Monday, February 10, 2020

Wind Sacrifices

We windsurfers know that wind requires sacrifices. Currently, Nina is the sacrifice. She had to fly to Germany because her mom is in the hospital. Nina makes a great wind sacrifice! The wind started the day she left, and has continued for 5 days afterwards, with averages above 20 mph every day. I just had to go windsurfing (or, just one day, windfoiling) to distract myself from her absence. Here is a summary of the sessions from the GPS Team Challenge:
The session on the 3rd was with Nina, before she left. Two foil sessions are not listed; both days, I was overpowered on 5.6.

Yesterday's morning session was interesting, because I got to sail the Turtle Island Slicks for the first time. The wind was a bit too southerly and too weak for a really fast session, but the spot worked and was fun. To show my thanks to the wind gods, I sacrificed my carbon boom in a slow-motion catapult when I got too close to a spoil island on the way back to the launch. Fortunately, the boom held together for the 2 mile run back from the crash site, after I had flipped it around so the "good" side was on the windward side.

As superstitious as I may me, I had not really planned to sacrifice the boom, so this was a bit of a bummer. Fortunately, the sun came out while I was having lunch, which in Corpus Christi means one thing: more wind! So I hurried back and got a second session in on smaller gear. I stayed far away from any spoil islands, and ended the day without any additional sacrifices. Here are the GPS tracks:
Today's forecast was not very promising - 4 mph less wind, showers in the morning, and "mostly cloudy" in the afternoon. But the weather here often is nicer than predicted, and after about 10 rain drops in the morning, the sun came out a bit - actually, a bit more than yesterday. You all know what that means! By the time I made it to Grassy Point, the nearby wind meters were showing 25 mph averages. Time for the 6.3 and the 72 l speedboard! Here are today's tracks:
The tracks show where the water is shallow and flat. For about the first mile from the launch, the water is mostly hip- to chest-deep, with a few deeper shipping lanes; for this part, the chop can get a foot or two high. After that, the water depth drops to knee- to hip-deep, and it gets pretty smooth! Not quite as smooth as the best Ozzie speed strips, though - a little bit of chop remains, and deep-downwind runs would require a bit more skills than I have. But even at angles that were just 10 or 15 degrees from square, I managed a nautical mile that of almost 30 knots - my third-fastest nautical mile ever, and the fastest one I have sailed in the US (the others were in Fangyland and Lake George, on very very flat water). Not bad for only my second session on the speedboard in almost a year! But as fun as the last few days were, it was just half the fun sailing without my lovely wife. The wind is predicted to take a (welcome!) break for the next few days; hopefully, it will return when she returns!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Fooled

Windsurfers are used to being fooled - usually by the wind forecast. It's either too low or too high, but rarely accurate. Since we'd rather be planing at just the right size gear, some of us rely heavily on the all-knowing internet, and even pay yearly fees to see more wind meters.

The image below tells the story of today:
The forecast had predicted decent wind (19 mph) until 10 am, and then a quick drop. After two weeks with little wind, we got excited enough to sleep poorly and get up early. But when we looked at the Corpus Christi wind meter readings (at the top left of the image), it showed only 10 mph, soon dropping even lower. Most of the other meters had similar readings, except for two. Those two, however, were clear outliers, and at spots where we never sailed before. They both showed averages close to 20 mph.

Believing the meters from the spots we knew well, we stayed home .. at least until the trees in front of the condo started swaying in the wind. By then, the "regular" wind meters approached 15 mph. We got to the water around 9:30, and yes, there were plenty of whitecaps. Nina soon took off on the 6.3/89 combo, I followed her on 112/7.8. We both used MUF Delta fins since the water was very shallow at the launch, and also near the islands that we wanted to sail close to for flat water.

The water was indeed flat, but the wind was too northerly to allow speed runs along the skinny island that Nina named "Turtle Island" after encountering a turtle on a previous light wind scouting trip. We had 45 minutes of fun until the wind turned even more northerly, which made finding a path between the islands and shallows hard. Fortunately, the wind also dropped below planing threshold at the same time, so it was time to call it a day, anyway.

In the roughly two weeks since we arrived in Corpus Christi, we've managed to get out on the water 8 times. But that includes one light wind scouting session and four foil sessions (for me - Nina managed to plane on our largest slalom gear on 3 of the 4 foil days). The three slalom sessions were on big gear (7.0 - 7.8, 99 - 112 l), and mostly cut short because the wind dropped, and/or lightly powered. But it was warm enough to never require a hood or gloves, and often sunny, so there's not really a reason to complain. However, bringing a toy like the foil for the lighter days was definitely a good idea.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

GPS Team Challenge 2019

In my recent review of 2019, I did not mention the GPS Team Challenge results for the year - but they deserve mentioning. In the international ranking, our "United Speedsailors of America" team came in 20th among 57 competing teams.

That's our best rank since the team was formed by combining a few smaller teams from all over the USA. One thing that helped the team improve over previous years was that more windsurfers contributed to the monthly scores (where the best results from 2 windsurfers on the same day are ranked against all other teams in 6 categories). We had 10 team members collection the coveted "jelly beans" - definitely a team effort!

There's also a bit of friendly competition within the team, and the GPSTC web site shows individual rankings for the year. Thanks to our fantastic trip to Australia and a nice long distance session in Hatteras, I was able to improve my personal bests (PBs) in all 6 categories in 2019. But that still was not enough to beat Boro in the US rankings for the year:

But I got a couple of first places, and second places in the four other categories, so I'm quite happy with that - especially considering that quite a few of the windsurfers further down in the rankings are much better speedsurfers than I am!

The lovely Nina also improved all her PBs in 2019, which included reclaiming the (unofficial) women's world record for distance. She also got the #2 spot for the most technical speed category, alpha 500 (speed over 500 meters with a jibe in the middle), and #3 and 4 spots in all other categories, with 29 women from all over the world competing in 2019:

That gave her the #1 spot in the yearly overall rankings! While the competition for second to sixth place was close (29 to 33 points), her 16-points total separated her nicely from the other women. Congratulations!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 Review

That's it for 2019 - and it has been since November 12. Due to a couple of trips to Germany (first by me, then by Nina), the windsurfing season ended earlier than in any of the last years, since I started recording sessions in 2009. It will be a few more weeks until we sail again in warmer climates, and this will be the longest break in all those years, too.

But I can't complain. My windsurfing year started with sailing at Fangy's Weed Farm on January 1st, and I managed to squeeze 148 sessions into the shortened year. That includes a few days with more than one session, since I counted most foiling sessions separately. A bit more than a third of the sessions this year were foil sessions - 53 in total.

Learning to foil was definitely one of the highlights of the year, but the bigger one was the trip to Australia. Windsurfing in 20+ knots on perfectly flat water at the Weed Farm, Lilacs, and Lake George was something absolutely unique. Of all the memorable sessions in Oz, the one in Albany when Nina and I set PBs for alphas stands out - here's a picture of Nina jibing:
We did not even have much wind that day - just enough to be nicely powered on 7.0 and the big slalom board. How great this spot can be shows a recent session from the "Pesky Pinnaroos", who set a total of 17 (!) PB there just a week ago. Most of the guys who set PBs have been sailing for many years! One of the guys posted a video from that day: