Sunday, December 29, 2013

Triple Jinx

I jinxed Martin three times yesterday. He ended up with 10 minutes of good wind, instead of 3 hours if he had just ignored me. I had explained it all in much detail ... but the jinxing still seems to be going on, and I lost everything I had written. So if you want to know, you'll have to ask me. But a GoPro video apparently survived:

With just a few barely planing runs, the movie may give a wrong impression about Martin, so here's another one with a couple of tricks he did during the Cape Cod ABK camp last September:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Must work on timing

Timing is important for windsurfers. Good freestylers work on timing in their tricks. Bad timing gives good crashes. I work about 1000-fold slower: I try to time the wind. Bad timing leads to short sessions and good schlogging. I am good at bad timing.

The forecast for today predicted good wind at 10 am, then a significant drop at 1 pm. At 10 am, the wind was good. 10 minutes later, it dropped a bit. Hardie called. I told him that I thought the wind would drop more, and that I did not want to go. So what if it was low tide, and the wind direction (SSE) was great for West Dennis?

Hardie is smarter than I am. He decided to ignore me and go. He called me up and told me so. So I had to go to. The wind was still around when I arrived at WD around 11 am. It actually was pretty strong - averages around 23. Nice!

Of course, this could not last, so I rigged the 6.5, Hardie his 6.3. It did not last. But instead of looking at the water to see that the wind had gone down, I remembered that it had been good 10 minutes earlier, and took my 96 l wave board out. Too small. Back in, get the 110 l freestyle board. Then, 40 minutes of planing on flat water, with only minimal pumping and a few small waits. Nice. Today is still officially Christmas in Germany. I like Christmas windsurfing.

More and more kiters showed up. They don't need much wind, so the wind went down a bit, and we ended our short session.

Had I believed the forecast, I could have had 3 hours of nice wind. The same was true for perhaps 3 out of 4 other windy days recently. But today, perhaps it was good that I arrived late - my back is still bothering me a bit after longer sessions. Maybe my back has fallen in love with the jacuzzi and wants to see it every day. Who am I to argue? But an earlier start would also have meant sailing and de-rigging while it was dry, instead of in light rain. So yes, I should work on my timing.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Almost 3 days

The wind forecast: 28 mph at 10, balmy 52ºF rising.

The smart plan: sail early, before the front is crosses overhead at 1 pm.

The meter readings for Kalmus:

Apparently, I needed my entire smartness to put both boots and the wetsuit in the car. Arriving at Kalmus, we saw Greg going out on a 4.7. Hardie and I started with a nice long walk along  the beach. We wanted to check how much time we'd have to spot the stone wall in the dense fog. Result: at least 3 seconds - plenty of time! Then, we looked at the merits of sailing a new spot (for Hardie) in dense fog with very limited visibility, and a ferry lane close by. Did not find any. Hardie is hardie-core, but not stupid. He bailed. But by then, Martin had arrived. More checking and walking.

Finally, we rigged. Meter readings were still around 30. By the time we hit the water, they had dropped to 26. 5 minutes later, they had dropped to 15. Our 4.7 and 5.5 meter sails and 96-99 l boards were not cutting it anymore. Visibility was perhaps 50 meters, so who knew where we were sailing? We did not. But we have fast reactions times. Turned around as soon as we saw the stone wall. Well done!

Then, a multiple choice question:
  1. Try to schlog upwind with small gear in big chop and little wind, or
  2. Carry the gear back.
We picked #2. Yes, #2. At least it was exercise.

It probably was my fault. I think the front was supposed to stay far away, which would have given us wind all day. But I had to give Martin the boom cam. Every time I give someone else one of my electronic gadgets, something bad happens. Usually, that involves the wind going away. Today, I think the front wanted to check out what Martin had at the end of his boom, and came by to check. That was the end of the wind.

But I am not complaining - at least I got wet. Nicely so, when I got stuffed head over heals into the water. But it was all good - I was getting hot, anyway. And after 10 minutes of windsurfing, 20 minutes of carrying gear, and 30 minutes of rigging and de-rigging, we had earned our beers. Off to the BBC!

Martin was thirsty. The bartender was very attentive. When Marty smiled at the thought of a 3rd beer, it materialized in front of him the moment he looked away. It was good beer - Cape Cod Weizenbock. It would have been a sin to send it back! Martin had to drink it. So what it the alcohol content is 7.8%? That's one of the reasons it was so good!

After that, I could not let Martin drive all the way home through the fog. We decided to put him into the jacuzzi the leach the alcohol out of his pores. It was a very slow process, but Martin was brave, despite the 103ºF hot water. I had to sit outside a few times to cool down, but he hung in there. After a couple of hours, I gave up.

We went inside and looked at movies from the last ABK camp in Hyannis to see why Marty can't loop.  In my case, the answer is easy: lack of cojones and trying. Not so for Martin - he tried, and tried, and tried. In the movie, his takeoff is perfect: the board vertical, the sail luffed and to windward, then turning downwind. But comparing stills with Josh Angulo loop pictures revealed what was missing: getting the body over the boom by pushing down with the front arm. Even if that does not lead to completed loops, at least the crashes are much nicer, a soft float under the sail. Although if Martin really pushes himself up and the nose down, I think he'll have to be more concerned about over-rotating. Especially if the is 6 or 8 feet above the water, as he often is.

Doing loop analysis with me will sober anyone up. Just ask Andy or Brendon! So Martin was finally ready to drive home. He only turned the GoPro on for one run, but of course, he showed a couple of nice chop hops and a sweet duck jibe in that minute. Here's a picture of one of the hops - you can't really tell how high off the water he is because it's too foggy:
Some might say the camera angle is less than perfect, but I think Martin wanted to show off his Skate.

Funny - not much sailing today, but still a great windsurfing day. Apparently, drinking beer and spending hours in the jacuzzi talking about windsurfing counts.


Today was the third day I sailed this week - not bad for mid-December. Yesterday was almost as warm, but not as windy, which meant the wind decoupled everywhere on the south side of Cape Cod. Hardie and I sailed in Skaket, where SW winds are side-shore, and side-off a bit upwind. I got a bunch of planing runs on my 7.0; Hardie planed a bit on his 6.3 on his WindSUP first, and later on his FSW board when the wind picked up. Warm and sunny, a nice day.

