Alan Clark from Dire Straits talks to us about windsurfing!

In our next Blog, Alan will be talking about his windsurfing experiences in New Zealand and Australia……

Alan Clark from Dire Straits talks to us about windsurfing!

We have been in contact with Alan Clark From Dire Straits, and he has been good enough to give puretourism.co.uk his stories…

I got into windsurfing when I was on the Caribbean island of Monsterrat, recording the Brothers in Arms album with Dire Straits. I’d done a bit of dinghy sailing in my youth and was pretty good at it; at the age of 13, on an advanced sailing course at Howtown activity centre on Lake Ullswater, I came second overall, the winner was a recognised champion who ended up representing the UK. I remember the instructor saying how the best sailors can feel the wind with their cheeks, and realising I’d been doing that naturally. So, when I got to Monsterrat and noticed a couple of dinghies on the beach, I started sailing again. On the second day, Danny, the guy who owned the boats, flashed past me on a windsurfer so I thought maybe I should try that. And so began my windsurfing life. I say life because it pretty much took over my life: if it was windy, I had to be sailing. I sailed so much in Monsterrat my hands were permanently knotted into the shape of the boom – I didn’t have the luxury of a harness – which probably accounts for why there’s no piano on that record.

The bulk of my sailing thereafter happened in Australia, where we spent the last three months of the18 month long Brothers in Arms tour tour. I bought a big Mistral board and a couple of mistral sails and a harness and tooled about Sydney Harbour and Melbourne bay watching other guys flashing about on short boards. So, when we arrived in New Zealand, I borrowed one, cracked the water start and that was it: goodbye long board.

I spent the next couple of years trying to conquer the North Sea on the Northumberland coast, on a couple of ridiculous short boards I’d acquired in New Zealand. One of them was almost flat, which meant it went like a bat out of hell but, man, did I have some spectacular crashes. When I was in Australia, I’d met and befriended Scotty O’Connor who was the Oz wave champion, and hearing he was heading out to Maui to spend some time with his pal Mike Waltz, one of the pioneers of the sport, I decided to join him.

So I rented a rather nice house on the sea near Spreckelsville, bought a custom wave board from Mike Waltz and a quiver of North sails from Dave Kalama, and sailed from the bottom of my garden every single day for a month. And what a month it was. At 9am there’d be no wind; at 10:15 you’d see the first sign of it on the water; at 11:15 there might be a couple of guys out on 7 meter sails; at 12:45 I was swimming out to the wind line with my wave board and a 4 or 4.5 meter wave sail, and that was me until 5 or 5:30 when the whole process began to reverse, and by 7pm the wind was gone for the day. It was summer, August, so the water temperature was 82F, the air temperature about 86F, and at Spreckelsville the waves on the reef were “only’ 4 to 5 feet, and at Hookipa, 5 or 6 feet. Most days Scotty, and pioneer of the sport and former world wave champion Mike Waltz, and Laird Hamilton who was then world speed sailing champion and is now the worlds most famous big wave surfer, and former world champion wave sailor Mark Angulo came over to sail from my garden. Because the waves were very small by their standards, they used the opportunity to be seen and photographed on the water. Laird, who was recovering from a broken leg, sailed a narrow speed board with a 5 meter wave sail, and at every opportunity pulled spectacular, perfectly straight forward rolls off the tiniest bits off chop. Which is how he broke his leg in the first place. Some afternoons we’d get dropped off at Hookipa, sail there for a while then sail back down the coast to my house, dropping off at every reef on the way……….

Maui was the place that I really learn’t to sail!

In our next Blog, Alan will be talking about his windsurfing experiences in New Zealand and Australia……