I remember reading a while ago in Jamin Jones' blog about unintentional disconnects at the universal - specifically, unintentional disconnects with the "euro pin" system. Well, when we got to Maui, I had forgotten about this, and used the euro pin adapters that were in the van we got as part of the house exchange. It worked fin for about 32 days - but you can probably guess what's coming next.
Today, we sailed at Sprecks, at least in part to celebrate our 3-year wedding anniversary. The anniversary is tomorrow, but the wind forecast was better for today, so we decided to go a day earlier. I had a hard time on my first run out; things got a little better when I switched down from my 93 l board to my 77 l Goya One. In my third set of runs, I was finally feeling good again: getting nice speed on the runs in, planing through a jibe on the inside, and having some nice jumps going out. Then, a jump over a bigger wave went wrong, and I came down with a pretty steep nose-first landing. I had not planned it that way, so I crashed, and hit the mast with my head. As crashes go, this one was not bad at all - nothing hurt, as I discovered when sorting things out. So I prepared for a waterstart - and discovered there was no board at the end of my sail! Looking around, I say the board drifting downwind about 20 m away from me! I tried to swim after it right away, but it picked up speed quickly in the 25-30 mph winds, and I did not have a chance. I could see that the euro pin adapter was still attached and intact on top of the board. I swam back to the rig and checked the bottom of the adapter, and that looked just fine, too.
I think the board was going into the water nose-first at a pretty steep angle, maybe 60 degrees. Since this was unplanned, I had pressure in the sail, and was hooked in, so when I crashed, the adapter was pulled straight out of the euro pin. As Jamin Jones explains in the link above, there's just one little bit of metal preventing this - and it failed.
Some fellow windsurfers stopped by shortly afterwards and offered to help, but by then, the board was already out of sight. I was just 500 m from shore, with wind and waves pushing me towards Camp One, so I ended up just holding on to the rig and half swimming, half getting dragged to the shore. That took about half an hour, with a few interesting minutes in the breaking waves before Camp One, where the water was just about 4 feet deep. But eventually, I made it to shore with the rig intact. I walked downwind a bit to see if the board had landed at the same place, but was told by some fishermen that it had drifted by about 15 minutes earlier, on it's way to Kanaha or Kahului Harbor.
After a walk back to Sprecks and de-rigging, Nina and I walked the beaches from below kite beach to Camp One, looking for the board, but did not find it. It's sad enough about the board, because I really liked it, and had planned to take it home. It was old and not so pretty anymore, and we got it for $200, but it was very nice to sail. It took my freestyle fin from my Fanatic Skate with it which I had put in - no huge loss since I have plenty of big fins, and I'll need a smaller fin if I ever start the slidey tricks. But the board also took the 2-screw mast base and the euro pin connector with it, which I had borrowed and will need to replace. That will hurt double, first because it will cost close to $100, and second because I'll be replacing a system that is just obviously flawed.
One potential reason for any disconnects like the one I had today is always operator error. However, we can safely exclude this today: I had take the board-rig setup out for two sets of runs before, carrying everything to and from the water, turning the board over (and having it turned over by the waves), crashing a few times, and so on.
Despite loosing the board, I was lucky in many respects - it was the cheapest of the boards we used here; it happened a few days before the the end of our stay; I was relatively close to shore in side-on winds; I was wearing a floaty crash vest which gave me peace of mind; the water was nice and warm; and I had plenty of offers for help. Even so, this was a very unpleasant experience that I do not wish to repeat - so I will not use euro pin bases in the future when I can avoid it. Even more so since jumps with nose-first landings are definitely on the things that I want to learn!
Many many thanks to all the windsurfers in Sprecks who stopped by and offered help, and/or went to search for my board. Even though I ended up just drifting in, I really did appreciate your offers to help! Knowing that you guys were out there watching me made the swim in a whole lot easier.
One of the surfers who stopped by to help said he had seen two similar board-rig separations in the last 2 days. So in the future, I'll make sure to always have 10 or 20 feet of thin line in my harness pocket, so that I can catch and drag a board if I'm close enough.
I did get the board back two days later - a windsurfer had seen it drifting between Camp One and Kanaha, put it on the beach for a while, and then taken it home when nobody came to claim it. He responded to our ad in the "Lost & Found" section on the Maui Craigslist, and his wife brought the board into town today on here way to the gym. Thanks again, Bob & Stella!
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