Monday, June 23, 2014

Help Us Bring Caesar To Cape Cod!

Have you ever windsurfed in Bonaire? It is one of the best windsurfing spots in the world. If you've been there, chances are that you have seen Caesar Finies working his light wind freestyle magic right in front of the beach:

We just had tons of fun at the East Coast Windsurfing Festival in Long Island, and started to plan for the ECWF Cape Cod that will take place at Kalmus Beach on September 13 and 14, 2014. One of the great things at windsurfing festivals is to see great freestylers in action. So naturally, we started dreaming - "How great would it be if we could get Caesar to come to the ECWF Cape Cod?".

So we asked Caesar if he would come if we can pay for his airline ticket - and he agreed right away! So we started a fund raising campaign on We are trying to raise $1200, enough to pay for Caesar's ticket and his board bag. We are up to $300 in donations after just one day, so we are hopeful! Caesar will be staying with at our house while he is on Cape Cod, probably for about 7-10 days around the event. He will be showing his unique "Flowstyle" at the ECWF event if we have lighter winds - if we have a nice strong southwesterly, he'll show PWA-level high wind tricks that are rarely seen on Cape Cod! We are really looking forward to see a few of his trademark "Hail Mary" moves, where Caesar throws the rig up 20 feet in the air, and then catches it again after a few flips when the wind carries it back to him.

So we are asking all enthusiastic windsurfers to help us to bring Caesar to Cape Cod. We have set up a few perks as a "Thank you" for all contributors, including pictures with Caesar at the ECWF, "I Sponsored Caesar" T-shirts, and more. Check it out at!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Crashes, Tricks, and Smiles - ECWF Long Island 2014

Last weekend, the East Coast Windsurfing Festival returned to Long Island, after a break in 2013 due to hurricane damage to the event site. And what a fantastic event it was! About 30 windsurfers competed in 6 races and 4 rounds of freestyle heats, followed by the freestyle semi-finals and finals (results are here).

We had great weather for two days - plenty of sun and enough wind to occasionally get planing. Offshore winds on both days create interesting conditions. Races at the ECWF LI start near shore; this made it impossible to start with an upwind leg, which tends to spread the windsurfers out. Big gusts and lulls near shore contributed to plenty of falls, so getting going and not running into someone often was a challenge. Our whole 4-person team from Massachusetts had trouble at the crowded starts. I tried to be smart at the first side, staying near the outside buoy while everyone else was upwind, close to shore. But I misjudged how much I'd drift, and ended up hooking the buoy anchor line with my 56 cm fin. After getting of the board to free the fin and then re-starting, most of the field has rounded the first buoys.

Next time, I tried to be smart, and started near shore - only to discover that I could not turn the 280 l, 12-foot Mahalo fast enough to avoid running aground or into others. The only reason I ended up in the middle of the pack at the finish line was that I fell less during the rest of the course, and gave everyone who looked shaky on their board lots of room. Dani and Nina, who thought that having the right of way would mean others stayed away, were less lucky, and both ended up in collisions. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and nothing got damaged. But what had been a good placing in the race evaporated...

I eventually got one good start, before screwing up a third time. Day 1 racing certainly explained to me what more experienced racers mean when they say "You have to pay your dues"!

On day 2, the wind had turned a bit, and the course was set a bit differently, with an initial tight reach followed by a jibe that did not have to be close to the buoy - two things that helped to reduce crashes. My friend Dani had to stop sailing because of shoulder pain, and was kind enough to let me use his Starboard Phantom 320, which was a great board for the conditions. I ended up in 3rd place in race 5. in race 6, I had my best start yet, trailing only the unbeatable Kurt Veith on his Starboard Phantom 380 up to the first buoy. Then, I picked a bad course (partly to stay away from others), and let several experienced guys pass me. On the final upwind leg towards the finish buoy, I was in a close battle with Joe Natalie. Checking were he was distracted me enough to (a) go downwind just two feet to much to make the mark, and (b) completely miss that ABK instructor Eric came flying in, pumping onto a plane on his SUP. Eric rounded the buoy  with a tight jibe, taking the spot before me an Joe. Sneaky! But quite impressive.

Somehow, I ended up in fifth place overall, and got to take home a trophy. Thanks, Jerry! Nina, who did race 5 on her Skate 100 and race 6 on my Kona Mahalo, placed second in women's racing. Nice!