But the winner of the week was a short session last Thursday at the Kennedy Slicks. That also was a warm day; after a few days with below-freezing temps and snow, the warmup to 42ºF felt great. Once again it was 7.0 time, but the wind picked up for a while to let me sail my 90 l slalom board:
Nice and flat! I love slicks. Even when the wind drops..
Three days. Three spots. Three very different sets of conditions. Windsurfing on Cape Cod does not get boring. And for those of you who wonder: I was warm or hot the entire time, all three days. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The amazing earth wind map

Want to see where the wind is? Check the interactive earth wind map! Rotate the earth (didn't you always want to do that?), zoom in, check the big picture! Here's what the US East Coast from Cape Hatteras to Canada look right now:
SE winds now, NW winds tomorrow, SW winds in two days. Maybe, just maybe, I'll understand how the wind shifts a bit better after checking the earth wind map every few hours..

Here's a short movie that shows rotating and zooming in:

Many thanks to nw30 for posting the link to the earth wind map on the iWindsurf forum.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Not today

Forecast: 30 mph SW winds. Air temperatures: near 50ºF (10ºC). Very tempting - that's a lot warmer than the near-freezing temperature we had for the last few sessions.

Packed the van (this time with my own wetsuit!), drove 30 minutes to check out a new spot. This is what I saw:
Dense fog. Record high tide. Sloppy and choppy little waves. Not much wind.

No, thank you. Not today.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Funny windsurf porn

Porn movies and windsurf movies face the same problem: the audience wants to see the action, but the film makers have to present some kind of story around it. I have to admit that a windsurf movie without a good story leaves me slightly unsatisfied. Right now, though, there is a big grin on my face - I just watched a windsurf movie that's more story than action. Yes, the story is cheesy, even more so since the subtitles are a less-than-perfect translation. But funny it is! If you have 40 minutes to spare, grab a beer and prepare to laugh.

While we are talking about wet dreams - here is what ABK's Brendon has to say about this:

Thanks to bericw for posting the links on the iWindsurf forum.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hardie at Hardings

Hardings Beach today

Addicted I am. Not a problem as long as I get my wind fix a couple of times every week. This year has been good - 132 sessions so far.

But it's been 13 days since my last session. Too much! So when Hardie ask about going to Hardings today, it was a no-brainer. Who cares about the little bit of snow on the ground? Temperatures were above freezing! And it was sunny. The wind scared us for a few minutes when it dropped down to 15 just when we talked on the phone. But it recovered 10 minutes later. So grab a tube suit, jump into the van, and drive to Chatham.

Good to see Hardie again after a long time. He'll be here for 2 months! Nice to have someone to sail with in the winter. I have yet to get a "no" from Hardie if it's windy. He'll do 2 sessions at different spots on Cape Cod in the middle of winter just for fun.

We chat briefly, but we know the wind can be fickle, so we rig quickly - 5.8 and 6.5. As I try to put on my suit, I discover what I meant with "no-brainer": I brought Nina's Ianovated suit instead of mine. She is a lot smaller than I am. Perhaps I could manage to squeeze into her suit, but it's highly unlikely that I would be able to move without busting some seams. My suits are a 90 minute round-trip drive away, and days are short. Bummer! I slip into a depressive phase. I thought my hair was turning grey, but apparently, it is turning blonde.

I stick around a bit and take a few pictures of Hardie:
Hardie going out alone

Taking off
Yes, that's snow on the beach
It was warm enough to sail, but too cold to stand around on the beach and take pictures for too long, so I headed back home. When I got home, wind meter readings in Kalmus were around 20 mph, so I grabbed my suit and went for a session. I could not hear much in my big hood; not feel much in by fat winter boots and mitts; and not see much, since the wind was coming from the west, where the sun was going down. The bits I saw did not indicate a whole lot of wind, but I was planing the whole time. At times, the sail felt too big - had I rigged it wrong? I went to switch to a smaller board, but the wind used my brief absence to drop to non-planing levels.

When I got home and looked at the wind meter readings, things became a bit clearer. The graphs showed a brief spike with 27 mph averages and 31 mph gusts - a bit too much for my beloved 6.5 m  sail. Then it dropped to 14 in less than an hour. Funny how you miss things when you don't see, hear, or feel much!

So perhaps this was not the greatest day, but every day of sailing is a great day of sailing. Withdrawal symptoms are gone, and so are any remnants of hesitation to sail in 33ºF air temperatures - I was warm or hot the entire time. Maybe it was just all the blood rushing to my head for feeling so stupid...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks, Iain

It's Thanksgiving, and there are many people and things that I am thankful about. But I'll dedicate this to the man who made the picture above possible: Iain Smith, the inventor of the Ianovated wetsuit.

That's me in the picture above, getting ready to windsurf in Wellfleet Harbor earlier today. It was a lovely and sunny day, but air temperatures had dropped from mid-50s yesterday to 34ºF (1ºC) today. Wind meter readings were around 30 mph WNW - too good to not go windsurfing! Even last year, I probably would have stayed at home. Yes, I have sailed in similar temperatures before, but it's usually a gradual process - as it gets later in the year, we slowly get used to the lower temperatures.

Enter Iain. He is a dedicated British windsurfer who did not want to stop sailing in the winter, when the best winds come. Like many of us, Iain experimented with all kinds of gloves and mittens to keep his hands warm. He experienced the usual trade-offs: if gloves are warm enough to keep your hands comfortable, they will make your forearms very tired very quickly, cutting sessions short. But unlike most other cold-weather windsurfers, Iain has a "cold weather handicap" - Raynaud's disease. Wikipedia describes this as "excessively reduced blood flow in response to cold" - in other words, your hands get much colder, much faster.

But Iain did not give up. He experimented until he found a solution that works: a system to blow warm air onto your hands while you are windsurfing. In hindsight, it seems simple enough: blow into tubes through a snorkel mouthpiece; run the tubes through the inside of the suit to keep the air warm; and finally have the tubes emerge into mittens. After proving the concept, Iain then formed a company to manufacture and market the suit.

As many great inventions, the suit was met with a lot of skepticism and ridicule. On every windsurf forum where Iain posted about the suit, the vast majority of responses explained in lots of detail why such a system could never ever work (I have seen such posts on British, German, Polish, and US forums). But on each forum, there would also be a few windsurfers who tried it out, and reported back that the "tube suit" worked not just well, but amazingly well. I got one of the Ianovated suits last winter, and it kept amazing me  for many sessions in a row, even after I knew that it worked well. My lovely wife, who had no intentions of buying a new wetsuit, tried the Ianovated suit once, and bought it right away. We sailed through the winter using open-palm mitts, even when the water temperature was close to freezing (we did, however, only sailed on days where the air temperature was above, or at least close to, the freezing point).

