One more scenario:

The Burrow beach speed course in Dublin has a section where the channel is only 100m wide. On Saturday I was sailing back up the course about 20m off the far shore thinking that leaving a good 80m off the leeward shore was enough for any sailor but another sailor chose to sail very broad off the wind into the channel as was his prerogative. The norm in sailing would be to head upwind of him but I felt in doing so I was heading between the sandbar and the sailor on the course which would be going against the general rules of speedsailing. I would also have been sailing in the flatter water had I done that.

My other choice was to go downwind of him and try to stay as far away as I could, which I did, resulting in a fairly aggressive response from him which I won't repeat.

What would you guys have done in this instance. I know that my preference would be for returning sailors to sail as far off the sandbank as possible leaving me clean water next to the sandbank.

Interesting scenario Martin. I am very surprised you got an earful from a “fellow”? speedy.


The speed strip is defined as the first few metres of flat water to the lee of the sand bar / wall (as with WK).  As you were heading back up wind off the speed strip, your actions are fairly easy to predict, you are sailing tight to the wind as you can, in order to make your way back up to the start point. The speed sailor heading down the course who decides to bear off, away from the strip, the onus is on him / her to ensure that their projected path is clear of all other speedies, either heading down the course or heading back up. Only they know their projected path, you don’t. Bearing off is very unpredictable and usually happens when a big gust hits, all due care should be taken when conducting such a manoeuvre.  Also the likelihood of a big off is substantially increased.


You were left in no mans land, not knowing which way to go. When in that situation hold your line – you were correct to continue your course.


Steve Thorp at West Kirby is worth mentioning here. He loves, on the odd occasion to bear off and go deep, riding out the chop in pursuit of max speeds. I have never seen him do this whilst there is traffic heading back up the lake, “in his way”.  He will wait for a run down the course that is clear of returning speedies before going deep.


However, where ever we sail we will always encounter the “slip road to outside lane” type driver who blows his horn off because we were in his way.

Hey Martin,

You did the good thing .
I mostly point in both directions to see wich way they want me to sail.
Those guys have a to big ego and no respect for other speeders.
Just ignore them or give them the finger ;)

here lads I am the other speed sailor who gave Martin an ear full and I was on my run when Martin sailed back up the course I'd say at most 3 to 4 metesr down wind of me .I had to finish my run witch was 41.8 knot max so let's just say I was doing 75kph and if he was 30 knots witch is 55kph and just say i spin out and hit him it would be a head on crash at 130 kph and I'm 117kg's and Martin is 85kg's . So I am asking Martin to send his tracks to the Irish time to keeper ( Steve Flanagan ) so we can resolve this and learn from it because it sounds like your getting hard done by . P.S. Martin I have video of 3 of your runs and you no were near the sand bar but as I said if that is the way you think we all should sail that's fine with me
here is a link to short video from Burrow beach and at low tide the water depth is only about 300mm so every one sails a bit out as you will see.

Martin...  where a sailor is in open water and not in a fixed course against a bank then the sailor bearing away at speed should be giving way...  no reason to get aggro as they have the ability to choose their path unlike a sailor beating back up wind further out!
I had just been writing up another  'unwritten set of rules' that should be applied and was going to email them out to all  NZ   kiters and windsurfers using the speed runs we have... but worth adding them here again...  
Every run is unique and has its own issues but  a generalised set of rules are worth having!

With the increase in traffic both kite and windsurf on our best speed runs it is  vital that every sailor understands and follows some basic rules and etiquette that allow safe and fast runs for all!  These basic rules can only apply if all sailors at that spot are speed sailing only!

When   freestylers are on the water,  standard sailing right of way must apply!

In extreme conditions following these basic rules will make your session faster and safer!     ( Speed run =  bearaway run down the length of the sand bar)

·        The sailor  on  a bear away speed run has absolute right of way.                  ( but  must never  intentionally endanger other sailors)                                                                            
·       Never overtake a sailor already on the speed run. (if the leading sailor suddenly gybes or pulls into bank you may not be able to avoid collision)

·       Never sail windward of another sailor standing in water while on speed run.   (loss of control could result in death or serious injury to that sailor)

If you crash or break gear in area of run either sail out of speed run or  move gear onshore as fast as possible.

