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.