Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just say no to Speed Jibes!

The title may seem a bit contradictory for a wannabe speed surfer, so let me clarify: I am talking about jibe where the sail is flipped first, and the feet are switched afterwards - also known as "Sail First Jibes" or "Euro Jibes". I will be using "Speed Jibe" here because that's the term used in the Tricktionary.

Here on Maui, many sailors do Speed Jibes. I have noticed the same thing at home on really windy, choppy days - so the naive observer could come to the conclusion that Speed Jibes are the jibe to do in windy and choppy conditions. Gullible as I am, I actually worked on Speed Jibes for a few days here.. but not without having Andy Brandt's voice in the back of my head, telling me not to bother with "Euro Trash Jibes". Matt Pritchard pretty much said the same during my private.

The final nail in the coffin came down when watching the racers at the Maui Race Series. Here's a video of one group jibing around a mark:

Everyone is doing Step Jibes, with some variation in how far the sail is laid down, but little variation in the timing of the step forward (for the purpose of this discussion, I'll treat Step Jibes and Laydown Jibes as the same). What I found amazing is that falls during the jibes where rare - despite having to jibe at a pre-determined spot, plenty of distraction (the other sailors), and quite a bit of chop. Any single one of these things is likely to make me fall when I jibe...

Going through the movies I made during the races, I actually did discover one Speed Jibe:

This one was from a sailor at the tail end of the pack - no big surprise, since he lost a lot of speed during his jibe. For comparison, here is a jibe by Phil McGain, who dominated the races, winning all races except the one where his universal broke:

Looking at other jibes in the movies from the races, I noticed a very strong correlation between stepping late and loosing speed during the jibe. In jibes that kept the most speed, the back foot moved forward at the same time that the sail was opened up. Even stepping a tad later, as the sail flipped to the other side, typically resulted in significantly more loss of speed. Two screen shots from the movies above illustrate why:
With both feet in the back of the board, the tail sinks, putting the brakes on big time. Compare this to the how flat the board is in Phil's Step Jibe when the sail is in exactly the same position of the board:
Well, if this isn't a convincing argument for the step jibe, what is?

Of course, there is plenty of stuff that can go wrong during a Step Jibe, too. Here's an example of a bad jibe that Matt Pritchard caught on video during my first private with him:

I have been working on the things that Matt suggested to improve my jibes in chop:

  1. Keeping the front arm long during the entry and oversheeting.
  2. Stepping forward when the sail moves forward, and bending the front knee to put weight on it and flatten the board out.
  3. Looking where I'm going (instead of succumbing to the dreaded disease called "Sail Fascination"), especially during and after the sail flip.
A couple of days ago, we went for a late windsurf session after work. Nina had some shoulder pain and decided not to go sailing, so she took videos from the beach. Knowing that this would be a short session, I worked a bit harder, concentrating on my jibes. I definitely noticed some improvements during the session, and felt pretty good about the last jibe, even though I did not plane through. Here is the video, with an inset from the clew-mounted GoPro HD:

When my typical (rather than my best) jibes in chop look like this, I'll be quite happy. My arms are straighter than usually, I oversheet nicely, and I look where I want to go (at least at the end). Still, there are a few things that can  be improved that even I noticed:

  • The front arm should be straighter during the carve.
  • Knees should be bent a bit more during the entire jibe.
  • The step with the front foot to the back is pretty big, which sinks the tail a lot. Just sliding the foot out of the foot strap and placing it right behind it should keep the board flatter, and thereby keep a bit more speed.

This might sound a bit like nitpicking. But looking at lots of boom cam videos, I found that I make the same mistakes in most jibes; the difference between the dry jibes and the wet ones is mostly in how badly I'm doing these things wrong.
Enough about jibes, here's a brief summary about what else went on during the last week. We did not sail last Sunday and Monday - Sunday because we needed a break, and Monday because the wind came up very late, after we had already given up hope. On Tuesday, I tried out sailing with slalom gear in Kanaha (iSonic 101 and Vapor 6.7). That ended up being too much of a change - just getting into the tight outboard footstraps after being used to big center footstraps was a challenge. After a couple of runs, I switched the board to my trusted Angulo FW 93 so I could concentrate on just the difference in going to a cambered race sail. The sail felt very slippery, I would have loved to try it on flat water - but for Kanaha, I switched back to my 5.7 Manic after a few runs. This gave me a whole new appreciation for how easy the wave gear is to sail under the conditions here - and on the skills of the racers that practiced on even bigger slalom gear the entire time.