If walking back up run make every effort to pull gear out of water and hold secure until  sailor on run has past. (forcing any sailor to veer downwind  to avoid a sailor or rig in water greatly reduces speed on that run)

Stop only at top or bottom of run to tune gear or chat, but move onshore clear of sailing line. If stopping partway down run  sail back up wind or move gear onshore as fast as possible.

Do not leave shore to sail back up wind  if any sailor has entered the run, wait until sailor passes.(your wake will slow that sailor down, worse on a square run)

If pulling or jibing out of a run  part way down track always check behind for approaching sailor.

If course is square,  direction with downwind bias has right of way; if sailing back up course   do so when course is clear and give way to any sailor coming down course.                                                                    (either sail well downwind of sailor on course or pull gear onshore)

STAY OUT OF COURSE AREA  UNLESS ENTERING AT TOP END TO START A RUN  (sand bar edge to approx 15m downwind of shoreline)


There will always be exceptions  but if courtesy and common sense prevail we will give everyone the opportunity to record top speeds! 



Windsurfing Victoria has previously set up the following site, which indeed lists the "do's and dont's" of sailing there... in particular see the "code of conduct" page.
Thats's a great speed spot you have there guys.

Upon reflection, having studied the video several times, most sailors appear to sail down the channel centrally, not particularly hugging the bank. The channel is pretty narrow certainly when the tide appears to be at it's lowest. The windflow looks pretty broad on the course with no dramatic bear offs, away from  the bar.

We sail at probably one of the most congested speed spots going - West Kirby, certainly when the free ride contingent are out for a blast, near misses are the norm, you really do have to sail with eyes in the back of your head.  Accidents did happen back in the late 80's with sailors actually being run / sailed over on the odd occassion with broken bones and severe gashes resulting.

The rules offered up by Chris and Mat are excellent and should form the basis for health and safety guidlines for any speed spot / event, the rules tweeked for individual spots / wind strength / direction.

In your case guys, with the wind pretty broad,  it lends itself to walking back up the bar, this usually is the practice at the majority of the top spots when the wind is broad (reading sailors comments).  Most speedies walk at least halfway back up at WK when the wind is broad, and choose an appropriate quiet time to set off and sail back up to the start point downwind of any one setting off on the course.  It works pretty well with all speedies sailing together without conflict or near misses.

This action does have it's hazards and it is of paramount importance that a low profile is maintained in order not to adversely disrupt the windflow over the course and more importantly hold onto your gear as if your life depended upon it. The last thing a speedy wants is a rig and board blowing out infront of him/her whilst making speed down the course. 

Great speeds guys - keep on it!
My track will be over with Steve later today.

I agree a crash would have been very serious at the speeds involved.

I have to note that only on the previous run I had dragged my gear onto the edge of the sandbank and knelt on it to ensure the same sailor could sail as close to the bank as possible without any fear of me getting in the way.

In hindsight I feel that everyone should walk their gear out of the narrow section on this course before heading back up the course and I will be doing that in future.

Sail safe and have fun, that's all it's about.
Steve looked over the tracks and it seems like I sailed the dangerous course and left the sandbank after JK was sailing along at full speed and he never altered his course.

I would normally be very aware of all sailors around me and quite critical of bad sailing so I can't really explain the mistake, but that's what it was. It certainly wasn't intentional.

As I did at the time, although I didn't realise I was in the wrong, I have apologised.

Here is the full report for the Irish time keeper Steve Flanagan and it's not till you play it back on action replay can you see just how close we came to a head on crash ...... and then Martin gets on to the fourm feeling hard done by ..... shame on you

Hi Guys,


I've had a look through the tracks and as you can see from the screenshots below, here are my findings.


Please bear in mind that I am taking off my friend hat for both of you and basing my findings on facts in front of me from the tracks. I am not trying to annoy or piss off anyone.

