Saturday, August 23, 2014

Feels like summer

Finally, it feels like summer. "It" is the wind - I needed large sails to plane the last couple of days. Not that I am complaining - at least I was planing. Not that the wind was consistent - but that's what long boards are for. Yesterday, the Kona Mahalo for rail ride practice. Today, the Fanatic Ultra Cat for fun in 12 mph winds. Did I mention it was fun? Lots of fun! But rail rides are hard work. Mowing the lawn when the wind picked up today in Duxbury Bay was a lot easier.

Enough said - here is a short video from our recent sessions at Egg Island:

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I'm tired. Blame the relentless August wind - we sailed 5 days in a row. The first three days were fantastic; the last two a bit less so, with wrong gear choices (and no easy switch since we were at Egg Island), a broken sail strap, and more variation in the wind. Did not keep me from mowing the lawn, nor did it keep Nina from working on all kinds of things. She's now getting a duck tack in every session; a two-session day thus means two duck tacks. They tend to look quite cool now, too, with the sail almost hitting the water before floating back up to her. Here's a shot from a Clew-View video:
Yes, I did manage to get here to take the GoPro for one of the 5 days. Much cooler footage than when I use it! I counted her trick attempts in one 42-minute video, where she worked on 6 different tricks: 28 attempts in total, one every 90 seconds. No surprise she sometimes is tired after a session!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Nice Kitty!

"Do you guys have lanes on the water? You all seem to be going the same way back and forth all the time!" That's what an astute observer who obviously never windsurfed asked me the other day at Kalmus beach. Looking at some of my GPS tracks, I must admit he had a point:
These are tracks from the first half of my session a few days ago. I had just enough wind to get planing, and was using a weed fin. But these tracks are pretty typical for how most windsurfers sail at Kalmus.

But when the wind dropped a bit, I decided to switch to a longboard - my Fanatic Ultra Cat from the 1990s. At least twice as heavy as the Fanatic Skate I had used, almost twice as long - and, it turned out, about twice as much fun:
On the newer shortboard, I had exactly two speeds - really slow and fast. I had just one angle to sail - close to beam reach. Theoretically, I could have sailed more downwind, but that was not really an option because going upwind at any decent angle would have meant switching from fast (= fun) to really slow (= no fun).
But on the longboard, I suddenly had options. I was able to go upwind at 45ยบ angles. Just one tack, and I was out much further than during the entire session on the Skate. I had a lot of different speeds to choose on, depending on the angle to the wind and the current wind strength. On the Cat, a bit more wind meant a bit more speed. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Even the relatively slow upwind legs were a lot of fun, since the board railed up a bit on it's huge racing daggerboard. Not even the famous Kalmus voodoo chop bothered the board! Fun, fun, fun. Since going upwind was easy, I could also go downwind at much steeper angles, and start playing around with the waves. Sure, a 12-foot board won't do radical turns going down a 3-foot wave, but it still reacts fast enough to be lots of fun. For the number-curious: the wind meter showed readings between 10 and 18 mph, with averages near 15. My top speed on the Skate 110 was 24 mph, on the Cat 21 mph; I used a 6.5 m sail.

I had to stop when it got dark. I tried for a repeat session the next day, but the wind dropped to 9 mph averages just as I hit the water. So it ended up being more work and less fun - but every day of sailing is a great day of sailing!

On other news, I finally got an opportunity to practice my windsurf instructor skills on complete beginners today. Conditions were pretty good, but the wind was a bit light. Watching the two guys try there best made me wonder how I ever got past the initial steps. It looked so hard! The lighter guy was on a 10 ft Exocet WindSUP. He managed some back and forth runs, with tacks in the middle, towards the end. The other guy was a bit taller and heavier, and really had to fight for his balance on my 75 cm wide Kona Mahalo. Very light winds and small swell did not help at all! But he bravely kept at it, and managed to get reasonably good at uphauling and getting going. I always thought the Kona Mahalo was pretty stable, with it's 12 foot length and looong daggerboard - but I'll clearly need a wider beginner board for future lessons.

So begins August - often a month with very little wind here. But July was fantastic, with 15 days of planing fun. So much wind that even I got bored of mowing the lawn, and started to play around with new school freestyle. I'm pretending to work on the Grubby, and if I'm very generous, I can claim about 60 tries. Most of those were just pops, though, with the highlight being a pop where I turned the board about 90 degrees in the air, and then landed nose-first (no, dear mother-in-law, do not worry: I did not land on my nose! The nose of the board touched the water first, which is what's supposed to happen in new school freestyle). You call it what you will, I'll call it progress, albeit slow progress. But I already have a good idea what I should do next. Let's hope I don't forget until the winds return in a few weeks!
Nose landing
Butt landing - I'm good at these!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Time to sign up for the Cape Cod ABK clinic

The ABK clinic is coming to Hyannis in 5 weeks - time to sign up! Waiting until a few days before the clinic starts to see if it will be windy is not going to work! Many tried this the last two years, only to discover that the clinic filled up one or two weeks before. I am sure this will happen again this year - many regulars I talked to plan on attending, and I have seen many new faces at Kalmus this year. So sign up now! Yes, Marty and Steve, I am talking to you (and many others!)
Andy Brandt teaching Nina the duck jibe at Kalmus
Do you need reasons to sign up? Well... do you want to improve your windsurfing? Plane through your jibes? Learn to water start? Get into the harness? Finally get into the footstraps? Learn to duck jibe, heli tack, loop, or vulcan? Then grab the opportunity and learn from some of the best windsurf instructors in the world! They are coming to Cape Cod to teach you on September 5-7.

What about the wind, you say? I have attended the ABK clinic in Hyannis since 2009. Every year, we had at least one day, and often two days, of planing conditions. There's still plenty to learn on the light wind days. Nina actually learned to get into the back footstrap on a light wind day at the ABK camp Cape Cod a few years back. She had spend the windy day before with really learning the water start - well enough to go to Maui and the Gorge the next year. She also learned the heli tack during the same camp. I don't learn as quickly, but there's always a lot to be learned in these three days.

You still need more reasons to sign up? How about making new friends who are at least as crazy about windsurfing as you are? How about the opportunity to hear a guest lecture from Caesar Finies, a PWA sailor and one of the best light wind freestylers on this planet? He will be on Cape Cod during the clinic days. He'll be also giving a demonstration of his crazy tricks during the clinic. Many windsurfers who have not seen his "Hail Mary" in real life think that the videos on YouTube where he takes the rig off the board, throws it 20 feet into the air, and then catches it again after it flipped a few times, must be photoshopped. Come see for yourself!

Besides making sure that you get a spot in the clinic, another reason to sign up now is that it may allow Andy Brandt to expand the clinic by getting additional instructors to come. There are quite a few highly qualified ABK instructors around who can help out - but chances to get them to help out are better the more advance notice they have. I have been to more than a dozen ABK camps, and the bigger, the better: larger camps mean that skills within any group are closely matched, which makes teaching and learning easier.

So - sign up now! Don't tell me (again) "I should have listened to you"! Don't wait until you see "6 spaces left" - for the Cape Cod camp, the last 6 spaces may fill up in less than a day! I hope to see you all at the beautiful Kalmus beaches in September.

For those who want to learn windsurfing before then, or take lessons to improve their skills, here is a list of other places that offer windsurfing instructions on or near Cape Cod:

Another option for windsurfing lessons at Kalmus Beach in Hyannis is to support our "Help Us Bring Caesar to Cape Cod" campaign. Anyone who donates at least $100 to the campaign can get a 2 hour windsurf lesson. There are only 4 of these $100 "perks" left, though, so you may need to act fast.