Wild, Wet and Windy 2007
A stag & hen do. I know what you're thinking, and sorry for getting your hopes up in vain.
The destination was Swansea Bay, instructed by Bay Watersports. Swansea is known locally as "Sunny Swansea", as a form of self indoctrination - if they say it enough, maybe even they will believe themselves. Swansea actually has the dubious honour of having more rainfall than any other place in Britain. And that is saying something. This day, it was living up to its nickname, and managed to burn just about all of us.
- Out of all of our large group, only one of us had ever tried it before. Already out, there were some other novices who were comfortably going out and back, but some still having trouble staying up for more than a couple of minutes. Turns out they had been learning for the last 2 years...
- Our group lesson.
- Me practising picking up the sail. The longest time I would manage to hold up a sail all day.
- Becci practising a turn.
- Heading out to sea.
- How the first ... oh ... hour is spent, working out how to convert that easy lesson on the beach into practice.
- And the frequent result; failing to pick up the sail, resulting in a balancing game, with frequent falling in. The kayaks are supposedly there to help offer advice to the windsurfers, explaining why they just fell in: "you didn't keep your bum in", "your arms were bent", "your feet were in the wrong place".
- After a while, people get the hang (or pull) of it. The wind does not look that strong, but believe me, when learning, you want even less. The sails can easily pick up even the slightest breeze, and generally spin you around to the wrong direction before you realise.
- Becci showing how it is done: mounting the surfboard...
- ...Lifting the sail...
- ...Turning the board so it is perpendicular to the wind...
- ...And finally beginning to pull on the boom to start moving.
- Ross showing how to stay on the board - well, he had been before, remember.
- Effortless, back turn forward turn back turn forward - lots of easy pictures here.
- With accompanying kayak.
- Becci and Nicola. Damer.
- Peter - who was first to manage to stay up on the boards, seemed to take to it very easily. Up to now, I had tried to windsurf, not managed to stay up without spinning around the wrong way, got bored, and waded into the water to take pictures. The instructor decided to give me a lift (yay) in the motorboat, to get some better shots.
- Sailing effortlessly past.
- In prime position, was I going to get the shot as she threw herself in?
- No! She recovered it. What a pity.
- Becci also fails to fall in. Not fair.
- At last! But I was too eager. Just a moment after I took this, Nicola went in; catapulted herself clean over the top of the sail and into the water on the other side. Why is my shutter finger too quick?
- Peter and Nicola managing to stay up long enough for a picture.
- Time for the pros to show us all up, leaving us to flounder in their wake.
Day 2. A reasonably priced theme park, with some of the best thrill rides in Wales. An early rainshower scared off just about everybody, so the park was fairly empty, which is a good thing. After some very bad experiences in Porthcawl's Coney Beach (the place where one ride was still closed after part of it killed someone by falling on them, several rides were not bolted together properly which you only found out while hanging upside down from them, and carriages of other fast inverting rides were closed because they were too badly damaged), I was very wary of Oakwood, but I have to say I was pleasently surprised with how well maintained everything was, despite being static.
- The bobsled - the only ride with a queue, lasting about half an hour for a 2 minute ride, but unfortunately we tried this one before the rain.
- Treetops roller-coaster, child friendly, but still admirable, taking you right through the narrowly spaced trees.
- Snake River Falls, where it is impossible to stay dry, if only because there is water in the boats before you sit in them. Right nearby is Bounce, which I am afraid I have no pictures of, as I was too busy riding it, feeling the 4g force as it shoots up into the sky, and enjoying the view from the top at 47 metres.
- Fish. Why? Because I liked the picture. This is a gallery, after all.
- The park is best known for its impressive roller-coasters, and Megafobia is in second place; a traditional wooden roller-coaster, with fast, steep drops, turns, low bridges, and plenty of bumps and jolts. See if you can keep your hands up the whole way around, preferably without hitting the person beside you.
- Hydro, infamous for the girl who died after falling out of it. Since then it has been redone to be much more safe, to the extent that even I will ride it. Its sole purpose is to drop you 36 metres into a big pool of water. The splash it creates will absolutely soak you (there are 24 people hidden in this picture under the splash), but it looks amazing from the bridge, where this picture was taken.
- Of course, immediately afterwards, the 14 metre high splash hits the bridge. There is one point, just one, where the splash does not land, but you have to run there after taking the picture from the front of the bridge if you want your camera to survive.
- Vertigo, a freefall swing that is an impressive 50 metres high, with very thin cables, and makes a lot of whistling noise. Sadly you must be dry to go on this ride, so remember that if you want to go on Hydro as well. It also costs a substantial extra on top of the admission fee (no other ride has a surcharge).
- Last of all, I give you speed, and a great picture, Neeharr Fraz :P This is the fastest ride on the site, with the second highest g force of any roller-coaster in UK (-1.3g to +4.5g). Apparently it is the largest Gerstlauer Eurofighter roller-coaster, with a 35 metre tall, 97 degree drop (the angle has a great effect of making you ... erm ... get scared), airtime hill, overbanked turn, loop, barrel roll, and helix. The challenge is to sit at the front, disobey the signs, and keep one hand (or two if you can) off the handles to wave to the camera.