Many of my windsurfing friends have told me that they stop sailing because their hands get too cold. So after trying and loving the Ianovated suit, I hoped that I might be able to get some of my friends to try it, and also enjoy some of the best windsurfing of the year - cold weather windsurfing. Yesterday, I was very happy to see two friends try their new Ianovated suits for the first time. Not surprisingly, they (a) were surprised how well the hand warming system works, and (b) loved the suit.  Today, my suit gave me the confidence to go out after a 22-degree temperature drop in 24 hours. As expected, it kept me nice and warm the entire time, and I had a blast windsurfing on a beautiful sunny, if chilly, day. So once again: thank you, Iain!

Below are a couple of pictures that my lovely wife took, and a short video from one of the runs today.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Plenty of wind

We got plenty of wind today - averages up to 42 mph, with gusts just below 50. We also got a lot of rain, but the wind was too good to not go windsurfing. After a few days with temperatures below freezing, today was outright warm, with air temperatures around 55ºF (13ºC).

With winds this strong, my first thought is to go for speed. The timing and wind direction were not quite right for Sandy Point, so I thought - why not try speedsurfing on Bass River, just behind West Dennis? Well, the GPS tracks show that this did not quite work out as planned:
The hoped-for speed track is the top right of the image. Dean, who started sailing just as we arrived, quickly reported that the wind there was way too gusty - "0 to 50 mph in a couple of seconds". That seemed hard to believe - we had checked out the spot the day before, and the obstructions (some small trees and shrubs) had seemed too far away to have a big effect. So I rigged my 5.0 m speed sail, grabbed my 90 l slalom board, and went to confirm Dean's findings. Bummer- he was right! Close to shore, were we had hoped to sail, the water was flat, but gusts were extreme. I never saw Dean fight for control so hard - and we are talking about a guy who'll sail a 6.2 m slalom sail in 30+ mph winds and big chop for hours. He's a much better slalom sailor than I am, so you can imagine how far away I was from any kind of control. Here's a picture that illustrates this:
Note that I was on perfectly flat water, simply trying to go straight - but the board is out of the water as if I was going for a new school freestyle trick. It was just a big gust hitting me...

I quickly decided that this was not a speed day for me, and walked back to rig a smaller sail and get my "comfort" board, the 3S 96. That took a while, but I eventually made it out and sailed in front of the parking lot, where Jerry was having a blast, throwing plenty duck jibes and speed loops. He inspired Nina to also go for duck jibes in the 40 mph winds - and she got at least one after just a few tries.

I had rigged down to a 4.5 m wave sail, which turned out to be a bit too big for my taste. Funny, though - Jerry, who weight about 40 pounds less than I do, was perfectly fine on a 4.2 the entire time! I added some downhaul, which made life a bit easier, but the real fun started when Nina called it a day, and I got to use the 3.7 she had rigged. Full power on 3.7 - that's something I see maybe twice a year!

Our friend Jonathen had picked today as his first day of cold weather windsurfing. While the air felt warm to us, it probably was 10 degrees warmer when he sailed the last time, several weeks ago. The water had definitely cooled off; the Nantucket sound buoy still gave readings around 45ºF, but it felt a few degrees colder than that. But Jon did not want to miss a 40 mph day, and he had his new Ianovated suit to try! So out he went, in what probably was the strongest wind, and definitely the coldest water temperature, he has ever windsurfed on. When he tried the tubes to warm his hands, a look of amazement came onto his face - "It really works". Nevertheless, the first few falls into the cold water came a bit as a shock to him. His session ended up being on the short side - but he stayed perfectly warm the entire time. He even sat around for quite a while in his suit to chat with Nina at the end of his session.

Just as everyone was getting ready to call it a day, Gary pulled into the parking lot. I decided to keep him company on the water for a while, and switched harness lines while he rigged. That involved de-rigging my 4.5 m sail, and taking two booms apart, so it kept me busy for a while. By the time we both were ready, the wind had dropped, and the 3.7s ended up a bit too small, so I called it a day after a few runs. Unlike Jonathen, Gary had sailed in cold weather a number of times before; but just like Jonathen, this was the first time he used an Ianovated suit. And just like Jon, he was amazed to discover how well the tubes work for warming your hands. It is pretty amusing to see these expressions of amazement. Even if have heard great things about the tube suit, and your mind believes that it will work, it is still astonishing when you feel it the first time. For me, this astonishment lasted for an entire winter season... but I am a slow learner :-)

In the end, it was a great day to be windsurfing, even though my hopes for a new speed strip did not pan out. It was nice to see a sizable group of windsurfers on the water on a rainy day at the end of November. I love sailing with windsurfers that sail better than I do, and today, there were two guys and one gal out there in this category. I also love that in our group of 6 windsurfers, a full two-thirds showed up in Ianovated suits. There's a lot more fun cold weather windsurfing ahead of us!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Failure to stay straight

My life used to be easy. When I windsurfed, I mowed the lawn: back and forth, back and forth, in nice straight lines. Turns were added only out of necessity - the beer is waiting where I started, so we must turn to get back. Many year later, Andy Brandt showed me that turns can be a lot of fun, but that really did not change much. My favorite thing to do is still to go in straight lines for miles. Adding a GPS and calling myself a "speedsurfer" is merely obfuscation, and anyone who looked at my top speeds will discover.

Here's what I am talking about:

Somewhere in the movie, you may notice Nina. She fully supports my lawn mowing habit. ABK's Brendon has explained to me why we make a great team: lawns need to be mowed and watered. Nina likes to try new freestyle tricks, which takes care of the watering, so that I can concentrate on the mowing.

But recently, I have often been confused on the water. I expect water to either be perfectly flat, so that I can mow faster, or full of irregular spaced bumps (often called "chop" or "voodoo chop"). Chop slows you down, but it sailing in chop for 2 hours is a great cure for constipation, so chop is good. When I can't sail a straight line through it anymore, I simply jump a bit. But I am German, and there have to be rules. Rule number 1 in jumping is that I only jump starboard, when my right had is closer to the mast. I really tried to stick to this rule when we went sailing in Cape Cod Bay last Saturday, but I failed:

That was just the beginning. At my home spot, Kalmus Beach in Hyannis, I have to turn around after sailing 500 meters, or face the dreaded ferry line. Even when crossing the ferry line, runs are rarely longer than a kilometer (or half a mile for my metrically challenged readers), mostly because the water ends and my boards are not suited for sailing on the beach. But where we launched in Brewster, you can sail for miles and miles without having to turn around. It's perfectly safe, too, since you're always within half a mile or so from shore. So I went in nice straight lines for a mile or two, until I remembered that I should turn around and check on Nina.

