Friday, April 21, 2017

Back

We're back. For good this time.

First two months in Texas. Typical temperatures: 60s. Typical wetsuit: 3 mm short sleeve. Nice.

Then two weeks in Dahab. Typical temperatures: 70s. Typical wetsuit: 2 mm short sleeve. Nice!

Today on Cape Cod: 45ºF (7ºC). Water a couple of degrees warmer. Except for the water coming from above, but that was just a light drizzle. It did not even hurt when 30 mph gusts made it go sideways. Yes, of course - I just had to go windsurfing in such inviting conditions! I will not let a slight drop in temperatures keep me off the water!

East wind and nobody else out means East Bay. Perfectly safe, quite flat, but a bit gusty. So I rigged a bit bigger - 7.8. The shoes were a bit fatter - 5 mm. So was the suit - I'd rather be too warm than to cold, so the Ianovated suit with tubes was called for. The mittens took some getting used to, but at least they were palmless.

Fun it was. And work. Or rather, a workout. A good workout. The Kalmus wind meter showed only 23 mph averages gusting to 28, but some other nearby meters showed a few miles more. The 7.8 felt big, so I'll believe the other meters. But maybe it was just the gloves. And the low tide: some sections in East Bay can get to shallow for 33 cm fins at low tide. Thanks to the drizzle and my glasses, seeing where it was getting to flat was impossible. That kept the session short. But the cold was beaten! I was warm or hot the entire time. Nice.

Back to Dahab:
Reef and mountain view at Speedy in Dahab

The two weeks there were fantastic. Meeting lots friendly, laid-back people restored my faith in humanity. It did not matter one bit that their faith differed from the faith I was brought up with. Windsurfing was also great: 9 of 13 days planing, mostly on 5.x (4.x for Nina), plus a couple of days with nice light wind sessions, and a couple of days of snorkeling. Nina liked it even more than I did, since she had plenty of company from other freestylers working on everything from Vulcans to Flakas and Kabikuchis. Travel warnings for Egypt almost killed tourism for the last few years, but southern Sinai is Beduin country, far removed from the trouble areas. I have never felt safer than in Dahab. Really nice.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

No Wind Fun

After 4 windy days in a row, we actually welcomed a no-wind day today. How windy? Nina was on 3.7, 4.0, and 4.2. Thanks to all the good food here and in Texas, I was on 5.x sails most of the time, although a 4.7 would have been plenty for at least one session. And this is still not the windy season - from Mai to September or October, windless days are rare, and 4.x sails are the norm for guys.

But for now, Dahab is just as serious about the no-wind days as it is about the windy days: no wind means 0.0 mph, gusting to 0.0, for much of the day. Fortunately, this is also a great diving and snorkeling spot, so snorkeling we went. Nina is hogging the drive with the GoPro footage, but here's one screen shot I managed to grab before I had to hand the drive over to her:
I don't snorkel often, but I have snorkeled in Belize, Puerto Rico, Bonaire, and the US Virgin Islands. Today was certainly up there with the best spots I had seen before - lots of variety in both corals and fish. But the entire experience was rather unique - here is how it went down:
We walked 5 minutes from our lovely condo to the windsurf rental place to pick up our wet suits and snorkeling gear, and then walked back a minute to the street, where one of the local Beduins asked us right away if we needed a taxi - yes, we did. After a short drive that cost us 20 Egyptian pounds (LE; about $1), we arrived at the Eel Garden View restaurant right at the beach. We dropped our stuff at a table, ordered a large water (8 LE), and walked out into the water. The picture above was taken about 200 or 300 feet from the beach. We snorkeled for about an hour, and then had a great light lunch at the restaurant (Beduin tea for Nina to warm up, a hummus platter and falafel sandwich, and fresh pressed orange juice - all for less than $5). We hung out there for about 3 hours in total, before walking down the beach promenade for desert at the German bakery. Another taxi ride back (virtually all cars in Dahab are taxis!), and then we almost had to hurry - only a few more hours before we go back into town for dinner with our hosts, Toby and Fiona.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Yum Yum

We finally got some of the wind Dahab is famous for today. I was fully powered to overpowered on 5.3, Nina switched from 4.2 down to 3.7. We sailed for a bit more than 3 hours; the wind stuck around for most of the afternoon, but dropped from high 20s (mph) to around 20. I'll use my GPS tracks to explain the three windsurfing areas here:
The area on the top left is the lagoon. The wind towards the launch at the left is partly blocked by windsurf centers and hotels, and gusty. The main advantages of the lagoon are that it's close the the biggest windsurf center, Harry Nass, and that you can stand at the right end.

The area in the middle is "Speedy", with a big reef on the right, a small reef on the left side, and about 800 m of relatively flat water in the middle. It gets flatter the closer you get to the shore, but there is a small reef behind the sandbar, so windsurfers tend to stay about 50 meters from shore. As you might guess from the tracks, I like this area a lot.

The third area is on the right side, past the reef. There's big swell there, about head to logo high today. The waves sometimes ramp up and topple over a bit, but don't really break. That spot was quite popular today. But if you have gear issues there, you drift downwind quickly, and you'll be virtually invisible between the swell. That why most centers suggest to go there with at least 3 windsurfers - one to stay with the windsurfer in trouble to "mark" him, and one to sail back to the center to get help. The Harry Nass centers actually hand out walkie-talkies so you can call for help if in trouble.

Windsurfing was a lot of fun today, but the highlight of the day was once again the evening. We first stopped at the funky Every Day Cafe for some excellent cake, and then had a beer at Churchill's bar. But the last stop topped it all: Yum Yum Falafel for the best falafel sandwiches I ever had. The cost of 4 sandwiches and two bottles of water? 28 LE, about $1.50. Ridiculously cheap, ridiculously good.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dahab!

We've made it to Dahab. No, that's not Dahab in the picture above. That's just a pretty picture from the flight. Of course, you know where Dahab is, but for those few who do not, here's a map:
Dahab is on the Sinai peninsula in Egypt, at the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia is just 15 miles away across the water. The area around Dahab is quite picturesque, and very different from anything I had seen before:
We are staying in a lovely little house about 3 minutes from the beach that we share with the owners, Fiona and Toby, and one other apartment for vacationers. Fiona greeted us when we arrived after the 4-hour flight from Germany and a one hour drive. A couple of hours later, Toby drove us around town, showing us where the best restaurants and "super markets" are. They had stocked the fridge before we came, and Toby took the fresh fruit and groceries we bought back to the apartments after dropping us of at a restaurant - fantastic service! We started to understand why the apartment had gotten only 5-star ratings on TripAdvisor - and many of those!
The restaurants here are very good, and there are dozens of them right on the water. We had pizza the first night which was better than 99% of all pizzas I've ever had. The cost? About $5 for a pizza and beer. Yes, it's dirt cheap here. Nina had a big meat dinner the next day, which was served with a little portable grill placed on the table, and included fresh bread and dips before and Beduin tea afterwards, all for $9. My vegetarian meal cost about half as much and was very good. This is a great place to be a vegetarian: all restaurants have plenty of vegetarian selections. Here are a few pictures:
The seafront promenade
Top level view
Rooftop dining under palm trees
"But what about the windsurfing?", you ask? Well, we knew that this is not the prime wind season (although there are plenty of expert and pro level windsurfers who are here for months). We did windsurf the last two days, but the wind was a tad on the lighter side. Nina was on 4.7 and 5.0, and had to pump quite a bit, but did get to work on Flakas both days; I was on 7.5 and a Fanatic Ray 115 (a bit overpowered when the wind picked up), and on 6.5 and a 107 l freestyle board yesterday. Today is a no-wind day (averages right now: 0 knots), but I'm hoping to get a light wind freestyle session in in the afternoon. The weekend forecast looks promising, though, with 3 windy days in a row. That should be more typical Dahab wind: our host Toby, who is about the same size I am, has a 4.8 m sail as his largest sail.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Texas Summary

We're back from Texas. This year was quite different from the previous two years. The temperature seemed to be almost the same the entire 2 months, with some days in the 70s in January, and days in the low 60s in March. Most of the rain came towards the end of the trip; in previous years, we saw more rain earlier on.

