Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fogland Speed Surfers

It took us one year, but finally, the Fogland Speed Surfers were out in force this last weekend. We had typical Fogland summer winds - upper teen (mph) averages, gusts in the low to mid-20s, a bit more on Saturday and a bit less on Sunday.

For most of us, this was the first time sailing in Fogland after hurricane Irene. Afraid that we might get stuck on the road to the bay on the north side, almost everyone sailed the south side on Saturday. I was out on a 7.0 sail on my 118 l slalom board and the 110 l Skate; Nina was on her 100 l Skate and a 5.7; most other sailors were out on 6-7 m sails, nicely powered most of the day. Dani was nice enough to let me try his new iSonic 90 for a few runs, and I increased my top speed for the day within a few minutes on the board by 2 knots. The board jibed amazingly well, too - I wish I had one!

Of the Fogland Speed Surfers I saw on Saturday, only Cesar decided to drive to the bay. With his jeep, he did not have to worry, but mostly, he just wanted the flat and shallow water for speed runs. That worked for him - he got the fastest 2 and 5 x 10 second speeds of the day on his iSonic 122. At the end of the day, he stopped by again and assured us that the road was in good enough shape, so the next 2 days, most of us sailed the bay again.

Sunday and Labor Day has a similar SSW-SW setup, but the wind was a couple of miles lighter and a bit gustier. I started out with my 8.5 V8 sail on Sunday and a Makani 36 cm slalom fin. The combo worked great on the first runs in the flat water on the bay, although the fin was a bit small for the sail. That almost became a problem when I went out on the river, and the wind picked up at the same time - can you say "frequent spinout"? But before I could sail back to change fins, I heard a loud "boom" from my boom. I thought that a clamp at the end had opened up, even though I had taped it, and schlogged slowly back to the shore. While adjusting things there, the boom boomed again - this time completely breaking apart about 20 cm from the front. That meant a 60 minute walk back along the shore, followed by some paddling and a tow from Cesar (thanks again!). The rest of the day, I was a bit underpowered on my 7.0.

Conditions on Monday were similar, with less sun and just a tad more wind. Interestingly, I got my top speeds on Sunday and Monday on the river, not in the bay. The bay has smoother water, but runs are only about 500 m long, often with a wind drop in the middle - not the best thing if you're just marginally powered. Going out onto the river gives mile-long runs, and the swell on the river is often very smooth, with nice, long rollers and very little cross chop. Furthermore, the wave direction varies about along the run, so there are typically longer stretches that allow decent downwind angles for speed. I'm pretty happy with the 26 knots I got on my 118 l Warp on days there the maximum wind meter reading was 23 mph (in gusts). The 6 weeks in Maui definitely paid off here: last year, I always thought of the river chop as challenging; but now, it seems more like a flat speed strip to me.

The forecast for Monday had been quite good, so Nina had brought the 77 l Goya One along. She actually got planing on it with a 5.3, but just barely so. After switching to her 100 l Skate, she worked on Vulcans the whole day. She's definitely ready for the upcoming ABK camp in Hyannis!

Here's a short video from the last two days that shows quite nicely how flat the water in the bay is:

BTW, the Fogland Speed Surfers is an open group and welcomes new members. If you like sailing fast and have a GPS, join us! If you have any questions, a good way of contacting the team is through the "Fogland Windsurfers" group on Facebook.

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