Monday, February 23, 2015

Warm, warm, cold

We had a couple of nice warm sailing days last Friday and Saturday, with air temperatures around 70, and the water temperature steadily going up towards 70, too. The warmth brought quite a few windsurfers out of hibernation, especially on Saturday. It seems the locals anticipated to wind to come up above forecast, just like it did - the spring thermals are starting to kick in. When some clouds pulled in on Saturday, almost everyone left quickly, though. A bit to my surprise, I admit - I was still planing most of the time on 6.0, as long as I did not get to close to shore.

Once most sailors had derigged, the wind came back, and conditions were just about perfect. The water had warmed up a few more degrees, prompting even this old back-and-forth sailor to play around a bit with 360s and duck jibes. Near the spoil islands, the water was very flat. The water there is pretty shallow, between knee and waist deep depending on where exactly you are, with a soft muddy bottom. Perfect for falling! Here's a short video:

I made a couple of 360s towards the end, but my success rate was rather low. I'll just blame the warm water :-).

Today was a different affair. The wind had turned to the north, and temperatures had dropped 30ºF, to the low 40s (6ºC). Clouds and occasional light rain had replaced the sun - what a perfect opportunity to get used to cold weather windsurfing again! After all, we'll be back on Cape Cod very soon, and the ocean there is still frozen over.

Alas, we paid a price for this opportunity. For me, it was a small one - just tired arms from layering a long-sleeve neoprene shirt under my 4/3 wetsuit. Maybe we really should to bring our Ianovated wetsuits next time we come here. My 7.0 felt unusually heavy on the slalom board, and my search for flat water for speed runs proved unsuccessful. Don't get me wrong, though - I still had fun, especially after switching to my 3S 96, which was simply more fun in the light chop.

Nina, however, was not quite as lucky. We often sail in similar temperatures at home, and she rarely needs a hood or gloves. Since the water temperature here were still relatively high (near 60ºF/15ºC), she figured her semi-dry suit and 5 mm boots would be plenty warm, even without a hood. But she had forgotten that her body had gotten quite used to much warmer temperatures here, instead of gradually getting used to ever-cold Cape Cod temperatures over several months. So she was cold. Really cold. I would not have guessed, because her form on the water was as perfect as ever, and she kept sailing for almost two hours. But she later reported that nothing had worked today for her, not even duck jibes that she can usually do in her sleep (and probably with one hand tied to her back). She started sneezing as soon as she got into the van, and it has not stopped since then. Maybe that's what "catching a cold" means. Maybe that's why Texans don't windsurf when it's cold (although we did see 3 or 4 other windsurfers on the water today).

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Corpus Christi pictures

The wind has kept us busy, with four planing sessions during the last week, including the last two days. With permanently high endorphin levels, blogging has to wait... but I'll share a few pictures:
It's windy here!

Holding on to sails is overrated

Birdwatcher's paradise

Good food and $1.50 margaritas after a long session
Barefoot Mardi Gras on the beach

I wonder what's in the lollipops ...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"Cold weather" windsurfing video

We got a short session in last week when a cold front pulled through. Well, that's what they called it. Temperatures around 50ºF (10ºC) qualify as "cold weather" in Texas, even in February. So here's a "cold weather" windsurfing movie:

The wind dropped constantly from the time we arrived, so we were underpowered a lot, and the session was short. Fortunately, Nina took the GoPro, so the footage is more interesting and prettier than my usual lawn mowing movies.

Before you get any wrong ideas, here's this mornings view from our balcony:
Yes, it's sunny again. The fog has mostly been burned off, and temperatures are close to 70 already. With ocean temperatures in the 60s and inland temperatures predicted to go into the 80s today, we should see some thermals adding to the predicted 15 mph wind for another great day. The "worst case" scenario is some light wind or pesky wind freestyle in the sun :-).

This one is for Tascha

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Top 5 session

I admit that I was a bit skeptical about our trip to Texas to escape the winter. But looking at recent images from Boston:

and comparing them to pictures from Texas:

I have to admit that I am glad we are down here. Sure, this is not Bonaire - our temperatures are only in the 60s or low 70. But for me, being able to walk around in shorts and a T-shirt is good enough, even if I have to wear a wetsuit while windsurfing :-).

Talking about windsurfing: we took a break today, after sailing 3 out of 4 days before. Yesterday was a light wind day, but it was nice and warm, and I really needed to practice a bit with the bigger sail again. The first day in the series also started out with light wind, but then the wind picked up enough to let me plane on my magic 6.5 m sail. The real treat, though, came last Friday. We had NNE wind in the low to mid 20s, which is a fantastic wind direction here. This picture shows how flat the water was:
For the first time since we arrived, a bunch of other sailors were out, but with miles of open water, there was plenty of space for everyone. After playing around on my Skate for a while, but not finding any decent ramps for loop tries unless I sailed more than a mile away from shore, I switched to what I like to call "speed mode" (less generous souls might use terms like "BAF" and "lawn mowing" instead). Here are the GPS tracks for the day:
After a couple of hours of excellent fun on the Skate, I took a break, and then switched to the 90 l slalom board. I followed a local windsurfer, Mike, to find some even flatter spots - not quite speed slicks, but smooth enough to let the board run a bit. You can see in the speed graph that it took me a while to get dialed in on the slalom board; going fast in small chop and unfamiliar territory is a bit different than blasting on perfectly flat water at your home spot. When fatigue replaced some of the fun after 4 hours, I called it a day; Nina had stopped half an hour earlier.

Looking at the GPS tracks back home, the numbers confirmed that this was an outstanding session. Of the 150 sessions I had since the start of 2014, this one ranked between 2nd and 5th in every single one of the 6 GPS Team Challenge disciplines. Total distance sailed was 108 km (67 miles), and top speed was 28 knots (32 mph). The unusual thing is that the ranking in all categories is high - usually, it's either the distance categories (nautical mile, hour, total distance) or the top speed categories (2 sec, 5 x 10 sec average), but rarely both. Also, I sailed the entire time with a camless freeride sail (Gaastra Matrix 6.0); a cambered race sail is typically good for 2 knots higher top speeds.

Tomorrow promises to be another good day, if wind comes in as predicted (so far, the forecast has been astonishingly accurate). So we took it easy today, taking a road trip to Port Aransas to visit a brew pub, and stroll along the beach. Watching dolphins and sea birds made for a lovely and relaxing afternoon, before the obligatory stop at the German bakery on the way home.