This year was windy! We sailed 29 days, just about every other day. That includes only one day of light wind sailing, and we love light wind freestyle. There were a few more sailable days that we did not go for various reasons - including that we were tired from sailing 3 or 4 days in a row before, with better wind. We'll go back next year, but probably without the light wind boards.

Driving back was easy this time, once the van was packed. That, however, was not so easy, since we bought a new board, two new sails, and a new mast in Corpus. All the new gear and great wind made it easy to set new personal bests in 4 of the 6 GPS Team Challenge disciplines. Corpus Christi is great for speedsurfing!

Back home, it became apparent that our house had missed us badly. Major pout attack: electricity was out in about half of the house, and neither heat nor hot water worked. But a friendly electrician stopped by within 15 minutes and got most of the electricity back up (with a second outside repair scheduled for tomorrow), and we had backup heat from a gas stove, a wood burning stove, and several electric heaters. So we waited until today to get the heat fixed; all that was needed was a new "thermal fuse" for $25. It did cost us $120 to learn that, but the repair guy was very friendly and professional, and showed up within a couple of hours after we called. He did not have the part that was needed in the van, and would have had to come back a day later to put it in; but instead, he asked me if I was "somewhat handy", and then explained where I could get the part, and how to put it in (which was trivial). 40 minutes later, we had heat and hot water again. These little outages sure make you appreciate things you usually take for granted!

We knew about the heat and electric problems before we even started to drive back, thanks to wifi thermostats and switches. The thermostat alerted us that the heat was not working when it showed that the heater was running all the time, but the temperature never reached 50 degrees. Not a problem, since we had backup electric heaters hooked up to wifi switches ... until two of the switches went offline a couple of days later. At that point, we got a bit nervous. In previous years, our neighbor would have checked on the house, but he just moved to Arizona. Fortunately, Bruce and Gerda live less than a mile away, and were kind enough to check for us. Since the electricity was out, they could not get in through the garage as planned, but they were able to peek into the basement windows and assure us that we'd not be faced with the worst-case scenario: broken pipes and a flooded basement. Big thanks to Gerda and Bruce! Also many thanks to Jerry for recommending Alex, who went above and beyond to help us get the electricity back up.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Big Foot Problems

Have you ever had a windsurf session where your feet got bigger and bigger as time went on? That's what happened to me today! Let me show you.

It all started well enough. We did not get the usual Texas sunshine, but at least the rain that had been with us for almost a week stopped today. I had hoped to do some freestyle, but when the averages picked up to almost 30 mph, and my 5.0 m sail suddenly seemed huge, I settled for trying to jibe without falling instead. At first, things went ok:


But then, my feet started to get bigger, and I had problems getting into the straps:


As the size of my feet kept increasing, my increasingly desperate attempts to get into the straps after the jibe had me bouncing around:


When I finally got my feet back into the straps, I put them in really good. Too good, as I discovered when I tried to get them out again in the next jibe:


That hurt a bit. Clearly, my big feet required some changes. The first thing that came to mind was a duck jibe, so I tried that:


So far, so good. But I don't really do Duck Jibes. That's too much like freestyle. So how about we just copy the delayed foot work, but otherwise do a normal jibe? Let's see:

That worked! But then, I remembered what my windsurf teach guru Andy Brandt says about this jibe (called "Sail First Jibe" in Alan Cadiz' jibe video): "Don't do it!". I learned the hard way to always do what Andy Brandt says. One time in Bonaire, he told me to go in because I was tired. I went for "one more run", ruined a sail, and almost broke my nose. So something needed to change!

