This is what Kalmus looked like yesterday morning:
But it was windy! SSW wind mid-20s! That's my favorite wind strength, and the best direction! And it was low tide around noon - a perfect setup!
There was open water to be seen, but I'm not sure that getting through the ice and slush would have been possible. West Dennis tends to ice over less, but a kiter reported that getting out there was impossible. But we were lucky: just 1/2 mile down the road, at Sea Street Beach, the unfrozen water almost reached shore. Definitely sailable!
Three of us made it out onto the water at around 1 pm: Martin, Bill from Craigsville, and I. Martin's addiction is definitely worse than mine: he had to drive almost two hours to get here, and then went sailing in thin 3 mm boots. My toes got cold just looking at his feet - and they were nicely protected in 7 mm boots, with hydroskin socks for extra warmth. He did not mind, though. He later said the numbness went away after the first break (enforced by a broken harness line).
I must admit that all that snow and slush made me a bit cautious. I figured this was a great day to see how the Ianovated wetsuit works with regular Dakine mittens, instead of the open-palm mitts that I normally use. I have used the open-palm mitts in similar temperatures, but I usually need to take a short break after a few runs to shake the blood back down into my fingers, and let them warm up. Yesterday, however, walking through the slush to take a short break did not sound too appealing.
I know several windsurfers who use Dakine mittens for winter windsurfing without any problems. They have a thin, grippy inner layer that feels more like leather than like neoprene. It offers less insulation, but a better grips, and therefore causes less forearm fatigue. When I used the Dakine mittens, though, my fingers got way too cold, probably due to my Raynaud's disease (even though I have a only mild form of it). That was before I had the Ianovated suit, though - blowing warm air onto my fingers while sailing might just do the trick and keep my fingers nice and warm!
That's exactly what happened. My fingers did get cold just from gripping the boom, but warmed up quickly again when I used the warming tubes for a little while. I was able to sail without having to stop to warm up my hands - nice! I used the warming tubes mostly at the beginning and after crashes, when a little water got into the mittens. The session was about three hours long, although that included one break to switch boards, and a second break when Bill stopped and Martin went in to change his broken harness line. Towards the end, my forearms did get tired - definitely more than they would have with open palm mitts. Still, a three-hours session with 54 km sailed on a cloudy day in January is a wonderful thing! As usual in SSW winds and near low tide, Kalmus presented a wonderful playground, with orderly swell that was big and steep enough to play with, and created flat areas in between for little speed runs. I'll rate yesterdays session a straight A, which puts it in the top 5% of the sessions in the last 12 months. Here's a little GoPro video: