We got in touch with one of the winners from the 2016 youth camp, Ruaraidh Sommerville. We asked for a few words on his experience with Tiree over the years and this is what the kid came back with. We’re blown away, it’s a great read… enjoy.
The familiar blare of the klaxon, the ramp lowering slowly, the sunlight streaming through the sky towards me. The bump of the van’s wheels transitioning from ferry to land signifies one thing to me:
I’m in Tiree!
I’ve been going to Tiree for longer than I can remember, a la my parents falling in love with Tiree a very long time ago (sorry Mum and Dad!).
Loch Bhasapol is a beginner’s paradise. Shallow, warm and welcoming, Bhasapol gets a pretty steady wind most days. I grew up spending endless hours of my summer holidays sailing along on my tiny 2 metre, dropping it after drifting a few feet and then hauling it back up again. I can still hear my dad’s voice shouting “No, don’t drop it! No, do not try and swim back in again. No, I forbid you from playing around in the shallows!” In hindsight, it’s character building. And it helped. A lot.
Since I started sailing in the sea, all of his advice has been useful. All of the instructions about feet placement, sail positioning etcetera that I never saw the point in suddenly became relevant when I started wavesailing. I’ve been wavesailing for about four years now, and it’s been an awesome time. Tiree just is perfect for windsurfing. Whether it’s Crossapol, Balephuil or the Maze, you’re guaranteed to get an epic day when it’s windy, which is most of the time! And the bonus is each beach is about fifteen minute’s drive away from each other, and if it’s blowing a gale you’re always bound to bump into Willy and the Wild Diamond crew with their trailer full of boards… jammy sods!
But almost two decades before I was born, the Tiree Wave Classic had its first event, and ever since it’s been a big name in the British windsurfing calendar. I’d never been to a Wave Classic in my life, but I wanted to go more than anything! In 2016, the 30th anniversary, I got my chance. My parents (again with the whole being brilliant thing) got me signed up for the RYA’s T15 Techno groups, and I was able to get onto the Wave Camp. At last, I would be getting to go to the Tiree Wave Classic!
Just a week after leaving, I was back in Tiree for a week that made me shiver with anticipation. The Wave Camp didn’t disappoint. The conditions we got for the Camp were even windier than I’d hoped (I was on my 2.7, the changedown of my changedown!) and having a brilliant time. The waves weren’t gigantic, but for safety’s sake our coaches had elected to take us to Gott Bay. Toran Prescott and Ali Masters, my coaches helped me crack bottom turns and get started on some off-the-lip aerials, the former of which came in super handy the next day: the competition, held at Crossapol!
The wind had unfortunately dropped off quite a bit, but we got a small swell, so the contest was on! My heats went well and I got through to the finals : kit choice and some well-timed waves ultimately got me through. The advantage of being a couple of years younger (and therefore lighter) than my fellow competitors came in handy. The majority of the sailors were mainly Techno sailors and did little wavesailing, whereas I was the opposite so had another advantage! If memory serves we had 11 Juniors and 8 youths.
After a double elimination, the wind dropped off and a final ensued between myself and Jude Nicol, a Techno sailor from the same club as me. Thanks to my dad’s 90l Kode I was able to stay afloat enough to catch some of the dwindling waves and I won! Needless to say that night I was over the moon!
The next day was back to Gott Bay for another stacked day, where I relaxed a bit now that the competition was over. I spent the day trying more aerials and tried my best to loop, which I ultimately failed at!
Exhausted but stoked, I had a blast in the two days afterwards. The wind had disappeared but an epic swell had come into Balevullin, rewarding the patient surfers of Tiree with two brilliant sessions. The first day I got completely thrashed by the waves, whereas the day after Wild Diamond and their main sponsor, Windswept Brewery, set up a Surf and SUP competition. Thanks to a great wave (I just went along with the ride) I got a second place and was rewarded by the best prizes man can think of: money and beer. Funnily enough, my dad took away the beer and I’ve never seen it again…
Looking back at the week, it was an epic time. Being able to properly bottom turn has helped immensely ever since, and I’m itching to try a loop as soon as I get back to Tiree. For me I got to have a great couple of days with nice people, learned a whole load of stuff and overall just enjoyed myself. What makes the Wave Classic so nice is that everybody knows everybody else; there’s no pressure at all. It just made the experience so good. Biggest thanks of all goes to Willy, Tris, Gavin and John for all of their help over the years, and for making TWC so brilliant for Juniors and Pros alike.
Here’s to Year 31!