Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th: surfing 14-58 mph winds

Is it tempting fate to go windsurfing on Friday the 13th? Or is it just proof that you're not superstitious? Well, either way, the forecast called for winds in the 30s today, and temperatures around 50 (although dropping quickly in the afternoon). That's just too nice a winter present to not go sailing!

The typical venue for a SW setup like today would have been Hyannis. With a forecast into the low 40s there, both the Kennedy Slicks and the Egg Island Slicks would have been perfect for setting personal bests. Alas, the tides were not quite right for the Egg Island Slicks, and with both Nina and I still getting over a cold, we thought that the shallow waters of Fogland bay would be a safer venue. We were joined there by Jeff, Graham, and Martin. Jeff had been the one who had originally suggested Fogland, but when he saw the wind averages in the low 30s, with gusts in 40s, he wisely decided not to go out. Graham went and was way overpowered on a 4.0 - maybe that should have told me that my KA Koncept 5.8 was perhaps a bit big. But I had set up some nice personal best with that sail not too long ago with wind in the 30s, so it should work, right?

Well, I hit the water shortly after 12, and here is what the wind meter showed:
Gusts of 58 mph made my attempts to get going rather interesting. I water started with both feet in the straps, but had no chance of getting the board under control - I did some nice wheelies before I got thrown into the water. The water was still to deep to touch the ground, so I quickly decided to turn around and rig a 3.7 instead. I also switched to the trusted Goya One 77 which had given me plenty of fun in Maui in 30-40 mph winds. That combination worked a bit better, but I ended up being still overpowered in the gusts, and under-boarded in the lulls (77 l is a bit small for a 90 kg guy with winter clothes and dry suit if the wind is not steady). So back for a bigger board...

I never got quite dialed in today. I did a few speed runs which involved some walking upwind, and managed to get a 30-knot reading on my GPS, which I had seen only once or twice before. Graham was fighting a bit, too, but he look good, doing a number of nice jibes and trying Willy Skippers and Duck Tacks. But the guy having the most fun on the water was Martin. It seems every time I looked his way, he was either chop hopping or turning around in style with a heli tack or a fully planing duck jibe. I gave him Nina's GPS and told him to try my Hawk, which he soon did. That only made him go faster, and widened his smile. I had wanted to blame the Hawk for many failed jibe attempts, but Martin quickly demonstrated that the Hawk can be jibed beautifully, with full-speed tight laydown jibes. Oh well - as Beth Winkler said, jibing is a career (a very long one for me :). He also got some great speed readings, in particular for the nautical mile and alpha - and I doubt he even knows what alpha is!

As much as I hated missing the steadier winds of Cape Code or Point Judith, I was glad that we had picked the shallow bay when my arms started cramping up after 3 hours. Not that I had sailed much during that time - it included plenty of equipment changes, upwind walks, and several breaks. On a good day, I sail more than today in 30 minutes... and I certainly don't get arm cramps after just a few hours. I'll just blame it on still being a bit sick.

We almost made it away from the beach without anything bad happening - that is, until I looked into the rear view mirror and noticed that there were only three boards on the trailer. We had come with 4 boards! Looking back, we saw one board lying on the rocks a hundred yards back. Seems we (or perhaps I should say "I") had forgotten to put the second strap on, and the wind blew the board of the trailer in no time. Fortunately, the board had not taken any visible damage, and nobody had been anywhere close to it when it blew off.

Here are a few pictures from today:
Lack of board control...

Where did that gust come from?

Young Master Graham jumping the board around

Martin, the king of the duck jibe

I may not be in the same league as Martin, but I'm in the same picture!

The winner of the "Create your own rainbow" contest: Martin
Graham just posted a nice GoPro video that he made with his new Clew-View:

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