Last Thursday, we went to Kihei for the first time, since winds there looked a lot higher than in Kanaha. We sailed from the Sunset launch, since that was the first spot where we saw a lot of other windsurfers. The sailing was very interesting. The wind was side shore at the launch, and the waves had about 3 miles to build up, so the water was definitely not flat. With gusts in the 40s, I found myself keeping the 4.5 I used pretty open a lot, and using all the things Matt had told me to keep control. The session was fun, even though my top speed ended up being rather low. The rigging area with perfectly manicured lawn was nice, but the water was much dirtier than on the North shore. I paid for that with a headache the next day - something that happens to me at home sometimes the day after sailing, but has not happened after sailing Kanaha or Sprecks.

Nina sailed only a short time in Kihei before her fingers started hurting badly - maybe from holding on so hard in the crazy gusts. She had a much better time yesterday in Kanaha, until she hit a turtle on her last run that stopped the board dead, and sent her catapulting and hitting the mast with her head. Fortunately, both her head and the turtle's shell are very hard, and neither Nina nor the turtle seemed to have any lasting damage. In Nina's case, that's a safe bet, she has neither a headache nor bruises; in the turtle's case, we can only hope. During the races earlier that day, one of the racers had hit a at turtle full speed, and got catapulted over the handle bars. That ended the day for the sailor, but again, the turtle was hopefully ok. I usually have between 1 and 10 turtle sightings a day; if turtles were easily damaged by windsurf boards and fins, the dozens of sailors on the water anytime it's windy would have had a negative impact by now. It seems that the turtle shells of Maui turtles are a lucky case of evolutionary pre-adaptation to windsurf fins :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

30=32, but 24-30=sh*t

Did you guess from the title that I am talking about harness lines? If not, don't worry about it :)

For more than a year now, I have been sailing single-point harness lines. They worked great for me (or so I thought). One big advantage is that swapping lines is so easy: my wife and I sometimes use the same boom, but she's about 9 inches shorter than me, and uses a lot shorter lines. I have been using 26 inch lines for speed and 30 inch lines for choppy conditions and freestyle.

All was fine until I took a private lesson with Matt Pritchard on Maui. For the larger part of the lesson, he was sailing close behind me, and he noticed that my sail was moving (opening and closing a bit) a lot. He suggested that I switch to traditional harness lines that have two separate connection points. I had noticed this before in a boom cam video I had made while speedsurfing, and I learned many times that ignoring the advice of windsurf teachers is foolish, so I went looking for new lines. I made a couple of interesting discoveries along the way that I summarized in the title..

My first idea was to get some NP Vario lines. Before switching to single points, we had always used vario lines to accomodate our different length preferences. But more importantly, Anders Bjorkqvist, a fellow blogger and speedsurfer, had suggested these particular lines because they tend to break in bad catapults (like when hitting a sand bank at 40 knots).  I have broken a boom and a sail in catapults, and seen others inflict even more damage, so I liked Anders' argument that a broken harness line is much cheaper to replace than anything else that might break - and if the catapult is bad enough, something must break.

So I went to the Neil Pryde Maui store, and picked up 24-30 in vario lines. These work beautifully when used at 24 or 25 inches - but when close to fully extended, they tend to dangle around a lot, making it really hard to hook in in high wind and chop. Here's a short video illustrating this:

 For comparison, here's a hook-in into fixed lines:

A lot faster and easier! This was on the first day I was using the fixed lines, so I still looked down at them in the video. However, that was not necessary most of the time, since they will stay exactly where you put them. With the vario lines run at close to full extension, you absolutely have to look down - you have to time the hook-in with their swing! A real PITA in chop and high wind!

