The picture above shows Kalmus on July 3rd. At times, there were close to 30 windsurfers on the water at the same time. Over the course of the day, more than 50 windsurfers sailed. Almost like old times.
Yesterday had good wind, too, but nobody sailed. Yes, it was Friday, instead of the middle of a long weekend. Yes, it was cloudy instead of sunny, and air temperatures where in the mid-60s instead of the mid-70s. But the bigger difference was the wind direction: north to northeast instead of the usual southwest. That's straight offshore at Kalmus. Even the iWindsurf meter readings looked gusty:
Lulls below 10, gusts in the mid-20s? That sounds like the Gorge, not like Kalmus!
But we know that wind meters can be deceitful. No way it would really be that bad! But gusts near 25 - there's a reason to go windsurfing! So we went.
The beach was almost empty - two or three vacationers braved the "cold", and no life guard was to be seen when we checked out the wind. Not many white caps to be seen, either, but my wind meter showed averages of 17, and gusts above 20 - good enough. By the time we had rigged, the life guards had shown up, and informed us that we absolutely could not launch on the Lewis Bay side. It did not matter that there were about 800 feet of completely empty beach next to the swimming area - "windsurfers must launch in front". So we did, and sailed over to Egg Island. Here are my GPS tracks:
You may notice that I was planing the entire time. The lulls in Lewis Bay were nowhere near as bad as near the wind meter. The wind was a bit up and down, from just powered to slightly overpowered on my 6.5 - better than I had expected, and plenty of fun. The chop was small, mostly orderly, without any of the voodoo chop Kalmus is famous for. The tide was high, so the inner sandbar was submerged completely, allowing runs that were the same length as typical runs in front of Kalmus beach. I played around with a few freestyle tricks, only to discover that the smaller (5.6) freestyle sails I have been able to use recently spoiled me a bit too much to enjoy wrestling the 6.5. Nor did it help that the chop was just big enough to keep the speed down a bit, and that gusts seemed to hit me every time I wanted to oversheet the sail. I kept thinking that slalom gear would have been the better choice for the conditions ... next time!
This weekend will see cloudy and colder weather with a chance of rain, but not much wind. But the forecast currently predicts a couple of nice southwest days for the middle of the week - see you on the water!
Maybe I windsurf too much. Today was the 4th day in a row. Maybe that's nothing for Corpus Christi or the Gorge, but for Cape Cod, that's a lot. So today, I had a little voice in my head that told me how fast I was going. It only made me want to go faster! It worked, too - I finally broke the 60 km/h barrier (32.4 knots, 37.3 mph).
Meter readings today showed averages around 29 mph, with gusts up to 36 mph. There was no sand flying, though, making the readings appear a bit high. Nina wanted to go to Egg Island to work on Flakas using a 4.0 m sail, so I took my 90 l slalom board and 5.8 m speed sail and tried to go fast. The voice in my head? That was GPSLogit. Very useful. Just like Roo said.
Conditions were near-perfect for speed runs (and Flaka tries, says Nina). I heard "32" (knots) several times, which is faster than I had ever sailed before. 33 seemed so close.. but I later discovered that I switched from top speed runs to nautical mile runs just as the wind got strongest (and then dropped quickly). But my sail was probably too small for "real" speed, anyway: going back upwind was easy. That means I did not have much power in the downwind speed runs. Oh well. I'm happy with a new 2 second personal best. And it was fun! Yes, fun.
The way back was interesting. The wind had dropped, which seems to be the rule for Egg Island sessions. Without enough wind, the 90 l board becomes a submarine. Not a problem - if you don't want wet feet and knees, you should not windsurf. I opted for the easy way home, aiming for the Lewis Bay side beach at Kalmus. I even got a lucky gust that let me plane through the ferry lane. Submarine schlogging practice was fun, too. When I hit the wind shadow near the yacht club, I was almost on shore, and the swim was short. As warm as the water is, that was fun, too.
Yesterday? Fun on a 6.5 in south wind - big, orderly swell, than flat. Fog to keep us cool. Fun.
2 days ago? Another Egg Island/Lewis Bay session, again on 6.5 (Nina on 5.0). Sailed 135 km, jibed 150 times. Fun!
3 days ago? SSE wind at West Dennis, high 20s, low tide. Fun waves outside, nice and flat inside. Nina on 4.0, I used a 5.0 Idol. Found that it worked well with the slalom board. Fun!
But today was the best day - lots of wind, lots of speed, lots of sun. And for the first time, my ankle did not hurt at all for the entire session. That means I have run out of excuses not to do freestyle. Bummer! Not.
Nina is following Brendon's advice and is hacking away at the Flaka, and nothing else. Sure, she'll throw in a Clew First Push Tack or a 360 every now and then, but those don't count because she can do them already. She's making slow but steady progress. Could happen any day now!
