Friday, December 30, 2016

Never Trust Software!

I develop software for a living. So when I say "Never trust software!", you should trust me! What does that have to do with windsurfing? Let me start my explanation with a couple of screen grabs. Here's the first:

These are my "alpha" numbers from a windsurfing session 3 days ago. The best one was only 7.27 knots! That was a bit disappointing, since a few of my jibes were pretty nice.

An "alpha 500" is a 500-m run with a jibe in the middle where the two ends have to be within 50 meters. Since I was not really watching where I was going, I assumed that the two "arms" of the alpha were too far away. That's easy enough to verify - when I changed the "alpha proximity" number in GPS Action Replay from 50 m to 60 m, I got a 20.85 knot alpha. Here's the section from the GPS track:

You can see that the two ends of the 500 m track are indeed more than 50 meters apart, which is why GPS Action Replay did not count it.

But when I analyzed the same track today using the program GPSResults, I got very different results:

This program thinks that my best alpha was 20.296 knots! Obviously, at least one of the two programs is not trustworthy!

Looking more closely, I noticed that GPSResults has shorter run length for the first three alphas, ranging from 444.8 to just 100.6 meters. Indeed, the two legs are less than 50 meters apart a little to the left:
So - which of the two programs has it right? Let's check the exact definition of what "alphas" are in speedsurfing (from

 "All results must have a total distance covered that is less than or equal to the maximum distance"
Based in this definition, GPSResults is correct, and GPS Action Replay has a bug in its alpha calculation. However, the other GPS speedsurfing web site has a slightly different definition:
"Software calculated speed over ‘one’ run of 500 meters with a gybe and a proximity at the startpoint of 50 meters."
Here, the "less than" is missing, and GPS Action Replay actually would be the program that calculates alpha correctly.

Most days, it makes no difference if we say "less than" or not - since the jibe is the slowest part of the run, extending to the full 500 meters usually gives the best alphas. But as I have shown, not always!

I assume that the difference in definition was not intentional, since both sites allow the use of both analysis programs. Maybe they can agree on using just one definition?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Slick Fun

I don't know if the wind Santa is still around or what it was, but we got another warm and windy day today. WSW, high tide, and a predicted drop called for a session at the Kennedy Slicks. That's one of my favorite spots. Very flat water right next to the breakwater - but it's deep, so no worries about running aground.
Nina likes it shallow, but she nevertheless decided to join me for a speed session. I rigged for the wind, which was hovering around 30 mph - a 6.3 m race sail sounded about right. That would usually mean a 5.0 for Nina, but she believed that the predicted rapid drop in the wind was just waiting for her to get onto the water. So she rigged a 5.8. That's the ancient KA Koncept with a small and high mast cutout. At the bottom of the cutout, the boom is still at Nina's eye level!
I had to struggle a bit with my 6.3 in the gusts, but kept it somewhat under control. But my fighting meant that the 5.8 was way too big for Nina - and a high boom is about the last thing you want when overpowered. But she seemed to be doing fine on her first run out.
I quickly got numbers above 30 knots on my Locosys GW-60 GPS watch. That does not happen very often, so it made me quite happy. But I stopped frequently to keep an eye on Nina, who was struggling. There's absolutely no danger at the Kennedy Slicks - the worst case scenario is that you'd drift for 15 minutes and come ashore half a mile downwind (or perhaps a 20 minute swim if you don't want to walk back). But after a second run out and a bit of struggling, Nina sailed back to shore, and called it a day.

I helped her derig, and stopped sailing a little while later, too. It was a short session with just 7 runs, but 4 had a top speed above 30 knots .. not too bad. Despite the shortness and no playing around at all with gear trim, the session ended up as my third-fastest of the year. I love December sailing!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

What does a windsurfing addict who has plenty of gear want for Christmas? A windsurf session!

I must have been good last year, because Santa brought some perfect windsurfing conditions today: wind around 30 mph, balmy temperatures in the mid-40s (yes, Fahrenheit, but that's counts as warm in late December), and lots of sun.

One of my favorite playgrounds for northerly and westerly winds is Barnstable Harbor. I usually sail there mid-tide, but had always wanted to explore the channels near low tide that the depth map shows:
I started sailing when the tide was just below 3 feet, and it dropped to 1.6 feet during my one hour session. Here are the GPS tracks:
I got off a lot to check the water depth - except for the 1st turn, I was able to stand every time. On the way back, I walked through some shallow areas, where even my short 21 cm fin might have been a bit too long.

The area where I sailed most is perfectly sailable, and probably would be fin down to a 0 ft tide. The water was not perfectly flat, since there are extended areas to windward where the water depth was about 0.5-1.5 ft. Since I was out alone in somewhat cold weather, I sailed conservatively, so there are no great speeds to report. In conditions like today, this seems more like a freestyle than a speed spot.

But I did see an area that looked very promising in a different wind direction: the sand bar near the top-right in the second image. It looked like a great speed strip for NE wind: the water got deep quickly enough that runs maybe 20-50 feet from the sand bar would be doable. I walked it for about 140 meters. The total length is about 500-700 meters, with a possible approach from choppy waters at the lower right. The best launch for NE low tide would probably be from Millway Beach, since this would me more than a kilometer upwind from today's launch in NE - a long walk at low tide against the wind! This would be a great speed spot in a NE with a neap tide; during a 1.3 ft neap tide, it should be sailable for 3 hours! Maybe we can check it out for speed next spring. Some of the other channels may work even at very low tides (0 ft and lower), although mostly in other wind directions (N-NNE and W-WNW).

Besides the lovely weather and great wind, I had another motivation to go windsurfing today: to try out my new GPS watch, the Locosys GW-60. It just was "provisionally" approved on the GPS Team Challenge, and replaces the GW-52. I find it a lot easier to use, with push buttons instead of touch areas that often do not work; it's also much more Mac friendly, and does not require Windows to download the data. The numbers I got today were very close to the numbers from the GW-52 - no surprise there, others have done a lot more testing already before the approval. But when I compared the tracks from the 2 devices, I noticed one area where they looked quite different - here's a part of that section:
What's going on?

My first suspicion was some difference in the signal processing, but then it dawned on me: it's much simpler! This part is from a walk along the sand bar, and the GW-52 (red) was on my arm just above the elbow; the GW-60 (blue) was on my wrist.  We can see my arm swings when walking, and the difference between the GPS that was closer to my shoulder and the one on my wrist. Cool! Now I just have to remember to push my hand out at the end of each speed run :-).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fun With Noise

Warning: this is a geeky post. No windsurf pictures, no videos. Just talk about GPS accuracy. So it that does not interest, go and watch TV, play with your kids, or whatever. You have been warned.

If you are looking for someone to blame for this post, don't pick on me! This all started on the Australian windsurf forum. One of the guys who is currently evaluating the new GPS watch from Locosys was kind enough to post some data from both the GW-60 watch and the current "gold standard", the Locosys GW-50. One picture that caught my attention showed data for the top 2-second speed. Interestingly, the GPS watch appeared to have more accurate data, as indicated by  the lower error estimates (SDOP and "+/-" estimates). A detailed comparison of more than 20 different 2-second runs showed that the GW-52 usually have higher speed estimates than the GW-60 watch. The differences were not huge, and the ranges (best guess +- error estimates) between the two devices always overlapped, which is good; but nevertheless, it appeared that either the GW-52 measurements were a tad too high, or the GW-60 measurements a bit too low.

The GW-52 data seemed to have a bit more noise than the watch data, as indicated by the slightly higher "+/-" numbers in the data shown. What do I mean with noise? Check out this graph:
Speed data from 2 GW-52 devices
The data shown are from a driving test with two GW-52 devices right next to each other. Without any noise, the units should show exactly the same speed at each point in time. That's obviously not the case - the speed differs by up to 0.8 knots between the 2 units. That's noise - random errors in the data. There are a number of different potential causes for the noise, but for the remainder of this discussion, what exactly caused the observed noise is irrelevant. What matters is that data from GW-52 units sometimes contain a significant amount of noise. That raises the question:

How does random noise influence our measured speed?

The first answer that comes to mind is: "if it's truly random, some points will be too high, some too low, so the net effect will be quite small". That can actually be true - but only if we have enough data points. For 2-second speed and 5 Hz data, we only have 10 points, which may not be enough!

Time to plug some data into a spreadsheet, and see what happens. The first thing to do is to generate random data with an average speed of 0 knots, and random noise between -1 and +1 knots. That takes a couple of minutes to set up, and 2-second "speeds" can easily be calculated by averaging 10 points. If we then look for a maximum speed, what do we get? Well, I got 0.48 knots when I looked at for the maximum in 600 data points (that would be 2 minutes of data). Cool - noise can make me half a knot faster!

Well, not so fast, cowboy! We don't usually sail around for 2 minutes at our top speed. So let's look at more realistic data. I started by downloading a few GPS tracks from Here is what the fastest 10 second run from the Aussie speedsurfer "Cookie" on November 11, 2016 looked like:
Within this 10 second run, Cookie stayed darn close to 40 knots for about 20 data points - that's 4 seconds. So what happens if we simulate a speed run were we keep the top speed for 4 seconds, and add some noise to it? Here's a graph:
The blue line are the noise-free data, the red line is the data with random noise (between -1 and +1 knots) added. This is a quite a bit noisier than Cookies data, but somewhat similar to the driving data in the first picture.

The next steps are to calculate the 10-point average speeds, and to find the maximum speed ... and then to repeat this a bunch of time with different random noise. I set it up so that 5 simulations were run at a time, and looked at the averages and maximum "measured" speed. After writing down the number, I'd repeat this with fresh random noise. Since the noise was random, the results differed a bit for each run. Usually, the measured top speed would be higher than 40 knots, but I'd often see top speeds below 40 knots in one or two of the 5 simulations. Here's a summary of the results:
On average, the speed was overestimated by almost 0.2 knots. But for one out of five runs, the over-estimate would be even higher, ranging from 0.29 to 0.55 knots. That's a lot! But with less noisy data (like the ones in Cookie's top 10 second run), the over-estimate would be proportionally lower.

If you have another look at the first and third graph, you may notice that the simulated noise looks a bit different from the observed noise. In the simulation, the noise sometimes jumps very quickly between the extremes; in the actual GW-52 data, the jumps are a bit slower, usually spread out over two or more data points. This could, for example, caused by filters like Kalman filters, which are often used in GPS signal processing. To see how such "slightly coupled" errors would affect the measurements, I ran another simulation where the error was random at every 4th data point, and intermediate points were a weighted average of the neighbor "anchor" points. Here's an example of what the simulated data look like:
The "coupled" noise increased the error:
No surprise here. In reality, the noise is probably more random (not as strongly coupled) than in the second simulation; I did it mainly to illustrate what the effect of "coupled" noise would be. In reality, filters that could effectively lead to such coupling would typically also reduce the maxima and minima, which would reduce the induced error.

To some extend, the results shown above may be counter-intuitive. Why do we get a directional measurement error even with completely random noise? The reason is simple - it's because we are specifically looking for the highest values. If there is a region where most values are accurate, but some are artificially high due to random noise, we will find this region.

But there's also lots of good news. First of all, the problem described above mostly affect 2 second data. Going to 10-second data reduces the error substantially - at least more than 2-fold (using basic probabilities), but typically even more, since a 10-second region is more likely to be surrounded by lower speed at both sides than a 2-second region is. The other good news is that preliminary data indicate that the GW60 GPS watch seems to be at least as accurate as the best previous GPS devices - but more user friendly. Let's hope that this can be confirmed in further testing!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Foggy Goggles

According to the forecast, almost the entire USA was frozen this morning:
Even Texas got some sub-freezing temperatures. But the right coast got lucky: we had the warmest day in weeks, with temperatures in the mid-50s. And wind! So of course we had to go windsurfing.

SSW, wind around 30 mph, air temps at the water around 50ºF (10ºC), low tide - fun! No sun but also no rain, and the fog was weak enough to be ignored - we could see the shore almost the whole time. The water, though was cold. That could have been a good thing since I got quite warm in my Ianovated wetsuit whenever I managed not to fall for a while - except that my glasses completely fogged up every time I fell. "Completely" as in "I could not see a thing", which lasted for a couple of runs after each fall. Since I tend to fall every few runs, I had a problem! I actually saw a lot more when I took the glasses off, even though my prescription is not that weak (around -5).

I started wearing glasses or sunglasses when windsurfing earlier this year, after an eye doctor told me I have cataracts. Cataracts are strongly linked to UV exposure, of which we get plenty on the water, even on a cloudy day.  Sure, cataracts can easily be removed by surgery, but there's alway a remaining risk even in routine surgery; my grandmother actually died during cataract surgery. So I rather wear glasses with polycarbonate lenses that absorb more than 99% of the UV. But today, I discovered a new limit for glasses - once the water gets too cold, they become unusable. So I'll check out UV-absorbing contacts soon.

Back to contacts .. less than a year after not being able to use them (which led to the discovery of the cataracts). But the eye doctor had correctly diagnosed that the cause of my problems were dry eyes, a problem that I had not been aware of. I recently learned that dry eye problems are quite common if you work at a computer all day, since we blink a lot less when staring at a monitor. So I started using a little program that reminds me every few minutes, and my eyes have started to feel a lot better. The program I use is "Time Out", but there are many similar programs available.

But back to windsurfing. The lovely Nina was fully powered on her 4.2 m sail today, and worked on her Flakas. I saw one try that looked pretty good, but ended wet. Very wet, she said - lots of ice cold water got pushed into her hood, and did not want to come out again. After that, her tries were just a bit more hesitant. But it's just a few more weeks until she can practice in warm Texas waters!

Friday, November 25, 2016

New Loop Instruction Video

Here's a new loop instruction video:

It's very similar to most of what Andy Brandt teaches, but adds a few explanations that make a lot of sense. I especially like his explanation of "tall - small - tall":

  • get tall first, lifting up on the boom, to get the nose up
  • once the board is on the air, get small by pulling yourself up on the boom, and pulling the back leg up, to rotate
  • finally, get tall again to stop the rotation before the landing
Unfortunately, one critical piece of advice is missing in this video: how to grow a pair and go for it ...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Bay!

It was my bay today. Mine alone. My precious!

It's been windy 3 days in a row now. I sat out yesterday because of colds - Nina was fighting one, and the temperatures had dropped into the low 30s. After balmy almost-50 degrees the day before, that was too cold. But today was sunny. And the wind had turned from west to northwest, a much better direction. And it was warmer - above 40ºF! That's 5ºC, for you Europeans and  Australians. That counts as warm now. You just need to dress appropriately.
Ianovated wetsuits rule! 

Nina was feeling much better than the day before, but not 100% yet, so she figured a walk on the beach would be a better idea than windsurfing today. That meant I had the whole bay for myself! Not even a kiter, seal, or shark in sight! On a sunny day, with wind in the mid-20s! Fine by me - more little waves for me to play with. Nina took a few pictures:

At low tide, the walk to the water can be a bit long on the Cape Cod Bay side:

Being too lazy for a long walk, I started my session late, and from Ellis Landing in Brewster instead of Skaket Beach in Orleans.  The sun goes down at 4:15, which kept the session short - but it sure was worth it!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November Crowds

Today at Kalmus in 45ºF weather and 30+ mph wind:

Nice to see so many sails on the water this late in November!
Team Ianovated was well represented. The tough girl did not need mittens or gloves. The two smart guys used their tubes to keep their hands warm in their open palm mittens. The guy without tubes was smiling because he saw a jacuzzi session in his near future to warm up :-).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cold Makes Warm

In the last couple of weeks, I've often been cold at home, and had no clue why. The heat was working, the thermostat set plenty high, even outside temperatures were reasonable (around or above 50ºF, 10ºC). But my hands and feet would always get cold, and eventually the chill would spread to my entire body.

Today, I discovered the cause: lack of cold weather windsurfing! The last windsurfing session 9 days ago - too long a break! But today, we had a lovely little east wind in the low-to-mid 20 mph range come in, so I just had to go windsurfing at East Bay in Osterville - a tiny little bay that allows only 500-600 m long runs, but very flat water for jibes at both ends. Sure, it rained, but that's not a reason to stay home (except for Nina). It was also warm - 55ºF (13ºC).

