Tuesday, September 25, 2018

ECWF Cape Cod: GPS Racing

It's been a couple of days since we completed the sixth annual East Coast Windsurfing Festival Cape Cod, and it's just beginning to appear possible that we might have it again next year. A longer report of the event will follow, but for now, let me talk about the GPS Racing.

The best wind of the weekend was last Friday, so I decided to hand out GPS units to anyone who was registered for the event and would take one. That included several Kalmus regulars (mostly non-speedsurfers), as well as PWA slalom pro Marco Lang. Since we all wanted to go to the event party at Inland Sea in the evening, we all had to stop early, just before the wind picked up, so most of the results were from 19 mph or lower wind averages. Here are the results:
Speeds are in miles per hour.  Everyone went faster than the average wind speed of 19 mph. Marco beat everyone by at least 4.5 mph (4 knots). Check out this picture of Marco flying on the fin:

The next group of three (PR, AR, and CE) all reached about 31.5 mph. Two of them (PR and CE) sailed exactly the same equipment as Marco; one (AR) was on slalom gear with a larger sail. Weight also plays a role in speed, but two of the three weighed in roughly the same as Marco - so the 4 knot speed difference is entirely due to skill.

The next sailor, NS in 5th place, stands our in a group of her own with 28.4 mph. She was also on full slalom gear, sailing happily along with Marco:
The last group of three sailors with speeds around 24-25 mph was on freeride or freestyle gear. Going just a bit of the wind is usually faster, as JSh's speed shows. All of them looked quite fast, and were going about 5 mph faster than the average wind speed.

All the speeds were from the Friday before the event. Since we never got enough wind during the event to run a GPS race, we used to top speeds from Friday for the GPS ranking at the event. Congrats to the winners, and many thanks to all who competed - and to Marco for showing what real speed looks like!

ECWF Cape Cod 2018

We had the 6th East Coast Windsurfing Festival Cape Cod last weekend. 21 windsurfers competed over the course of 2 days in racing, freestyle, SUP racing, and SUP relays. A big "thank you" to all that helped make this event a success, especially:
  • Marco Lang for traveling from Austria to participate at the event, answer many questions at the event party and on the beach, explaining the gear, and many helpful tips
  • Phil Mann from InlandSea for hosting a great party on Friday evening, organizing demo foils from Naish, and being at the beach both days to set up the demo gear and help anyone wanting to try it
  • Jason Meunier from VoilOka for driving the huge trailer with demo gear down from Canada, and setting up the demo gear
  • Bruno Robida from 2 Rad Windsurfing for financial support and raffle items
  • Vincent Lindauer for his efforts to get demo gear to the event, and for asking Marco to come to the event
  • Chris Eldridge, a local windsurfer and Fanatic/Duotone team rider, for help with the demo gear 
  • Peter Kimball from AP Kimball Construction for financial support and setting up a canopy for the event 
  • Jerry Evans from Chatham Wind and Time for making the trophies and financial support
  • Tom Ben-Eliyahu for help with the demo gear and driving the boat during the tow-in foiling
  • Barbara Baldwin for helping with registration and running the event
  • Joanie Scudder for arranging the sponsorship from Hy-Line cruises
  • Everyone who contributed to the Gofundme campaign to pay for Marco's travel expenses

Many of the people listed above had helped similarly in the past, and participated in the races during the event.

It was great to have demo gear from Fanatic, Duotone, and Naish at the event. Many of the competitors and a number of non-competitors took advantage of the opportunity to test new windsurfing and foil gear.

Next, a brief day-by-day description of the event.

Phil Mann and Naish hosted a party at Inland Sea in West Dennis in the evening, with a Q&A session with PWA pro Marco Lang. It was well attended and fun, although most windsurfers arrived a bit later since we had a nice southerly breeze at Kalmus. The Fanatic and Duotone gear was already available at the beach, so many windsurfers tried new boards, sails, and foils.
To make sure that we would have a ranking in the GPS Racing category, I handed out GPS loaners to everyone I saw who was registered for the event, and had expressed interest in GPS racing. We had about 8 competitors in total. Marco Lang beat everyone else by about 4 knots, reaching a 2-second speed of 31.55 knots (2 second average) on a Duotone Warp 7.7 and a Fanatic Jag 108.

