Monday, August 23, 2010

Fall storm toy

Supposedly, it's still summer, but windsurfing today sure felt like fall, with temperatures in the 60s, rain - and Nor'easter winds in the low 30s, gusting up to 40. Great day to try out the new toy I bought yesterday for fall storms: a Mistral Edge slalom board, ca. 1997, 92 l and 53.5 cm "wide".

For buying this board, I'll have to put the blame on Cesar, who has convinced almost everyone who surfs in Fogland that they should own a speed board, or better a whole bunch of speed boards. Ok, I love going fast, and my old Bic Nova 120 really does not want to go faster than 50 kmh. I'd love to get an iSonic, Tabou Manta, or Fanatic Falcon, but I'm about $2K short. So when Nina saw the Mistral Edge for $125 on Craigslist, I checked the top speed it has logged on gps-speedsurfing.com: 65 kmh, fast enough for the next step up. Picked it up yesterday, and surfed it today. We picked Duxbury, since E-NE winds tend to be stronger and more consistent there than at most other places, and since the bay has a few protected spots for speed runs.

The board is almost ancient and pretty heavy (the in-flight adjustable mast track alone can probably hold 2 pounds of water). But for really windy days, heavy is not necessary bad. We left when the wind averages were about 26 mph; but when we arrived, the wind had dropped to 22, so I started out with my 7.0 Matrix. Sure enough, the wind picked up again, and the 7.0 was definitely too big. I switched down to a 5.5 Matrix, which had me fully powered; later, when the wind picked up even more, I was overpowered on it.

Sailing the Edge was surprisingly easy. It feels quite different than newer boards, but required little adjustments. My biggest problem was the super-smooth surface, which made me slip a few times, until I discovered that only 2 front foot positions were safe: against the mast base, and in the straps. That cramped my style when getting going a bit, but fortunately, Duxbury makes it easy to do mile-long runs before turning around. When I did turn around, the board amazed me again by being easy to turn, and keeping a lot of speed. I'll need a few more days before my jibes on it are pretty, but at least I got a few dry ones in.

Here are the GPS tracks from today:

The picture shows the setup for speed runs quite nicely. Since I was not 100% comfortable, I did not get as close to shore as possible. This limited my speed a bit, and it also limited how deep downwind I went. Nevertheless, I set new personal bests for 1, 2, and 10 seconds, average speed, and 100, 250, 500, and 1852 m runs. The improvements were just 2-3 kmh, but still - rather nice for the first day on a new (albeit rather old) board. I should have gone out for a few runs on Nina's 4.2 sail at the end, though, when the 5.5 was way too big - I missed my average speed ( 5 x 10 sec) goal of 50 kmh by 0.37 kmh! Just one more nice run over 50 kmh would have done the trick... Still, lots of fun - so today's thanks go to Cesar!

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