Fortunately, I remembered that doing a sail-first jibe with both feet in the straps is allowed - it's an "easy" way to learn sailing switch stance in the straps. So let's try that:

That has some promise! For some reason, though, planing out seems more difficult. One might argue that this is because the weight further back sinks the tail and reduces speed, but who wants to be that technical? I have a better idea: I'll blame the chop instead! Chop can be blamed for all kinds of jibe problems. Sure, Bird Island Basin does not have a lot of chop, but there is some! All I need is a place that's even flatter! So our next stop (after a brief return to Cape Cod to shovel the drive way): Dahab in Egypt! Stay tuned...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Eye Protection

I blogged about the importance of protecting your eyes from UV light while windsurfing last year, and it's time for an update. My reason to look into this was that I had been diagnosed with cataracts. "No big deal, everyone gets them", you might say. Largely true - but my grandmother died during cataract surgery, so there are darn good reasons to delay and avoid it as long as possible.
Cataracts and other eye problems are directly linked to UV exposure. Wearing sunglasses can help a lot, but has a few shortcomings - some UV rays can still enter the eyes from the sides and from reflection on the back side of the lenses; water drops can impair vision; and on partly sunny days, sunglasses can simply be annoying. I did wear either prescription sunglasses or (on cloudy days) non-tinted polycarbonate glasses almost every single day I windsurfed since last year; but my lovely wife often finds sunglasses too bothersome, and sometimes sails unprotected on cloudy and partly sunny days.
Nina speeding on a cloudy day

I have always found contact lenses much more convenient for windsurfing, and used daily disposables for years, so I'm happy to report that I am back to using contacts. But this time around, I went for UV absorbing contact lenses - specifically, Acuvue Oasys 1-Day lenses. They absorb more than 90% of UVA and 99% of UVB, making them the best UV absorbing lenses I could find. Some other contact lenses also have good to very good UV absorption, but most lenses do not - including the ones I had used until last year. I plan to also wear sunglasses on sunny days, and polycarbonate safety glasses on cloudy days; on partially cloudy days, UV exposure can actually be even higher than on sunny days. So far, the protection seems to be working - at this year's eye doctor follow-up, the cataracts seems unchanged relative to last year (after appearing suddenly within the 2 years before that).

So, if you are wearing contacts while windsurfing, double-check that they offer UV protection. If not, talk to your eye doctor about getting a different kind for windsurfing. If you prefer to use glasses, I can recommend the sports frames from Zenni.com. They are not pretty, but have worked well for me for more than 100 sessions so far, and you can get a pair of polarized prescription sunglasses for about $110.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Four, Five, Six, Seven

Four new personal bests. Five days of windsurfing in a row. Sailed six of the last seven days. Sound like counting - this must be good for my math skills!

Maybe I don't believe in numbers anymore, anyway. Today's wind was stronger than the last couple of days, but the meter readings don't show that. Perhaps it's because the meter does not record lulls (those were nasty the last few days). Or maybe colder wind just packs more punch.

We started the day with a 2.5 km (1 1/2 mile) upwind tour to reach the "South Bird Island Bay". It was absolutely perfect there yesterday, and I hoped for a repeat. I did not quite get it, since the wind was ~ 25 degrees more northerly today. That made getting there harder, kept runs shorter, and created more chop. But since the water in SBIB is only knee-to-hip deep and partly shielded by islands, it was still flat, and very flat at the ends of the runs. Perfect for jibe practice! I must have made some progress, since I ended up with a new personal best of 22.15 knots for alpha 500 (a 500 m run with a jibe in the middle, and the ends of within 50 meters of each other). That's the 4th personal best in the 6 GPSTC categories during the one month we've been in Texas. No wonder we like it here! Although we are a bit exhausted now. So we like the "no wind" forecast for the next 2 days. All is good.

Here are today's tracks:


Saturday, February 11, 2017

No More Maui Trips?