  • JK had left the beach over 30 seconds before Martin decided to sail out from the bank.
  • JK was already at maximum speed and clearly on the course as Martin left the windward sandbar.  
  • As you can see from the Green highlighted tracks, JK did not change his course at any stage of this run.
  • There are two noticeable direction change in Martin's tracks. I realise that these as Martin mentioned to me were because he did not know which direction to go when he say JK coming. However if the original track had been followed Martin would have been well out of the way on the leward sand bar. And you should never try and sail to the windward side of the oncoming sailor.
  • JK had hit his top speed at the begining of his run and as you can see in the graph on the lower left of the screenshots had started to reduce his speed once he saw another sailor sailing out across his path.
  • The time of the incident was at approx 6:30, approx an hour from low tide, this would have meant the width of the sailing area at the lower part of the course would have be maybe 55-60 metres at most, based on the depths at this level of tide the safest course would have been closest to the middle of the channel. This would have meant the safe space either side of the sailor on the course would have been less than 25 metres.
  • To get into sailing rules, JK was on Starboard (not just the board brand) and had full right of way, Martin was on Port and should have made appropriate actions to get out of the way and off the course.
  • Regardless of who is on Port or Starboard, a collision should be avoided at all costs.

Martin I'm sorry but by the looks of things you were in the wrong and should have sailed away from the course when another sailor was on the course. JK did not change his course as had previously been mentioned to me. I will send you both on each others tracks and would recommend that you run the same simulation using GPS Action Replay. If you watch the live playback of this it appears worse that it already does in the screenshots below.

There have been some recommendations for SpeedSailing guidelines, I would suggest that they are adhered to for future speed sailing sessions. At the end of the day we're all out there to have fun, we need to sail safe and don't cross someones course or upset their run as things are happening so fast out there that people can get hurt and at these sort of speeds, not only are we sailing with sharpened blades under our feet but an impact at these sort of speeds can be damn near fatal.

(To see just how close we came have a look at a screen shot of the tracks on my site and you will see I was not given the space martin said he gave me)

You boyz are just getting too fast for your own good. ;)

Apologies from me too JK. My "road rage" type comment was unfounded. Time to eat pie -  humble that is.

At the end of the day nothing came of it - a near miss and some lessons learnt for the next time "Burrows goes off"  - great vid btw.

In a way it was good to bring this occurence to public knowledge, save us all from getting complacent, and to re-address our own sailing etiquette and safety aspects to speedsailing.

Shame on me JK, steady on. Do you want to recount the 'words' you had with me.

Let's move on and sail.
If you mean the words I said like " if you ever do that to me or anyone I'm sailing with again I'd take that stupid looking helmet and shove it up your hole with your head in it " and maybe some more stuff I cant remmember I was pritty mad but I'm not the one going round telling lie's and feeling hard done by . the way you told it here on the forum it was all my fault and you then told Steve the I start sailing for you ........ you'll never change Martin and you will all ways have an excuse
I cannot see any evidence from what Martin has said in this topic that would be considered as spouting out lies and feeling hard done by. He was merely canvassing the opinions of other speed sailors for advice on the compromised position he and you found yourselves in - nothing wrong with that

Was the incident with Martin as close as this one?

"me and Oisin going head to head"

Did Oisin get an earful on this ocassion? and threaten to have his stupid yellow helmet and head shoved where the the sun don't shine?
Howard have a good long look at that photo before you get into this ....... I was on the same size sail as Oisin and the course was dead square and once again I was on the course but I can tell you he was about 6 or more meters dead down wind of me and every one had to sail back the same way so to  answer your question yes if Oisin had of been to close to me he would have gotten the same response and he knows it and that go's for any speed sailor . 

Maybe you should read the report again or ask Steve how close it was and that will be of the end of all this ...

The mention of the photo on your site was a little rib take based on it's title "head to head with Oisin" did n't really go into the technicalities of the photo, the title was sufficient.

I have read Steve's report several times,  for me the book stops there with the RTK. Martin was clearly in the wrong, (wrong place wrong time) insanely close call looking at the tracks, you correctly held your line, Martin tried to get out of the way. Martin has accepted responsibility. No one got hurt, save a little pride.

It's easy to say "Martin should of held his original course" not quite as easy in practice when you 've got someone bearing down on you at high speed, complacency is the mother of all f.u. 's

In hindsight when looking at the tracks the safest course for Martin would have been to stay well to windward of you, you can see that he thought about doing this and changed his mind twice "shit.... shit .... shit"

We all know what it's like getting or trying to get the fastest run of the day, getting back up wind quick time because one of y' mates is hammering down on a flyer with the gust of the day.

There are times when we all have made the wrong decision, or taken the wrong course of action
We will all live and learn from this close call.

good wind and speed boyz