Monday, November 20, 2017

Cold and Windy

It's been windy a lot. And cold. Here's a picture from last Friday:
I sailed from Indian Neck Beach in Wellfleet Harbor. Nina had come along, but since it was cold, windier than predicted (33 mph gusting to low 40s), and bumpy, she stayed on shore. I can't blame her - temperatures were a little above 40ºF, but it felt rather cold. Maybe we have gotten spoiled by too many warm days up to now.

I used my Ianovated suit with an extra neoprene layer below, so I stayed nice and warm. This was the first session where I really needed mittens. I had brought a three different pairs of open-palm mittens, but the first pair I tried had only thin fabric on the inside of the fingertips. Not yet being used to cold-weather surfing again, my fingertips complained bitterly. No problem, I thought, and grabbed another pair that had neoprene covering the fingertips. That was much warmer ... but unfortunately, the mittens were too big, so my fingers slipped out a lot. Not a bit deal when taking short runs near shore, but the fin in Wellfleet Harbor is that you can take 3 mile long runs to the peninsula on the other side. I only went halfway before my inner chicken pointed out that going too far while all alone on the water might not be so smart, forcing me to turn around. Of course, my fingers slipped out of the mitten right away, and in 40+ mph gusts and a bit of chop, getting them back in proved to be really hard. Cooling the fingertips down to the point where the pain level became rather uncomfortable was a lot faster! Well, that ended up being a really short session. I was quite surprised when my fingers started to hurt again a couple of hours later in the hot tub - they had not really warmed up again the entire time. Fortunately, we had stopped at Inlandsea and gotten a new pair of palmless mittens, so the next cold session should involve less pain.

Yesterday, we had similar wind, but from a southerly direction - it was warm! I was able to sail in my 4.5 mm suit without a hat or mittens. The wind was similar in strength when we started, but instead of a 4.7 m freestyle sail, I used a 6.3 m race sail. After all, we were at the Kennedy Slicks, were it was supposed to be super-flat! And flat it was ... if you made it through the first 300 meters, where a lot of waves made it through and over the holes in the pier. Nina, who had not been on slalom gear for quite a while, had a bit of a hard time making it to the flat water at first. Just as she finally got halfway comfortable (after switching to a week fin because there was lots of junk in the water), the wind picked up, "gusting" to over 40 knots. I put the "gusting" in quotes because some of these gusts seemed to go on for several minutes, and were separated from the next gusts but just a short lull. More than 40 knots of wind is record territory, and Nina did indeed set a record, if you believe her GPS watch: it showed a 2 second top-speed of 55 knots! Analysis of the track at home showed that she reached this speed while swimming - just breaking the windsurf speed record apparently was not good enough for her. Or so her watch thought, and produced a big fat artifact. The maximum speed according to the GW-60 was 135 knots for 0.2 seconds! At this point, I was glad that it was an artifact, because otherwise, the acceleration would have reached rather unhealthy levels.

I had spend some time watching Nina swim and try to waterstart (which she managed .. a total of 3 times on her final run in, usually followed by gusts ripping the sail out of her hands a few seconds later). Then, I did my best to try and break her swimming record. I first tried to use her 5.0 m sail, but while the wind had dropped by about 10 mph, it was still windy enough to let me sail out and back a couple of times. So I went back out on my 6.3, and completely ignored the fact that the wind had switched to side-off. When my deep downwind trajectory would have let me crash into the wall rather than reach the flat water, I turned around, and practiced u-boat sailing my 90 l board in the now extremely gusty, but mostly very light, wind. For the amusement of beach goers, who were curious enough to enquire about the water temperature, I also added a few short stretches of swimming. Well, all forms of exercise are good, right?

Today was another sunny and windy day, but with temperatures below 40ºF, I decided to take a break. It's supposed to be warm and windy again tomorrow - see you on the water!

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