Friday, November 16, 2012

New toy, new playground

We tested our newly discovered speed slick two days ago, and it was quite fantastic. So what that it was a bit chilly (mid 40s F, about 7 C), and that we had to carry our gear about 1/4 mile to the water? Nor did it really matter that the spring tide had flooded the march completely when we started - the water still remained plenty flat. The wind seemed a bit light, so I rigged my old Matrix 7.0, and Nina chose the 5.5. It just seemed safer to try out a new spot with an easy sail, even if it's a bit slower and maybe a bit small.

We started out carefully, taking frequent breaks on the sides where we could stand. Dean, out on a 7.0 race sail, hot something big soon that drove the fin into his board, and made a pretty substantial ding (which he discovered after the session). He thought is was a rock, but even though the water went down by about 2-3 feet while we were sailing, we never saw the rock emerge. It could have been a buoy that was barely submerged, although the impact seemed to hard for that. Perhaps it was a big log that was so soaked full of water that it barely floated - at least a log would explain the damage at two different spots on his board.

The very high tide also meant that there was a lot of dead reeds floating on the water, so weed fins were a must, and slowdowns sometimes happened even with weed fins. Still, all three of us had a blast, doing sling shots right at the emerging edges in water that later became chitter-chatter flat. I saw 30 knots on the dial of my GPS several times, and ended up with my third-fastest session ever. My top speed was within about a knot of my fastest sessions, but the wind was at least 5 mph lower than in those previous sessions - this spot has potential! Nina set new personal bests for 2 seconds and the 5 x 10 second average, beating her old bests by more than a knot. She mostly sailed an old JP SuperX 82 yesterday, and complained that it felt slow! She did a few runs on the XFire 90, and liked it better, but the speeds were comparable. I did a few runs on the JP while she was on the XFire, and found the old shape with the high-riding nose quite amusing. The board, which is heavier and a few cm narrower than the XFire, rode a lot quieter and seemed slower, but the GPS showed that I was within 0.5 knots of my top speeds on the XFire. I think this shows that a narrower speed board like the Missile would have gone a few knots faster, especially with a cambered speed sail. Dean did indeed beat my top speed by 2 knots, but this is much less than the 5 knot difference that we see at less ideal locations. We all left happy and eager for more, but the fantastic forecast for next Monday that had held stable for a few days sizzled in the evening. well, it's only a question of time until the next Nor'easter comes - and this spot is sailable in 40+ knots!
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When I came home, I got an email that a new board I had ordered had arrived. It's a Tabou 3S 96l, intended for waves and crazy chop days. I sailed the board once this spring, and was extremely impressed how lively it was, while making the Hatteras chop disappear. I just had to pick it up the next morning, and try it out in the slowly dying NNE winds in Duxbury. When I arrived there, Jeff just came of the water. He had sailed his 110 Skate with a powerful 7.0 sail and a big fin, and reported that he'd been planing about 2/3 of the time. We typically plane about the same when on the same size gear, and the wind was forecast to go down slowly, so I rigged my new Matrix 7.5. I felt like I had to apologize to the board for taking it out on flat water with a sail that's a meter above it's spec'd sail range! I had, however, put a bigger fin in to help the board out.

It worked - once I got away from the terrible wind shadow that the Powder Point Bridge throws in NNE winds, I started planing. I stayed downwind for more than an hour, planing nicely most of the time. The board definitely showed its wave roots, though. When I wanted to get planing, it accelerated a lot slower than the slalom, freerace, and freestyle boards I usually sail. On the XFire in nicely powered conditions, I often start planing while still going upwind; the 3S rather wanted to be pointed downwind to really get going. When it came to staying on a plane, though, the 3S excelled - it can plane about as slowly as any freestyle board - to the point where I wanted to yell "You call this planing?". With enough wind and a little bit of help, though, it reached a decent speed - 23 knots in 17 knot wind averages, with gusts of maybe 21 knots.

We typically go to Duxbury because it is flat, but it was too flat yesterday to play around much. The board ate the little bit of chop that was there, even when going upwind straight into the chop; it jumped the small chop easily when powered; at it turned at the slightest thought, despite the large weed fin, which was great to avoid the various reed isles on the water. Jibes were effortless, and it took me 14 attempts to get my first wet jibe. My best jibe was as good as the best jibe on slalom gear in more wind and on even flatter water the day before, so that's great. But for the first time, I started to understand why some windsurfers get bored with flatwater after a while - the board made sailing almost too easy. well, that's perfect - I got the board for really challenging conditions (like 35 mph winds and voodoo chop in Kalmus), where I need all the help I can get.

I have sailed my Fanatic Hawk 95 for 1 and 1/2 years now, and loved the board - but now I have replaced it by two more specialized boards, the XFire 90 and the 3S 96. So the Hawk is now looking for a new home. It's the first model of the Hawk that Fanatic made; it's great for anyone who wants to get more serious about speed, but on a board that's more versatile than a pure slalom board. It's plenty fast - I set my top speed of 31.4 knots on the Hawk (although that will tumble once we get the right conditions on the new slick). I'm selling it for $400 - that price is firm, unless you're a Fogland Speedsurfer who I have sailed with already this year.

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