Side-off northwest wind from 10 to 30 mph created interesting conditions for racing, and challenging conditions for the freestyle competition. With a first race start shortly before 11 am, we managed to do five races and a couple of freestyle heats. Many windsurfers again took the opportunity to test race gear.

The wind forecast for the day was extremely light, and unfortunately came true. In the morning, Marco gave a very nice description of the Duotone sail range, followed by a description of the Fanatic boards by Jonathan when he eventually joined us.

After lunch, we ran SUP races and a SUP team relay, which again was tons of fun. We also used out little inflatable for "tow foiling", which created both astonishing rides and spectacular crashes.

Despite the very light wind, we managed to get one freestyle heat and the freestyle final in, where Mike and Henrikas displayed a variety of 360s, Ankle Biters, and more. When Henrikas failed to get his trade-mark Back-to-back in the very light wind, but Mike landed a clean Matrix, the decision when to Mike. Since Henrikas had won the SUP/shortboard class in racing, this set up a tie for the "King of the Cape" title. We had to dig deep into the tie breaker rules to find out who would be the King of the Cape 2018: Henrikas! Congrats to the new King and Jeanne, who is the 2018 Queen of the Cape.  I plan to post the full results of all disciplines in a separate post - for now, a few pictures:
Nina and Marco speeding on Friday
Racing action

Henrikas, King of the Cape 2018

Chris and Marco on the inflatable Fanatic tandem
Towing Tom
"Best Stoke" winner Spencer
Mike mid-Matrix
Freestyle can be exhausting!
Happy winners Ansel and Martin

Overall, it was again a fun event. Many competitors and demo gear users came to us after the event to thank us (which is definitely appreciated!). The stoke was high even on Sunday, when the wind was very light - we know how to have fun even without wind!

You may want to stop reading here.
Unfortunately, the light wind also seemed to keep some windsurfers away. The low attendance, despite moving the event by a week to get better wind, and despite demo gear and a PWA pro as the "guest star", makes it questionable whether there will be another ECWF Cape Cod in the future. Organizing the event is quite a bit of work in addition to the event days - just getting the signatures from all necessary town officials can take a day, and that's one of the easier parts. The organization we formed specifically to host events like this, the ECWA, ended up loosing money on this event; unless the ECWF Hatteras in October is a big success, we would need to cut expenses at future events.

Every event will have some unexpected things happen that cause stress for the organizers. Some of these can't be helped, like crashing scoring programs or some random idiot driving over the ladder we use to put longboards on top of our van. But other thing are very demotivating. As most of you know, the event was run by a German couple. Germans expect that if you give a word, you stick to it (well, at least Nina and I do!). If a local shop or the representative of a big windsurfing company says he'd bring or send items for the event raffle, and then does not, that's a big disappointment. For the local shop, we are fortunate enough to have another local shop that has always supported the ECWF (Inland Sea Windsurfing). For the large company, we will try hard to separate the person who apparently forgot his promises from the company (which we love), but it's not easy. And just for future reference: no, it it not ok to come to an event, to not register, to not sign the liability waiver, but to insist on racing on equipment that the event organizers and race director have specifically excluded from the races. You are free to disagree, of course, but just joining a race on equipment that was deemed too dangerous for this event is extremely inconsiderate and arrogant. Stating that you would "stay away from everyone", and then later posting picture where you are right next to several others in the middle of the race? Priceless. (Other words come to mind, but shall remain unwritten)

I run a small company. We have often presented our products at meetings where we had access to a number of potential customers. Every single time, we had to pay for this opportunity - often thousands of dollars. For the ECWF, we did not ask for money, since giving the local windsurfers the opportunity to test gear was more important for us. We did, however, ask for at least a small contribution to the raffle, which gives windsurfers an extra reason to join the event. Despite promises, we did not get anything. We thought that a company might at least contribute to the cost of getting one of their team riders to the event, especially in a year where they have a significantly increased marketing budget since they changed their name. Again, nothing. Well, "Denken ist Gl├╝ckssache".

I am trying hard to focus on the great people I got to know at the event, or who I have known and who have participated and/or helped again, rather than on the few negative experiences, but it's a bit of a struggle right now. So unlike last year, where we started getting the permit for the next event soon after the event, we won't plan next year's ECWF Cape Cod before our trip to Australia. There, we'll attend a few events and races, and speedsurfing on some of the top spots in the world, and wave sailing in some of the best waves in the world, will hopefully put things into perspective.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Marco Lang at the ECWF Cape Cod!

