Tuesday, April 19, 2011

5.5 in 36 mile winds

Last Sunday was a fun day in Kalmus. The wind was certainly having fun making fools of us: after averages of 25-30 mph all morning long, it dropped below 20 when we arrived at the beach. We waited a bit and then decided to rig bigger, only to be almost blown off the water after the first few runs. Rigged smaller, the wind dropped again. Here's the meter readings from iWindsurf for the day:

Nina was lucky enough to take a break during the 4 pm calm; I practiced schlogging my 82 l board with a 4.2 sail instead. But a bit later, the wind finally picked up for good, and the real fun began. By now, the tide was getting low, and the chop started to be better organized, making chop hops and playing with the waves easy.  A couple of times, I got the feeling of actually sailing through the air during chop hops, a rather nice feeling. The boom cam video from early runs showed that I still was way too tall during my jumps - here's an example (albeit taking from shortly before the landing):
Definitely something I need to work on. Getting small should help in the spin loop attempts, too, something I'll start again soon now that the water is getting warmer.

As we got nearer to low tide at 6 pm, the water got very flat, and it was time to switch to speed runs. The wind kept going up, and my top speed started to creep above 50 kmh (31 mph), which is pretty fast for me. By then, the conditions allowed 600 m long speed runs parallel to the beach in knee- to hip-deep water. I was fully powered on a 4.2, but I decided to see if a larger sail would indeed help me go faster. Since I already had the 5.5 Matrix rigged, I took it for a few runs. It's a very top-end oriented sail, and it did indeed hold up very well in 36 mph average winds, with gusts up to 44 mph. The flat water certainly helped, although the strong onshore winds did whip us some noticeable chop even in the shallows. My averages kept creeping higher, and in a run where I caught a nice gust, my top speed was above 55 kmh - a new record for me. I should have gone for a few more runs to get even faster, but I was starting to get pretty tired. A couple of guys asked me about my sail's size, and apparently doubted my mental sanity when I told them it was 5.5 - I guess that's something a speed surfer has to get used to. I actually did switch back to the 4.2 to see if it would be slower than the 5.5, but got only one run in before my arms started to cramp up, and I decided to call it a day.

While sailing slightly overpowered on the 5.5, I practiced waterstarting in both straps, and got better at it. I usually was fully planing in both straps and the harness within a couple of seconds after starting, which (a) felt great, and (b) made sailing rather effortless. Schlogging the 82 l board definitely was a lot more work! Here are the GPS tracks from the second half of the day:
The first runs in the upper part where bump & jump and a bit of wave play. The last set of runs where the speed runs. For once, my speed run tracks show a pronounced difference in angles, with downwind runs followed by a steep upwind part. During the speed runs, I stayed parallel to the waves at about 115-120º; for top speed, I probably should have gone even deeper (125-140º), aiming towards the beach. Still, seeing that the (non-cambered) sail was perfectly easy to handle on both the downwind and upwind legs in the rather strong wind was a nice confidence booster for the next time. The one problem I did have a few times were spinouts. I used the "Carve" 27 cm fin that came with the board, and a weed or speed fin might have worked better. Next time we go to Kalmus during low tide, I'll also make sure to bring my F2 Missile - Kalmus at low tide (and outside of the summer season) is an excellent playground for little speed toys.

Here's a short boom cam video from the first session of the day:

1 comment:


    I beeped to ya on my hasty way out. The wind must have - muffled the sound.

    4pm - totally spent and overdue for parenting chores - too bad I had all I could do to eat and get to bed!!!