I'll leave you with a picture of today's GPS tracks:
After many days of good forecasts that did not happen, the wind finally came yesterday. It had been windy all night long, and meter readings early in the morning were around 25. When we got to the beach, they were 23. When we got onto the water at around 10 am, they dropped to 20. Still enough to have fun, after a bit of re-rigging and switching boards.
Martin was smarter. He was at the beach at 8 am. When I started re-learning my Carve 360s, he showed me how it's done, carving through one in style, with the sail all the way down to the water. Thanks, Marty! I got a few good ones right after that. Seeing how it's done helps. A lot.
Then I saw Marty go for loop crashes. I asked him about it, and he said he was working on the sail ride part. So I figured I'd show him a Gecko Loop. That's a non-planing trick where you can practice pushing yourself up on the boom to ride the sail. I had just learned it at the ABK camp in Hatteras a couple of weeks ago.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten that (a) I had learned the move in about 10-12 mph wind, and (b) when the wind picked up to 15-18, my tries got very bad, so that I quickly stopped. Here are a couple of pictures from these later tries:
In this try, I at least got the nose into the water, although not quite enough. Otherwise, the board is too flat - it should be tilted to the leeward edge is in the water, and the windward edge up. My back foot came out of the strap.
In this try, the board is even flatter - I did not even get the nose to go down. Fortunately, both of my feet got ripped out of the straps. This is somewhat similar to many bad loop tries I have done and seen where the timing is off.
When I tried to show Marty the Gecko Loop yesterday, I combined the worst elements of the two pictures above. I kept the board way to flat as in the second picture; but I also had my front foot nice and tight in the foot strap, so that it did not come out. That twisted the ankle in ways it was not supposed to be twisted. Quite a few tendons on the inside screamed at me in protest.
I took a little break to see if they would calm down, and then went back out for a trial run. But every little bump on the water sent little pain signals from my ankle, so I had to call it a day. Too bad, since the 25 mph wind returned a few hours later, and it was sunny and warm. But at least we were early enough to get a seat at one of our favorite places on Main Street, and were pleasantly surprised that the new cook at Gringo's can make some decent veggie tacos. So overall, I'll call the day a win - several good things (wind, sun, friends on the water, and decent food) beat the one bad thing. Seems I was lucky, anyway, and did not break or tear anything: a day later, I can walk (mostly) without pain, so this seems to be just a little strain that should go away in a few days. Maybe even in time for more wind on Tuesday...
It is dangerous to visit the windsurf stores here in Hatteras. They have way too many cool toys! Ocean Air is bad enough, but at least they have some kites to distract you. No such luck at Wind-NC. My advice: if Andy starts using his high-pressure sales tactics ("You might be interested in this..."), plug your ears, and run out of the store!
A couple of days ago, Nina needed a new outhaul line, so we stopped at Wind-NC. I should have known better to come in with her! Right away, Andy pointed out a little board he had lying on his big "Buy This" table: an Isonic W54 speedboard. I was not in the market for a speedboard. Sure, a few years ago, when Cesar planted the idea of speedsurfing in my head, I had bought an old F2 Missile. But its 62 liters were not quite enough for my 200 lb and the gusty and unreliable winds we typically get. It took me quite a few sessions before I managed to get a few decent runs on the Missile. So the Missile ended up mostly as Nina's speedboard, which she jumps on every once in a while.
I suspect that Andy reads this blog. How else can you explain that he mentioned that the Isonic has 72 liters? Ok, maybe I asked, but still! I definitely told him that I did not want to know the price. A new board would go for about $2500. This board had never been used, but it had spend several years in the corner of a warehouse, forgotten an neglected. Which meant that the price had dropped to about 1/3rd of the price of a new board. And bad Andy told me so. Hook, line, and sinker.
The final straw was that I had a little accident with our van just before we came to Hatteras. Someone had opened their car door all the way just as I was pulling into a gas station. His door was toast, my van had a little dent. The insurance decided he should have checked his mirrors before opening the door all the way, and sent me a check for the repair. The amount on the check was exactly the same as the price Andy quoted me for the board. How could I possibly ignore such a sign? So I bought it.
Even the wind gods cooperated, and I got to take it out yesterday. I got it to start right away, without first sinking to my hips into the water - nice! It cut through the chop nicely, and I felt right at home. I even managed to jibe it dry after just a couple of tries, and went for a few little speed runs. No great speed yet, that will require a bit more tuning and practice (and maybe less chop). I can't wait to sail the board on really flat water, though!
I've been windsurfing for more than 30 years, although this includes several multi-year periods where I did not windsurf at all. I got really hooked again a few years ago, after getting married to my lovely windsurfing wife, and starting to take ABK clinics. We mainly surf on Cape Cod, with regular trips to Cape Hatteras and the Caribbean.