You know things are wrong when one of the greatest windsurfers thinks about not visiting the US windsurfing spots anymore (read here). In the specific case described in  the article Boujmaa linked to, a 19-year old Canadian was refused entry into the US to attend a track-and-field meet with team. The reason? Apparently a picture from a wedding were he was next to another student who is believed to have left to fight in Syria.

Why was he held up? Only the border agent knows, but it seems because he looks middle eastern. He traveled with a Canadian passport (being born in Canada), but his parents are from Morocco (not one of the countries affected by Trump's travel ban). He and the team he was traveling with was held for 5 hours. During this time, he had to hand over his phone and his passwords, so that the border agents could check his Facebook and other social media accounts. Of course, nobody really has to hand over a phone or passwords - but if you don't, you must have something to hide, so you'll be denied entry.

It appears that Trump's "extreme vetting" procedures will be applied not only to immigrants, but also to tourists from "friendly" countries. So if you are planning a windsurf (or other) trip to the US, remember:

  • "It is a privilege for people from other countries to come to the United States and that privilege can be taken away at any time." 
  • A visa does not guarantee entry into the US, since it can be revoked at any time.
  • Border agents can and will ask for your phone and social media passwords.
  • If you are denied entry, you may be held without access to legal help, and flown back at your own expense.
When I originally came to the US, I was one of many Germans who came to complete their education - in my case, by doing postdoctoral research at Harvard. I met with others who had received the same fellowship (from Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, BIF) every two years. At the first meeting after 9/11, when the US tightened visitations and immigration rules, there were stories told similar to the one above: students and PhD-level researchers with valid visa had been denied entry into the US. The result? A drastic reduction in the number of students and postdocs who came to the US. This was very apparent in the next couple of BIF meetings I attended; the few new students who still came reported that others had decided to stay in Europe instead.

What effect will the travel uncertainties have this time? As Boujmaa's post shows, some visitors will think twice about visiting the US, and some will decide to visit other regions of the world instead (even without a travel ban that affects 140 million possible visitors). The result will be a reduction in visits to the US. More than 60 million visitors enter the US each year - inbound tourism into the US is a $160 billion a year business.  Even a drop by just 2% would lead to a loss of $3 billion in business, which corresponds to a loss of 30,000 to more than 100,000 jobs. But a drop of inbound tourism by at least 10% seems more likely, which would lead to the destruction of several hundred thousand jobs in the US.  Well done, Mr. President!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Jibing Insights

Why can't I jibe well on slalom gear? That question has puzzled me for a long time. On my freestyle and freeride gear, my jibes are almost always dry, and I have a decent chance to plane out of jibes (well, at least on a good day). But when I switch to slalom boards and cambered sails ... let's just say it's not pretty.
I learned how to plane through jibes from Andy Brandt at my first ABK camp in Bonaire. Andy still is one of the best and most consistent jibers I have ever seen, so of course I try to emulate him. Here is the image I have in my mind:
Andy Brandt jibing
I found that the closer I copy Andy, the better my jibes are - on my freeride gear. When my lovely wife took pictures a few days ago, I went for the same pose:
Trying to copy Andy on slalom gear
However, that did not work - the board got bouncy, and I had no chance of planing through the jibe, even though I had plenty of entry speed and wind. So I posted the picture on the ABK Boardsports group on Facebook, and got a few helpful hints:

  1. "Mast needs to be more forward to keep mast base pressure and keep the nose down"
  2. "Bend the front arm and drive weight into the front hand"
The first advice pretty much means "don't go for that pose!". But why would it work on freestyle / freeride gear, but not on slalom gear? Well, there are a few significant differences:
  • Foot straps are further back on slalom boards, so the body weight is further back on the board
  • On my freestyle/freeride gear, the front footstrap is close to the center, so that my toes are on the center line - which lets me put weight on the front foot. But on the slalom gear, the front footstraps are all the way on the outside, so that I actually pull with the front foot, instead of putting weight on it
If you examine the two images above closely, you'll notice that Andy's body position is actually different from mine: Andy's head is over the mast base, indicating most of his body weight is on the front foot and the mast base. That keeps the water line long for a nice carve. My weight is much more over the back foot, making the board bounce and killing speed.

