Monday, July 27, 2015

Loops In Fuerte and Jeri

If you watched the videos from the PWA freestyle competition over the past few days, you may have noticed how often the pros did a forward loop. It seemed like every pro threw at least one forward per heat. This is somewhat surprising to me, considering that everyone claims the forward loop is so easy! A few of the pros spiced the loop up a bit - Tonky Frans did some of his trademark Bonkas (a loop into Flaka combo); crazy (as in: crazy good) Balz Müller did a one-handed rail grab loop. But the vast majority of loops were "simple" plaining loops.

During our Jeri trip, one of the highlights were the freestylers that were out every day. We saw plenty of loops, including some of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. Here is an example that Nina filmed while standing in knee-deep water:

A thing of beauty indeed. For all those working on learning the loop, here are a few screen shots from the movie, with a few notes:
Not a lot of power here

The back hand moved far back on the boom

Compressing before take off

Front arm extending, moving the sail forward-windward

Fully extended front arm and back leg; fin is still in the water

Fin leaves the water. Both arms long, no sheeting in. Nose starts turning downwind

Starting to pull himself up over the boom

Upper body above boom, nose getting pushed down

Fully up-down; both arms are bent, still not sheeting in - but the sail is getting power now

Back leg fully bent, front leg extended

Almost there - starting to extend arms to push sail up and stop the rotation

Soft, controlled landing

Planing out
The windsurfer in the movie and pictures is Edvan Souza (BRA250), a former PWA competitor who now runs Jeri 250, where you can rent gear and take lessons. Here are a couple of more videos - first a close by loop followed by a Shaka:

Another great planing loop, with a Flaka before and a Spock 540 after:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Jinxed It

Blame the Caipis and beers. I jinxed it. Yesterday morning, the wind was funky - fine, then light, then overpowered on 5.2. But the wrong direction for loops, and the tide was too low. The afternoon looked dead, and the water was almost empty. Looks were deceiving - I had a lovely session on 5.3/102. Otherwise, conditions were not ideal, but a loop lesson might have been possible - it just did not look that way from the shore.

Today was the first day in a week with no wind in the morning. Then, the clouds came, so the afternoon is light, too. No rain - just a dense cloud cover that kills the wind. Obviously, I am getting punished for getting too excited. So we'll just have to go home. The return trip through Sao Paulo will take two days and a few hours. But that includes a night in a hotel, the actual travel time is only 28 hours.

Since I have not had any beer or Caipis yet, I can restrain myself, and won't mention all the things I'm looking forward to on Cape Cod. Don't want to jinx the wind there, too. Not that it seems necessary - from what I have heard, the last few weeks have been rather windless. Nor is August known as a windy month on Cape Cod. I don't care - after sailing 15 days in a row, 14 on 5.2-5.8, mostly fully powered, a break does not sound so bad. And my Skate 110 still needs to be repaired (and, soon, replaced).
Yet Another Jeri Sunset Picture

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stay Tuned!

What  a day! It started with a great flat water session in ESE winds - 2 1/2 hours full power on 5.2/4.5. When we stopped, one of the great local freestylers started throwing crazy tricks right out in front. Nina got her waterproof camera out and took some great videos. Can't edit and upload them right now - we're too busy having fun, and the internet is too slow. But stay tuned!

The sail number (BRA250) let us identify the sailor - Edvan Souza, who has competed on the PWA freestyle circuit in the past. Nina thought we should drop a copy of the videos of at his windsurf place, Jeri250. We did and got to meet him and his girlfriend (or fiancee / wife?). Both were really nice. Later, when we sat at a restaurant on one of the little side streets for dinner, they walked by and greeted us - how cool! I could not helpnit, I just had to ask about taking a private lesson tomorrow. The fully planing front loops he threw today were some of the best I have ever seen (and my regular readers will know that I watch a lot of loop videos). My knee is fine again - now the wind and tides have to cooperate tomorrow!

Monday, July 13, 2015

What's Missing?

Do you see what's missing on this image?
You say waves and chop? Yes, true, but that's not it. Other sailors? Also true, but again not the right answer. If you get onto the water at 9 in the morning, you'll have the entire bay (almost) for yourself, and you can find very flat water. But more about that below.