Considering the temperatures, I overdressed: 4.5 mm semidry, long polypropylene shirt underneath, impact west on top, 5 mm booties, neoprene hood, and Ianovated open-palm mittens. Late fall is speed time, which also means that I rarely fall, so I started to overheat after just a few minutes on the water. Fun! That gave me an excuse to sometimes crash "on purpose", and at other times to just stop and get off the board, supposedly to check the speed for the last run on my GPS. Feeling hot, hot, hot...

When the wind picked up a bit, I took a little break and rigged down from a 7.5 m freeride sail to a 7.0 m race sail. Usually, that's a pretty safe recipe to stop me from planing out of jibes, but that failed today - it was just too flat, and the wind was too steady, since the "super moon" high tide made the windward sand spit almost disappear. Going into a jibe at full speed in perfectly flat water is one of the best feelings in windsurfing, and thanks to the short runs, I got to do that a lot. Fun! But eventually, the rain picked up to a level where it got really hard to see anything on the water, so I kept the session short. It's been a few hours by now, and I'm still warm! Playing out in the cold  makes warm. Cool.

Here are today's GPS tracks:
No great speeds, I did not even get 30 knots. But according to the Kalmus meter, wind averages were only 20 knots, with gusts usually staying below 25 knots, so I'm happy enough with 29 knots top speed. Maybe I could have gone a bit faster if I had seen more...

Friday, November 4, 2016

Another Great Hatteras Trip

We're back from Hatteras. It took a few days longer than planned - last Monday was the only day with planing winds all day long. We just had to stay - Nina needed to get that trick she was working on (and she did - more about it some other time), and I needed to do a bit of distance sailing to improve our GPS Team Challenge ranking for the month. It was a great day. Many thanks to the lovely Lisa for inviting us to stay at her house!

The wind this year was weird. We had only light wind for the entire 5-day ABK camp, which was a first. Fine by me, I love light wind freestyle! I worked a bit on my Jawbreakers and rail rides, and finally got the duck entry into Back-2-Back, so I was happy. The wind arrived for the weekend after the camp, which we spent at the W.E.T. Fall Regatta at Kashy's place. Two fantastic days of slalom racing (7.0 day 1, then 8.5 day 2), some GPS racing, and a couple of distance races. When we went to races there before, some of the top slalom sailors in the US (like Jesper and Chris) had shown up, so both Nina and I opted to compete in the "Intermediate" rather than the "Pro" races. Nina beat most guys, almost always coming in 2nd; she did manage to beat me in one of the races to come in first, when I got a bit distracted by the guy who was walking his gear right in my way to the finish line. I also managed to get a DNF in the first race, since I forgot which buoy marked the finish line. But fortunately, we had one discard, so I managed to place ahead of Nina. Close call! Lucky for me, she does not practice slalom sailing a lot. Here are a couple of pictures from the races:

During our second week in Waves, we had four more planing days, mostly on bigger sails. We were lazy this year, always sailing right in front of our house instead of driving to other spots. Apparently, it would have been worth to make the trip to the Canadian Hole on north wind days: Bart reported that it was much flatter there than in Waves, and much windier than the nearest iWindsurf meters showed. Maybe next year...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nina Likes Kiters

Nina likes kiters. She said so. We had two nice sessions in Duxbury Bay yesterday and today. She liked today a lot better. Perhaps the lack of rain today helped; perhaps seeing many other windsurfers on the water did, too (we both always love it when Bart joins us - so much positive energy!).

But the big thing today were the kiters. She spent most of her time trying Flakas, but she had to turn around on the other tack, too, right? The first time she did a duck jibe (which she does not even consider a freestyle more anymore), one of the kiter yelled at her "Nice duck jibe! I tried them, but never got one!". She liked that. Next time around, she did a push tack - to more applause from the kiter, who even knew what the name of the trick was.  So she got inspired, and did more tricks. She liked it, and so did the kiters. Maybe all that positive energy helped her to almost get he first Flaka - she got to the backwinded part, and messed up when pushing the clew through the wind (probably a tad too early because she was excited). Any day now...