So yes, it definitely looks like the mast needs to stay more to the front when jibing slalom gear. You can see that most good slalom sailors do this - check out Antoine Albeau jibing in 30 knots on Maui, or some of the best french PWA slalom sailors training:

During yesterday's session in 20-25 mph winds, I played around a bit with this. I was fully powered on my Falcon 99 and 3-cam Loft Switchblade 7.8 - a sail that's big and heavy enough to give me problems in jibing. Here are the GPS tracks for the session:
My jibes slowly improved, and I planed though many jibes later in the session. Great! Well, maybe that's overstating it - I still lost too much speed, but it's definitely progress. Here's what I found:

  • Keeping the mast forward in the jibe entry reduces the bounce
  • Putting additional downward pressure onto the boom with the front hand really smoothes out the carve
  • But trying to keep the mast forward during the flip, too, kills speed - the mast must come back briefly during the flip, as the jibe videos above show
Nothing really new, here - I have heard most or all of this stuff before. But maybe I'll remember it better after feeling the effects instead of just hearing the advice...

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Well-liked Picture


"Many Miles Mike" took the picture. My lovely wife posted it on Facebook. 35 friends liked it within a day. I feel well liked. Maybe it's the excellent color coordination?

More pictures from Mike here and on gulfbreezewindsurfing.com/jamin-at-bib.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Windy and Fast

Nina having fun. Picture by "Many Miles Mike" Murphy - more here
We've been in Texas for 2 weeks now, and it's been windy. We've had six planing days so far, and are skipping today despite readings around 20 because it's too cold (49 F, 9 C). Well, and we're sore from the last two days, and have to catch up with work a bit.
One of the great things about Bird Island Basin is that it works in any wind direction - check out these GPS tracks:
In the five days for which GPS tracks are shown, we have had SE (purple), SSE (red), NE (blue), ENE (yellow), and WNW (green) wind. Even slight changes in direction, from example from SE to SSE (purple to red), create very noticeable differences in the chop, which keeps things interesting. But since the water is mostly hip- to chest-deep, the chop always remains manageable. Most days, you can find some very flat areas, perfect for speed or freestyle. 
Yesterday (yellow tracks) was windy enough for Nina to sail a 4.2, and be overpowered at times. I took the "new" Falcon 99 out for another speed day, with a 6.3 m sail. This time, the Black Project Weed Speed 38 fin that had seemed a bit small with the 7.0 worked perfectly. I did not find perfectly flat water for top speed, but the chop was mostly nicely organized, allowing for speed runs between the little waves. Closer to shore, the wave direction changed a bit, and in between, a little bit of cross chop could be found. Just perfect to work on control in chop! That's something I need to work on a lot more - when I sailed out a bit towards the middle of the Laguna Madre and the chop got up to perhaps a couple of feet, I felt rather uncomfortable. I have seen better sailors blast through similar chop as if it was not there, so there's definitely room for improvement. When I later decided to stick to the flatter parts for a nautical mile run, I was rewarded with another personal best - 27.07 knots, about 1 mph faster than before. Can't complain about 3 PBs in a week!  I probably also set a PB for 500 m (29.2 knots), but that's not a category on the GPS Team Challenge, so I don't usually check it. 
In about a month, when the weather gets warmer and the days longer, the wind will probably change a bit. Instead of frontal winds, we'll mostly get south-easterlies with a strong thermal component. Maybe then I'll switch to freestyle...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Toy

We got a new toy yesterday. Well, it's 5 years old, but new to us. A 99 l Fanatic Falcon slalom board. And we got to sail it today:
Once again, the forecast was mediocre - 18 mph. When we started, that's about what we got - but it picked up an hour later, and I was very nicely powered on the 7.0. Enough power for a top speed of 30.8 knots. That's not much for real speed surfers, but plenty fast for me. Actually, it's the fastest I have ever sailed around here .. except for last Sunday.  I think I like the new board!

