For the third year in a row, we have returned to Brandon Bay; we have fallen in love with Ireland for the splendid wind and wave conditions it offers, and in particular Brandon bay is an excellent destination for windsurfing, for "waveriding", and surfing, especially in autumn!!
Windsurfing, travel report: Brandon Bay, Ireland (October 2020) - by Paolo Prete.
Brandon Bay can be reached in 2/3 hours by direct flight from the main European airports. This year we chose to leave with Ryanair (some from Naples, some from Milan Malpensa), which allows you to bring your sports equipment bag, with a surcharge of about 100 euros, each way. We strongly advise you to take with you your boards, despite the fact that there are some rental centers, including Jamie Knox, but we will deepen the subject later.
We landed in Dublin, hired a van, and headed to Brandon, about 4 hours away, driving mainly on the motorway. The journey, even if long, is pleasant. For those living in Northern Italy/Central Europe, the flight Zurich - Cork with SwissAir could also be convenient. In fact, Cork is only 2 hours from Brandon Bay, but unfortunately this flight is currently suspended due to the Covid emergency (october 2020).
Let me open a little parenthesis to thank the person who gave us the opportunity to get to know this wonderful windsurfing destination: Mr Colin Dixon. Every year, Colin organizes various Clinics around the world, and, in the months of September/October, he is in Ireland. In a nutshell, Colin's clinics are cool, they help us to improve in wave sailing / jumping, stimulating us to try new maneuvers. The clinics are also very fun, allowing you to get in touch with many fans of our beautiful sport, exchange opinions, and, above all, feed chatting, during evenings at the pub. In short, bread and windsurfing for the whole week (https://www.windsurfcoaching.com).
But let's go back to our journey.
This year, we rented a Cottage in Castelgregory, the village closest to the bay. The bay is huge (14 km), sandy and has a horseshoe shape, so, depending on the wind direction and the wave size, you choose the best spot for your abilities. For a detailed and in-depth review of all the spots on the West coast of Ireland, from North to South, we invite you to read the specific article published on Waterwind. We also recommend this very useful link that describes every single spot in the bay.
The experience of this third year was very positive, even if the conditions were not as epic as in the previous two years. Brandon, in fact, is usually characterized by winds coming from the South-West, which allow to go out on port tack, "cross-off", a joy for those who love port tack. But in the 10 days that passed there, winds mainly from the North blew over us; therefore, our sessions were on starboard tack. Anyway, we had the opportunity to surf beautiful waves and to do a great exercise.
In this trip, there were only two days with no wind at all, but, even when it was not possible to go out floating, we had about one and a half / two meters of wave, which allowed us to practice SUP. So, we rented the boards from Jamie Knox (https://www.jamieknox.com). Jamie is great, a local legend, always available to give advice on spots, etc. If he is not in the shop or in the various windsurfing centers, you can certainly meet him in the evening at the "local" Pub Spillane's (https://www.spillanesbar.com), which serves excellent Irish meat burgers, and typical dishes such as Crab, fish & chips, or fish soup. Highly recommended!
So, on days with little wind we preferred to enjoy the waves with SUP, but if you don't feel like it, it is still possible to rent foil equipment from Jamie Knox. There are spots within 10 minutes by car, with flat water.
It is important to know that the water has a temperature of 14-15 Celsius degrees, so a 4/3, or 5/4 mm wetsuit for those who feel colder is ok. In any case, we recommend a single-lined wetsuit (better, if two), and possibly a neoprene jacket, or a rigging-coat, as you spend a lot of time at the beach and there are no support structures. Between one session and another, therefore, you are keep on wearing your wet suit. The outside temperature usually varies between 13 and 18 degrees, the chances of rain are very high (every day), and the wind and wave conditions vary. Beware that with the winds from the north, temperatures drop further, as happened this year.
Brandon is an easy destination as far as conditions in the water are concerned: sandy bottom throughout the bay, with the exception of the 2 spots of Mosses (see the video shot in Mosses by the drone on Waterwind Italian forum) and Dumps (north east, of the bay). With winds from the North, we advise you to get information before going out because there are rocks in these two spots, and the retreating tide discovers many of them!
The wave conditions we found ranged from 1 to 3 meters. In some cases, they can be even bigger but you can always move around the bay, to escape the big swell, and find smaller waves. Ireland is a magical place, the landscapes are sensational, but if you come here with the unique aim of windsurfing, we recommend that you do not bring companions, because there is not much to do, over there. If the intention is to go on a road trip, things obviously changes, since Ireland offers lots of possibility of excursions, and is rich in history.
Hang loose! Paolo Prete.