So I figured that I'd use the vario lines only for speed surfing, where bad catapults are most likely, and went to look for fixed lines. Earlier this year in Andy's Wind-NC shop, I had learned that lines from different manufactures with the same length label are not actually the same length, so I went with Dakine lines, the same brand as my single-point lines. I got some 30 inch lines - but when I tried them on the water, they were noticeably shorter than my 30 inch single-point lines! They felt uncomfortably too short, and my stance on the boom cam video looked really bad, with arms bent way too much. So a couple of days later, I went back to one of the many windsurf shops here, and got a pair of 32-inch Dakine lines. There worked just fine - finally! So, 32-inch 2-point lines are the same length as 30-inch single-point lines; and NP Vario lines near full extensions are sh*t (the NP Maui store did not have any longer vario lines than 24-30).

Oh yes, some of my regular readers may wonder about the windsurfing the last few days. We have had an unfortunate change in wind patterns: the evening drop-off has moved forward from 6-7 pm to around 4 pm for the last 2 days. We got caught schlogging the first day, but went earlier yesterday and caught one hour of good wind before it died down. We had some swell and breaking waves in Kanaha, which I used for a bit of chicken play and to get my hair washed, before I decided to leave the waves to the better sailors. Still, a fun session, with a nice  nautical mile run above 20 knots, and a few jibes where I looked where I was going (surprise - it works!). In contrast, today was a lot of work. Wind averages were above 20 until noon, but dropped to about 17 mph when we made it to the water. Even the "big" 93 l board and my biggest sail (5.7) did not get me planing consistently. Well, schlogging upwind needs to be practiced, too...  Back home, we saw that the wind meter readings for Kihei looked better, with averages in the mid-20s, and gusts in the 30s. Apparently, this would have been a good day to sail in Kihei for the first time. Well, on the upside, we got home early, so I had enough time and energy to blog.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jump, jump, jump, jump

I had another lesson with Matt Pritchard 2 days ago - jumping. Here's a video:

The lesson was great, my jumps definitely improved a lot during the hour on the water. It's not that Matt told me something I had not heard before - but having specific instruction on the water which thing to focus on was really helpful. Seeing his many jumps as an example was just as helpful, and cool. I loved the way he set down very gently after the jumps - I did not even know that's possible.

During the lesson, we focus on board control in the air (exposing the underside), and I definitely got a feeling for that. Next, I'll have to work on staying sheeted in. The wind was in the 30-40 mph range during the lesson, so staying sheeted in was not so easy even when just sailing along...

Yesterday, I got skunked for the first time here. Wind in the early afternoon was great, and during the past 3 weeks, the wind always stayed up until 6:30 or 7 pm. When we finally got to Kanaha (after getting new harness lines - the NP Vario lines are impossible to get into in high wind), the meter showed 32 averages, so I rigged the 4.5. But by the time I made it onto the water, the wind had dropped more than 10 mph. I ended up barely planing for 15 seconds, and schlogging for 20 minutes. No fun...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lessons from Matt Pritchard

Today, I finally had a private lesson with Matt Pritchard at Sprecks. Conditions were great, I was fully powered on 4.5 with a 77l board. I did not have a set agenda, other than wanting tips to help me adapt to Maui conditions. The chop here on a typical 25-30 knot day is quite different from the flat water in Fogland or Bonaire..

We started with a few runs where Matt followed me to watch what I was doing. Every time I fell, Matt jumped into the water next to me, and made suggestions. After a few runs, we went back to the beach for a slightly longer discussion.