Between the racing, we had several rounds of freestyle competition. After the first round, it became clear who would win the freestyle: Pierre Coupal, who had come from Canada to show us what real old school freestyle on an original windsurfer looks like. Here are a few pictures of Pierre in action:

Although nobody else come anywhere close to Pierre's skills, the level of freestyle shown was quite high. I really doubted that I'd make it into the top 5, so I pulled out a couple of tricks that I had last done 30 years ago: the inside-the-boom "neck hold" (no hands), and the "backflip into water start" dismount, where your hold body going up between the boom and the sail. Together with a few duck tacks and simpler tricks, that got me all the way into the finals. By then, I was burned out, and George Pav took the second place behind Pierre.  But George, who puts on a great show and can do about all of the tricks I can do, would probably have beaten me even if I had been a lot fresher. I was quite happy with the third place!

In the women's freestyle, Nina showed tricks that might well have gotten her a second place finish in the men's division. Here's a short movie (sorry, I did not get to film much between all the heats):

All her practice in "pesky" winds paid off, and she took 1st place in women's freestyle. With her second place in racing, she also got crowned "Queen of the East". Congratulations!

I almost managed to get the "King of the East" title. I ended up in a tie with Pete Roesch, who placed second in racing, and sixth in freestyle. The organizers had go down a few tie breaker rules before handing the title to Pete because he had the better placing in one of the two disciplines (2nd in racing vs. my 3rd in freestyle). Congratulations to Pete, King of the East!
Pete and Nina, King and Queen of the East
Clearly, I have a lot of practicing to do before next years event! I'm already looking forward to it, and will not shy away from practicing light wind freestyle in pesky wind anymore. For now, big thanks to the organizers of the ECWF Long Island - Mike and Chrissy Burns, Thom Herring, Chachi, and all the others who helped out and participated.

Here are a few more pictures from the event:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Is There Hope?

It seems only a short while ago that Nina did not know how to plane on a windsurf board. Ok, it's been a few years, but time flies. Since then, she has taken more than a dozen ABK camps. I'm not sure it has helped. Sometimes she can't even hold on to the sail:
At other times, she ends up on the wrong side of the boom:
I learned that your arms should be long while sailing. You cannot do that like this!

She learned Duck Jibes. Hard not to when you do more than a dozen ABK camps. But often, she seems to be confusing jibes and tacks, and ducks in the middle of a tack:
Half the time, she even looses her grip on the boom, and relies on the sail to float back up to her. She's spent lots of money this year to get two new sails that are specially trained to do that!

I get confused just watching her. She started to keep doing one of these silly things right after the other, without even having the decency to fall into the water in between. I think she does it on purpose! She wants to confuse the freestyle judges at the East Coast Windsurfing Festival Long Island this weekend so she can get 1st place again. This time, she'll even do the races. On a Cat. The one I bought so that I would have better chances at the races. Ha! She likes cats more than I do. That settles the matter.

All this together means that I may have to address her as "Her Majesty" next week. Maybe I just jinxed her. Probably not. I'll try hard to keep the tradition we started at the ECWF Cape Cod last year going: only married couples shall be crowned! But that will be hard. I am clumsy. Sometimes, I can make up for it with attitude. More often, though, I just fall. If I try Anklebiters, they bite my ankles. On a good day. Usually, it just looks like I threw my sail into the water. Onlookers guess whether I did it out of anger or because I was too tired to hold on anymore. Better freestylers let the sail float back into their hands and add more tricks.

Racing is not much better. I'll be racing a Kona Mahalo. It's not a race board. It's a tandem. But at least it has enough volume so that I don't fall off all the time. I do not own any 10+ meter sails, so I'll be competing in the 7.5 m division. That means I'll be sailing against guys who I outweigh by 50%. I need lots of luck. But whatever happens, it will be tons of fun.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Time to give you answers for the questions I raised in my last post. The first question was why I often find myself using an undergrip with the back hand in duck jibes:
A few more pictures give hints:
This is a bit earlier in a duck jibe. I did not grab back far enough on the old side, so I cannot throw the sail - you can see it is touching my right arm. That happened in a lot of duck jibes. The sail I am jibing is a 6.5 with a 198 cm boom, so the hands really have to move back a lot - not just 4 or 6 inches.
Without a sail throw, the mast is still almost in the water, and the boom is pointing up:

So when I switch hands on the new side, the under grip is more natural.

Here's an image how things should look like with a proper throw:

The sail is more upright and still moving towards the clew. I can grab the new side before the harness lines with the front hand, and the back hand can grab with an over grip without any problems.

Now on to the Carve 360:
Every time I do Carve 360s after not doing them for a few weeks, I have to go through all the same mistakes I made when learning them. In lighter wind, that typically starts with lying the sail down too much, and then falling onto the sail. The other very typical crash is being thrown backwards when the sail powers up backwinded - that's what happened next. This crash has two common reason: not moving the sail back far enough, and getting the weight onto the heel so the leeward rail goes into the water. In the picture, you can see that my front hand is close to the harness line. That's a clear indicator that I did not move the sail back far enough. If you slide both hands forward, the front hand all the way to the mast, it's much easier to have the sail back far enough. The way I have it, the "bull horns" (harness line attachment points) are still right in front of my body, so the the bull gets me when the sail gets power.

