Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 review

124 sessions, 4400 km (2700 miles) sailed - 2011 was a great year. We sailed locally (in Massachusetts and Rhode Island) from January to December, and some of the best sessions were in the colder months - February, March, and November. The warm weather in the fall helped a lot, but finding out how to keep the hands warm when sailing in cold weather was also essential.

Compared to 2010, we did fewer windsurf trips, but we still got to see the windsurf spots in Texas for the first time (Corpus Christi and South Padre Island), and made it to Bonaire and Hatteras. All of these trips were about a week each; but the big trip to Maui in the summer was for more than 6 weeks. Ok, that was not all vacation, we had to work most days; but we managed to go sailing in Kanaha, Sprecks, and Kihei 37 times. The trip convinced us that we want to live closer to the water, so that we can put a windsurf session in the middle of the work day when it's windy. That's not really an option right now - we have to drive for 1 - 2 hours each way to go windsurfing.

So, what have we learned? The list of new tricks is surprisingly short. We both got a few more light wind tricks, including a few 360 variations. The lovely Nina also got pretty good at duck jibes, and started to work on Vulcans. I was a bit lazier, and only improved a few tricks that I had already done at least once before, like 360s, duck jibes, and fall/slam/jump jibes. One day, I worked a bit on Shove Its, but that was mostly because it was so windy that I did not really want to work on anything else.

Perhaps the biggest thing we both learned was to be comfortable in chop and winds above 30 mph. Conditions that I found a bit challenging last year, for example the swell on the river near Fogland in 25 mph winds, now seem like a nice, mostly flat playground.  The $375 that I spent on 3 private lessons with Matt Pritchard to get more comfortable in crazy conditions were very well spent! But in addition to qualified instruction, getting comfortable simply required practice - plenty of time on the water in 30+ mph winds to build muscle memory and confidence.

The one over-due thing that I finally accomplished was to break the 30-knot barrier. Under the right conditions, that turned out to be relatively easy, and Nina set a new personal speed best the very same day. I am definitely looking forward to going back to Egg Island in the spring to sail faster boards and fins!

We were traveling most of the summer, but in the fall, we sailed a lot with the other members of the Fogland Speed Surfers team. It was fun to drag Dean out to new places, and get my ass kicked every single time - his faster speeds usually improved our ranking in the GPS Team Challenge. In 2010, the Fogland Speed Surfers ranked 53rd of 59 active teams; in 2011, we ranked 49th of 63. A lot of team members set personal bests in the fall, so I am sure we'll do better again next year. I will keep focusing on the two long distance measures, one hour and total distance. I managed to sail 100 miles in about 6 hours on a marginal day, and I'm curious to see how far I can push things on a longer day with better wind.

So, what's in store for 2012? The big thing will be a move closer to the water. We had considered Cape Hatteras for a while, but a Hurricane wash-out like this fall could be a big problem when we are also trying to run a business there. So the current favorite is Cape Cod, which also offers the advantages of many different sailing spots, including lakes for ice sailing in the winter. With the planned move, the number of windsurf trips this year will probably be lower than last year, and maybe also the number of sessions. But after the move, the nearest beach will be just a 10 minute drive away, with plenty more choices within a 30 minute drive. That should drive the number of sessions back up again! Right now, it looks like 2012 is off to a good start: the forecast for tomorrow looks great, with wind in the mid-20s, sunshine, and reasonable temperatures (45F, 7C). The only thing missing is my lovely wife, who is still in Germany visiting family. But she will be back soon, to start our 2012 windsurfing adventures.

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