Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Twenty, Forty, Thirty

Three days of wind in a row - very different days.

20 mph ESE at West Dennis. After 2 1/2 weeks in Hatteras, it feels very bumpy. The meter seems to read high - I need my 117 l board to get planing with a 7.0. Nina is barely powered on her 5.0, and "everything felt wrong". Good that every day of sailing is a great day of sailing! In the evening, we drive to Mystic, CT, so sail the Sandy Point Slicks on Monday.

A huge storm brought 70+ mph winds during the night, with power outages from North Carolina to Canada.
Getting to the Barn Island boat launch takes longer than planned since some streets are closed due to fallen trees.
We rig when the meter readings show 32 mph averages, and some computer models predict further drops. Nina rigs the 3.4, our smallest sail. I rig the 5.6 Racing Blade, since Boro said the sail can handle a lot of wind. Sailing away from the launch is easy - there's a pronounced wind shadow. Maybe it should have tipped me off that I was fully planing within a second on the 72 l speed board. Once I leave the wind shadow, the fight starts. The sail is too big! Crash! Try to waterstart. The sail pushes me under water. I thought I knew how to waterstart? Again. The wind picks up the board and throws it around. And so it continues. Sailing out 2000 feet took 90 seconds. Getting back takes half an hour.

I rig down to the 5.0 Koncept, and fight my way up to the sandbar through 1-2 ft chop. On my way, I set a record - for the slowest sailing of a speedboard ever! But even at just 10-15 knots, it only takes 15 minutes to get half a mile upwind and a mile across. But when I arrive, I need a break! I'm also disoriented, and spend the next 40 minutes walking around looking for flat water. I later discover that the wind had picked up to averages above 40 mph, gusting above 50, during that time. Nina spent a lot of this time sitting on shore - the 3.4 is way to big!

And so it continues. We start sailing, the wind drops. I'm nervous about sailing back a mile on a 72 l board - I need about 110 l to float me! I sail back, rig the 5.6 again, and pull out a big board. As I get ready to go out, the wind picks up again to 40 mph. So back to the 72 l board, and once again an upwind sail to the sand bar. I get a few ok runs in before the wind drops. While I was going back and forth, Nina had some fun working on Vulcans on the 3.4; Dean set a new personal best for 2 second top speed of 37.7 knots; and Bart, who arrived late due to many closed streets, hit 35.8 knots. By the time I get things dialed in, the wind starts dropping again, and I barely manage a 32-knot run. But at least I managed to make it back to the launch without having to slog. Every day of sailing is a great day of sailing, but this day was an adventure.

The wind is finally nice. It lets us sleep late, and then comes in exactly as predicted (after adding a few miles per hour to the forecast because it's WSW). After feeling a bit like a beginner the day before, I decide to show the 5.6 who's the boss! I ask Nina for rigging advice. With almost an inch more downhaul, the sail actually has some loose leech! I still bounce around a bit when crossing over to Egg Island, which is half a mile downwind:

But once I get there, it's flat! The wind is almost at a right angle to the second sandbar, which is fully out due to a very low tide. That's not great for top speed, since going deep downwind means hitting chop after just a few seconds; but it's fun for just going back and forth, and working on jibes. I'm having a blast - compared to the 72 l speed board, the 90 l slalom board feels huge, and is really easy to get going and jibe. I end up with my 3rd-fastest session ever (33.5 knots, 62 km/h), and tie my personal best for alpha 500 with 22.5 knots. Here's a video of this alpha 500 run:
Average speed on the first leg was 29.6 knots; minimum speed in the jibe was 10.7 knots; and average speed on the second leg was about 19 knots. There's lots of room for improvement in the jibe and coming out of the jibe ... next time!

I managed to sail back in time just before the wind dropped too low, and had too walk and slog just a little bit - well worth it! That was a great day, all alone at Egg Island.

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