Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kalmus: the perfect setup

Monday's forecast for Kalmus called for 12-13 mph SW winds. But what we got was wind above 20 mph all afternoon, with a couple of hours around 30, gusting to 35. With sun and reasonably warm temperatures, it was a perfect day.

Kalmus did get substantially more wind than other good SW spots. For example, both West Dennis and Fogland only had a few short periods with wind averages above 20 mph, and a lot more ups and downs. What made this setup so perfect for Kalmus?

  1. The wind direction - SW to WSW. 
  2. Sunny skies (and no rain since the early afternoon on Sunday).
  3. A perfect temperature difference of about 10ยบ F between the water (around 60 near shore) and the air (around 70 to low 70s a bit inland) that generates a strong sea breeze.
In this kind of setup, it is quite common to see winds that are 10-15 mph higher than forecast. A larger temperature difference can create decoupling problems - gusty, variable, and often weak winds. So when you check out the forecast for this weekend, keep these things in mind! One of the weekend day looks a lot more promising than the others. The forecast will most likely drop by about 5 mph on Thursday, when iWindsurf's "Quick Look" switches from one computer model to another one (GFS to NAM). Don't be fooled - if things do line up, chances are the wind will be stronger than predicted.

I played at Kalmus for a few hours last Monday, along with a small crowd that included Martin, Steve, Graham, Jeff, and a few others. My Tabou 3S 96 was still setup with freeride (outside) foot straps, so I decided to sail a mile upwind to the Kennedy Slicks. A few boats were already anchored in the Hyannis Port Harbor, but there was still plenty of space for speed runs. I tried to play around with the trimming of the board a bit, and eventually got a 30-knot reading on my GPS - not bad to a freeride/wave board with a 5.5 m non-cambered sail. The 26 cm weed speed fin from Maui Ultra Fins that I used helped a lot - it was bomb proof and provided lots of lift for a weed fin, without ever spinning out.

The wind picked up as I made my way back to Kalmus, and the fully overpowered ride through voodoo chop was an adventure in itself. Half of the time, I was not even hooked in, so that I could leave the rig partially open and far away from me on the deep downwind course. Yes, even the 32 inch lines I was using seemed to short for the conditions! Back at the beach, I changed the footstraps to the inboard positions (and the back strap to a single strap), rigged a 4.5 m wave sail, and had another hour of bump and jump fun before the wind eventually calmed down. Towards the end of the session, I got a chance to try another MUF fin that I had received for testing. My initial impression was very positive, but some further testing will be needed before I provide more details.

I am extremely impressed with the way the Tabou 3S 96 behaved on Monday. It is perhaps the most versatile board I have ever sailed - perfectly able to go slow in crazy voodoo chop and when playing in little onshore waves, but easily tunable to reach rather excellent speeds (this ended up being my 5-fastest session ever, judged by 5 x 10 second GPS speed averages), all the while remaining very comfortable and controllable. A big "thanks" to Jeff for letting me try the board last April in Hatteras!

Here's a video showing some of the things Graham did Monday at Kalmus:


  1. What's your call on Saturday at Kalmus? Too much decoupling? Sunday looks better but I may have challenges getting away.


  2. The water is warming up very quickly, and Saturday will be not as hot as today (Friday). I would not rule out decoupling problems, but it's at least as likely that we'll see low 20s or perhaps more. Best winds may be late in the afternoon to sunset. Check what happens today - if it gets windy in the afternoon, it will be good tomorrow.