Well, that was the plan, at least. But when I sailed past the end of the long shallow region, the chop suddenly started to organize, slowly turning into swell and then into something that looked like waves to my untrained eye. This upset me - I am a lawn mower sailor, not a wave sailor! Turning around early would have cut the runs short, but simply sailing in straight lines might have led to more against-the-rules port jumps. Since speed is your friend (or at least mine), I tried to accelerate by going down the bigger waves - but after a couple of seconds, I'd end up going up the back of the wave in front of me, slowing down again. So I turned back - only to see the next wave forming behind me! I went down again, and repeated this game a few times until I finally reached sections where order disintegrated into unruly chop. Familiar territory again! But very quickly, weird thoughts crept into my mind, like "that was fun not going straight all the time!". Here is a short movie from this period:

Having been raised as a proper lawn-mowing catholic boy, I had my doubts about not going straight all the time, but it was kind off fun - especially when I went up one wave and turned just a bit too late at the top, getting a little bit of air while turning:

If you stop the movie just after I landed, you will notice a look of great confusion on my face - what just happened? A second or two later, you can hear what I thought about it if you have the sound turned on..

This was almost too much fun. Sure, we had gotten up before 7 am on a Saturday to be at the beach early, so that we would get the strongest winds and the best water levels. Sure it was sunny, and the water was nice and clear. But air temperatures were in the low 40s, and water temperatures not much higher - sure we were not supposed to have this much fun? I went to check with Nina. She had stayed out of the deep water the entire time, being perfectly happy that she was able to stand every single time when she fell. She had initially been overpowered on her 4.5 m sail, but the wind dropped just a little to make the sail a perfect choice, so she was having a blast. We had been on the water for almost 2 hours by then. But the wind seemed to be dropping a bit, and I really wanted to get home to see my daughter, who was coming for a rare visit, so we decided to stop soon.

I have to apologize to my regular readers, who are probably very disappointed by all these not-so-straight videos without any of the expected freestyle or speed action - but I just have to show one more video. As I was sailing in, I was able to sail much closer to shore than before, since the water level had risen 2 or 3 feet while we were sailing. Check out the GPS tracks:
The last two runs were the runs towards the lower right. This was in the shallow area after a deeper shipping lane. With the wind coming from NW (top right), this created a water surface that was just about perfect: lots of knee-to hip-high waves to play with that ramped up nicely, but did not really break; and perfectly flat water in between. See for yourself:

As much fun as this was, I ended up worrying: have I been infected with the wave virus? Will I follow the path of so many windsurfers before me who decided that flat water is boring, and only sail in waves? Maybe I should not worry too much, because a full-speed jibe on perfectly flat water is still something I dream about all the time. Maybe we will know more in a couple of days, if we indeed get winds in the high 30s, and our plans to explore a new speed venue pan out...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Flat pictures

Yesterday: NW winds near 30 mph. Checked out Skaket, sand blowing, almost high tide, did not look inviting. First Encounter looked easy enough, but had chop instead of the little waves that you might see at low tide. So we went to Indian Neck in Wellfleet for some flat water. Flat water we got, but the wind was very much up and down. Some pictures:
Nina planing in the background
Flat and sunny :-)
Nina saw about a dozen seals; one of them jumped out of the water all the way. On the way back, we stopped at Skaket and Corporation. The wind seemed steadier at Skaket, with 22-27 knots. The wind was about 5 knots lower at  Corporation, but the waves looked nice:
The entire day, we only saw one kiter on the water. Air temperatures were just above 40ºF (5ºC).

The day before had been much warmer, with temperatures close to 60ºF (15ºC). Lots of wind early in the morning, but it came with rain. Drew talked me into sailing after the sun came out. We were at Kalmus around noon; Martin also showed up, but the wind did not look that great, and was predicted to go down. With high tide and strong winds earlier, there was lots of chop, so we drove over to Kennedy Slicks. Indian Neck was pretty flat, but Kennedy Slicks was really flat. Unfortunately, the wind died after a few runs; Drew never got planing. Martin stayed out and practiced light wind freestyle - it was a beautiful warm day, and he'd probably been way too hot if he had not fallen often :-). Here are a few pictures:
Martin on the left, Drew close to shore
That's flat!
Drew almost got going..

Marty water starting in10-12 mph winds
You-know-who going for a duck tack

Even though I am German, I can't really complain about two nice days of windsurfing in a row. So what if the wind was not perfect? We were out playing in the sun! I was perfectly warm both days in my Ianovated suit (the new double-nylon one with a "relief zipper"). The only difference was that I needed a hood on the colder day, wore a neoprene shirt under the suit, and used my open-palm mitts and the heating tubes. With that, I was as warm and comfortable as any day in the summer.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hardings Beach

Sunshine. Lots of white caps. A deserted beach. It must be November!

The forecast had called for wind all day long, but it took almost until noon before the air had warmed up enough to let the wind get down to the surface. Optimistically, I had planned on a morning speed session at the Kennedy Slicks, and an afternoon session at Kalmus. But the wind came more westerly than predicted, and was stronger in Chatham than in Hyannis, so off to Hardings Beach I went. Nina had to take care of some things and could not join me; Martin had to work; and Hardy, who certainly would have joined me if he had been around, is currently not on Cape Cod.

I ended up sailing alone. Not a big deal, since the wind was side-onshore, and air and water temperatures were a bit reasonable; but being alone on the water made me sail a bit more cautiously. Here is a little video from my 90 minute session that shows the conditions:

I was perfectly powered on 5.5, a welcome change from 6.5 or larger that I had to sailed most days this fall so far. The wind was steady all afternoon, with averages near 25 mph - 5 mph more than in Kalmus, which also looked a lot gustier on the wind meter graphs. Here are a few things I love about Hardings:

  • Friendly little waves, perfect for a non-wave sailor like me (although they are good enough to occasionally attract "real" wave sailors like JE & PK).
  • Very safe - safer than Kalmus, since there is no shipping lane with active ferry traffic nearby. A sand beach extends for about a mile from the launch for those who have to practice the "walk of the conquered hero" (renamed from the "walk of shame" by Coach Ned).
  • Long reaches - I like to sail longer on one reach than many windsurfers, and Hardings allows runs of about 2 miles in WSW. 
  • Waves and lanes on the inside, big orderly swell on the outside. Fun to sail in!
The next day, I went to sail Kalmus in 16-18 mph winds on my big slalom board and 8.5 m sail. Also fun, although quite different. But it made me appreciate the absence of ferry traffic in Hardings even more. Again, I was the only one on the water; with relatively light winds, the water was pretty smooth. That is, until the high speed ferry came steaming through. Even 10-15 minutes after the ferry had passed, the water surface anywhere close to the shipping lane could only be characterized as "voodoo chop". 