No, I did not see any of that. I did my old boring GPS speed stuff on the other side of the bridge. Well, I did not find it boring.We actually had 4 guys with full slalom gear on the water - Bart, Richard, I, and Chris. Very surprisingly, I ended up with the fastest 2 second speed when we posted out session at the GPS Team Challenge. Usually, Bart and Chris are at least 3 knots faster than I am! But Chris had a late start and then started rigging way to small - by the time he hit the water with the right gear, the wind had dropped a couple of knots. So beating his top speed may have to do more with my skills in getting up early than my windsurfing skills. Why I was a tad faster than Bart was more of a mystery until I looked at the GPS tracks:
 I sailed at least 100 feet closer to the far shore a number of times. That may not sound like much, but it makes a huge difference on the water: I had chitter-chatter flat water, while Bart sailed in 6 inch chop. Blame it on spot experience - this was Bart's second session in Duxbury, but I had sailed there more than 60 times before. I knew exactly how close I could go - I had carefully mapped the most dangerous rocks by hitting them! Once Bart gets comfortably sailing closer to shore, and Chris gets onto the water early, results will look different. But for now, I can celebrate the temporary illusion that I can compete with them! Oh, and a personal best (PB) for the nautical mile, too. My previous PB was at exactly the same spot, but in 5 knots more wind ... set more than 4 year ago. About time to break it!

But all kidding aside, let me give credit where credit is due. This year, participating in the GPS Team Challenge gave me the opportunity to hang out with the two fastest windsurfers in the US for a week each - Roo in Hatteras in April, and Boro just recently here on Cape Cod. Both were very happy to share their knowledge about speedsurfing, which has been tremendously helpful. Roo have very concrete tips about how to set up the gear, and what effect changes would have; he also followed me while sailing, and diagnosed a few issues for me to work on. Boro mentioned a lot of very similar things, with "comfort = speed" being very high on both Roo's and Boro's list of tips. What also helped me a lot was Boro's offer to use his gear while sailing at Egg Island. I ended up sailing much larger gear than I usually would have in the conditions, and was perfectly comfortably. That gave me the all-important confidence to rig large today - large enough for 2 mile long downwind runs. And being fully powered on slalom gear is definitely more fun than trying to play it safe! Many thanks again to Roo and Boro for all their help. And also many thanks for the folks behind the GPS Team Challenge for creating something that helped up get together!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

ECWF Cape Cod Pictures and Results

A week after the East Coast Windsurfing Festival Cape Cod, life is slowly getting back to normal again. Once again, the festival was a great success, with more than 30 windsurfers competing in 3 different disciplines (racing, freestyle, and GPS freeracing), with lots of support from other windsurfers, friends, and family on the beach. This event would not have been possible without many helping hands - let me name just a few:
  • PK - tent setup and local sponsorship
  • Jerry - trophies and local sponsorship
  • Joanie and Spencer - local sponsorship and moral support
  • Barbara - registration
  • Pam - race flags and scoring
  • Henrikas, Alex, Gonzalo - buoy setup, takedown, and adjustments
  • Boro - speed clinic 
  • Dani, Myles, Joe, Lisa, and others - donations
  • Chachi, Freestyle Fred, Mike - freestyle judging
  • Doug and Nancy - Saturday night party
Big thanks to all, and to the many others who helped during setup, the event itself, and takedown! It's fun to see the windsurfing community get together to get such an event running. With all the helpers, Nina got to play a little bit, and participated in freestyle. Rumors have it that some men were glad they did not have to compete with her :-). The winners of the events were:
  • Open Racing: Gonzalo Giribet
  • Limited Racing: Joe Natalie
  • SUP/Shortboard Racing: Mike Burns
  • Women's Racing: Jeanne Baumann
  • GPS Freeracing (distance): Mike Burns
  • GPS Freeracing (top speed): Boris Vujasinovic
  • Pro Freestyle: Mike Burns
  • Men's Freestyle: Henrikas Rimkus
  • Women's Freestyle: Nina Schweikardt
For the best combined freestyle and racing results, Mike Burns and Jeanne Baumann were crowned King and Queen of the Cape. A full list of the top 3 finishers is on the Cape Cod page on the ECWF website. The full racing results are here.