The first thing Matt fixed was my stance. I was trying to do something like the typical figure 7 stance that works so well on flat water and with big fins. In Maui chop with a 22 cm wave fin, the main thing that happened was spinouts. So the things Matt suggested were:
  • To turn the hips more forward, and to look upwind over the shoulder.
  • To bend the knees a lot, so that I could absorb the chop as needed.
  • To put more pressure on the front foot, with the goal to (at least) have about even pressure on both legs.
  • To really hang down to put all the weight into the harness (I am temporarily using a seat harness because my ribs hurt from an earlier crash).
No rocket science here - I had read about most of these things before. Making these adjustments had a dramatic effect: no more spinouts, a much quieter board, more control, less work. We had some gusts where the meter readings were in the mid-30s, and the actual wind probably around 40, but things staid well under control. Those adjustments alone would have been worth the cost of the lesson! I only wish I had scheduled the lesson a lot earlier...

Here are two "before" and "after" pictures:

The "before" picture is above - a very upright stance, knees straight, hips inward.

The "after" picture shows some progress: hips are twisted forward, the body is further out with more pressure on the harness lines, and the knees are bent, at least a bit. This picture was taken about 15 minutes after the last one, so the stance is still new to me. Here's a picture from a PWA slalom race that shows the figure 6 stance better:

An interesting thing Matt said was that the board and fin were to small for me. He is probably about my weight or a bit less, and he was out on a 96 l board the entire time; I have also seen him use a 106 l board in similar conditions. I have a 93 l board here that I love, but when the wind picks up, I usually switch to the smaller board because the big board became too bouncy. I should add that the 93 l board also has a big fin (30 cm), so keeping something like a figure 7 stance with pretty stiff knees does not usually cause spinouts. However, going through the chop at full speed with stiff knees starts to hurt pretty soon! 

It appears that the common desire to switch to smaller and smaller boards as the wind picks up is linked to failing to adapt the stance to the conditions. I think that just switching to a figure 6 stance with long harness lines, deeply bend knees, forward-twisted hips, and full weight in the harness will make a modern "larger" board like the Angulo Change FW 93 behave at least as well as a 77 l  wave board. Can't wait to try it out! 

I have to admit that just the suggestion of a 2-times Super-X world champion to use a larger board would be good enough for me; but just as good a reason are the wind holes here in Maui. I had to schlog the 77l board twice today, and a few times before that. Yes, it can be done, but it's all work and no fun. Schlogging the 93 l board is 10 x less work - and it's a lot easier to plane through jibes on it, too.

The stance fix was easy, and we then went on to my jibes. Funny enough, my first jibe was dry, and the second one was fully planed through - the only reason I fell was that I did not get into the footstraps again fast enough (and probably also that I did not bend my knees enough after the transition). But the next ones were the more common wet variety, and we went to work.

One thing Matt explained was the timing in the big outside swell. I had tried to figure this out for three weeks know, but the only thing I was able to say for certain was that starting to carve on the wave front generally did not work - I'd run uphill into the next wave, and loose all speed. So Matt explained his approach in the local setup, where the goal is to end up in the trough between 2 waves for the sail flip, so that the next wave pushes you back onto a plane as you accelerate. Tried this a bit, and that worked just fine. But or course, there were plenty of other things to fix!

One of these things is the dreaded bent front arm. In Kanaha, we have often watched the slalom guys do beautiful step jibes, fully planing and always in full control. But most of the not-so-great jibers, myself included, will always bent the front arm at some point, even if they start with a straight arm and a decent oversheeting. In my case, it's a bad habit that I practiced many many years before learning the correct way in ABK camps - so unless I concentrate on leaving the front arm long, it bends automatically. The interesting thing that Matt pointed out is that at the same time, the legs go straight. This, in turn, sinks the tail, and takes a lot of speed out of the turn. On flat water, I can often work around this a bit and still plane through - but in chop, loosing all board speed and standing up straight is a recipe for practicing waterstarts a few seconds later.

Besides the bent front arm, I'm also very likely to be so utterly fascinated by the sail or the nose of the board that I cannot tear my eyes off it, instead of looking where I want to go. I know this is a common mistake, but I was quite unaware that I made it, until Matt pointed it out. Two more things he mentioned that I think will be very helpful are to thing of the back arm and the back leg as being linked, so that the leg moves as soon as the sail transition starts; and to not just step forward, but to bend the front knee and really put weight on the leg to flatten the board out and drive it forward.

