Saturday, November 17, 2012

Light WindSUP sailing

Weekend, some sun, almost warm with temps around 50 (10 C) - lots of good reasons to hit the water. The wind forecast was marginal (15-18), actual readings a bit lower still, and the wave forecast predicted small swell, so we packed the SUPs and drove to Coast Guard. PK was there early, I think we saw him leave, but when we got there, no surfers, windsurfer, or kiters in sight.

The waves looked respectable, perhaps a bit too high. Nina did not feel like sailing, so I decided not to go out. PK later reported waist to overhead waves, and limited success in getting out and catching waves. Since he is an experienced wave sailor and I am a complete newbie, not going out at Coast Guard Beach now seems like the right choice.

However, my addiction needed to be fed, or my mood would have been lousy all weekend, so we drove to Dennis. I ended up going out at Mayflower, since Chapin did not have any more promising waves, just a longer walk and a crowded parking lot. By the time I made it out, there were no more breaking waves, other than a little bit of shore break. I took my WindSUP 10 and my Pilot 6.5 m sail, my favorite light wind combo. Although no waves were breaking, the water surface was quite "structured" - non-breaking waves were forming at several spots, sometimes getting perhaps hip-high and racking up steep enough to have some fun.  Being used to flat water, I ended up falling a lot at first, but eventually got the hang of it, with mostly dry jibes on the inside and heli tacks on the outside. After learning to step forward far enough on the board (like in long board wave surfing), I caught a wave on almost every ride back in. They were slow enough that I could not do much but go straight down, trying to stay on as long as possible, but even that was a lot of fun (it surprised me how much fun it was).

Nina, who was watching from the shore, was approached by a lot of beach goes with the usual comments - I was either brave or crazy for going out in the cold temperatures. Well, I am sure that I was warmer than most beach goes in my 5/4 semi dry suit with an extra neoprene shirt, 5 mm booties with polypropylene socks, neoprene hood, and open-palm mittens. The only part that got remotely cold were my fingers - but that's because I never took the time to go back in and shake the blood back down. Doing this a couple of times in the first 15 minutes of cold weather windsurfing is the trick to get the fingers warm for the rest of the session - but it was not necessary today. I had my fingers out of the mitts about half of the time, anyway, only putting them back in when they got cold after a fall.

Great fun on a marginal day! Even as a complete kook, I am starting to understand why Andy Brandt views SUP sailing in light winds and smallish waves as one of the most fun things to do on a windsurfer. Don't get me wrong, I'll go back to speed as soon as the wind is strong enough and the direction is right for one of our speed strips - but I'm also looking forward to wave sessions on the WindSUP and the 3S.

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