Thursday, November 12, 2015

Slick Adventure

Rain, mostly horizontal due to 36 mph wind, 51ºF (11ºC) - who would not want to go windsurfing? Maybe a person who claims to be sane, but I never make this claim. So windsurfing we went. There was hope that the rain would let up in the afternoon, so we took a few hours to decide which of the many great spots to go to. The local abiding wave gurus went to play in waves. Not sure if they survived, the usual reports on Facebook and iWindsurf have not yet surfaced. But they probably did.

We picked flat water instead. Slick, flat water, just like I like it. The spot we picked tends to be gusty, so Nina decided she wanted to do speed,  too - on the 62 liter F2 Missile speed board. Cool!

When we got to the slicks, we saw that the strong wind had pushed several extra feet of water into the bay. The beach was completely flooded - way too much water to go sailing. But that was not all bad - we got to go to our favorite little cafe, and have some hot chocolate and coffee. After all, coffee is known to help your muscles work better. When we got back to the beach and launched (after answering about 50 questions like "Are you really going out in this?"), Nina needed her muscles to work well! I had somehow managed to loose a camber in my favorite 5.8 m speed sail, so I picked a 5.5 m uncambered freeride sail. That would normally put Nina on a 4.2 or 4.5 m sail, but all our small sails are wave sails, which don't go well with the speed board. So she went our on the 5.0 m KA Koncept. What followed was a little adventure.

I went out first, and quickly discovered that my sail was just the right size for speed surfing - in other words, way too big to be comfortable, and definitely not what I would have picked to sail in chop. A 4.0 would have been just fine for me, and a 3.4 for Nina. But we wanted speed! Let me show you the GPS tracks so you can follow the story:
We had to get upwind about 1/2 mile to get to the slicks. Fortunately, there were plenty of little islands where we could stop every time we needed to turn. Nina, who rarely sails the Missile, sailed straight back to the launch after our first stop. It was her first time using this sail (and only the second time in at least a year on any cambered sail), so she had to adjust things a few times. She reported that she was way overpowered, but looked in control. I suggested that she should change down to a smaller sail, but she wanted none of that. So we slowly tacked up to the slicks, and made it there 30 minutes later. By then, the wind had dropped 5 mph, so the sail sizes seemed a bit more reasonable.

Our timing had been perfect - the water level had dropped just enough for the marsh islands to emerge, creating perfectly flat water along the edges. I did a few speed runs, and eventually managed to feel somewhat in control even in the gusts. The reward were repeated speed readings above 30 knots, which is fast for me - even more so on a freeride sail. Nina also started having some fun, and looked pretty fast, despite not being fully dialed in.

After an hour of fun, I finally revealed my evil plans: I made Nina switch boards, so that I could sail the Missile. In full winter gear, my weight is close to 100 kg, and a 62 liter board is just a bit small for me. If the wind drops unexpectedly, which happens quite often on Cape Cod, I'd sink to my belly button on that board! Very nice of Nina to sail it upwind, indeed.

I did have a bit of a hard time to get the board going at first - but once I was planing, it was so much fun! In the very first run on the Missile, I saw a top speed of 31.66 knots on the GPS. Considering that my personal best for 2 seconds is 31.68 knots, that was fast! I did a few more runs, and got better at getting going, but with the wind slowly dropping, I did not get to set a new top speed. But fun it was! Only the approaching sunset (not that we saw any sun!) finally made us sail back. When analyzing the speed data at home, I discovered that I had improved my 5 x 10 second average speed by 0.2 knots over my previous best. Nice! Nina's speed were her 4th-fastest every, within a knot of her personal bests. Not bad for the first speed sailing session in a long time, and on unfamiliar gear!

Normally, I'd stop here, but November is jinx-proof, so I may as well tell you what's coming: two more days with wind of 25-30 knots. WSW wind tomorrow calls for a Kalmus session. With plenty of sunshine, it is quite likely that the wind will come in stronger than predicted; it is quite possible that we'll sail over to Egg Island for some flat water. I'll have to make a difficult decision - another speed session, or freestyle?  Then on Saturday, the wind should shift to WNW, which will send us to Skaket in Orleans - another one of my favorite spots. The forecast continues to look good into Sunday, but we'll probably need some rest by then...

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