The most unusual thing that's missing is the right front footstrap. That's the result of trying to mix too a couple of things:

  • One-footed jumps: the PWA pros get very high scores for one-footed backloops - so why not try one-footed jumps?
  • Splits: The current Queen of the East, Deniz, always shows splits in her freestyle routine - why not add a split to a jump?
Of course, I'd never try these things voluntarily, but my subconscious must have gotten ahead of me two days ago. I have having a great session - finally got my first Carve 360 here, and started to comfortable with jumps. Then, the back foot slipped out of the strap during take-off. Too early! I did not get any of the height that the pros get! Instead, the back foot hit the water right away. The board was airborne and going forward, so time for the split! My stupid subconscious completely ignore the fact that I don't do splits. But before I even had time to complain, the board hit the water again. With the front foot still securely in the strap and the back foot trailing about 2 meters behind, my leg tried hard to bend sideways. One of the little tendons in the knee stopped that, but it complained bitterly about the try. I guess tendons do not like to be stretched too much.

To add insult to injury, the lovely Nina, who was close by and sailing towards me, did not even see my acrobatic act! I spent a few minutes in the water pouting, and maybe also waiting for the pain to go down a bit. Swimming after my gear was arms-only, since my right leg did not want to move much anymore. But I was still able to sail back to shore.

Yesterday, my knee felt ok while walking, so I joined Nina for a morning sail. Sailing out on port was perfectly fine, but returning on starboard was a different issue. With the right foot in the front footstrap, it seemed that every little piece of chop resulted in sideways torque on the knee, which in turn resulted in pain. I almost stopped after the first runs, but then I discovered that simply placing the foot on top of the footstrap fixed the problem - the foot could now move freely enough to make sailing (mostly) pain-free. 

Nevertheless, I kept the session short, and skipped the afternoon session. Here are GPS tracks from a previous day where we did both a morning and afternoon session:
The lower tracks are from the morning session, the upper tracks are from the afternoon session. Morning winds are offshore and gusty, but the water is very flat. In the afternoon, you have to sail out past the point into the big swell and wind chop - very different! When you come back in, you get a short region where the water is flat; but if you sail too far, the wind drops off, sometimes to nothing. Yesterday, I did not think that my knee was ready for big swell and chop, so I took some pictures instead.

Nina Duck Tacking


Friday, July 10, 2015

Jeri Ducks

Nina got her first planing Duck Tack in Jeri. Finally! It took 5 planing sessions, and she was getting a bit frustrated. At home, she often has a success rate of more than 50%.

But things are different here. Based on videos we had seen, we had expected fantastic freestyle conditions. But check out these GPS tracks:

The tracks are from a session where I was barely powered. The wind direction is typical for what we have had here, there is very little variation. It's offshore wind, and the town casts a big wind shadow. The blue tracks indicate schlogging, and I had to get past the point to get enough wind to plane. But once past the point, the swell starts to get big. The farthest I sailed out from the point was about a mile; out there, you sometimes see swell that seems logo- to mast-high. Not exactly freestyle territory!

The inside of the point is flatter, but the wind there is quite gusty. A common sight is to see people sail in at full speed, only to slow down and fall onto their backs when the wind suddenly stops.

Tides add another factor. At low tide, the water recedes by perhaps 200-300 meters, and you have to turn just past the point unless to not run aground.  At high tide, water levels are 2-3 meters higher, and you can sail a lot further ... if you're lucky with the wind.

Of course, we are here outside of the really windy season, which starts next month. On the windier days, I had the impression that the wind inside the bay fills in better. When tide levels are right (that is, high) and the wind is strong, some of the local freestylers come out to play, and show dazzling aerials of the knee- to hip-high waves. We have seen sky-high Shakas, Air Flakas, Burners, loops, and twisty-turny thingies that I can't name. Cool!

But back to Nina's ducks. Her tries had improved every day, and I had seen a few "Gluck Tacks" (that's Duck Tack she really should have sailed out of) two days ago. But until yesterday, she usually sail RRD freestyle sails, which behave quite differently from her favorite North Idols. She also usually was either overpowered or underpowered. Yesterday, she finally got to sail a North Idol 4.5 - brand-new and freshly rigged for her. So the Duck Tack was back on the second try! She also got her first Switch Duck Jibe out of the straps. She had gotten one in the straps shortly before we left for Brazil, but all her tries to jibe out of Duck Tack attempts when the sail came up to far in front had been wet - until yesterday. Nice! Now she hopes that the wind does not pick up so much that she has to use  smaller sail. That may well happen today; it has been very windy all morning long, and there are lots of white caps to be seen. I'd be tempted to run and try to get an earlier session in, but the last few times we tried that, the wind took a lunch break, so we'll wait a while longer before heading to the beach.

