Sunday, August 4, 2013

Welcome, August!

I never thought of August as a windy month, unlike October or November. But this year, August started of rather nicely, with three days of planing on the first three days of the month. It started on Thursday. Meter readings for Kalmus were low, with averages of 13-14 mph and gusts of 16. I went planning on a light wind free style session, but when I got there, I saw lots of white caps, and went out on my big gear instead - a 71 cm wide, 117 l slalom board and an 8.5m V8 sail. The GPS tracks tell the story of what happened:
That's 90 minutes of planing. Top speed was near 28 mph, almost twice as fast as the wind - fun! I had not sailed the big gear much so far this year, so it took a few tries to get the tacks and jibes dialed in, but after a few runs, I at least stayed dry. With onshore winds and low water levels, the chop was perfectly manageable. Great session!

Friday afternoon saw a bit more wind, so I got to sail my new 7 m race sail again, this time on my 90 l slalom board. That turned out to be a lovely combo for the winds that were first up and down, but then increased steadily from 18 mph into the mid-20s. After half an hour in front of Kalmus, I decided to sail over to Egg Island to see what this combo could do on flat water. The sand bar was mostly submerged, but I still had a lot of fun on my first run, which went all the way to the end of Lewis Bay. But on the way in, the harness line snapped, cutting the session short. With quite a bit of walking and a bit of sailing, I finally made it back to Kalmus. By now, the wind was approaching 30, and the chop was getting high, so instead of switching board and sail, I called it a day - the forecast for Saturday looked good, too!

The actual wind prediction for the day was in the upper teens, but meter readings at 9:30 am were showing averages of 25, with gusts to 30. I still got some of this wind when I got onto the water with my 5.5/3S 96 combo, but then the wind dropped, so I decided to rig the 7.0 again, and go out on the big slalom board. That decision worked beautifully as the wind sacrifice. The wind picked up again, and I only made about 2 runs on the bigger gear before I decided that the smaller sail and wave board would be more fun. I had a few hours of big fun on this combo. I finally am starting to figure out how to time the waves on the outside to plane through jibe, and was able to line up a few planed-through jibes on both sides. The lovely Nina, who finally joined me again on the water with here 4.5 / Skate 90 combo, rocked as usual, working on duck tacks, Flakas, and Shove Its, and turning with beautiful duck jibes and planed-through step jibes as if it was nothing. Martin also showed up, and did a great loop try right in front of me, where he turned the board around 180 degrees while still 2 feet in the air. He inspired me to give up my lawn moving ways for a bit, and at least work on chop hops. But just as I was getting mentally ready to go loopy, the wind seemed to drop a bit again. Since the tide was also low, I decided to take the slalom gear for another spin...

As everyone knows, just going back and forth really fast is boring, so I mixed things up a bit. First, I let my front foot slip out of the straps to see if it really is necessary to have both feet in the straps when going over chop at 25 mph. The perhaps not-so-surprising answer was "yes, it is necessary!". I am not quite sure what happened next, but it included a very sudden stop, with me going head-first into the sail. I was still hooked in; the board and sail had stopped completely; my head was stuck to the sail; but my body still had plenty of forward momentum, which being hooked in partially converted into downward momentum. This, in turn, led to not just one, but two a very interesting tests: how much impact will the sail hold, and how far forward can my neck bend? The technora sail passed with flying colors. My head, event though not terribly sharp, would certainly have pierced a monofilm sail. Not sure if that would have been a good thing, since I would have ended up wearing the sail around my neck, with my head under water and my feet sticking into the air. The technora, however, was not impressed at all by being hit with my almost 200 pounds at high speed. Not a dent in it. So the weaker part in this experiment turned out to be my neck. A whole bunch of muscles all the way down to my shoulder blades protested loudly against being stretched too far, and I needed a couple of minutes after the fall before I could even think about making the way back. I eventually did, but that was the end to the session - bouncing over chop after hurting your neck like this is just no fun.

An essential part of being a windsurfer is being superstitious, so I'd love to figure out what caused this. Unfortunately, I have two possible options. The first one is that I had announced that I wanted to do a lot of distance on Saturday. I was just 152 km away from hitting the 10,000 km mark on the GPS Team Challenge, and sailing 152 km should not be too hard... but just as the last time when I announced plans for going for distance, I hurt my neck in a stupid fall. So maybe I jinxed myself?

But it is also possible that the windsurf gods just try to tell me that I should only sail when my lovely wife is sailing. While she was still on the water, I had the best session in a long time, perfectly powered on 5.5, everything being easy. But she had to stop after perhaps 2 1/2 hours, since she had neither sailed nor done any other sport for almost a month. I went back out while she was getting ready to leave, and hurt myself. It does not really happen often that I hurt myself windsurfing, but this was the third time in about as many weeks, all when Nina was not sailing. Do I have to become a freestyler who exhausts himself by trying lots of things in a short time - but only when the lovely Nina is doing the same?

After writing this post, a third possible cause for my recent hurt tendency came to my mind. Both days when I hurt my neck, Martin was working hard on loops. The loop is on my "wanted" list, so I should be doing the same - maybe these crashes are trying to show me that I really should go for it, since I am getting hurt anyway, even if I don't try?
For my GPS-loving fans, here's an interesting tidbit: my top speed on Saturday, when wind gusts went all the way up to 30 mph, was just 0.5 knots faster than on Thursday, when gusts were just 16 mph. Not that I was going slow on Saturday, either - I did a few drag races with Alex, who is getting pretty fast - I had to fully concentrate and apply every little trick I know to keep him at bay. But all those bumps on the water slow most of us down a lot. Besides the higher winds, there also were way more windsurfers out on Saturday - nice to see, but they all make waves, too.

1 comment:

  1. Good blog post and nice GPS trails. I say go for the loop if you are getting hurt anyway! Cheers, Carl