Friday, January 15, 2010

A new year, a new title, many new tricks

I have decided to change the title and the focus of this blog - from now on, it will be focused only on windsurfing. I'm starting a separate blog for the stuff that's not related to windsurfing.

The new blog title "The Windsurf Loop" was suggested by my lovely wife. I like it, because learning the speed loop will be one of my windsurfing goals for the year. Of course, we can blame Andy Brandt for this. Until last year, I never thought I'd ever try looping with 30+ pounds of equipment connected to me. But I looked at plenty of speed loop descriptions that all stated that the loop is 80-90% guts and just 10-20% skill, and "easy". So when Andy gave a lesson where he showed how to learn the speed loop with absolutely no chance of getting hurt by landing on your gear, he sold the loop to me. What I remember from the lesson is that you have to look back over your shoulder, and fall onto your back into the water - two things I definitely can do!

Ok, there were a few additional details, like getting your board out of the water, but I'll ignore these for the time being. Instead, I started with the pre-loop exercises from the Tricktionary. That's basically doing the loop without the board in low wind: push the sail to the front, sheet in hard, look back, and get catapulted/jump so you land on your back. The first time I tried that, it did indeed take some guts - I was sure that I'd land with my back on the nose of the board. Fortunately, I had my Bic Nova 120 with the soft top around, and after the first couple of tries, it became clear that falling next to the board on the lee side was not really hard, but rather a lot of fun - especially in the warm waters of Tobago.

So, learning the speed loop is one of my windsurfing goals for this year. I hope to do my first real attempts in March in Bonaire, during an ABK camp. That will require a bit of luck, though, since I often need large sails and boards to get planing on Bonaire. So in case the wind does not play along in Bonaire, we have booked two additional weeks of surfing in windier regions: one week in Maui in May, and a week in Hood River in June. We'll probably add a couple of weeks in Cabarete later in the summer, just in case :-)

So, inspired by the Peconic Puffin's example, here are my windsurfing goals for the year:
  • The speed loop. Try it when the wind is good, and at least get around to landing in waterstart position and getting going again quickly. Better yet, land it without getting all wet, and maybe even with keeping some speed (if not this year, then next year).
  • Nice duck jibes. I've done a few dry duck jibes in some of the later sessions last year, but none were really pretty. Will work on imitating Andy - nose in the air, don't move the body, make it look really easy. 
  • Speed. Well, I just love going fast, and improving my personal GPS records. In 2010, I want to get my 5 x 10 sec average to above 50 km. Should be no problem if I can get my wife's board on a nice, windy day :-)
  • Chop hops. The problem with speed is that I usually look for really flat water, and try to keep the board nicely controlled. For the speed loop and other tricks, I need to get better at getting the board into the air - in flat water, in chop, and in the waves. Maui and Cabarete should be good places for practice.
  • Tricks. There's plenty of fun stuff that I have never even tried. In low wind, Geckos look really cool. The push tack also beckons to be understood, both in low and high wind. I've done a few in low wind, but have no clue (clew?) what's going on. In high wind, maybe it's time to look at new style tricks when loopings start working (or hurting). Since I probably will not get a freestyle board, though, I may instead look at old-school tricks like slam and jump jibes. Another thing I definitely should play with are boomerang tricks like the stall heli tack and the reverse duck jibe. I think the reverse duck is just one of the coolest looking tricks there is.
  • Get better in high wind and chop. Summer-surfing on the East Coast primarily consists of using big gear in marginal conditions. I've done that often enough to be decent doing it, so I need to get out more on small sails and gear and into chop. Going back to Cabarete after a 3-year break should help.
  • Planing jibes. After working on my planing jibes for decades, how could I possibly stop? Ok, I don't fall much anymore (unless I get tired), and I often plane through. But there's plenty of room for improvement when it comes to keeping speed. The key should be a better feel for the timing, and (most of the time) an earlier sail flip. The GPS records shall tell...
Just in case there's any confusion - none of the Youtube links above feature me, they are all more or less random picks.

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