This time of the year, it is quite common that the forecast predicts much higher winds further out on the Cape. Wind meter reading often confirm that this really happens. Even after correcting for known biases (Hatch Beach reads 3 mph high in most directions; Kalmus reads low in S and SW, Chapin reads low in many directions), beaches in Orleans (Skaket) and Chatham (Hardings) often get 5 mph stronger winds than Hyannis (Kalmus) or Dennis (Chapin). That's especially the case at the beaches with the clearest fetch for the given wind direction - Hardings for W and WSW, and Skaket for W to NW (and possibly even N, but that's just speculation). It's definitely worth driving an extra 20 minutes (relative to Kalmus) on such days! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

30 great minutes

I wanted fall to come. October is good, November is better, December great. I remember many wonderful sessions where the wind blew all day, three days in a row.

Fall came. It's getting colder. Some friends stopped sailing on the colder days, and talk about stopping for the season soon. We should get our first snow tonight or tomorrow. Days are short - it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.

But it seems nobody told the wind. Maybe the wind is exhausted, after blowing a lot during the summer. It has lost its stamina - on a good day, we may get a few hours of wind before it drops. Then nothing the next day. Or maybe the wind has developed a sun allergy - it's windy a lot at night. When we see wind during the day, it usually rains.

I have perfected mistiming the wind. It started on November 1st, when I missed most of the wonderful warm 35 mph winds. After that, I had three more similar sessions. Twice, the forecast was fantastic for the entire day, but the wind got tired after an hour or two. Of course, I started sailing as soon as the wind got tired. All that schlogging made me tired, too. The third time, the wind picked up earlier and faster than predicted. I went from underpowered on my 6.5 m sailed to fighting for control in overpowered conditions. With less than an hour left in the day, and Nina reading in the van instead of sailing, I did not rig down, but called it at day. Well, at least I got some planing that day. Yesterday was a different story...

But windsurfers must be optimists. So when the forecast predicted 16 mph WSW at 4 pm this afternoon, I kept my eyes on the wind meter readings. On sunny days, we often get a few miles more than forecast, so I kept dreaming of 20. At 3:10 pm, the meter readings hit 17 mph, gusting to 20. A bit more than an hour of daylight left - was it worth going? Sure it was!

I made it onto the water at 4:15. The wind had picked up a bit, at times gusting into high 20s. In the happy zone between powered and slightly overpowered, I had 30 minutes of fun as the sun went down. I had the water all to myself. No other windsurfers of kiters to create chop - the little wind swell was all mine to play with. One half hour of bliss. It's great to live on the Cape!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Warm in the cold

Overcast skies. Persistent drizzle. Temperatures in the low 40s (7ºC). I think fall has arrived!

In fall, we windsurf a lot. It was Sunday today, and windy, so we windsurfed. Driving to Duxbury through the rain and cold, I wondered if staying in front of the fireplace might not have been a better idea. I should have had more faith!

Duxbury looked good - not super-windy, but meter readings were around 25. Nina sailed her 4.5 in her semi-dry, no gloves, no hood. I wanted to be warm, so I used my tube suit (with the tubes), open palm mitts, and my new Gath visor helmet. Almost overkill - the water was still warm. So was I. Nina had to take a break after a few minutes to warm up her hands. I just blew through the tubes a few times. I like toasty hands a lot.

Sailing was interesting. Lots of kiters were in the bay, which is unusual. One of them explained to me that it was due to the very high tide - they sailed straight through the marsh, which apparently is a lot of fun. Not a thing to do on a windsurfer, though, so we stayed on the open water.

We had a nice obstacle course laid out for us. The high tide flushed out the dead reeds. Single stalks, up to 2-3 feet long, were not a big issue for our weed fins - unless you collected them before you had picked up speed. But apparently, dead reeds love company, and often form what I call "reed islands" that can be 6-8 feet across. Running into one of those at speed will slow you down big time, even with weed fins. I tried, just to confirm my suspicion. Confirmed. I was not going really fast, though, so no catapult.

Going around the reed islands was definitely a better idea. With the clouds and light drizzle, you'd typically have about 2 seconds from first seeing to hitting them, unless you changed course quickly. Fun. Maybe too much fun - I went back to the van and got my 21 cm MUF Delta fin. With a 55 degree rake angle and shallow depth, this fin sheds just about anything. Sailing was a lot more relaxed afterwards. Hitting a reed island would still cause a slowdown, but without any catapult danger.

The van still had all the small gear that we had put in recently for 35+ mph winds, so I sailed my 90 l slalom board - the big board stayed at home. So when the wind dropped a bit, I had a hard time to get planing. I did not really like schlogging the small board, so I kept the session short - barely longer than an hour. By then, the tide had started to go down, and the kite surfers went over to the ocean side.

So it was just a short session in light rain - but it was totally worth it. It reminded me that it is easy to stay perfectly comfortable and warm even when it gets colder outside and when the sun does not shine. Some of my windsurfing friends have started to get picky about the days they sail, sticking to the warmer days only. They don't have the right suits! I can't wait until Jon finally gets a few days off again so he can try his Ianovated suit. I really want to see the amazement in his face!

Tomorrow, I should get my second Ianovated suit. This one will be double nylon, and have a pee zipper - what a wonderful invention for older guys who like long windsurfing sessions! Since I'll have two Ianovated suits then, I'll be glad to let anyone try one of them. You just have to let me know, and come sail somewhere on Cape Cod!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Barn Good Island

Here a few things that I had heard and read recently:
  • "We need a good speed spot for south winds!"
  • "Sandy Point is one of the best speed spots in the world!"
  • "... sailed just downwind of Sandy Point. Man that was flat and fast"
  • "I always wanted to sail Sandy Point"
  • "South winds 35 mph, gusting to 60 mph"
No, these were not voices in my head - they were conversations with windsurfer friends, and things I picked up on The astute reader will realize that we are talking about two different Sandy Points here - the famous one in Australia, where Australian speedsurfers regularly break 45 knots; and the other one at the Connecticut-Rhode Island border, a 2 hour drive from Boston and Cape Cod. Here is a picture of our Sandy Point that I found on Google:
One big sandbar, perfect for speed! We just had to go check it out. I got so excited several days before that I could hardly sleep...

When the big wind day came, we were in the van at 9 am. The last forecast I had looked at predicted wind the whole day, with just a minor drop in the afternoon. The drive in our high roof van was quite interesting - the 40+ mph gusts were constantly trying to move the van off the lane. Nina slept for most of the trip, but I sure was wide awake!

