Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer winds

In the last 10 days, we have had three days were we went windsurfing and had enough wind to plane - two days with averages around 18 mph, and one day with a bit more for a couple of hours. I tried to sail my Fanatic Skate on each day, but often, I'd end up with that sinking feeling:

So I used my bigger boards most of the time - the Bic Nova 120 or even the Bic Techno 293. While the Nova does not plane up any faster than the Skate, it handles a large fin and 8.5 m cambered sail much better, and the 10 extra liters make schlogging a lot easier. And if the wind is so low that I schlog most of the time on the Nova, the 80 cm width and 205 l of the Techno usually get me planing.

The last day we went, the wind came from an unusual direction: WNW, instead of the usual S to SW. This meant more variability, and more chop, since the waves have a few miles to build, instead of just a few hundred feet. At first, when wind averages where closer to 15, the swell was small, and the Techno was handling it nicely, staying on a plane even in lulls. When the wind picked up later and the swell got bigger, surfing the Techno was hitting the chop hard and slowing down a lot, and it was time to switch to a smaller board. I tried the Skate with a 7.0 sail first, but of course that was timed perfectly with a lull, where the averages where below 15 mph. As soon as I switched to the Nova and the 8.5 sail, the wind picked up again. Getting superstitious, I stayed on the Nova, although I switched back to the 7.0 sail after a while.

The swell inside the little bay was higher than during the usual southerly winds, but it was still rather tame. Gusts in the afternoon went up to 28 mph, so I was rather nicely powered for a few downwind speed runs. But while the runs felt fast, I barely exceeded 42 kmh; if the water had been flat as usual, I would have been close to 50 kmh. Quite amazing how much difference even a little chop makes, at least with wider boards.

Since I spend most of the time on big gear, I did not try too many interesting things. The first day, I tried a few body drags with the 8.5 m sail. I made it back up onto the board a few times, but the drag time was minimal to non-existent. The times were I held the sail to upright and got catapulted after going of the board were more fun :)

One of the great things in Fogland is that you have to jibe a lot if you stay in the bay, since the runs in the bay are less than 500 m long. This gave me plenty of opportunity to work on keeping my front arm extended in jibes. I have mode some progress:

There is room for further improvement, but this is a lot better than having my front elbow pulled all the way back behind my shoulder, as I often catch myself doing when checking the boom cam videos. I did make a few jibes every day where the min speed was above of near 10 knots, which is not bad.

One thing we tried to do was to simply surf a lot, in preparation for our upcoming trip to Cabarete. We sailed 5-6 hours on day 1 and 3, and definitely felt it the next day. Day 2 was immediately after day 1, and we were so sore that we sailed less, and did not try anything interesting. On day 3, I did a few loop exercises (step 2 in Remko's 4-step approach), and tried couple of duck jibes. I made the first one, although it was not very pretty. On the second one, the mast hit the water and I did a plank walk, which is definitely a great way to cool down. Well, with all the hours surfed recently, and hopefully a few more good days in the next weeks, we should have plenty of energy to try stuff in Cabarete. And shortly thereafter, it's ABK camp time again, and then the fall winds should be back for practicing, and for some Fogland Speedsailing Club sessions.

1 comment:

  1. "Jibing is a career." Said by a racer in Windsurfing Magazine about ten years ago.

    Hey in your "Techno jibe" photo it looks like you're back hand didnt slide back, so you couldn't push the rig sufficiently forward to add MBP, which would stop your tail from plowing, which would let you carry more speed through the turn for a planing exit.

    Ask Andy in September.

    (these two cents of uninvited jibe tips courtesy the editorial staff of The Peconic Puffin, where we're suffering from wind deprivation.)