Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Harness Fin

We escaped the snow and cold and flew to Tobago. It's beautiful here, and we have had planeable wind for four days in a row, albeit with larger sails (up to 5.8 for Nina, 7.3 for me). Between lighter winds, surprisingly strong currents, and chop, working on new tricks is hard, but Caribbean water lawns have to be mowed, too.

Since out last time here 5 years ago, Radical Sports Tobago has become a Fanatic Center. Besides nice Fanatic boards, a lot of other things have improved, too. New bath and changing rooms, storage areas, SUPs, lines to dry stuff - many little things that make life on the beach a bit better. The best new thing, though, is I think the beer-filled fridge :-)

A couple of days ago, I finally got the opportunity to test how well a harness works as a fin replacement. I was about a kilometer away from shore in deep water when I suddenly had a rather dramatic spinout. When I turned the board around, I saw that the fin had cleanly broken off right at the board. On the 100 l board, sailing without the fin did not work for me, so I strapped the harness around the rear foot strap and tried again. That worked surprisingly well - I was able to waterstart and head back towards shore. Work it was, though! I had to take breaks every few minutes, and even tried to sit on the board and practice the emergency signal. Alas, nobody noticed, so back to drag sailing it was. After I had made it about half the way, I managed to get the attention of another windsurfer, who sailed to shore and told the Radical Sports guys. He came back with instructions: I should sit on the board so they could see me, and also to conserve energy. I did so for a few minutes, only to drift towards the reef and open ocean, without any sign that they were getting one of their boats ready - so back to sailing it was. A bit later, I was able to reach ground, and walked in. One of the kitesurf instructors came by to check on me, and offered to keep me company - much appreciated. But by then, I was close to shore, and made it back soon after.

The warm waters here are certainly a great place to practice sailing with a harness fin. I think I ended up getting a bit better at it towards the end - at the beginning, I probably muscled it a bit. This could have been a lot less pleasant if it had happened at home, in almost freezing water (although we always sail in onshore winds when it's that cold). Still, I think I will retire fins early in the future, hopefully before they break apart on the water. A new excuse to buy new gear is always welcome!


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