When we arrived at the Barn Island boat ramp at 11, a number of local windsurfers were on the water, or already coming off from an early session. Some said they were other overpowered on 3.7, so we went small - 3.7 for Nina, and a 5.0 KA Koncept for me. I had only rigged this sail once before, and since forgotten a couple of things to watch out for, so it was 12 by the time I hit the water. No problem, the wind was still going strong! First order of business was sailing about 1200 meters upwind to the sandbar. The beginning was easy and flat, with only small and very orderly wind swell. But once I reached the deeper parts in the middle, the wind suddenly picked up, and I had to fight to keep my 90 l slalom board on the water. Even the 5.0 m speed sail felt a bit big at times!

As memorable as the upwind trip in 40 mph gusts was, it was no big deal in hindsight - I reached the sandbar in less than 20 minutes. After a short break to check it out a bit, I sailed across to where Dean was standing in the water. Just about then, the wind suddenly dropped - from 35 averages to less than 20:
That gave us a bit of time to chat. Dean loved the spot, and had already reached 36 knots in his first speed run, just before the wind started to drop. For a while, the only one of us who had a chance to plane was Nina on Dean's 6.2 m sail - and even she had to pump! But after a while, the wind returned a bit, just enough for me to get planing. I got one decent speed run in, where Dean served as the slingshot marker, and I caught a lucky gust just at the right time. That gave me a 2 second top speed of 31 knots - for me, that counts as very fast, even more so since I was just-so powered. But a few runs later, the wind dropped again, and we ended up schlogging back downwind to the start.

We all liked the spot a lot - it definitely has the potential for 40-knot runs when the conditions are right. Dean reached a new 2 second top speed, at least on one of his two GPS units. Here are his tracks for the day (check his blog for his report):
He got to the sandbar in time for some powered speed runs right next to the sandbar. I later compared our GPS tracks, and his speeds after 12:30, when I arrived, were very similar to my speeds. That really made me regret not getting there an hour earlier! But it was still a great day, with air temperatures in the high sixties - warm enough to sail in a short-sleeved 3 mm suit. We'll definitely be back!

Here is a short video:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lack of confidence

The forecast called for 22 mph SW winds at 2 pm, rising to 25 mph at 5 pm.  I was at Kalmus shortly past noon, when wind meter readings were around 25. Mathematically gifted as I am, I calculated that the wind would increase to the upper 20s. Experience told me that this was a day where the wind would go way above forecast. I told anyone who'd listen that I expected to see 35 averages with gusts in the 40s later. But I did not believe my own forecast. Even simple math seemed much more scientific than gut feeling.

It seemed like a perfect setup for a speed session at Egg Island. Nina wanted to do some freestyle there, and Dean was coming to post some serious speeds for the Fogland Speedsurfers. So I rigged my 5.8 speed sail and took it out for a test run. On the water, it occurred to me that (a) I had not sailed small slalom gear in months, (b) I had gotten really used to center foot straps, (c) that the water was not nearly as flat as I had thought, and (d) that the wind had picked up some more. I was sailing with the sail wide open, constantly fighting for control. I tried to keep my 90 l slalom board on the water, but had only limited success. Here is a video from an early run:

I almost went back in to switch to the wave board and a small wave sail - but Egg Island would be a lot flatter! I switched to using my thick 5 mm boots a couple of weeks ago when my feet started getting cold. They tend to stick to the straps a lot more than thin boots, so I did not really feel like working on freestyle anymore. When I watched Dean go out, apparently in perfect control on a 6.6 m race sail, I figured that the conditions had to be easier than it seemed, and followed him.

I made the downwind run to Egg Island through the shipping channel without a crash. But once I crossed the dune, I saw that we were too late: the second sandbar was already fully submerged. The water was not flat anymore -  the little wind waves were just big enough to slow you down, but not big enough to allow for picking of lanes between them. The water close to the submerged sand bar looked flatter, but Dean warned me right away to stay away from it - he had already run aground in shallow water.

The wind was picking up while we were there, and now averaging 35. I was getting concerned if I would be able to make it safely back through the chop in front. It had been high already on the way over, and I figured that the increasing winds and incoming tides would only make things more difficult. After trying a few runs on the inside sandbar, and discovering that wind angles and water depth were wrong, I added some downhaul and outhaul to my sail (mostly with closed eyes since the sand was blowing now), and started the long way back. Just then, Nina finally arrived! She was overpowered on her 4.0, but thought the water still looked perfect for freestyle practice. She was a bit disappointed when both Dean and I said we'd go back, but followed us anyway, not wanting to sail alone.

The way back was not nearly as bad as I had imagined. The waves had gotten bigger, and carrying our slalom gear back over the sandbar was quite hard, but the sailing across the channel and back to shore was almost easy. The wind also stopped increasing, and stayed around 35 mph for the rest of the afternoon - I clearly had worried too much.

Back on shore, Nina and Dean called it a day. I switched to my wave board, the 3S 96, and a 4.5 m wave sail. I should have listened to Nina and taken the 4.0 - the 4.5 was sailable, but I sheeting it in for jibes was almost impossible. After many recent sessions where my dry jibe rate was probably around 90%, falling in almost every jibe was frustrating. But the little wave rides coming back in definitely were fun! The "little" refers to what I did, not to the waves - they were as big as I had ever seen them at Kalmus. Quite a few times, I decided not to go down a wave because it seemed to big, steep, and fast.

I quit at about the same time as most of the other windsurfers on the water. The exception was, as usual, Martin, who had sailed the entire afternoon without taking breaks. I took a few pictures before I left:

He was getting some nice air several times on every run out. I, and several other windsurfers I talked to, spent most of our efforts keeping the board on the water... he's simply in a different class.

As I am writing this a day later, I am very frustrated about yesterday. I probably would have had more fun staying on wave gear in front, and rigging down as needed. Even the Mighty Marty said he was a bit rusty at first, and had most fun at the end of his session. Perhaps the decision to go for a speed session at Egg Island was wrong - I knew the tide was too high, and that the wind would turn to southerly. But I'm mostly frustrated about being a big chicken once again. I felt a bit out of control, but I did not have a single catapult or serious crash. I was too worried about the way back to remember that sailing in 35 mph winds for the first time in months will take a bit of getting used to. To me, sessions like this were I chickened out are a lot more frustrating then sessions where I got beat up, but at least tried.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dear seals, please leave now

I should be happy. I got to play on the water today, and I was planing most of the time without having to use a huge sail. So what if I wore long sleeves, a hood, gloves, and a second layer for the first time this fall?