Here are some more pictures of the event - thanks to Nina, Andrei, Pam, and Gonzalo (I downloaded most pictures from Facebook and did not track the sources, so there may be one or two from others.. thanks!). 
Getting ready to race
Das Boot and a few racers
Light wind racing
More wind for a few races
The Flying Spaniard on his Phantom
Henrikas chilling
Chachi sliding backwards
Mike spocking
Rich - ankle biter or B2B entry?
Happy faces after 2 days of races

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Who Is Faster?

The idea: 
GPS Freeracing: put on a GPS, pick your own course, and go as fast as you can in a given period. Whoever covers the most distance wins! Could there be a simpler race format? I think not!

The attraction: 
No complicated starts, no pileups around buoys, no upwind or downwind legs - just sail as you like against a bunch of others.

The when and where:
At the 4th Annual East Coast Windsurfing Festival Cape Cod, Kalmus Beach, Hyannis, September 17 and 18, 2016.

The wind:
Just enough to get planing on larger slalom kits; sail sizes ranged up to 10 m, some competitors used their longboards. Average wind speed was around 12-15 knots, gusts never exceeded 18 knots, even after taking into account that the iWindsurf wind meter reads low in the SSW wind direction we had.

The players:
A wide mix of freeriders, freestylers, wave sailors, racers, and speed sailors. Some came from Cape Cod or the Boston area, others traveled further to be here - even all the way from Reno, Nevada. They included Mike Burns, seen by many as the best amateur freestyler in the Northeast US; and special guest "Boro" Boris Vujasinovic, the fastest windsurfer in the US. Both were on 115 l slalom boards and race sails - Mike on 7.8, Boro on 8.6. But since Boro is about a head taller than Mike and 30% heavier, he was at a disadvantage in the light winds - he would have needed a 10 m sail to be even!

Race 1:
The first GPS race was held on Saturday afternoon when the wind had picked up. Here are Mike's and Boro's tracks:
They started on opposite tacks, and would cross each other's path many times. Boro was faster, but Mike kept more speed in his jibes, and got right back to speed after every jibe. Boro, who regretted not bringing his big gear and was just marginally powered, several times had problems getting up to speed again. The result: Mike's distance of 12.14 km beat Boro's distance of 11.71 km; Arnold came in 3rd with 10.75 km. Boro's top speed during the race was 26.58 knots, Mike's 25.05 knots.

Race 2:
Boro switched to a racing tactic: he stayed close to Mike, so that they would have the same wind; any lull should affect both of them. He planned to sail just a bit further than Mike before each jibe, so that he'd make up the distance he was behind from the first race. But Mike quickly realized what Boro was up to, and turned it against him. When he saw a high-speed ferry coming, he knew that it would create a lot of chop.  Mike sailed towards the ferry, and then turned in the last possible moment to avoid the ferry wake; Boro went too far and lost precious time in the famed Kalmus voodoo chop. Perhaps falling behind Mike demoralized Boro, or perhaps the wind dropped a little - after the next jibe, Boro had to slog for more than two minutes before being able to plane again. Here are the GPS tracks for this "tactical incident":
In the end, the result for the second race was similar: Boro had the higher top speed (27.63 knots vs. Mike's 25.02), but Mike had the higher distance (11.6 km vs. Boro's 10.52; Bart, who did not sail in race one, finished 2nd with 10.78 km and 27.02 knots).

Here are the complete results for the GPS racing:

Mike ended up also winning the "Pro" freestyle and the 6.5 m class in racing, and was crowned King of the Cape (again, after passing the title to Rich Simmons in 2015). 

Boro took home one Rob Biaggi's great metal trophies for top speed:

I'm planning to write another post with results and details from racing and freestyle soon, but now, I have to take care of my lovely wife - I've passed the cold that I collected from Boro on to her...

Monday, September 5, 2016


I like seals. Maybe not the same way a great white shark likes them, but I think they are cute. They make me smile when I see them.

