Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fogland, south side

One of my favorite windsurf places is Fogland in Tiverton, RI. Up until today, I have always sailed on the north side. The water in the little bay area is shallow, between knee and shoulder deep (depending on tides and exact location). In S-SW winds that prevail in spring and summer, the water in the bay is very flat - flatter than Bonaire. Since the bay is only about 500 m (1/4 mile) wide, you get to practice jibing a lot. On occasion, I have ventured past the little island into the river, but when starting on the north side, the little island can cast quite a bit of a wind shadow.

When deciding where to go windsurfing today, I picked Fogland, since it's a safe place to surf when you are alone, and I could not get anyone else to commit to a place before I left this morning (my lovely wife is visiting her family). However, the tide was really low in the early afternoon, and I was in the mood for longer runs, so I wanted to try the south side. The runs there are more than a mile long - unfortunately for GPS sailing, a bit shorter than a nautical mile.

When I got to Fogland, the winds looked so low that I considered rigging small and practicing light wind freestyle. However, with air temps around 5 C and water temps a bit lower, I was not really motivated. After a few minutes, another windsurfer (Dave) pulled up, and while we were chatting, the wind picked up. We rigged big (Dave 6.5, I 7.0), and soon were out on the water. The wind was gusting at first, and Dave, who sailed for the first time since November, struggled a bit, although his jibes were dry and did not look bad to me.

Following his example, I waded out a bit to the point where the wind line was, and soon was planing. After a few adjustments, I started having some serious fun. The water is pretty flat on the launch site, but as you get further out into the river, small swell forms and becomes bigger and bigger as you approach the other shore. Even though the winds were not very strong (low to mid 20s), the swell near the far end was big enough for some little wave rides and jumps. Fun! At the same time, the swell was nicely organized so that staying on the water when you did not want to jump was really easy - not like the voodoo chop in Kalmus on a windy day!

I sailed a bit more than 2 hours, with a couple of small breaks to drink some hot tea and change gloves. The wind got steadier, and I nailed most of my jibes thanks to help from the swell on the far side, and nice flat water on the inside. I really like windsurfing on the south side of Fogland - you can pick the level of swell you want by picking where you jibe, or do long runs and enjoy the gradual change.

As much fun as the south side is, the flat water on the north side is definitely better for top GPS speeds. Wind meter readings show gusts above 30 miles today, but my top speed was only 27 mph. I was in my Fanatic Skate 110, which is a bit slower than the my smaller boards, but I have hit more then 30 mph on it several times on the north side in similar conditions. However, for nautical mile runs, one hour averages, and total distance, the long runs on the south side are a definitive advantage. Indeed, I got ok reads in these three categories today - if only one of the other Fogland Speedsurfers had been there, too! Well, it's getting warmer now, so we'll hopefully enjoy their company before the end of the month.

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