But I am greedy. Maybe I should blame iWindsurf for putting up wind meters everywhere. Here's what the Kalmus meter showed this afternoon:
Averages in the high teens, gusts up to 25 mph, lulls around and sometimes below 10. That's about what it felt like on the water - almost overpowered in some gusts, not enough power to plane at other times.

The forecast was for west winds. Every Cape Cod windsurfer knows that the place to go to in west winds is Harding's Beach in Chatham. Here's what the Chatham wind meter showed:
Stronger wind. More wind. I like that. The forecast predicted more wind for Chatham, so it's no surprise. And one more thing - Harding's Beach has great waves in west wind, instead of disorderly chop like Kalmus.

So why did we not go there? It's because of all those seals that are still around there. We saw a bunch of them swimming near shore a few miles up the road, in Wellfleet, just a few days ago. We don't really mind the seals, but they attract Great White Sharks. These big, seal-loving fish have not evolved in millions of year because they are such efficient killing machines. But that has kept their brains pretty small, and every now and then, they take a bite out of a human by mistake. It's an honest mistake - they don't really like to eat humans. Seals are a lot tastier, with all the blubber they put on for the winter. It's not even revenge - although shark revenge certainly would be justified, with millions of sharks killed by humans each year for every human killed by sharks. But sharks don't do internet, so they don't know about this.

Some humans who have some sympathy for sharks have started tagging them, so that we now can look on the internet where our favorite sharks are. Methinks that was a bad idea. The problem is that if we get a "ping" from a shark in our area, we know for sure that one of these meat eaters is in the water. But if we do not get pings, that does not mean the waters are free of sharks. A tagged shark may still be around, but not have been near the surface long enough for the GPS trackers to get a good signal; and for every tagged shark, there are probably a number of untagged ones around.

The last ping in the area was by Genie, a 2,300 lb female White Shark, on October 8. Unfortunately, that was also Genie's last ping - she may still be around, or she may be in North Carolina or Canada by now. Since we don't know, we can be afraid of her, and all her friends. Fear is irrational, and it does not matter that the chance of being run over by a truck or of being hit by lightning is much higher than the chance of being attacked by a shark. If there are a lot of seals around, we'll be afraid of sharks.

So, dear seals, please realize that it's getting cold around Cape Cod, and depart to warmer areas!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Drive where? Really?

I am spoiled. Live 10 minutes from 2 great speed spots, 15 minutes two others. These four spots cover wind directions from N, NW, NE, E, SW, WSW. Within a 40 minute drive, I have two more speed spots, and several great wave and bump & jump spots. There are so many spots that I have not sailed some of them for many months, if at all.

So why would I possibly consider driving much further - one hour and 15 minutes, according to Google? I'll have to blame the real speedsurfers in Australia. They often drive 10 or 14 hours to go speedsailing on a regular weekend, going back to work Monday morning (perhaps a bit red-eyed and tired). The Dutch speedsurfers would be just as crazy, except that the Netherlands are not big enough to allow for such long drives. So they take long boat trips to spots miles from shore that are sailable only for a couple of hours when the tide is right; or they drive to speed spots like West Kirby in England or La Franqui in France it that's where it is windy. And those are just the semi-serious guys - the real fast guys fly a day to the tip of Africa, drive 1,000 miles through the desert, and then wait in line for an hour to get a shot at the magical 50-knot mark in Lüderitz.

So maybe driving 75 minutes to a good spot is not that crazy. Especially if the spot holds promise for straight W winds, which tend to be common in the fall around here. Here's what I'm thinking about:
This is Provincetown Harbor. The first thing that caught my interest is the long sandbar. It is about 500 meters long and seems perfect for deep-downwind speed runs. But what looks good on Google Earth sometimes does not work in real life, and the tides in this area are about 10 ft (3 m) - which means the sand bar would be more than 3 meters high at low tide, or be submerged for part of the tide cycle. So we went and checked it out on a nice, windless weekend day.

We never saw the sandbar that prompted the trip, but we ended up walking along the Provincetown Breakwater:

That turned out to be quite promising for speed runs, since it's long, has a couple of bends for sling shots, and is 4 ft or less above the water level at high tide. I created this web page with additional details. Will we sail there? Who knows... Skaket is half-way on the route to Ptown, and lots of fun. But maybe next time we arrive at Skaket and the waves look to crazy in 35 mph wind.

A few more pictures from the walk:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fun at Skaket Beach

We scored a session yesterday at Skaket Beach in Orleans. My friend Martin asked how Skaket is, so here's a short movie to answer his question:

We had west wind with averages in the upper teens, just enough to be powered most of the time on my 6.5. Nina was planing a bit less on he 5.0, but still had a blast. The waves at Skaket are nice beginner waves - they come in nice and orderly, and break a little, but never get threatening or too challenging (at least not in wind below 30 mph). Here are a few facts about Skaket Beach:
  • Work well in SW, W, and NW.
  • Westerlies are less gusty than at most other places because the wind comes over 25 miles of water.
  • Good spot for SW (sideshore to side-off) when onshore places like Kalmus decouple (warm winds, cold water).
  • In NW (onshore) wind, you can sail along the beach and stay in waist-deep water.
  • Best time to sail is 2 hours after low tide until 2 hours before low tide. Low tide is doable, but may require a 1/2 mile walk to reach the water.
  • From the Boston area, driving time is about 15 minutes longer than to Kalmus (about the same as Chapin).
  • Plenty of parking, nice wide beach.
  • Uncrowded - kiters prefer First Encounter about 1 mile north.
  • The closest iWindsurf wind meter is "Hatch Beach". The meter is located at First Encounter, and reads about 3 mph high when the wind is around 20 mph. In stronger winds, the readings seem to be a bit closer to the real wind strength.
  • Mostly an off-season spot - the parking lot fills up quickly in the summer.
It's usually a good idea to sail early, since westerly winds tend to be strongest in the morning, and often drop more than predicted in the afternoon. But we have had great afternoon sessions at Skaket, too.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Is this really fall?