Matt was happy with the last jibe I did, where I apparently remembered to do everything he told me to. I think it will need a few more days of practice, but I think I have a better understanding now of what to look for when analyzing my boom cam videos, and I'm definitely motivated to work on it.

Well, a great lesson and a great day, with enough stuff to work on to keep me entertained for a while. As my Karate teacher used to say - the basics have to be right first, everything else will follow!

For all of you who plan to come to Maui for windsurfing - try to schedule a lesson (or a few) with Matt while you are here - the earlier, the better! If you are a flat water sailor like me, who has a hard time getting really comfortable out here, he may give you pointers that make your sailing easier within minutes. Or if you are better or more adventurous, he'll be glad to teach you the loop or other tricks. And, since Matt does get to spend a considerable time windsurfing, he is not just a great teacher, but also a real nice guy.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Windy days

It's been windy the last 3 days here on Maui, full power on 4.5-5.0 for me, 4.2 for Nina. And that's before the 4 pm, when the wind picked up a notch every day. Wind meter readings were in the mid-20s, with gusts in the low 30s; actual wind on the water was probably 5 mph higher.

Here's a video of Nina sailing yesterday. The first segment shows her working on a hand wash jibe; the second segment shows her coming in a bit later when the wind had picked up a bit:

I have finally gotten myself to try a few 360s, but mostly, I have been working on getting my jibes dry and on staying in control when fully powered in the chop here. With the jibes, I feel like I'm re-learning, and finally have reached the stage where the outside jibes are mostly dry (that is, as long as I am fresh - after an hour or two of sailing, the success rate goes down a lot). Still, much better than not even trying like last year, or falling all the time. However, planing through is still quite rare and mainly a matter of luck in timing the waves. Hopefully, this will improve a bit after a private lesson with Matt Pritchard tomorrow afternoon..

The other thing I have had some fun with is playing in waves. Most days, we get some gentle breaking waves between Sprecks and Camp One. Usually, these waves are perhaps shoulder-high, and the water is deep enough so that there is little chance of gear damage. But for a flatwater sailor like me, it's still plenty to get the adrenaline going, and to get some nice crashes. More often than not, I find myself going for the path between the breaks rather than for jumps when going out. Looking back at the GPS tracks after yesterday sessions, I discovered that this also is the best way for speed runs. The water before and between the breaking waves can be incredibly flat, and going parallel to the waves gives a deep downwind angle for speed runs. The slightly scary thing (besides the waves) is that you are going downwind, away from the launch site - but when fully powered, going back upwind is no issue. Maybe one of these days I'll try this on slalom gear instead of wave gear :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

West Maui

Yesterday morning, we went on a road trip around the western part of Maui. This road is much less traveled than the "Road to Hana" on the eastern side, and for good reasons: the first hour of the trip is a very narrow, winding, and often steep road that more often than not is just one lane. Additional hazards include falling rocks and slick roads after rainfalls. For me as the driver, this part of the trip required just as much concentration as sailing in 30+ mph winds and high chop - so it sure was fun, even though I often had to slow down to 10 mph. I did not see much except for the road, but the girls took some pictures:

Judging by their exclamations and the pictures, this was indeed a very scenic drive. Of course, we stopped a few times so I could have a look, too. This is a rock formation that we usually see from the other side when windsurfing:

We also had to stop at the "bell rock", which supposedly makes a bell-like sound when hit hard and at the right place:
It did not ring a bell for us - perhaps this is just something the Hawaiians use to make fun of tourists? Maybe there's a little web cam somewhere, linked to an address that only the locals know...

I mentioned the rock fall hazard, didn't I? Here's a picture of what was lying on the street at various locations:

Fortunately, this was where the road was wide and straight again. Something like this in the one-lane parts of the road, with nowhere to turn around, could have caused some serious problems.

