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ISWC Speed European Championships, Dungarvan, Ireland

Zara in Ireland
There was an air of anticipation at the recent European Championships, not just with the competitors as to who would win and be crowned the European Champion but the local organiser Martin Waldron was more worried that the wind would play ball. The site has produced on the right day over 40 knots over 500m and Martin had, on the back of this knowledge staged an event at this site last year and had no wind all week, little did he know!
Top riders from all over Europe arrived for the registration on the 1st November and the forecast was looking good. The opening party was as Irish as it gets with a meal out at a local Pub with a fantastic display of Irish dancing which included the national champion no less. Unfortunately the luck of the Irish did not hold out wind wise, with stories of wave sailors out on 3m sails and strong winds on the west coast, Dungarvan had nothing for the first two days.
Wednesday teased the riders with strong wind forecast from the North West not the normal direction so the whole event site was switched to Clonea just along the coast which should work in NW wind. A 90 minute round was held but with weak gusty winds the speeds were not enough for it to qualify as a counting round.
Thursday and Friday were just as frustrating with the winds close to getting a round in but not quite. So it was down to the final day to stop history repeating itself and Martin hanging himself!!
Saturday dawned with no wind at all but a promise of strong SW winds between 12.00 and 2.00 but would it materialize?12.00 came and went but at 12.30 a breeze kicked in competitors were rigging everything they had to be ready as the race officer called it for 1.00.
The green flag went up, bang on 1.00 and there was a mad rush for the course, it looked quick with riders flying down within feet of the sand bar but 10 minutes later it was all over. If you were late on the water or took your time getting back you missed getting a good 2nd run.
It was a bit of a lottery with riders runs varying by up to 8 knots from one to the other. The unexpected but very popular winner was Andrea Baldini otherwise known as “The Prince” from Italy who had an amazing magic carpet ride and hit 40 knots. Bjorn Dunkerbeck the clear favourite was pushed into second place and flying the flag for the host nation Steve Flanagan from Ireland in 3rd.
The ladies Fleet was also close with me taking 1st place but was pushed hard in the end by Karien Scholten-Vredenbregt from Holland with the average of our two runs separated by just over a knot.

Zara and Prince Andrea Baldini the 2009 Speed European Champions Zara and Prince Andrea