It was a bit of a bummer that we had to move the ECWF Cape Cod back one week because of very light winds, but it had one great side effect: we will have a "special guest" again! This time, it's Marco Lang, a top-level PWA slalom sailor from Austria.

Marco finished 7th overall on the PWA slalom last year, and won the PWA slalom in Sylt. He is sponsored by Fanatic and Duotone, which also sponsor the ECWF.

To pay for Marco's flight to the US, we started a fundraiser on Gofundme - please feel free to help with a donation! Five local windsurfers have donated $420 in the first couple of hours of the campaign, but we still need more contributions to reach the goal of $1100. What would you give to be able to get tips from one of the best windsurfers in the world, and to ask him questions about speed, racing, or freestyle?

Here are a couple of more pictures from the Fanatic Team website:

For more pictures and videos, check Marco's web site or his Facebook page!

Big thanks to all who have contributed to the fundraiser, and to Vincent Lindauer for inviting Marco! I hope to see you all in Kalmus on September 22nd and 23rd!

ECWF Cape Cod Now September 22-23!

In view of a forecast of very light winds for this weekend, we will use the "no wind" option and move the ECWF Cape Cod back one week, to September 22-23. Here's a graph that shows the wind forecast for Sunday noon:

Sunday forecast from Windy.com (European model)
The forecast from iWindsurf.com looks pretty similar:

Wind forecast from iWindsurf.com (US model, GFS)
Unfortunately, the European and US computer models agree, so it is very likely that there will be no wind on Sunday morning - not even enough for longboard racing! Both days, the wind will most likely to light for planing races or to test the demo gear that several sponsors will bring.

We do not yet have meaningful wind forecasts for the weekend of September 22-23, since wind forecasts are very unreliable for a week or more out. However, days with as little wind as shown in the forecasts above are quite rare on Cape Cod, so it will probably be windier.

To see what the event participants thought about moving the festival, we send out emails to everyone who had already registered, and posted a poll on Facebook. The response was an overwhelming vote for moving the ECWF a week later:
In the poll, 14 windsurfers said they would only come on the second weekend, while 3 windsurfers can come only on the original weekend. The (fewer) email responses showed a similar pattern.

Therefore, the East Coast Windsurfing Festival Cape Cod will take place on September 22-23.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

So Much Fun

"I don't know why this is so much fun!" That's what Nina said during and after a windsurf session a couple of days ago. For a bit of context, here's what the wind meter readings looked like:
We sailed from about 4 to 6 pm. The wind was about 10-15 mph, with lulls down to 6 and gusts to 18 mph. That's not wind where most "sane" windsurfers would even bother to go sailing, but Nina had a big, fat grin on here face the entire time.

The reason? She was on a 30+ year old "round bottom" longboard, the Magnum 390. She was fast the entire time, even in the lulls, with a 6.5 m sail. She also snapped the board around on a dime when it was time to turn, and I don't think she crashed at all. We started at Kalmus in offshore wind, and sailed across the shipping channel where the wind was a bit steadier. When I dragged my WindSUP across the sandbar to see if the water in the "baby bay" at Egg Island was flatter (it was not), Nina sailed around and met me a few minutes later.

Why was it so much fun? I can only guess. I think a big reason is the excellent glide of the Magnum, which either is a D2 board, or at least quite similar (the back end is a bit flatter, and the nose is not quite as pointy, as other D2 boards). The board reaches about 8 knots speed in maybe 5-6 knots of wind, which feels almost as fast as planing on a shortboard. Another part of the fun may have been that the board is not that easy to sail, so it may have required a bit of concentration .. can you say "zone"? I also had fun working a bit on my back-to-back in gusty conditions, but the girl sure had more fun.

Things evened out a bit the next day, where I had a fantastic session in 10-20 mph wind on my F2 Lightning in Barnstable Harbor, while Nina stayed home. It was a beautiful day, and planing near the dunes on the far side, with miles and miles of water just for me, was just about perfect. I did not even mind the little swim when the mast foot came loose and the board started to drift away. Perhaps my conversion to a standard single-bold mastfoot needs a bit of a refinement...