The coast line was quite dramatic, so here are a few more pictures:

Close to the tip of the island, the road got bigger and more boring, with lots of other cars on the road. we stopped in Lahaina for breakfast on the beach, and then made it back home and finally to Sprecks. 

The sailing was close to perfect. I was on a 5.0, just powered at first and fully powered at the end of the session. We met with our friend Scott and took some pictures and videos - here are two pictures:

That's me in the picture above. Not sure if it was I or the board who decided to take off there; in either case, I need to work on getting the back leg up and sheeting in some more.
In the picture below are Nina on the right and Scott on the left:

Today, my daughter and I went to an arcade for some fun, and later drove out to Sprecks to meet Nina and Scott. Arriving at Sprecks at close to 4 pm, I had to pick a bad parking spot, and we needed plenty of helping hands to push the van to get it back out later. Fortunately, the windsurfers at Sprecks all seem nice and eager to help, so we eventually made it out again. My thanks to all the helpers!

In between, I took the 4.5 that Nina had rigged for a spin, together with my 93 l Angulo (no way Nina would let me touch her custom!). Just about then, the wind had picked up a lot, and I was overpowered on the 4.5. I had been to lazy to take my usual 30 in harness lines of my boom, and just slapped 28 in lines on. To cut even more time, I went barefoot, instead of in booties as usual. These two changes were just too much, things felt uncomfortably out of control. At some point, I lost the rear footstrap in the air, and came down on the board with my ankle for a nice scrape. After going back to get the booties and move the boom lower, things got better, and I finally had a few dry (if ugly) jibes. Speed was slower than yesterday, though, even though the wind was stronger. The wind direction was a bit different, though (more easterly today), and there were no breaking waves to create nice ramps and flat water for speed runs. Looking at the GPS data at home, I discovered that Nina had beaten me in the 2 and 10 second top speeds. I think this is a first, usually I am about 3 mph faster. Her new Angulo custom board sure is fast!

With my daughter returning home today, the vacation part of our trip will come to an end. We'll have to work more now, but we should get an hour or two of sailing in most days. It will mostly be at Kanaha, though - no more late trips to Sprecks for me!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lazy beach day

With a bad wind forecast for the day and just a few days left before my daughter has to leave, we decided to go boogie boarding today. After renting boards for $6/day at the Maui Windsurf Company, we followed the suggestion of the store owner and drove to a little beach in Wailea.

The beach was very lovely, the waves were ok for some little rides, just enough to keep it interesting for a while. Here are a few pictures:

As you can see on the last picture, it was pretty windy; the airport sensors showed averages above 20 for the entire afternoon. I would not have minded going windsurfing, but foolishly, I let the girls pick a restaurant right next to a little shopping mall for lunch. After lunch and mandatory ice cream, there was some extended shopping that had to be done (or so I was told). By the time we were back in Kahului, it was late afternoon - just about the time that the wind often drops. So no windsurfing today - but there should be plenty of wind again tomorrow. We'll probably do some driving around the beautiful island in the morning, but the afternoon is reserved for windsurfing! That said, I still find it amazing that not sailing the whole day even though it was windy, warm, and sunny does not bug me much...

Maui Rules!

We had a great short windsurf session yesterday. Nina sailed on her new custom board for the first time, and loved it even more than the original it was based on; the small tweaks Mark made to adjust the board to her definitely worked. She was overpowered on 4.5, but did not mind. I was fully powered on 5.3 / 93 l. Nina's 4.5 would have been big enough for me, but it sure is nice to be powered. We ended up sailing during the windiest hour of the day, with meter averages around 25, gusts of 30.