Unlike the brave freestyling Nina, I have been mostly mowing the lawn. Based on videos that showed perfect waves coming straight at the windsurfers, I had some hopes for working on the spin loop here; but it seems these conditions only happen when tides and wind are just perfect, which seems rare. Even then, you have to share the water with a lot of Brazilian tourists out for a swim - July is winter vacation month in Brazil. But we still have 7 days of sailing here :-).

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bump and Chill

"When you're in Jeri, you have to do a buggy tour to the lagoons!".  It says so on the internet so it must be so. We are rule-abiding Germans. So we just had to do the buggy tour. It helped that the weather forecast predicted showers. Wind does not like showers. It pouts for hours afterwards and lies low.

For my impatient readers: yes, if you are in Jeri, you have to do the buggy tour. It's a lot of fun. It's also good for the locals - they get to ride around in a fun mobile, trying to loose the tourists in the back by going full speed over bumps. And they get paid for it! About $80 for a 5 hour trip.

We arranged the trip through our lovely hostess, Roberta, who immigrated from Italy about 6 years ago. The buggy picked us up at the Pousada, right on time as promised. Also as promised, the showers that the weather forecast had promised showed up. They showed up just as the driver tried to set new speed records going over sand. It felt just like fall sailing at home - stinging rain hitting your face at 30 mph! But she showers were short, and we enjoyed the cooling effect of the water on our clothes afterwards. It gets hot here when the sun is out! Well, just something in the upper 80s (32ºC), but it felt hot.

The ride was an awful lot of fun. It felt a bit like a good day of bump & jump sailing - every time we hit a bump, we got jumped out of our seats. We really needed our windsurfer forearms to hold on to the handle bar in front of us! After the first few bumps, the driver checked on us to see if we were ok. Seeing the big smile on our faces, he decided to up the game a bit, often passing other buggies and vans, but never being passed.

We took a couple of breaks at two lagoons. Both were nice, but the Laguna Paradiso was my favorite. Here are a few pictures:
A stop on the way

Chilling out in the Paradise Lagoon

Dunes, dudes!

We made it back in time for an afternoon windsurf session. The wind was indeed a bit lighter than the days before. Nina had fun on a 4.7, but my standard 5.3 was too small for once, so I had to switch to 5.8 - something that is in the "large sail" category here.

Right now, the wind seems to have a pattern that reminds me of Bonaire: good in the morning, lighter around noon, and then strong in the afternoon. Most days, the wind seemed to increase towards sunset, and then drop off quickly when the sun goes down. Yesterday, the increase did not happen, and the drop was a bit earlier, keeping the session short. Not all bad, though - it gave us plenty of time to enjoy the sunset over a few beers.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Since 5 days now, we are in Jericoacoara, Brazil. It's beautiful here, especially when the sun goes down. Our dates were dictated by a business trip, so we are here at the very beginning of the windsurf season, when the wind is not as strong and reliable as in the main season (August to December). We are still waiting for a day where both of us have fun - here's what happened so far:

  • Day 1: I was reasonably powered on 5.3/96l, Nina was underpowered on 4.2/91. The problem with being underpowered is that you are likely to end up downwind, where the current is strong and the wind is gusty, with big lulls. I had fun, Nina did not.
  • Day 2: Light winds, with some strong gusts. Nina decided to go SUP sailing in the knee- to hip-high gentle waves, and had a lot of fun. I joined here a bit later.
  • Day 3: The wind looked good when we went out, but then dropped a bit. Nina did ok on 4.5/92, and watched a few freestylers working on Konos and Burners. This time, I was the one to discover the penalty for being underpowered on 5.3/92. I switched to a 108, which required a rather long walk back to the windsurf rental place. The bigger board got me going, but felt rather boring. We are too spoiled by our own gear..
  • Day 4: Rain and more rain all morning long. Very light wind, and very small waves. A good day to sleep a lot and get over the lingering cold we both were fighting with. We ended the day by watching the sunset from the sunset dune, and having a few $2 beers and $4 Caipis on the beach. 
Today looks promising. The wind typically picks up around noon or early afternoon, but I can already see white caps. Nina starts to look at me a bit impatiently, so I guess it's time to get ready for windsurfing!
Nina SUP sailing