing for the island to host a World Cup event again, which would mean the very best across the world would head there.
“I would love it to be a World Cup event.” John says, “It would be as good as any of the other spots on the tour, if not better. When the weather comes together on Tiree it’s one of the best spots in the world for wave sailing.”
“Not only that,” the 34 year-old continues, “But the community atmosphere on the island is fantastic. There are only a few hundred people there normally so when the Classic’s on it feels like the population doubles! But everyone on the island is so friendly and welcoming. It really is special.”
John’s not the only one counting the days.Last year’s winner Ben Proffit also can’t wait.
“It’s just one of the best places in the world,” Ben says.
“Each beach faces a different direction, so there’s so much choice,” says the Shropshire based 33 year-old. “Not only that, everyone there has good craic, there’s a cool atmosphere, I love it.”
It isn’t just the seasoned pros who are excited. Dozens of amateurs will be heading to the island too for their shot at Tiree glory. Lewis Merrony, from Pembrokeshire in Wales is one of those for whom this year it will be their first time on the island.
“It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go,” says the 31 year-old. “It’s only this year due to sponsorship and a number of other factors that I’ve been able to take part. Everyone says how fantastic it is there. I can’t wait to see it for myself.”
One of the entrants flying the Scottish flag will be Alan Jackson from East Kilbride.
He says the conditions you can find on Tiree are some of the best in the world. “Whatever the wind direction, you always get something on Tiree,” he says. “The beaches are amazing, so clean, and the water is so clear.”
The 32 year-old says that it isn’t just the stunning location which makes the Tiree Wave Classic so special. “It just feels like you’re a part of something when you’re there,” Alan says. “And the hospitality from the locals is just great, they encourage you to get out and see the island, it’s fantastic.
Chris Murray, a windsurfing professional based in Fareham in Hampshire, but born in Glasgow, is a previous youth champion on Tiree.
The 23 year-old’s spent the last twelve months travelling the world, but says victory next month would be a highlight.
“I love it at Tiree,” Chris says. “I’ve missed one year there since I was 15. Everyone’s in one place, it’s very sociable, the beaches are amazing and the conditions can be fantastic.”