Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cold, hard fun

We went ice surfing today - a first for both of us. But with Dean and Jeff setting world records and posting great videos, we just had to try it. Dean had kindly offered to let us use one of his ice surfers, and gave us a brief introduction what we should do. But when he explained that the orange flags indicated big holes in the ice, and pointed to the large areas in lake that were not frozen, I started to get just a bit nervous. So when I went out for a trial run and thought the board was shaking and vibrating, he pointed out that it was not the board, but rather my legs...

The first run was very interesting. Picking up speed in the gusty winds was almost too easy, but turning and stopping the board was quite a challenge compared to a freestyle board on (non-frozen) water. My first tack attempts ended in dead stops, which was just fine. The first jibe attempt looked a lot like a typical beginner attempt on water: ok entry, but then going downwind forever... until eventually I hit the emergency break by throwing myself down onto the ice. That was a smart move: I discovered that, yes, the ice was hard, but falling did not really hurt much, so why be afraid? Still, the first session was very short and exhausting. Nina's first session looked similar, with slightly different falls. But after a couple of more tries, things got easier, and we actually managed to (sometimes) turn around without falling or stopping. The wind was quite gusty, and in the strong gusts, even the 4.2 m sail felt a bit big. It did not help that the sail was a cambered race sail, and depowering it was therefore rather difficult. But depowering is the wrong idea, anyway - Dean and Jeff were having fun doing 45+ knot runs. I barely made it above 45 kmh - but that's still about as fast as my best speed during the recent week in Bonaire.

This was a very memorable day - a thousand thanks to Dean for giving us an opportunity to try this. The ice sailing season is almost over, but we'll sure try again next year. Tomorrow should be warm and windy for a nice day of windsurfing in West Dennis.

Here's a short video from today:

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