Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Oops She Did It Again

Seven years ago, Nina briefly held the #1 spot in the women's distance ranking on the GPS Team Challenge - the unofficial women's distance world record for windsurfing. Her distance of 202.79 km was beaten a few month later by  speedfalconster, who sailed 207.55 km - barely 3 miles more. Her record latest until 2016, when the Australian speedsurfer Cheryl sailed 226 km. Cheryl sailed at Albany, a wonderfully flat spot that is in my top-3 list of the best windsurfing spots in the world.

Nina tried to get the record back a few months later during our regular spring trip to Hatteras. During the attempt, she also competed in the first Hatteras long distance race, where she won the Women's Open division. Alas, the waiting for the start of the two races ended up costing her the distance record when the wind died in the afternoon, just three kilometers shy of Cheryl's record. Another couple of months later, speedfalconster sailed 248 km to be back on top.

Nina had talked about another distance attempt a few times before, although she'd rather keep working on freestyle tricks (unlike me, she considers sailing back and forth for hours as "boring"). However, we never quite got the right conditions .. until this forecast came along:
Planing winds all day, and 14 hours between sunrise and sunset! I was definitely doing distance! So Nina decided to play along and forget about freestyle for a day.

The setup was good, but not quite perfect. One issue were the relatively weak winds in the morning; a bigger issue were the strong winds in the afternoon, and the southwesterly direction which means high water levels and more chop. Unlike earlier distance attempts, we did not have a house right on the Sound, so some of the daylight time would be wasted rigging and derigging. Perhaps even worse was that our fitness levels were still just mediocre, after having fought several severe colds since returning from Oz.

But when we got up at 5 am Monday morning, the local meters showed 18 mph wind - it was a go! We left the house just as the sun was coming up, and started sailing at 7 am. Believing that the predicted forecast would happen, we both rigged a bit small - 6.3 and 7.0. That meant some pumping  from time to time to get going, and slim chances to plane through jibes.

We sailed for about 5 hours, knocking off the first 150 km with relative ease. During lunch break, the wind dropped, shifted, and then picked up. Here's the wind graph from the "KHK Resort" meter for the day:
I downsized from 112/7.0 to 99/6.3 by grabbing Nina's gear. However, the wind in the high 20s meant lots of chop, and I found myself blowing jibes and not feeling comfortable anymore. What's the point of sailing for 12 hours if you're not having fun? I replaced the slalom board with my Tabou 3S96, which handles chops a lot better. I kept he cambered race sail (Loft RacingBlade 6.3), but the combo worked surprisingly well, and I enjoyed the next few hours of sailing. Nina switched to her freestyle gear - Fanatic Skate 86 and Idol 4.5, which she often sails in crazy conditions. We sailed these combos until we both had sailed about 250 km - Nina had her World Record back! But she was not yet tired and wanted to go for another 60 km. I hoped to add another 100 km, but by then, the wind and chop had increased to levels where our sails where just too big. Nina downsized her Idol to 4.0, and I switched to a 4.7 wave sail.

Then, things did not go quite as planned. An hour later, Nina had to stop because her hernia was acting up. Her total distance for the day was 277 km, about 30 km above the previous record. Nice!

I never got comfortable with the 4.7 wave sail, going between underpowered to overpowered in every run. Maybe the difference from the super-stable race sail was too much; maybe the chop had gotten too high; or maybe I was just getting tired, but I was getting slower, and spent a lot more energy than before. As the sun dipped lower on the horizon, I also saw a lot more wild life - including jumping, spear-like fish that are know to occasionally pierce windsurfers ankles. So I decided to stop an hour before the sun went down, so we'd be able to put all the gear back into the van while it was still light. Here are my GPS tracks for the day (click on the image for a larger version):
These are Nina's tracks:
Here's the women's ranking for distance on the GPS Team Challenge:
Today, the wind turned to NE, which means much shallower and flatter water. We went for a quick sail, and it was lovely - if only we would have had such flat water yesterday! But NE wind here rarely lasts all day - today, it lasted just a few hours. Maybe we have to go back to Australia for the next distance attempt :-).

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