I'm tempted to claim I did this in 18 knots of wind gusting to 22, which is what the South Bird Island wind meter showed. But I'm pretty certain that the meter reads low; the WorldWinds meter had a top windspeed of 31 mph today, which seems about right. Still, not bad for a new board, a sail that never feels quite right, and enough chop to keep me on my toes. Fun!

Just as I started sailing, Nina did her best Flaka try yet... but I did not see it. She also tried the Falcon, but was too eager to get back to freestyle to get it dialed in. After the session, WorldWind's Randy gave her some tips on the Flaka, so she can't wait to get back out tomorrow. The forecast predicts 5 knots more wind - maybe another day to take the speed board out :-).

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Everything Is Faster in Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas. I guess that also applies to speed.
Two new personal bests today, including a top speed of 33.88 knots (62.7 km/h). On KA Koncept 5.0/Isonic Speed 54 (thanks, Andy McK!)/BP WS28. Nina probably would have beaten my speeds, but had some muscle pain from her first day of sailing her - way overpowered (it's the triceps that hurts!). So we took the opportunity to verify that you can walk back the entire way. Yes, you can! Even though the water seems to be a foot deeper than last year.

Did I mention air temperatures were in the 70s, water almost that warm, and it was sunny? I like Texas.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Windy New Year

When driving through the rain in 43ºF (6ºC) weather to go windsurfing, I sometimes almost understand those who question my choices. Perhaps even more so when rigging in the rain and warning my fellow addict about the dog poop on the small grassy area, only to discover that I had just put my boom into a big pile of poop.

But things get better once you get out, you say? Or do they? I knew that the shape of my sail looked bad, but could not figure out why until I was on the water. There, I noticed that the bottom camber was not on. How do you spell "dahh!" again? But it was not all bad. I had to switch mittens, anyway, since the open palm mittens that I had just "improved" by removing some stitches now did not stay on my fingers anymore, and my fingers started to hurt. Meanwhile, Jerry was having fun on the water. Wave gear is so much easier!

Eventually, I made it out with a properly rigged sail and open-palm mittens that kept my fingers warm. 15 minutes later, we had made it to the speed strips right behind some dunes. The ocean on the other side was very angry, but the inside was nice and flat. We started the back-and-forth sailing - Jerry with nice jibes and duck jibes, me with lots of stops to check the speed from the last run. Again and again, the GPS watch would show only 28 or 29 knots - 30 seemed unreachable. That was a bit of a surprise, after just recently hitting 30 knots in almost every run at the Kennedy Slicks, in 5-10 mph less wind! Playing around with mast foot position and outhaul did not help; I barely managed to get one run with a 30-knot reading. Considering that I had perfectly flat water, often caught nice gusts in speed runs, and (for a change) did go deep enough downwind in half of my runs (130º), I should have gone at least a couple of knots faster.

So obviously, I need to identify a culprit. It is absolutely inconceivable that it was my fault that I was slow! Seriously - I did feel like I had things under control most of the time.

One potential cause is the current. One the top end of the runs, it was quite strong, probably several knots. But at the bottom end, it was barely noticeable, so that only explains (at most) half of my slow runs.

So I'll blame the sail. One speed guru told me that it's the wrong sail for me, and perhaps he is right. It's also 8 years old now, and had a few repairs. I lost one of the cams a while back, and replaced it with a random one that seems way too loose and a bit too big. Maybe the correct cam would help? After all, "cam" is short for "camber inducer", and the "inducing" refers to the profile in the sail (of which I did not have much, even with almost no outhaul). Time for another "dahh"?

But all the little problems aside, it was a real fun session. The water felt a lot warmer than the water in Cape Cod Bay or Nantucket Sound, and it was shallow at both ends of the runs, so taking breaks was easy. Jerry and I had big stupid grins on our faces most of the time.

Here are today's GPS tracks: