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...
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 :-).
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.
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.
I've been windsurfing for more than 30 years, although this includes several multi-year periods where I did not windsurf at all. I got really hooked again a few years ago, after getting married to my lovely windsurfing wife, and starting to take ABK clinics. We mainly surf on Cape Cod, with regular trips to Cape Hatteras and the Caribbean.