The session was short because we squeezed it in between quite a few other things: work early in the morning, an aquarium visit, and a sunset drive to the Haleakala crater (up 10,000 feet, or 3 km - that would count like a decent mountain in the Alps, too). Both the aquarium visit and the crater drive are things you should definitely try to squeeze into a Maui vacation. The coolest thing in the aquarium is a underwater tunnel where you can stand under huge rays and sharks swimming right above and next to you - close enough to scare a few kids :)

Here are just a few pictures from the day:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Light wind on Maui

Well, it happens on Maui, too: we had light wind today, where my "big" gear (a 5.7 m sail and 93 l FSW board) was not big enough to get me planing consistently. At first, the wind meter readings showed averages of 17, gusts of 20, and I was planing maybe 2/3 of the time. Nina rigged a 5.0, but the wind was too low to test her new custom, so she took the Goya One 77. She planed a bit more than I did, but had to work hard for it. Then, the wind dropped off more, and I practiced schlogging a sinker again (although, I have to admit, the 93 l board is starting to feel bigger).

Today, the only guys who were planing most of the time were the slalom racers, who used race sails in the 6-7 m range. For the next 2 days, the computer models predict just a tad more wind; unless the wind meter readings look better than today, we may not go sailing. After all, there are still a few other fun things we can do before my daughter has to fly back home in a few days.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dolphins, sunset sail, and a new board

Windsurfing has taken the back seat the last few days. One reason was that we had to start working; the other one was that we wanted to get some sightseeing in before my daughter has to fly back next week.

The windsurfing we did was at Sprecks. I had one great day and a so-so day; Nina had a so-so day and a great day. The so-so days were caused by being underpowered. On the second day, where Nina had a lot of fun, she was on a 4.2, and I was on a 4.5. Usually, I'd be on at least a 5.0 or 5.5 when she is on 4.2, and indeed, I had started the day on a 5.0. However, I took the sail out in the windiest 30 minutes of the day, and then decided to go down to 4.5. Still, the day had some memorable moments, including a few decent wave rides, and the fall where my back foot was ripped out of the foot strap by a rogue wave, leading to a perfect split wipeout with lots of water up the nose. There also was the mandatory waterstart in light wind just before the impact zone, followed by schlogging into the waves - enough to keep a flat water sailor like me on the toes.

On Thursday, we went on a half-day snorkeling trip on a small (~15 persons) raft. We had a substantial amount of south swell, and it was raining for half of the trip, so we all got quite cold, despite renting wet suit vests. Waves were breaking on Lanai, making snorkeling there impossible, so we went to a sanctuary near the western tip of Maui. Snorkeling was nice, with plenty of interesting fish and nice corals. We also saw several sea turtles while snorkeling, cool. I took some pictures and movies with a wrist-mounted GoPro, but they turned out a bit disappointing. But on the way back, when we encountered a large group of spinner dolphins, I got some nice underwater pictures of the dolphins by leaning over the side of the raft. Here are a few:

Yesterday morning, we picked up Nina's new custom board from Mark Angulo:
Nina did not get a chance to try it yesterday, because we had planned a sunset sailing trip out of Lahaina. The trip was great - perfect weather, nice wind, great crew. Here are a few pictures:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


We're in Maui for just a week, and we're already spoiled. We went sailing in Kanaha today to meet up with our friend Scott, who is on Maui for 2 weeks. The wind was light, so I finally rigged my 5.7; Nina went out on a 4.5. During the first 30 minutes or so, I was planing only about half of the time, until the wind picked up a tad. After planing consistently for a few runs, I mounted the GoPro camera with the Clew-View attachment to take some video. Not much action here, but the scenery is nice:

Thirty minutes later, the wind dropped off again so that I was going slow most of the time - things turned from fun to work, and I did not like it. Back home, that would have been an average to good day, except that both sail and board would have been bigger; but here, I found myself being a bit unhappy. Spoiled rotten already! Fortunately, the wind forecast for the entire next week looks good, with computer models predicting 20 mph winds. With the added thermal & venturi effects, actual winds will probably be in the mid-20s or higher (for our German non-windsurfing reader(s), that's 6-7 Beaufort or "Windstärke"). It will be nice getting some practice on 4 m sails and sub-80 l boards :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dialed in

Yesterday, the wind was a bit light for Maui standards: Nina was on a 4.5 / 77l FSW board, I was on a 5.0 / 93 l FSW board. Lots of fun - after a week here, I finally felt fully dialed in (I'm sure it helped that the wind was on the lighter side). Had some nice chop hops, worked on the sail-first jibe, and went for long distance speed so that we could post our first session on the GPS team challenge.