Temperatures in the mid 60s (18-20ºC); lots of sun; little wind - is this really fall? In Germany, this would count as a slightly cooler summer... so I'm definitely not complaining. Yes, I often need to use my 8.5 m sail and my big slalom board if I want to plane, but I'm nice and warm in a 3 mm short-sleeved wetsuit.
On one of the beautiful windless days, we went for a little after-work SUP session on a Middle Pond in Marston Mills, 5 minutes from our house. The leaves are starting to turn red, and the sun was going down, so it was quite beautiful. A GoPro movie with some scenes from the trip is below. Sorry for not cleaning the lens before filming - I'm so used to have it get wet while windsurfing that I did not even think about cleaning it before the SUP session.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

GPS speed in jibes: the movie

After seeing my last blog entry with movies from practicing jibes on flat water, a fellow GPS addict asked me: "How fast was your minimum speed in these jibes?" Answering this question took me a while, since I wore two different GPS units that day: the Locosys GT-31 and the FlySight. Let's start with a movie that shows two jibes, overlayed with the GPS speeds:

The first jibe was planed through. The FlySight gives a minimum speed of 10.19 mph, which seems about right. But the GT-31 shows a minimum speed of just 5.19 mph, which is clearly too low.

The second jibe was into a lull, and therefore not planed through. The two GPS units show a minimum speed of 6.2 mph (FlySight) and 7.07 mph (GT-31). The positional data and the doppler speeds for the two devices are a lot closer than for the first jibe.

Unfortunately, I used only the GT-31 at the start of the session, when the wind was strongest. I added the FlySight after about 20 minutes, after seeing that conditions were perfect to lay down nice jibes. For the time where I wore both units, the minimum speed in my best jibe was 11.4 knots; the GT-31 had a much lower minimum speed of 9.3 knots. The discrepancies between the two units were larger if the jibe radius was small (35-40 m instead of 60-70 m for wide jibes), and if the positional GT-31 data seemed less accurate (as in the first jibe in the movie above). I looked at a number of jibes on the videos, and whenever the units disagreed, the FlySight seemed to be more accurate. No surprise here, this is what I saw the first time when I compared the units.

I have sailed East Bay only a few times in planing conditions, but my search for a better GPS for jibe analysis started after another East Bay session. Just like back then, the GT-31 results differ dramatically between the positional data and the doppler data, with the doppler-based results seeming too low. In contrast, the FlySight data give almost identical results with or without doppler. The more accurate FlySight data form a much better basis for further jibe improvements, especially when synchronized with GoPro footage. In my best jibes last Saturday, I kept about 50-56% of my entry speed through the entire jibe. That's decent, but I think there is definitely room for improvement. I have a few things that I want to try out - can't wait for the next flat water session!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Missing Link

We had some nice ENE winds last Saturday, perfect for practicing jibes on the very flat water in East Bay. I focused on what Guy Cribb calls the "Missing Link" - dropping down after the sail flip to re-accelerate. That worked quite nicely - here's a short video:

On Sunday, I taught my first windsurf lesson since getting my US Sailing Windsurf Instructor certification - the light wind tack. We met our friends Bianca and Jonathen at the same spot, East Bay in Osterville, which is also a great light wind spot. The goal was to get Bianca to switch from the shuffle-shuffle-drag beginner tack to the 2-step tack. We practiced a lot on land - first the footwork, then the entire sequence. It paid off - once we hit the water, Bianca's tacks looked great right away. Success!

I am definitely looking forward to giving more windsurfing lessons. It's the perfect time of the year for working on planing jibes - when it's windy, we can usually find a perfect spot (like East Bay) somewhere on Cape Cod.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nina Catches Waves

The weather today was just too nice to not go outside and play. With NE winds around 15, we decided to go SUP sailing at Chapin. By the time we had rigged, all the kites were coming off the water because the wind was dropping. Nina's 5.0 m sail and my 5.7 were small for the conditions, but it got us out to the (also small) waves. Too spoiled from perfectly flat water, the main use I found for the waves was as an excuse to fall off - but Nina had fun, catching one little wave after the other. Here's an example (make sure to turn the sound on):

More fun expected tomorrow - hopefully enough wind to plane on reasonably-sized gear. See you on the water!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Windsurfing lessons on Cape Cod

My friends have been telling me this for a while, but now it's official: I am certified. Certified by US Sailing as a Windsurfing Instructor, that is. To get the certification, I had to complete a 4-day instructor class, and a 5-hour First Aid/CPR/AED class. Both were interesting classes, I definitely learned a lot. Now I'm eager to practice what I learned, so I am offering free windsurfing lessons on Cape Cod for the first 10 takers. Details about topics I 'd teach can be found here. If you are interested, it would be great if you could let me know a couple of days in advance.

Otherwise, October has been uneventful so far. We had decent wind last Monday, although I needed my 6.5 m sail most of the time to plane. On the upside, it was warm and mostly sunny, and the SSE wind created unusual conditions at Kalmus. I also did sail a bit the next two days, but it was more like typical summer sailing, barely planing on relatively big sails. Still fun, but no Rocktober yet.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Busy weeks

After a number of very busy weeks, we're finally relaxing a bit at home. Busy time started with the ABK camp Cape Cod, which was fantastic, as usual. Then we got a few days with fantastic wind that let up just in time to give us a couple of days to prepare the ECWF Cape Cod. This first-time event was a big success and lots of fun, but afterwards, we were exhausted. But 5 days later, we were driving down to Hatteras, where I took a windsurf instructor course organized by US Sailing. During the 4 class days, we had some great light wind and planing sessions, and on the 4 non-class days, I was fully powered on 5.5 most of the time. Here's a picture with Nina on the last day, when we sailed the Canadian Hole for the first time:
A lovely spot, perhaps even a bit flatter than the Island Creek location where we had stayed before. My legs were a bit tired from sailing 200 km the day before, so I ended up with the same old mistakes in my jibes - can you spot the problems in the next picture, and predict what will happen?
For teaching windsurfing, I really need to practice the "sandwich" approach, so let me start with the good things: the sail is oversheeted nicely, with the clew pulled behind me; and I am standing in a balanced stance, looking into the turn. But my front arm should be more extended, and the knees should be bent more - especially since I am sailing the boom relatively low (since I was fully powered). The next picture shows what happened next:
With the rig too close to me, and the knees to straight, I hooked in just as I started switching the feet, which made this jibe end wet. But at least I had the boom cam footage to see exactly what I need to change! Funny thing is that my jibes on the first planing day were great - after sailing in Kalmus chop before, I still remembered to bend the knees enough. But after a few days in the relatively flat Avon waters, and with tired legs, things left room for improvement on the last day.

Funny how what I did the few days before influences my style. I tried to go for a few chop hops, but they ended up disappointing. Looking at the camera footage, once again the reason becomes clear:
The sail is wide open, the nose of the board is way up and pointing downwind - yes, I had been working on the takeoff for the flatwater loop, Andy Brandt/Remko style. Now if I only had pulled up the back leg and pushed down on the boom with the front hand ... maybe next time.