Saturday, April 16, 2011

Duxbury in ESE

Some of my best flatwater sessions were in Duxbury during easterly winds. Typically, windspeeds were about 5 mph above the forecast, so when the forecast for today called for ESE in the low 20s, I was hopeful. Dean, the fastest of the Fogland Speed Surfers, just got a new Falcon 111, and the forecast for Avon also looked good, so I was hoping to get some nice speed runs.

When we decided where to go this morning, the wind was better and more steady in Duxbury than on Cape Cod, so it was an easy choice. When we got to Duxbury, we were greeted with white caps and gently rolling chop. With my KA Koncept still waiting for a new batten, I rigged my 7.0 Matrix, which handled 30 mph winds with ease. That also meant I had to take my Skate 110, since my 82 l board does not work well with such a large sail. Not ideal for speed, but I was hoping for some nice flat water at the far side. Windsurfers have to be optimistic ... here's the GPS tracks for the day:
The map is shown so that the wind was coming from the top. So the angle between the sand bar on the left and the wind was steeper than I expected, meaning too much chop for good speed. I tacked up about 2.5 km, but did not find the chitter-chatter flat water I had hoped for. Instead, the further I got up towards the top-left, the less friendly the chop became: at the end, there were steep, maybe one foot high wind-waves, separated by less than 10 feet. On the wide freestyle board, that was just a bit too harsh for speed runs. Indeed, I got my best speed in the middle of the bay, where the wind-driven waves were higher, but further apart, and large enough to have some fun with (although the Skate showed that it was clearly not made for wave play).

The tracks also show that the angle to the wind while tacking was very poor, and got worse the higher up I had tacked. The reason is simple: trying to sail upwind in one direction (to the right), I was hitting the chop at almost a right angle. That would have been a blast for jumping, but when trying to keep the board on the water to make speed upwind, it was no fun at all, so I reduced the angle until I could have some fun. Eventually, I gave up on my quest for flat water, and had a couple of fun downwind runs back to the car. By then, the tide was getting low, and Nina had already stopped sailing an hour earlier after she discovered a small rip in her favorite sail, so I called it a day. The only halfway decent speed I got was a 21.46 knots nautical mile on the way back.

So - what had gone wrong? I went back to my sessions database and looked up the previous sessions that I had remembered as east wind sessions in Duxbury, in particular the one where Gonzalo had kicked my butt on his Fanatic Ray and North race sail. In that session, my mile and hour averages had been higher than today, even though the wind was a few miles lower. However, the wind direction was ENE, not E, as I remembered. Even a pure east wind (90º) should have given some nice flat water, but the 110º ESE wind we had today created bump & jump conditions rather than speed slicks. Well, next time I'll know, use a smaller sail, and have a different kind of fun. 
After we got back home, I noticed that the wind in West Dennis had picked up in the afternoon, with 35 mph averages and 42 mph gusts between 4 and 6:30 pm. Low tide was at 5 pm, and it was -0.3 ft, meaning really flat water. Looks like I missed a great opportunity to try the new (to me) GPS 5.0 sail...

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