Blown away in Brandon Bay

Photo by Domnick Walsh

A windsurfing competitor takes flight in the Red Bull Storm Chase as force 10 winds lashed Brandon Bay on Monday. HUMAN flight was never as dangerous as it was in the eye of a storm in Brandon Bay on Monday when 10 of the world's top windsurfers competed in the Red Bull Stormchase 2013.

The windsurfing eyes of the world were on West Kerry - with an estimated 250,000 following the action on the internet - as the 10 brave souls faced the sea in winds of up to 120km/h and waves higher than eight metres.

It was all part of the Red Bull Storm Chase action - the single-greatest extreme windsurfing contest in the world. The arrival of the Red Bull event was in no small way thanks to the people of the Maharees and it is expected to realise great tourist potential for the area following the exposure Brandon Bay received this week.

"It's just incredible," said former world champion windsurfer Jamie Knox, who helped put the Maharees on the windsurfing map after he opened his windsurfing school there over 20 years ago. "The conditions were unbelieveable and it's part of the reason I came here first day as this is the best spot in the world for windsurfing."

Competitors were certainly in agreement after their ordeal on Monday. The most famous of them all, Frenchman Thomas Traversa was literally blown away by the event.

"It's hard to describe how windy it was, there was way more than I ever anticipated," he said. "I saw that everyone was about as out-ofcontrol as me, but we all tried our best, nobody complained and the most important thing is that everyone is safe."

Monday marked Mission One of the storm chase event, with windsurfers coming from as far as the US, Chile and Morocco to take part. Each was given only 48 hours' notice to get to Kerry as the storm took shape off the coast.

Brandon Bay was selected as the Irish location as locals pushed for it. "This was a perfect example of what a single community is capable of," Jamie Knox said. "Along with Rob Jones, the Spillanes and others we had been pushing to get Brandon Bay chosen as the location.

"It's going to be great for tourism here, especially in the German market with direct flights into Kerry. It was amazing we managed to pull it off as the event can go anywhere."

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