Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2 weeks in Hatteras

We just returned from 2 great weeks in Hatteras. Coming back to the cold weather in Boston is a bit depressing, so I'll just list some more or less random thoughts and observations.
  1. Small board light wind freestyle: boards grow 5 liters per hour! We had a couple of light wind days during ABK camp, so I finally spent a few hours doing light wind freestyle on my Fanatic Skate 110. Within two days, I went from feeling like a total beginner to making most of the tricks I could do on a bigger board, including tacks, heli tacks, various jibes, boomerangs, and switch stance sailing. Some of these tricks improved a lot, since the smaller board enforces more precision. Just like Andy Brandt said, the board seemed to grow 5 liters for every hour of practice. And yes, practicing light wind freestyle on a small board will improve your feeling for the board and your sailing in stronger winds.
  2. How to make 80 l boards seem big: sail a 62 l board for a while. I took our my F2 Missile speed board on a couple of days where the wind was good. Day 1 was a bit frustrating since weeds inevitably caused spinouts after a few hundred yards, but day 2 with a weed fin was great. I also got the opportunity to try an 80 l RRD Slalom board, which felt amazingly big and easy to sail after the 62 l board.
  3. Fanatic Free Wave boards are fast fun. I love my Skate for freeriding and carving, but when I got a chance to try a Fanatic Free Wave 95, I loved the board even more. It felt comfortable from the first moment, and it was turny enough for some wave riding in the small Hatteras swell. I also got my top GPS speeds for the day on this board, without ever getting the feeling that I was close to the board's top speed. I later also got to try a Fanatic New Wave Twin wave board, which was fine, but to twitchy for my taste. The Free Wave 85 is on my wish list for next year.
  4. Going fast requires skill, too. On several marginal days, I did well freeriding my Skate with a 7.0 Gaastra Matrix, staying on a plane longer than I though possible, passing most other windsurfers, and getting reasonable GPS speeds. When on the F2 Missile, it took a few hours to get comfortable on the board. The board handled the chop at 25-30 mph winds quite well, but my speeds were limited. Andy took it out for just one run and easily passed my best speed for the entire day, despite not using the harness lines and being on this board for the first time. He later explained a few things that I need to change, both on the equipment setup and in my stance, to get better speed. I'm dying to try it, and hope we get some more nice days here.
  5. 360s are fun. I finally got my first carving 360, after working on it for about 5 or 6 days. I almost drove the ABK guys crazy by getting really close for a few days in a row. On the upside, nobody doubted that I finally got one when nobody was looking. I'll have to practice it some more, this seems like a fun trick.
  6. Learn to loop in Hatteras. Some very good windsurfers get the speed loop in the first few tries, but for less talented and more hesitant folk like me, learning it involves a large number of crashes, including some catapults where you are ripped out of the straps, and the rig may be ripped out of your hands. There's a decent chance that you damage the nose of the board in the process, which I did early on. I think I had some hidden damage that was revealed when running aground while sailing fin first to shore - I had a 5 inch break line on the underside of the nose afterwards. But the best board repair on the East coast is in Buxton, at Fox Watersports. I got my board repaired within 2 days, for $80, and it looks like new again. The loop, however, will need a few more tries.
  7. October in Hatteras may shorten your sailing season. We had many days with air temperatures in the 80s, and water temps in the upper 60s/low 70s. Back in Boston, air temps are now in the 40s, and water temps in the low 50s. That's a bit depressing, and makes it hard to go sailing here again. If we had remained here, we would have gradually gotten used to the colder weather, and kept going until early December. Now, going back out the first time will be hard. But then, I sailed about 300 miles in the 2 weeks in Hatteras, despite a few off days and several light wind days. And if you typically stop sailing in October, then a week or two in Hatteras is a great way to end the season.
  8. Long board racing is fun. We used one of the light-to-marginal wind days for long board racing. Lots of fun, quite a different skill set, great addition to the camp.
  9. We love you guys! Lots of thanks to Andy, Meredith, Brendon, and Tom for inviting us stay another week. It was also great to meet Coach Ned, Jake, and all the other guys in the house and at camp. Can't wait to see you all again in January, and we'll certainly miss those of you who won't be in Bonaire.

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