But today, they scared me. We wanted to do speed runs in a marsh.  The seals just wanted to hang out. Lots of them - I saw at least 5 of them at one time. Once, one of them was about one meter away from me in the water. I started wondering if my fancy windsurf boots look like fish, and if they'd start nibbling soon. But the bigger worry was to run into one of them going almost 30 knots in a speed run. Not something I wanted to do. Nina actually did clip one of them, but it was not a full-speed hit.

Maybe I was too scared already. Wind averages were in the mid-30s (mph), gusts in the 40s. It did not help that I was on unfamiliar small gear (my 72 l speed board and a 5.0 m race sail), and that the wind had big holes that made me sink into the water to my knees. Half a second later a gust would come and rip the sail out of my hands. Ha! Very funny!

Nina was on a 4.2 m freestyle sail, and complained that it was extremely unstable. It was not. The wind was. But at least it was warm. Kind of. And it did not rain all the time. And the fog was there for only part of the time. There were only a few minutes the fog and rain were so dense that I could not see Nina, who was in the water maybe 100 feet from me. Both of us were body-dragging downwind to get back to the launch. I tried butt sailing instead, but it was too windy for that. I'd end up with an involuntary water start, followed by a 30-knot catapult. That was me being catapulted at 30 knots. The board was too slow to keep up with me.

Fun day. Did I mention Nina also beat me in every single one of the six speed categories we use ont he GPS Team Challenge? Girls rule. Boys ... well, Bart was there to represent boys properly. He sailed through the chop as if it was not there. Except when he exploded every now and then. But he had fun, and was smart enough not to follow us upwind to the speed strip. So he sailed back, instead of improving "being dragged" skills.

We windsurfers are a funny bunch. Yesterday, I felt like I knew stuff - giving a jibe lecture, planing for hours, getting a 1 hour average good enough for a top-10 ranking on GPS TC. Fun! Today, I got a swimming lesson, and was scared by friendly seals. Fortunately, I did not see the manatee (Seekuh) that Nina saw. If I had seen it, I'd probably have night mares about speed surfing into an endangered 1000 pound sea mammal!

The GPS tracks below are from yesterday. I am not going to show you today's tracks.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gear For Sale

Our garage is overflowing. No, not with cars, silly. Garages are for windsurf gear. We have to much, so we need to sell stuff. Here's a list of things we are selling, with pictures below:
  • Gaastra Manic 5.3 HD and 5.7, 2008, $60 each. The sails are in good condition for their age.
  • Mistral Edge slalom board, 92 l, $100. 268 cm x 54.5 cm. This is an older, but amazingly fast, slalom board. It has a working adjustable mast track so newer sails work perfectly fine on it.
Mistral Edge

Gaastra Manic 5.7 (also have a 5.3 that's HD/XPly)
The gear below has been sold already (for the Hawk 95, pending a test sail):
  • Fanatic Hawk 95 from 2006, $250 - probably sold. A great little board to go fast on. I broke 30 knots on it a few years ago, but it has since been replaced with a slalom board.
  • Exocet WindSUP 10, $650 - sold. 175 l, 305 cm long, 76 cm (32") wide. Big enough to learn windsurfing on, and the daggerboard makes getting back to where you started easy. Also fun for more experienced windsurfers. Unlike many other SUPs, this board will plane, thanks to the step tail. This board has a major professional repair near the nose.
  • Maui Sails RDM 400 mast, 100% carbon, $150 - sold. Very good condition, not used much.
  • 400 cm RDM mast, 55 or 65% carbon, $75 - sold. I believe this is a Fiberspar mast.
  • JP Real World Wave 76, $180 - sold. A wave board for the really windy days or for smaller sailors.
All items are for pickup on Cape Cod (Centerville or Kalmus) only. Lowball offers will be ignored. The easiest way to get in touch with me is through the Cape Cod Windsurfers group on Facebook, where most of these items are listed for sale, too. Or leave a comment with your contact information.
Exocet WindSUP 10 (sold)

Fanatic Hawk 95 (sold, pending a test ride)

MS RDM 400 100% (sold)
JP Real World Wave 76 (sold)

RDM 400 55% (sold)