Monday, June 21, 2010

Gusty defined

Second day of windsurfing in the Gorge, and the forecast was "gusty westerlies". After Maui last month, I though I had and idea what gusty is - or did I? We sailed in Mosier today from 3 to 4:30. Here's the iWindsurf chart from the nearest sensor in Rowena:
The readings range from 8.9 mph in the lulls to 43.4 mph in the gusts - a factor of almost 5! Readings at Doug's Beach were a tad more steady, from 15 to 43, but that's still a factor of close to 3. A great day at home has factors of 1.5 or lower, and the best day last fall had a factor below 1.2.
Plenty of locals volunteered that it was a very difficult day, and that even surfers who have surfed in the Gorge for many years had their problems today. Indeed, I saw some very interesting crashes.
I went out on a 4.2 North Ice, Nina on a matching 3.7. After the first quick run, we trimmed both sails ultra-flat, way beyond specs, effectively reducing their size by at least half a meter. Still, they were almost impossible to hold onto in the gusts. In the lulls close to shore, on the other hand, I (and many others) had no chance of planing.
I had not bothered to change to a smaller board this morning, so I was out on a Starboard Kode 94. Usually, I'd call this a small board, but in the swell in the middle of the river when the gusts hit, it felt more like a formula monster. The only thing I worked on was keeping the thing in the water instead of flying away with me it as if I was kite surfing - with limited success, as the next picture shows:

Plenty of more like this on the few minutes of good video I took (I put the GoPro Hero HD back into action, after getting some kite string from the great Gorge Surf Shop to use as a safety line).

Another very interesting day, with little milage sailed, but some permanent memories formed. I did manage a couple of dry jibes - still don't know how. Nina had a better day, too. She went out for a couple of runs, and even tried a jibe in the middle of the river where she made it through 75% of the turn - really not bad for these conditions.

Ironically, the wind got a lot more steady after we stopped, settling down to 18-35 miles. For tomorrow, clearer skies and "better quality winds" are in the forecast. Stay tuned..