Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall speedsurfing

The last week has brought a lot of wind our way - three days of southerly winds and two days of north to northeasterly winds. The south wind came first, and we sailed two days in Fogland and one day in Duxbury. The common theme for all three days was a lot of variation in the wind.

The first day (9/28) in Fogland was the best of the south wind days. I used a 6.2 sail both for light wind and fully powered, and also an 8.5. Worked a bit on jibes, using a Mistral Screamer 116. After replacing the stock 39 cm fin with a 28 cm Select Supercross fin, jibes got a lot smoother, and I managed a new personal best for minimum speed in the jibe (11.2 knots). I also tried sailing the F2 Missile, but the unsteady winds did not exactly help. I managed to get the Missile planing and either be hooked in or in both foot straps, but not both at the same time. Still, a bit of progress.

On the second Fogland day (9/30), the meter readings looked great, with averages of 25 and gusts in the 30s. I rigged another new piece of speed gear, a KA Koncept 5.8 m sail with 3 cambers. I was nicely powered at first, but the wind quality soon got worse, with 2-second long gusts that were just to short to get going, and too far apart to stay planing if by some luck I managed to get onto a plane.

October 1st came with nice south wind readings ahead of a predicted sudden drop. We decided to try Duxbury in southerlies for the first time. When we got there, averages where 30, and gusts in the 40s. Lots of windsurfers there, all the guys on there small wave boards with 3.7 sails. We rigged our 3.7 for Nina, which meant I went out on a 4.2 Expression. The sail was just way to much in the gusts - I got almost blown out of the water, despite being on my narrow and heavy 92l Mistral Edge. No control, no fun - I stopped after a couple of runs. With 200 lb guys being out on 3.7s, and some of them saying they were overpowered or had no fun because the wind was too strong, it did not seem like such a great idea to send Nina out on a 3.7. She hesitated for a long time, but did well when she finally went out for a run on her 76l JP Real World Wave. By then, gusts were reaching upper 40s, and rain clouds were moving in, so we called it a day. It was not just that it was so much wind - the variability was very Gorge-like, with lulls near 20 in one minute and gusts of 45 a few minutes later.

Two days later, we finally got the typical fall winds - NNE, averages in the upper 20s with gusts in the low 30s in Duxbury. The forecast had called for NE winds, so we sailed the south side first, but the wind was too much out of the north for really flat water there. So we switched to the north side, where the direction was perfect for speed runs right next to the grass islands in the middle that created very flat water. On the Mistral Edge with a Matrix 7.0 sail and the Select Supercross 28 cm fin, I got a number of runs about 50 kmh, with a max (1 sec) of 53.36 km(33.2 mph, 28.8 knots). I ended up improving all my short distance personal bests, and I finally reached my stated speed goal for the year, a 5 x 10 sec average above 50 kmh, with an actual average of 51.19. Here's a screen shot of the GPS tracks:

We eventually stopped shortly before sunset - a great day.

This morning, the wind meter readings were even better - averages around 30 mph, gusts in the upper 30s. We headed back to Duxbury early, hoping to park on the ocean side of Powder Point bridge. Last time we had walked over, the sign there stated that parking was allowed for non-residents. Today, we discovered that the main parking lot was closed, the little parking lot on the side almost full, and the only sign threatened a fine of $250 for everyone without a resident sticker. So we had to drive back and start on the land side of the bridge, as usual. I was bumming a bit, since I had hoped to sail my F2 Missile in the flat water at the ocean side of the bay. Instead, I was back on the Edge, although this time with the KA Koncept 5.8 - very nicely powered, too.

I sailed around south and north sides looking for flat water for a while. The north side did not work, the wind was angled oddly to the shore on the far side and the grass island. I walked through the bridge and did a couple of long runs near shore on the south side, but the water had just a bit too much chop, and the wind angle was just a bit off, for top speed. I did, however, got a couple of nautical mile runs that were both over my old personal best, the better one at 45.56 kmh (28.3 mph). Getting back, I again wished that the wind had been just 10 or 20 degrees more to the east, and went back over to the north side where Nina was still sailing, and starting to get worried since she had not seen me for a while.

By now, the tide had dropped enough so that I could touch ground in large areas of the bay, so I decided to give the F2 Missile another go. With only 62 l volume, the board is quite a bit smaller than anything I had sailed before, so it required a few adjustments. Thanks to enough wind, I finally figured it out, and ended up planing comfortably, hooked in and in both foot straps. The chop on the side of the bay where I had to start was too much to allow real speed runs, but I got up to 45 kmh. Hoping for more, I tried to go over to the south side, but the wind shadow of the bridge was just too much, and I could not get going. Schlogging was not an option, either - I sink to my hips if I try, and would have hit ground (a thing I really try to avoid doing with speed fins). So I went back to the other side for a few more runs on the Edge - which, however, Nina was just about to take. So I took her 76 l wave board, and was in for a surprise. Before the missile, the smallest board I had ever sailed was a 74 l board in Maui, and that one just for a few runs. After figuring out how to sail the 62 l Missile, the 76l JP felt - big! I took the baby over to the flat water on the south side, and pushed it to 47 kmh on a couple of runs, but the little wave fin on the board was quite a mismatch to the 5.8 m cambered sail.

On my third try, sailing the Missile turned out to be surprisingly easy. The moderate chop on the "wrong" side of the bay was no problem for the board, and going upwind was surprisingly easy. In hindsight, I regretted that I had not taken the Missile out first thing, and tacked up to the flat water - a whole bunch of new personal bests would certainly have been the reward. But still, this was another great day, with a new personal best for the mile, and first time really sailing the Missile.

No comments:

Post a Comment