Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ABK Camp Bonaire video

We were at the ABK Freestyle Camp in Bonaire last week, and had a lot of fun. This was the first time we went to a freestyle camp; our other camps had been regular camps. The difference is that the overall level of skills is higher - no beginners, but a lot of windsurfers who work on advanced moves like Donkey jibes and Vulcans. Here is a video with clips from the camp, and statements from 4 campers:

Great camp. The wind was better than in our previous camps in March. I was planing every day, with only two light wind afternoons in 7 days, and just one day where I used a sail larger than 6.5. Some of the things I worked on:
  • Loop crashes. Just one day, when the wind was strong enough to be fully powered on a 5.6. I think we had about 7 campers trying loop crashes, many for the first time. Noone got hurt, no equipment got damaged - so this part of Andy's approach definitely works well. However, I have not gotten to the point where I am in the air and the tail is fully out of the water, with the nose pointing down. Something always throws my timing off when I go for a loop crash. Maybe some bigger waves and more practice would help - we pretty much practiced the flat-water version.
  • Backwinded jibes (planing). I managed to get to the other side with the board fully planing, but I did not (yet) figure out to carve downwind from the backwinded position. Fun crashes, though :)
  • Duck tacks (non-planing). I had a lot of fun working on duck tacks on the first light-wind afternoon. I used a big board so I could concentrate on sail handling, and managed to throw and catch the sail properly maybe 5 times, including 2 successful complete tacks. Really not so easy pushing the sail into the wind neutrally from the boom end, but the fun part is that you can make all kind of fun other tricks if the sail goes somewhere else - switch stance duck jibes, behind-the-back sail 360s, and sail-body 360s. A lot more fun than trying to plane in marginal conditions.
  • Push tacks (non-planing). If you're spending a lot of time sailing switch stance, anyway, the push tack is a logical thing to do. Funny thing was that I did ok as long as I just concentrated on the sail and foot pressure, without even thinking what exactly I was going for. As soon as Andy pointed out that it was a push tack, and I started thinking, I also started falling. Sometimes, the brain just gets in the way.
The board I was using most of the time was a JP Freestyle 107. It's a nice board, but I hard a hard time planing through my jibes on it, even on the windier days. Looking at the GPS records confirmed that the Fanatic Skate carves a lot better: my best minimum speed in a jibe on the JP was about 6.8 knots; on the Skate, I can often get minimum speeds of 9 or 10 knots. The Skate also has been about 10% faster under similar conditions, although that may be partially due to fin differences.

On a couple of windy days, I also took out a JP Supersport. However, they were seriously underfinned, and gave me lots of spinout problems. Some of the smaller freeride boards had much longer fins that the Supersports. I later discovered that the Supersport with the best fin was the 100l board; but by then, I had already switched to the freestyle boards, which were just way more fun to sail.

Of the sails I tried there, I loved (again) the Gaastra Pilots. They have a very large range if you adjust the outhaul, and are just easy to sail. I heard a story that a Gaastra-sponsored team sailor liked the Pilots so much that he wanted to use them in competition, but was not allowed to, since that's Gaastra's low-end sail.

I also sailed an NP Combat (ok, no surprise) and an NP Fusion, which I hated. Of the Ezzy sails I used, I like the 7.5 Freeride, but hated the 7.5 Infinity, which just seemed extremely heavy (but then, it did not help that the water level was very low when I tried it, and I did not have a chance to plane even with the 7.5).

Compared to the last 2 years, the gear at Jibe City has gotten a lot better. I saw exactly one boom with torn wrapping, and I think it was replaced while I was there. It's easy to see that the place is now managed by a windsurfer. There were lots of positive changes, and this trend will certainly continue. I'm already looking forward to my next Bonaire trip.

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