The other problem visible on the picture above is that my back knee is not bent much, and my hips are not inwards. I'm still carving in the picture, but as soon as the sail powers up, it will push me onto my heel. That digs the leeward rail in, which (almost) always ends leeside sailing. But while my stance is not great, the first problem is the bigger one - with the sail all the way back towards the tail of the board, there still would have been a chance to finish this 360.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Clew-View Quiz

I like my Clew-View. When I'm clueless why I am doing things wrong, it tells me. I don't use my GoPro that often anymore, since even I have gotten bored watching myself mowing the lawn. But when things go wrong, a GoPro video or picture can help figure out what the hell I am doing. Funny enough - most of the time I know what I should be doing, but not what I actually am doing.

I worked on duck jibes and 360 a couple of days ago in Kalmus. Both are tricks I can do, but don't do often enough. Sometimes, they end up wet; sometimes they are dry but ugly. Two days ago, duck jibes were ok (but not great) at first, but then got worse as soon as I put the camera on. Often, I found myself in this position:
I'm on the new side after the duck, but I have an under grip with the new back hand. Not fatal, but not good, either. Who wants to guess what makes me do this?

In the Carve 360, I usually have to go through a series of mistakes before I make a dry one. I've done this often enough to know exactly what the mistakes are, and how to fix them. Still, it's nice to see what it looks like on video. Here's a picture:
I am just starting to get backwinded. Can you see the two things I'm doing wrong, and predict what happened next?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Steady Wind Defined

We windsurfers dream of steady wind. Today, steady wind came to Duxbury:
Averages of 20. Lulls of 18 ("lulls", ha!). "Gusts" of 22. For 3 hours straight. Then, variation crept in, with gusts of 24 and lulls of 14. I'd be happy about that every day.

I missed it. It was not in the forecast. I was tired after three days of windsurfing. I had to work. I did not believe the wind would stick around. I never sailed Duxbury in a SE. I have many, many excuses. But I really wish I'd been there.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Three New Tricks

Being part of a windsurfing couple has many advantages. One is that you can claim more new tricks! We sailed Duxbury yesterday, north of Powder Point Bridge. Here's a view from Dani's drone:
Nothing exciting wind-wise - mostly below 20. Still fun with 7.6-8.5 for me, 6.6 for Dani, and 5.3 for Nina. After missing a cold and rainy day with 30 mph winds earlier this week, Dean also showed up and rigged a 7.6, was was mostly underpowered on his tiny itsy-bitsy fins. Sabah showed up later after work, when the wind was going down already.

I took the presence of several other Fogland Speedsurfers as a valid excuse to revert to my old lawn-moving ways. Plenty of fun on the flat water, with top speeds near 26 knots in 18 knot wind, gusting to 20. Sailed about 120 km before the wind died.

Nina used the perfectly flat water behind the grass islands for freestyle. She completed two new tricks - her first Reverse Duck Jibe (also called Early-Throw Switch Duck Jibe), and her first Carve 360. Nice! The Reverse Duck Jibe was a result of working on the Duck Tack for many days. This time, when the sail came up too much towards the nose of the board, she decided to make it a jibe. The girl rocks.

Today was longboard racing practice in Duxbury in 8-14 mph wind. Dani proved unbeatable today. He used a 7.3 m freerace sail instead of his 7.5 m KA race/speed sail, which was a much better match to his Phantom 320. He also found a mast track position that worked much better for him, and started railing the board more. With all those adjustments, he finished every race in first place, usually with a large margin. Nice!

One of the things I worked on in all racing was railing the board on the upwind legs. So when we stopped racing because the water levels dropped, I just had to grab the Kona Mahalo and try some rail rides. That move already existed when I learned windsurfing more than 3 decades ago. I always wanted to do it, and even tried on various occasions without success. But today, having plenty of power in the 7.5 helped, and I actually got both feet on the rail for the first time! It was not nearly as tippy as I had imagined, and I actually sailed on the rail for a few seconds. The board, however, found this boring, rounded up, and belly-flopped, throwing me into the water. Who cares? I came up with a big smile - I know believe that I will get rail rides (with a dry exit) soon!

After two days with lots of windsurfing, I could use a break. If you believe the iWindsurf forecaster, I'll get one tomorrow. But computer models predict SW wind up to 14 mph, and it will be sunny and warm. Chances are good that we'll get a sea breeze around 20. Sunny, warm, windy - what are the chances that we'll stay home?