On most of my outside jibes, I had problems timing the swell and my turns. More often than not, I sailed uphill while going downwind, and lost all speed. However, I did get lucky with the timing on one wave, planing fully through with a minimum speed of 11 knots - a new personal best for non-flat water. I also sailed about 25% more distance (48 km) than ever before in Maui. Here are the GPS tracks:

Nina first had some problems slipping on the old Goya during jibes, and had to go back in to get her booties. Then, she saw some big bloody bait out in the ocean, and decided to stay inside the reef  until all of her jibes were dry. At times, she was a bit overpowered on her 4.5. Her speed results for the day were pretty good, since she went upwind on her way out, and then had to go downwind when coming back in.

Today looks like another light wind day, perhaps even lighter than yesterday. Maybe I finally get to try the 5.7 m sail :) We'll go down to Kanaha, anyway, to meet our friend Scott, who just arrived yesterday from Boston.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Zip lines, gear, and races

Yesterday was a day to try something other than surfing - ziplining. We first stopped at the Lavender Farm, here are some pictures:

Next stop was ziplining, a first for all three of us. Lots of fun - here's a video from a helmet-mounted GoPro Hero HD:
Afterwards, we started to drive up to to the crater, but got fooled by the rental car: going uphill made the car think the gas tank was almost empty. Since there was no gas station anywhere close, we played it safe and turned around. By the time we finally found a gas station, everyone was to tired to turn around once more for the long drive up. Well, we have a few more days...

For today, we had planned to watch the Maui Race Series, and to get a board Nina can use until she gets here custom. I had played with the idea of entering the race, but after having a bit a hard time with dry jibes here, and seeing the racers train on full (and usually relatively new) slalom gear, I decided that playing an obstacle would not be much fun. Instead, we watched the races for a while from the beach. Without a doubt, every single one of the racers sails better than I do, so I still have a lot to learn...

We had picked up two older Goya boards at the local store to try out, a FSW 77 and a custom wave 75. At the beach, we added a Tabou Da Curve 79l to the test quiver. Nina went out first on a 5.0, and liked both the Tabou and the Goya 77. The wind was steadily picking up, and she was starting to feel a bit overpowered, so I took the same gear out for a ride. The Goya One 77 was ridiculously easy to sail. I made my first jibe dry, something that's rare in chop or when I'm on a new board. The Tabou was almost as easy, but a bit more fun. The only board I did not care for was the Goya custom - its actual volume seems closer to 70 l than to 75, and the rocker curve is too dramatic in front, which made getting on a plane much harder. Note that wind meter reading during this time were about 20-25 mph; on flat water, I'd be on a 118 l board and 7.0 sail under these conditions. Quite amazing that I was able to plane easily on 2 of the 3 sub-80 liter boards with a 5.0 sail. There's something about the wind here that's different - perhaps the meters read low, because they are close to shore?

We decided to get the Goya FSW 77 and the Tabou for a total of $400. That's about what we typically pay to rent windsurf gear for a week, so it's a really good deal. We hope to take the Tabou home with us, but the Goya is pretty beat up already, so it will be the board for trying loops and other tricks were the chances of damaging the board are increased. The fact that it is so ridiculously easy to sail will certainly help trying new things. Now we only need wind - but so far, we have had 5.0 or better conditions every day we wanted to sail :) 

This trip has already changed a few things in our windsurfing. Now, my big board is 93 l, and my small board will be 77-79 l. That will be the size of Nina's big board, and her small board will be 71 l. My big sail will be 5.7; I doubt that Nina will use anything bigger than 5.0 here. For someone used to rigging 8.5 meter cambered sails in the summer to get planing, that's quite a change. But at home, where 2 "windy" days a week make it a windy week in the summer, I could never imagine to stop sailing after just a few short runs while the wind was still blowing. Here, there's always a windy tomorrow.

Finally, a few more pictures from the beach today: