Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 Review

That's it for 2019 - and it has been since November 12. Due to a couple of trips to Germany (first by me, then by Nina), the windsurfing season ended earlier than in any of the last years, since I started recording sessions in 2009. It will be a few more weeks until we sail again in warmer climates, and this will be the longest break in all those years, too.

But I can't complain. My windsurfing year started with sailing at Fangy's Weed Farm on January 1st, and I managed to squeeze 148 sessions into the shortened year. That includes a few days with more than one session, since I counted most foiling sessions separately. A bit more than a third of the sessions this year were foil sessions - 53 in total.

Learning to foil was definitely one of the highlights of the year, but the bigger one was the trip to Australia. Windsurfing in 20+ knots on perfectly flat water at the Weed Farm, Lilacs, and Lake George was something absolutely unique. Of all the memorable sessions in Oz, the one in Albany when Nina and I set PBs for alphas stands out - here's a picture of Nina jibing:
We did not even have much wind that day - just enough to be nicely powered on 7.0 and the big slalom board. How great this spot can be shows a recent session from the "Pesky Pinnaroos", who set a total of 17 (!) PB there just a week ago. Most of the guys who set PBs have been sailing for many years! One of the guys posted a video from that day:

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Kafka Americano

This is another non-windsurfing post .. although it may well contain some useful information for some of my windsurfing friends in the US, who may find themselves in a similar situation. To those who live in other countries, it might provide a bit of entertainment..

It started simple enough. After returning to the US, I found a letter from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) that it was time to renew my drivers license, with a strong suggestion to do this online. That had been easy enough in the past - but we live in a new era!

A new, and apparently very important, part of the license renewal is the obligation to provide proof of legal residency. No problem, I thought - I have had US passports for 12 years now, and used my current passport just yesterday to travel back to the US. But things started going wrong after I had entered (and thoroughly double-checked) the information from my passport. I got the message that the verification of my passport had started, and that I should click "Next".

A few "next" buttons and web forms later, I was told that I had "successfully begun the renewal process", and instructed to print out a letter and take it to an RMV office. A section labeled "Documents Required" stated I needed my "US Passport for Lawful Presence Requirement".

Should be easy, I thought. Should be easy, thought the RMV person to whom I handed my passport. She scanned it. Then she scanned it again. Then again. Then she tried typing the information by hand. Only to be told that the passport could not be verified by the system. She tried to send me away without a new drivers license. When I pointed out that this was not an entirely satisfying solution, she handed me off to her supervisor.

The supervisor scanned my passport. And scanned it again. And again. Then she entered the information by hand. But her supervisory powers were insufficient to convince "the system" to verify the passport. When I pointed out that I had used the very same passport just a day earlier to enter the US, she pointed out that there was "no way" to overrule the system. She suggested that I should come back with my Naturalization Certificate.

Remembering what I had learned when reading Kafka in my youth, I understood that I should be happy  (a) to have definitive instructions;  (b) to live just an hour (round trip) from the RMV office; and (c) to have real hope that just one more visit might actually solve the issue! There was absolutely no point in comparing my situation with my wife's situation, who had been able to complete the entire process on the computer within a few minutes.

Thanks to excellent filing skills and driving a bit above the speed limit, I was back in the office before the supervisor could even finish her lunch break. Half an hour later, I walked out of the office with a temporary drivers license and a promise that the new license should arrive in the mail soon. Apparently, "the system" had accepted my Certificate of Naturalization!

A bit of research at home showed that I was definitely not the only person experiencing these problems. The local CBS station reported more than a year ago that "Drivers With New Passports Face Problems Trying To Renew Licenses". They cited an RMV spokesperson stating that "the issue seems to be isolated to passports issued within the last six months". But that was last year. A newer forum post from a software consultant for RMVs stated "any passport issued within the last 15 months is likely not going to verify". My passport was issued 20 months ago - they are not catching up, it seems! Fortunately, my Certificate of Naturalization is 12 years old, and has apparently made it into the USCIS SAVE system that the RMV uses.

So - when does your driver's license expire? If it's anytime soon, get started with the renewal, or at least make sure that you have the required documents. Most windsurfers I know have a passport, but it may not work, especially if it was issued within the last year or two. So make sure that you have one of the other allowed immigration documents handy: your birth certificate if you were born in the US, or a Certificate of Naturalization or similar if you were born in a different country.

I have had a driver's license in Massachusetts for more almost three decades now, so it was a bit annoying to spend half a day trying to renew my drivers license. But that's pretty minor compared to what some immigrants with temporary legal status experienced when trying to renew their commercial driver's licenses, as reported by the CommonWealth Journal. So I guess I'll have to count myself lucky!

Saturday, November 30, 2019


Please note: this is a personal post, not a windsurfing post. 
Time has come to say goodbye. More than 60 years have passed since this picture was taken. In my eyes, her beauty that is so obvious in this picture never waned, it only matured. Even when she was in her high 70s, comments how good and healthy she looked were common. Very few knew the true story.

She raised 4 children, sending them all to college. The first-born became a social worker, helping those in need. The second one became the first doctor in the family, as she often proudly pointed out. He was the one who flew away as soon as he was 18 - first to study at the other end of Germany, and then to the US, where he learned and turned - from a scientist into an entrepreneur. The third child, often a trouble maker as a teen, became CEO of a public company. The fourth child studied medicine and became head of a well respect child psychiatric hospital. As her children grew older and eventually left home, she devoted her energy to social efforts through her church.

Her health troubles started before the fourth child was even born. I remember many times where she was in the hospital, often for surgery. She ignored her illness as much as possible; I don't recall ever hearing or seeing her suffer until I was well past 30 years old. When her husband got sick before he turned 60, she stood by his side for the many years of decline. But seeing him suffer, and (in the final months) coming home to the empty house they had built together, took its toll: she developed diabetes. For decades, ignoring her health problems had worked well, but for diabetes, that was the wrong strategy. So she became a dialysis patient. Her hope had always been to make it to her 50th birthday; she was almost 75 when the dialysis started.

By now, her list of medications had grown to two dozens, including opiates to fight the constant nerve pain that was the consequence of other drugs, and had caused her to loose all feeling in her feet. That made dialysis, which is never easy, even harder for her. But she concentrated on the 4 other days per week. Long trips, which she had enjoyed her entire life, were out of question now, but she enjoyed her frequent trips to picturesque nearby towns, or to the theater. Even several falls that led to broken bones slowed her down only temporarily.

Last summer, she finally received medication that made her original illness almost disappear. Encouraged, but also worn out by three days of dialysis per week, she entered the waiting list for a kidney transplant. New plans were made for trips to the Baltic Sea and to the US, pending a donor match and one more surgery. But at the same time, her general health declined. Pneumonia and shortness of breath set in, with regular extended visits at the university hospital where she received the best possible care.

After a final visit to her favorite town with her dear friend, our former priest, she fell while getting out of the car. She still drove home afterwards; went to dialysis as usual the next morning; and wanted to go back home, as usual, too. But the doctors ordered a CT scan, and initiated an emergency surgery to stop bleeding from the fall. The surgery went well, and she was talking again the day after. But then, pneumonia and sepsis set it, and she slipped into a coma. 

The doctors managed to fight the infection, and she regained consciousness several days later. Her  children and grand children were at her bed every day; even "the American" and his daughter had come to be at her side. Her condition improved to the point were she was able to breathe without machine help for part of the day, and where she could answer questions with nods and head shakes. But the final ordeal had used up all of her reserves. After the initial improvement, she started being more and more tired; sleeping more and more; and needing more machine help to keep breathing.

She had often made it clear that she did not want to prolong the final stages of her life. In her living will ("Patientenverfügung"), she had declined to be kept alive by artificial breathing and nutrition. When the doctors had originally intubated her, if was an immediate life-or-death situation, with definite hope for a full recovery. However, after three weeks in intensive care, this hope was almost gone. Was time to respect her wishes, and let her go? 
I wrote the above 3 years ago. We did not know then that she had contracted influenza in the hospital - one more infection that often kills, but which she beat. She fully recovered, and was back home a couple of months later.

She continued to enjoy life even as her health continued to worsen. Over the last years of her life, she had several more falls, which required a shoulder and a hip replacement. When I came to visit her two weeks ago, both of these needed to be replaced again, but her poor overall health would have made any major surgery extremely risky, and prospects for another full recovery extremely poor.

Pain had been a constant companion for my mother for decades. The opiates that she had taken for more than 15 years just barely managed to control it. But in the last few months, she enjoyed a relatively painless time thanks to medical THC, for which she was very grateful. However, after 8 years on dialysis, her body had become too weak to handle it anymore. On the morning after her final dialysis treatment, she awoke early from pain, and neither opiate pills nor THC drops helped. It took a visit by a palliative care doctor and injections of stronger opiates and tranquilizer to let her sleep. A day later, she made the final decision to stop dialysis. In this, she had the full support of her various doctors and her family.

As the news of her decision spread, many of her friends stopped by or called to say goodbye. We had a big family gathering with all her 4 kids, two grand children, and a few more family members the following Saturday, which she (and we) enjoyed very much. The support of the palliative care team helped to keep her last days free from pain. She passed away in her sleep in the night from Monday to Tuesday. 

Her four children all experienced her differently, and formed their own image of her. But she was very much loved by all of them. I will remember her as a loving and caring person, and as the strongest woman I know. Goodbye, mom.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Ocean Air Windfest 2019

During the last week of our October trip to Hatteras, we had fun at the Ocean Air Windfest, with a day of high wind racing, a day of light wind racing, and gear demos. We skipped out on a foil demo session, and the high wind freestyle competition was canceled because nobody showed up, but we got to see Mike Burns showing his freestyle skills instead, which was cool.

Ocean Air posted a video of the event on Facebook:
The event was a lot of fun. As usual in racing, there were a few things we learned, and some of that learning was less fun. On the light wind day, both Nina and I tried to copy Andy Brandt's strategy from last year's racing: going down the start line on starboard, forcing everyone on port to wait. Even last year, that cause a couple of crashes, when the port starters could not stop in time. This year, almost everyone was lined up on port. With the whole crowd moving to the start line at the same time, there was no way they would or could stop for a couple of starboard starters. The result was a rather poor start and a mediocre finish in the race. Lesson learned - in the following races, the first priority was a clean start. It helped that the wind turned a bit so that the other end of the start line became favored, and that most racers kept starting where they had started in the first race.

In the high wind racing, Nina learned another lesson the hard way: if near the front of the pack at the first mark, you need to either go wide or plane through your jibes - otherwise, chances are that someone will run into you! That happened to her in a couple of races where she was second or third at the first mark. Needless to say, she was quite unhappy about this - especially the first time, when the person who hit her was a pro racer.

I faced a different problem because I had signed up for the "Limited" class, where the sail size was restricted to 6.5 square meters. In about 20 mph wind averages, that was plenty when I was just sailing around on my own. With gusty offshore winds, though, it was not enough for flying starts: I could not get planing in the lulls, and if I approached the crowded start line semi-planing, the dirty air from the other sailors would stop me dead. So after the first race, I did standing starts, and followed the guys in the Open class who hit the start line at full speed. That meant that I'd often have to deal with someone in the water at the first mark - usually really close to the mark. Going wide while barely powered also did not work so well. Even in dry jibes, I usually lost most speed, and would have someone on the inside who'd steal the air I needed to get going.  Falling was much worse - in the last high wind race, the wind had dropped, and I watched the entire fleet pass me on the inside while I desperately tried to pump on a plane. Overall, my high wind race results were all over the place, with just a couple of first places in the Limited class when I got lucky with wind and jibes. Fortunately, the light wind races went a bit better, since I was using the same board I use for light wind freestyle - my Bic WindSUP.  Knowing the board really well was essential in one race where I had goofed off a bit at the start, and had to catch up with the guy ahead of me. I got close before the last jibe mark, which he took quite close. But I was able to turn the Bic on a dime right at the mark, and therefore got the inside position. After some furious pumping, the better board speed of my SUP allowed me to get next to him, at which point he had to deal with my dirty air. Game over!

The complete race results are below (click on the images for a larger version).
Overall race results (1-5 high wind, 6-10 light wind). Note that scoring
Scoring was done with Sailwave version 2.23.4.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Weed Foiling

I had a frustrating foil session session yesterday. The wind was strong enough for the 5.0 - averages around 15 mph, gusts to the high teens. But every time I got up on the foil, things felt wrong. I had plenty of power; at times, there seemed to be more power than in the morning, when I used the same sail with the Skate 110. But I could not get the board flying properly - the nose would ride high, and it would come down again every time I tried to even things out.

Nina had a similarly frustrating session, but she figured out what was going on when she saw Derek sail backwards before taking off: weeds! When she turned her board over, she saw a big clump of weeds on the back wing. The thin sea grass in Hatteras was particularly bad this year, and strong winds, lots of chop, and high water levels made things worse. Yesterday, the water levels had finally returned to normal - but that made things worse, since the foils was close enough to the bottom to collect sea grass from the bottom!

Even the days before, when the water level had been a foot higher and foiling was easier, the same problems existed, albeit on a smaller scale. The nose would ride too high, and the sail pressure was higher than normal. My GPS showed that my speeds were a few knots lower than usual - instead of the typical 13-16 knots, I was foiling at 10-13 knots, even when I was nicely powered. All that sea grass on the foil must have slowed me down! Fortunately, the amount of sea grass in the water changes with the wind direction and strength, so we may get a few decent foil sessions in the next week.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Backloop Try

"I saw you try a backloop!" said Nina. We had sailed at Chapin in pretty strong winds - I fully powered on 4.0, Nina on 3.4 and her 72 l wave board.

Anyone who knows me also knows that I did not try a backloop - at least not voluntarily. But on my last run out, with some speed and very close to overpowered, a big wave ramped up just in front of me. I could not escape it downwind as I usually do because of a kiter close by, so up I went. In quite a vertical fashion, with lots of weight in the back. Somehow, the board turned in the air, probably something like 180 degrees, and landed nose-first. A nice, soft crash it was. It did indeed remind me of some of the backloop attempts by freestylers and wave sailors at the PWA event in Sylt earlier this week.

Funny thing is, it was not scary at all! Pretty much the same thing had happened to me the last time I had sailed at Chapin in similar winds. I also had to think of Manuel in Cabarete, who worked really hard to get the front loop, but got the backloop very quickly (in less than 10 tries if I remember correctly). Maybe I should sail at Chapin more often, and actually try backloops?

I was a bit surprised by all this, but then I looked at this video about how to do backloops:
Right at the beginning, Jesse Brown says: "If you hit a wave late enough, it really just wants to throw you into a backloop".

Another encouraging thing is what Adam Lewis says at about 1:23 into his instructional video:
"Bring the sail in towards you"!

Whenever I watch myself jumping on GoPro footage, I see that I do exactly that - pull the sail in with both arms. Now for regular jumps, that's bad technique - but maybe that makes me a natural for back loops?

Or perhaps I am just confused. Life used to be simply - give me lots of wind and flat water, and I just to go back and forth. Now, I like to foil in less wind and big chop, where squiggles are more fun than straight lines; and perhaps I'm even developing a taste for waves, and will try a jump I never imagined doing on purpose.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Longboard Racing at Lake Q

Last Saturday, we drove to Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield for a bit of longboard racing at the Quannapowitt Yacht Club to get a bit of practice before the WET Fall Regatta and the Ocean Air Windfest in October. This is a small but very lovely venue. 16 windsurfers participated, most of them on longboards from the 1980s and 1990s. This was probably the largest number of F2 Lightning Race boards at one location in the US for the year!

For Nina and me, this was a big learning experience. We always sail at locations with very steady wind- mostly the ocean, or large bays like Hatteras or the Laguna Madre near Corpus Christi. At the little inland lake, the wind was a lot gustier - the local wind meter showed readings between 0 and 25 mph during the time of the races! We both briefly considered giving up and not racing at all, after sudden lulls and direction changes had dropped us into the water what seemed like 10 times in the first 5 minutes. In the first race, Nina came in dead last. I probably would have taken that spot, but my uphaul broke on the way out, and I missed the race completely while replacing the uphaul.

In the second race, I think I was successful in stealing the last place from Nina. I held back at the start since I did not want to be in everyones way after falling right before the start line, which seemed very likely. A lot of the racers have been racing continuously for the 36 years that this September race has been held, and I think the first one finished the race while I was just rounding the first mark. But at least, my falls were getting a bit less frequent. We did about 4 races around 4 buoys, and then one long race around the entire lake, before breaking for lunch, and another 4 races in the afternoon. By the last race, my arms were starting to cramp up from holding the 8.5 - with the gusty winds, hooking in was a luxury that was limited to only short periods in some races.

The cool thing about so many races in one day was that we got lots of starting practice, which I sorely needed. I discovered a whole bunch of ways to screw up the start, but in the last races, I managed to get across the starting line in the first third of the field.  Somehow, I also ended up in a similar position at the finish line a few times, and in the top half of the overall rankings. After the early falls, my goal had been to simply not finish last in all races - goal accomplished!

It was a ton of fun to race with a mixed crowd of enthusiastic longboard racers - some who were struggling as much as I was at the beginning, but also several others who where way better racers than I am. The organization was perfect, and so was the weather. What a great day!

Below is a video from my helmet cam from on of the afternoon races, and GPS tracks from the same race.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tracks for the Skate

After discovering that simply replacing a powerbox with a foilbox did not work well for my Skate 110 and Slingshot Inifity 84 foil, I decided to put a couple of US fin boxes in the board so that I could use the pedestal mount for the foil. The big advantage of the track mount is that it gives a few inches of room for adjustments so the foil can be place at just the right spot. Here's a picture of the finished installation:
We got a bit of wind today, so I took the combo out for a test run with the i84 foil, the 71 cm mast, and my 6.5 m Gaastra Matrix sail. The session was a bit frustrating because the chop was quite high even though the wind was light - too light to waterstart most of the time. I also had to get used to the foot straps on the board (I don't use any on the 71 cm wide slalom board I usually foil on), and had a hard time with tacking - after sailing a lot on the wider slalom board, I often stepped too far to the outside or even next to the board. Bad turns and uphauling in chop - not my favorite combo!

But the good news was that moving the foil forward worked as expected, and so did the track mount. I had the mast in "C" position on the fuselage, and pushed the pedestal all the way to the back. Here's a video from one of the longer runs:
I had put a Slingshot half footstrap in the back, since installing the foil box had removed the rear screw holes in the center. It actually was too far back for the foil position, so I ended up not using it. I'll either turn it around and mount it as far back as possible, and/or I'll have to mount the foil in "B" position on the fuselage. That would move it a couple of inches further back, but the track mount makes it easy to fine tune the position.

There were plenty of crashes in this session. Here's one where it looks like I'm going for a Gecko:
That would be a rather questionable idea without using the rear strap .. and with the foil behind me to fall onto! Maybe all the water that seems to be coming out of my head in the next picture can be blamed :-).

Monday, September 16, 2019

Rules and Accidents

Windsurfing accidents happen. All windsurfers loose control from time to time, and on a crowded day, this can lead to people crashing into each other. Most of the time, it's no big deal. The windsurfer  who messed up knows it, apologizes, and (hopefully) offers to pay for any damages.

But every now and then, the outcome is different. This post analyzes one such incident that happened at the beginning of August at Kalmus. We will look at the accident based on statements the two involved windsurfers made; an eye witness report; and GPS tracks from one of the windsurfers that show exactly where the accident happened. The accident will be analyzed using the "U.S. Inland Navigation Rules" and the "International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea" (Colregs), which govern all boating traffic in the US, as they are described on the US Coast Guard website.

The Parties

Sailor 1 ("CM") has been a regular windsurfer at Kalmus for more than 2 decades. He loves to sail fast, and used only slalom gear until last year, when he switched to fast freeride gear. CM is the singer in a wedding band.

Sailor 2 ("GG") also likes to sail fast, but can most often be seen on raceboards. He is a regular participant at the raceboard world and national championships, and has won races several times at the East Coast Windsurfing Festival Cape Cod. In the past, he had trained with the Spanish olympic team, and trained the olympic youth division in Spain. GG is a professor at Harvard.

The eye witness ("PF")  is a regular sailor at Kalmus who happened to be at the beach at the time of the incident.

The analyst - that's me. I have been windsurfing for 40 years. I originally learned windsurfing at the University of Konstanz in Germany. The 3-day course included a final written exam where knowledge of the "right-of-way rules" was required to earn the "VDWS Grundschein", a certificate needed to rent windsurfing equipment. I am a US Sailing certified Windsurfing Instructor, and  Instructor Trainer/Examiner with the Windsurfer Instructor and Programs Association (WIPA). I have participated in a number of windsurfing races, including the 2018 US Windsurfing Nationals, and organized the East Coast Windsurfing Festival Cape Cod for a number of years, where I also had the race director role.

The Context

The accident happened at Kalmus on August 3, 2019 at 6:23 pm. Wind was from the SSW-SW at 20 mph, gusting to 25. Most windsurfers had stopped sailing by then, and were in the parking lot packing their gear or had left already. Earlier in the day, the parking lot had been completely full, and the beach packed, due to a soccer tournament.

The Accident

According to the eye witness, both windsurfers were sailing almost parallel to the beach towards the launch area. GG sailed downwind, CM sailed upwind. CM jibed at the last possible moment before the stone sea wall on the west end of the beach, and crashed into GG.

This description matches how GG described the accident. GG added that he was planning to go in after this run.

CM added that he had to jibe because of the stones in the water, and that he believed that he had the right of way because GG was on port.

After the Accident

GG noticed substantial damage to the board and approached CM, expecting an apology. Rather than getting an apology, he was told by CM in a raised voice that he had done a "dick move" by not jibing when CM expected him to jibe. When GG pointed out that he was the "stand by" boat in the given situation since he was the downwind sailor, CM started a shouting match from which GG walked away. In a second discussion later in the parking lot where GG explained which navigation rules applied in the situation, CM disagreed and suggested that they should "agree to disagree". CM refused to pay for the repair of GG's damaged board.

The Damage

GG's windsurf board sustained significant damage in the accident, as shown in the following picture:

The damage went from the top to the bottom of the board, went through both the laminate and the sandwich layer, and included breaking the styrofoam core. Cape Cod Windsurfing offered to repair the board for $150. The board was in excellent shape before the accident, and even a professional repair would lower the resale value of the board by several hundred dollars.

GPS Tracks

GG used a GPS to record his windsurfing sessions, and submitted his GPS data for analysis. Here is a picture of his tracks for the day (click on the image to see a larger version):
Zooming in on the last run and the accident shows that the accident happened close to shore:
The yellow line in the image above is 100 feet long. Typical jibe diameters are between 150 and 200 feet, so it is clear that GG did not have sufficient room to jibe. This confirms his statement that he was on his planned last run of the day. The first GPS picture shows that he was planning to exit the water at the same place where he had launched and exited before. He was in the process of slowing down to stop, and his speed had dropped from 23 knots to about 18 knots when CM hit him.


The two windsurfers involved in the accident propose two different theories about who was at fault. 

1. CM states he was on starboard, and GG was on port. The windsurfer on port would be the "give way" vessel and would have to change course to avoid a collision.

2. GG states that CM was upwind before the collision, and therefore the "give way" vessel. Furthermore, CM was in the middle of a jibe, and a sailboat or windsurfer does not have right of way during a maneuver.

A further uncertainty arises from the question whether CM was overtaking GG. CM generally tries to sail as fast as possible, and typically uses larger sails than other windsurfers; the often passes other windsurfers on the water. Since GG was slowing down to stop, it is quite possible that CM passed GG before jibing.

Assuming that CM passed GG before jibing, the rules that apply are defined in rule 13 of the "Amalgamated International & U.S. Inland Navigation Rules": "any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken." The overtaking boat has the"duty of keeping clear of the overtaken vessel until she is finally past and clear". This means the overtaking windsurfer may not just pass another windsurfer, and then immediately change course or speed to a collision course. The conclusion is:
If CM passed GG on the way in, he did not meet his obligation of "keeping clear", and was at fault at the accident.

Since we cannot know for certain if CM passed GG before jibing, we must also look at the incident assuming that he did not pass him first. Common sense tells us you can't just jibe from an upwind position to get starboard rights just before you crash into someone - the other person would not even have time to react to avoid the collision! But is there something in the rules that we applies?
The first rule that does apply is Rule 6 - "Safe Speed":
"Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions."
If one windsurfer sails in a straight line, and one windsurfer changes course, only the windsurfer changing course can actually know that the collision may happen, so it is his obligation to slow down or stop.
Furthermore, Rule 7 - "Risk of Collision" states:
"Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist."
In clear text: if you jibe and are not sure that you will be clear of anyone else in the area, you must assume that you are creating a risk of collision. Rule 8 covers actions to avoid collision, and Rule 8 e again states:
If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion."
Other parts of Rule 8 state:
"Action taken to avoid collision with another vessel shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance " and
"Any action taken to avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with Rules 4-19 and shall if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship"
From the rules above, we can deduct the general guideline that you do not have any right of way when you maneuver. Whenever you jibe or tack, it is 100% your responsibility to make sure you do not crash into someone.
The bottom line is simple: you cannot just jibe into someone! You either have to jibe so you pass them in a safe distance (which is at least a mast length), or do it so that they have "ample time" to see you and adjust their course. If that is not possible, you'll have to stop, if necessary. In a situation like here, of course, the accident could have easily been avoided if the upwind sailor (CM) had tacked instead of  jibed.

Why bother?

Some of my readers may wonder why I bother posting about this, especially since the incident happened more than a month ago. I am not naive enough to think that CM will read this post, follow the links to the rules, and then say "Oops, now I understand I was wrong", then apologize to GG and offer to pay for the repair. I would not expect this from someone who forces windsurfing women off their boards rather than showing some courtesy, and then yells at anyone trying to explain to him the right of way rules. 
However, a few other windsurfers I talked to stated they were not sure what the rules were in such a situation, and they may find the discussion and links above helpful.
The final straw, though, was CM's continued aggressive behavior. In the past month, he had shown often that he will jibe where and when he wants to, and if someone is in the way, that's their problem. At least once, he has been seen getting dangerously close to another windsurfer. Together with the fact that his jibes have become a lot worse, with much less control and a higher crash rate than in the past, he is a danger to other sailors. Perhaps this was always the case - others tell stories where he almost got beaten up by slalom sailors at Kanaha for jibing too close to their spouses. But with his deteriorating skills and complete lack of consideration for others, he is becoming more dangerous than he was. This particular accident, in the end, had a "lucky" ending, with only a board getting damaged. Just a foot to either side, and a person would have been hit, which likely would have resulted in broken bones.
He also seems more willing to insult and threaten people than perhaps learn from the incident. When he pulled into the Kalmus parking lot a couple of days ago and noticed that I was telling Andy Brandt about the incident, it would have been a great opportunity to check with Andy if his understanding of the situation was correct - who'd know better than Andy? But instead, he rolled up to where I was rigging, and started to insult me and my friends ("you can't sail and everyone you hang out with is a bad sailor" were his kindest words), and yell at me that this was none of my business. Well, he's wrong about that. If I see someone who sails dangerously enough to cause crashes with significant damage to other windsurfer's equipment, without any signs of regret or change, I certainly will not be quiet about it. Approaching me to intimidate and insult me to keep me quiet won't work, either.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

GPS Device Poll - Initial Results

Below are some initial results from the device poll. 86 people answered the questions in less than a day.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

GPS Team Challenge Device Poll

Regular readers of this blog may have discovered that I love the GPS Team Challenge.  One of the issues that comes up on a regular basis on the "GPS and Speed talk" forum is the question about which GPS devices are allowed. On one hand, the competition aspect requires high accuracy, which means expensive devices which often have drawback; one the other hand, there is a desire for inclusiveness and making it easier and cheaper for new members to join.

One option that has been discussed is to create a two-tier system where postings from just about any GPS device are allowed, but only postings from approved, highly accurate devices count for the competition, that is the monthly and individual rankings. The "other" speedsurfing site,, has a similar system in place for "normal" and "record" postings.

I have create a short poll to see what current and potential GPSTC members think about allowing such "two-tiered" postings. You can fill it out here. Below are screen shots:
Only the first 2 questions are required, the rest is optional. Here's the second section:

I'm planning on posting the poll results on this blog and on the Seabreeze forum .. if anyone bothers answering the questions! Here's the full address of the poll:

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Squiggles and Half Straps

Yesterday was supposed to be good for foiling in the afternoon, with wind in the mid-teens. We waited for it. And waited. And waited some more. It was almost 5 pm before the meter readings picked up to 13. 45 minutes later, I was on the water at Kalmus. Nina decided not to join me after hearing about jellyfish on shore (a first for this year), and seeing rain showers coming in.

I had rigged the 6.5, which proved plenty big when the wind picked up to 16 mph averages. Since the tide was high, I was able to use the 90 cm mast, which is easier and more fun than the shorter masts. On the back of my zombie slalom board, I had mounted one of the Slingshot "half" footstraps, with the open end facing forward, to test it.

Here are the GPS tracks from the session:
It was a great session! Due to all the jellyfish talk, I skipped working on jibes and just tacked, with 11 of 14 tacks dry. I also crashed once in the middle of a run. The swell was quite big for the light wind, with some 2-foot rollers coming through from time to time. My Infinity 84 foil is quite sensitive to what happens in the water, and going almost parallel to the waves means that the flight height can change quite a bit going up or down a wave. So after a while, I gave up trying to foil in a straight line, and instead played with the swell. When going down a wave, the foil wanted to go drop down to the water; when going up the back of a wave, it wanted to rise up. Once I figured that out, compensating for it by moving the rig or my weight was a fun little exercise. The long mast definitely helped there! Breaches were virtually non-existent, and touch downs were gentle and brief. Drawing squiggly lines in non-breaking wind swell is so much fun!

I liked the half strap in the back. It is quite easy to slip into it sideways, and having the strap helps to have the foot in the right position, and perhaps a bit more control of the board. On the side without the strap, I found myself looking down a lot to see where exactly my foot was. I guess I'll put the second strap on the other side, but leave the front straps off for now.

I kept the session short since it looked like more rain was coming, and I did not want to make Nina wait too long. But doing a short foil session meant that I never reached the point where my attention starts to wander, and crashes slip in. We ended the day by celebrating the end of the tourist season at the British Beer Company. What a great start of September, my favorite windsurfing month of the year!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Foil Setup: Front Wing Placement

Isn't it curious how sometimes things can be easy and confusing at the same time? Setting up equipment for windfoiling can be that way. The general rule is simple: "you want the front wing located as close to the center of your stance as possible", the Slingshot manual says. Sound easy, right? Let's look at a few examples, starting with Nina's foil setup:

This is her old Skate 90 freestyle board and the Slingshot Infinity 76 foil with a 60 cm mast, the gear she uses for foiling 90% of the time. She can foil on this in 12-13 mph wind with a 5.2 m freestyle sail, with very good control. She's also foiled through a few jibes, and started on duck jibes and 360s. Let's zoom in a bit:
I placed the ruler close to the middle of the front wing, where the "center of lift" (COL) is. If you compare it to the position of the foot straps, you can see that it is close to the middle, just a bit towards the back strap.

Now lets look at another setup that does not work nearly as well:
This is my Skate 110 with the Slingshot Infinity 84 front wing. It's shown with a 45 cm mast, but ignore the mast size for the time being. Here's a zoom-in:
You can see that the COL is much closer to the back strap. When I tried this setup (with a 71 cm mast), it was hard to get up on the foil, and felt very unbalanced once up. Nina tried it, too, and came to the same conclusion.

What's the difference? In both setups, the foil is mounted in the "C" position on the fuselage, which put the front wing closest to the front. However, my Infinity 84 wing is significantly larger than Nina's i76. All the extra area was added to the back of the foil, which moved the "center of lift" back by about an inch or two. In addition, Nina is using the Powerplate to move her foil forward even more:
You can see that the Powerplate here moves the mast forward by about 2 inches. In total, the COL for Nina's setup is about 3-4 inches further forward than for my setup!

So the obvious thing to try is to move the front wing for my setup further forward. I did this by drilling a new hole into the fuselage exactly 2 inches behind the rear hole for the "C" position. By using these two holes, I now have a "D" position where the front wing is moved forward two more inches:
You can see that the COL has moved forward to be closer to the middle of the foot straps. When I tried this setup, it worked a lot better. The foil came up a lot earlier, and it felt more balanced when up. But please note that the extra hole weakens the fuselage, and that the larger distance makes it more likely that the fuselage will bent! So I'm not recommending that you copy this approach!

When I replaced the powerbox in my Skate with a foil box, I put the foil box at the same position that the powerbox had been in. I actually had tried to use the Skate 110 for foiling before, and it had worked well enough - but I completely forgot that I had used the Powerplate, which moved the foil forward! In hind sight, I should have just added a couple of US fin boxes to the Skate 110 for use with the Slingshot pedestal mount. Adding the tracks so that they partially overlapped the powerbox would have been easier than using the foil box, and given me some adjustment room (in addition to the option to mount the mast in the A or B position). That would have made it easy to fine-tune everything for a perfectly balanced setup.

One thing that perhaps let to my confusion about the box placement is that the "C" position works very well with my slalom board:
I don't use foot straps on this board for foiling, so I placed booties where I usually put my feet. The back foot is usually all the way back against the strap that I use to attach a safety line to, and the front foot placement varies a bit depending on conditions and power. But it is easy to see that the distance between COL and back foot is more similar to Nina's setup than to my "unbalanced" setup shown in the second picture.

A closer look at the footstrap placement on the different boards reveals a significant difference: on the slalom board, the back strap positions are about 2 inches further back than on the freestyle board. That's true for the boards shown, but also for several other (newer) Fanatic slalom and freestyle boards in the garage. On some foil boards like the Slingshot Wizard, the back straps seem to be even further back, so that the back foot is where the mast is. Here's an image of the Slingshot Wizard 125 with the foot strap position highlighted:
For comparison, here's an image of a typical freeride board:
The back footstraps are several inches forward of the fin / foil box, similar to what we saw for the Fanatic Skates.

So, if you'd want to use a Slingshot Infinity 76 foil with a Wizard 125, the consensus is that the mast should be in "B" position on the fuselage. For use with a typical freeride board where the footstraps are further forward, the mast has to be in "C" position for the i76.

For the Slingshot Infinity 84 front wing used with a Wizard, the foil should be mounted in the "C" position. This means that use with a freeride board would require a "D" position! Since the fuselage does not have a "D" position, anyone trying such a setup will likely be disappointed (or has drill an extra hole).

Interestingly, Fanatic has chosen a more forward footstrap position for their foil freeride board, the Stingray:

There are lots of option to mount the rear straps, but all of them are pretty far forward. This makes sense, since Fanatic also sells several "foil ready" boards with similar strap positions. All these boards need to work well with the Fanatic foils. Compared to the Slingshot foils, the Fanatic foils have the front wing mounted further forward (the mast is further away from the front wing), which is necessary for a balanced setup.

If you buy a matching foil and foilboard from the same brand, this is not an issue, since you should be able to simply follow their setup instructions. But it you try to "mix and match" foils and boards, subtle differences like a 2-inch variation in the footstrap placement can make the difference between a setup that works beautifully and a setup that is barely useable. Similar issues arise from the position of the foil on the fuselage. For example, RRD freeride foils have the mast mounted close to the middle of the fuselage, while the Slingshot Infinity foils have the mast closer to the front wing, even in "C" position.

For board conversions, some of these problems should be avoidable by going the mast track/pedestal mount route, especially for Slingshot Infinity foils. Whatever option you choose, though, I suggest to check where the front wing will end up before you start the router!
I have contacted Slingshot with a suggestion to add a "D" position to the fuselage, and heard back from Wyatt Miller, their windsurfing guru. He said moving the mast further to the center increases the chances that the fuselage would bent, since it has more leverage. Nor does it help that the extra hole weakens the fuselage! Apparently, jumping with the larger front wings (Infinity 84 and 76) can bend the fuselage even in B or C position, so Slingshots suggests to use smaller front wings for jumping and things like loops. I had actually noticed a bit of new instability when using the "D" position, but the i84 is always sensitive to water movement caused by chop and swell, so it's hard to tell if this was caused by increasing the distance between wing and mast. To be on the safe side, I'll add a track mount to my Skate.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Jellyfish Time

August is jellyfish time. We had a foil session at Kalmus yesterday that was nice, except that we saw lots of jellyfish. Close to the Hyannis Port Harbor, I saw swarms with hundreds of individuals of the Altlantic Sea Nettle:
Sea nettle, Chrysaora quinquecirrha.
Picture by Jarek Tuszyński / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GDFL
It's a beautiful little beast, but it gets scary when you see lots of them so close together that they should worry about their tentacles getting all mixed up.

Sure enough, a little while later Nina had a close encounter of the painful kind with one of them. When her foil took a (rare) nose dive and she landed head-first in the water, a sea nettle was there to great her, wrapping itself all around her face and neck. I heard her scream from a few hundred meters away! By the time I got close to her, she was sailing to shore as quickly as she could, and then ran to the snack bar for some vinegar and baking soda treatment (life guards are not on duty during the week anymore, it seems).

When I got to shore, she was nowhere to be seen, but I had an idea what had happened, so I started carrying all our gear up from the beach. Nina was in quite a bit of pain until we got home, and she could take some pain killers and a very long, very hot shower. Hot water helps with the pain, and may denature some of the jellyfish toxin, so she felt a lot better afterwards.

A common "side effect" of sea nettle stings is congestion and sneezing, which was evident even after she took anti-histamines and a decongestant. But she slept through the night, and everything is good again this morning. Fortunately, the local jellyfish are usually more of an annoyance than a real danger - unless you are unlucky enough to have an allergic reaction. I also definitely would not want to fall in the middle of a swarm!

We had northeasterly wind yesterday for the third day in a row. On Saturday, we'd gone foiling in Barnstable Harbor, a very nice session that Nina called "the best foil session ever". She almost foiled through a duck jibe - nice! Sunday had been great, too, with a Duxbury Bay session and wind in the low twenties. I took the slalom gear out for the first time in a while - the Falcon 99 and Racing Blade 7.0 worked quite nicely to get some decent numbers for the monthly ranking in the GPS Team Challenge. I switched to freestyle gear when the tide dropped too low for runs along the entire bay, but got too cold to try anything when the sun went away. Still a great day.

As for jellyfish in Nantucket Sound, we should see a drop in numbers soon. Water temperatures have already dropped from 76 F to 72 F, which should help. However, the full moon at the end of this week may increase the number of jellyfish for another week or two. Also keep in mind that jellyfish are hard to seen on a typical choppy southwest day in Kalmus - when we go foiling on a northerly day where the water is flat and clear, we always see a lot more jellyfish. Right now, there's no way I'd windsurf in board shorts or a shorty!
After posting this to Facebook, someone pointed out that he had very good experience with anti-jellyfish sunscreen. I did not even know there was such a thing! But there are several scientific studies about the effectiveness of the "Safe Sea Sunscreen and Jellyfish Protective Lotion". On one study, the cream reduced jellyfish stings by more than 80%; in a second study,  the protective effect was even higher. We've ordered some!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Foil Box Conversion

With the ABK camp in Hyannis coming up in 4 weeks, it was time to get my board ready. I have been foiling on my old Warp 71 slalom board without footstraps, but that just won't do when we start working on foiling 360s. So out with the powerbox, in with the foil box! 

We had used the Skate 110 a few times with the Powerplate to see if it would work (it did). When I put it up to start on the fin box replacement, I noticed that the Powerplate had damaged the underside of the board:
Where the front end of the Powerplate meets the board, the top carbon layer was broken.  No big deal to repair, but it sure was good I had ordered a foil box!

I studied a couple of videos from Alex Aguera to get an idea on how to do this. I ended up buying a router at Harbor Freight Tools, and used it to get the old powerbox out. Here's an image from the start of this process:
I had never used a router before, but it went well enough. Cool to learn how to play with new tools!

Fitting the new box was not hard. I hit the first surprise when I glued it in with epoxy and fairing filler: when turning my back for a minute, the box started to drop, and was half way through the board before I noticed! Luckily, I turned in time, pushed it back up, and added some support below to keep it from falling again. Here's the setup:
The masking tape on the sides is keeping the fin vertical to the board. After a bit of sanding next day, the box was ready to be glassed in:
I used a layer of carbon and two layers of 4 oz S-glass, topped by a layer of 2-oz glass, on the bottom:
This was the first time I used 2 oz glass on top. This stuff is great! It makes a much smoother surface, and does not distort when you squeegee the epoxy. 

Everything had gone well so far, so I pushed on. A few hours later, I glassed the top side: a layer of 4 oz glass, 5 smaller pieces in the middle, and another layer of 4 oz and 2 oz. I copied Alex' approach, and put all pieces on before putting the epoxy on top and massaging it in. Worked great, and another new thing learned. But then I saw that the glass in the middle was bulging outward .. not good! But a few more minutes with the squeegee, and the extra air was pushed out. I watched it for a while, and then let it sit for a few hours to polymerize.

When I got back, there was an unpleasant surprise: the bubble had reformed, and pulled the glass away from parts of the fin box. Apparently, glassing both sides of the box was a bad idea. A slight increase of the outside temperature made the air expand. Usually, I glass in the late afternoon, when temps are dropping, but today, I had clearly started too early.

Fixing the problem required drilling a few small holes, injecting epoxy, and then pushing the center of the glass down. The setup included some wire, three pieces of wood, and a 12-lb weight, but it did the trick. First, though, I put a few small holes in the bottom where the glass covered the fin box, so the air could escape!

The next step was removing the glass cover at the bottom with the router and a trim bit. That was really quick and easy - cool! All that remains to be done now is finishing work - sanding, drilling a couple of holes for the screws, hot coat, and paint. The board should be ready for foiling in a couple of days, which should mean that we get plenty of wind at the start of the week to keep me on the "slapper". There are worse fates!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Five Days and Counting

Kalmus windsurfers often told stories about how it used to get windy every afternoon. I used to think those stories suffered from the same effect that makes fish you caught get bigger with every retelling of the story - not anymore! It's been blowing in the 20s for 5 days straight, and two more days are in the forecast. Nina used her 4.0 twice, and was overpowered on 4.5 and 4.7 a couple of days.

It got crowded some days, but it was almost empty on the weekend. There seems to be a relation to the "Pro Forecast" on iWindsurf - the crowds come if it's high. But there seems to be very little relation to the actual wind. In all fairness, the same seems to be true when looking at the computer predictions - none of the computer models correctly predicted wind in the high twenties. Today's Pro Forecast is all red: 16-22 knots all afternoon long. My prediction: it will get crowded!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Jibe Practice for Foiling

We got our second foil three days ago: a Slingshot Infinity 84. I've foiled on it only for two short sessions, but so far, I love it. It gets me flying as quickly as Nina on the Infinity 76, with a sail that's just one sail size bigger. But more importantly, it can handle all my extra pounds much better than the 76 - no more spinouts and breaches! But my first attempts at foiled jibes on the i84 looked quite similar to those on the i76 - mostly crashes, with an occasional exception where I plane out of the jibe after the board touches down.

As new foilers, we are in a stage where we often hope that the wind does not pick up beyond 15-18 mph. This summer so far, the wind often has played along, but not yesterday - it picked up to the high 20s, gusting to 30. So it was time to take the old slapper out for a change - my white Skate 110 that I had repaired for foiling, since I had forgotten to put my new Skate into the van. Off to Egg Island we went. Nina tried her usual freestyle moves, but I was on a foil related mission: practice the sail first jibe!

After more than 20 AKB camps, I am a step jiber - when the sail moves, the feet switch (or at least they should). But for foiling jibes, there's plenty of advice to do a sail-first jibe (also called Power Jibe and Speed Jibe): flip the sail first, and the feet later. That's what the Horue jibing tutorial suggests, and Balz Muller says the same thing. I have tried enough step jibes on the foil to see that separating the sail and foot movements might be a good idea, but I almost never do sail-first jibes .. which means I did not really want to try them when flying. But being nicely powered on a 5.0 on perfectly flat water at Egg Island - there's no better training grounds!

So after a few regular jibes and a 360 try or two, it was sail-first jibe practice. I was surprised to find me planing out of them after just a few tries, and having tons of fun! I'm not good at multi-tasking, so flipping the sail first while maintaining the carve, and then switching the feet, seemed more natural to me than doing two things at once. When the wind picked up after a while, I ended up doing tacks on one side so that I'd be able to do some "slow speed runs" along the sandbank on the way back. Since I tack the foil much more than I usually tack my shortboards, my tacks had improved a bit - nice!

Here's the GPS tracks from the "forbidden jibe" session in the "kiddie pool" at Egg Island:
The jibe analysis with GPS Action Replay showed that this was one of my top-15 best jibing sessions (from more than 1300 sessions). Cool!

Hopefully, the wind will remain lighter today, so that I'll get a chance to try foiling sail-first jibes. For anyone who wants to foil at Kalmus, check these tracks from my last foil session there:

I was using a relatively short (71 cm) mast, but still ran aground about 800 feet from shore at low tide (0.2 ft). I tried walking into deeper water several times, but always made ground contact again when I tried to foil away. You can see the stones pretty well on the Google Earth image. I would have probably been fine another 100 or 200 feet further out, but the ground there is uneven, and my head was barely above water in the deeper spots. I ended up just body-dragging in.
So if you foil at Kalmus, check the tides, and make sure to walk out far enough at low tide! Once the tide level goes beyond 1-1.5 ft, even a 90 cm mast should be fine, though.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Foil pictures

We had another nice foil session 2 days ago, and Eddie took some nice pictures. Here's Nina on the foil and Gonzalo on a longboard:
Nina was on a 5.2, Gonzalo on a race sail (8.5 or 9.5). He was one of the few windsurfers who was planing consistently - most guys on 7 m sails had a few good runs, but mostly slogged.

Fortunately for me, Nina was a bit overpowered on the 5.2, so she came in after a short session and let me have a turn. I started out on the 6.5:
I never like this sail very much, largely because it is low-end oriented, while all my older Gaastra Matrix sails were top-end oriented. However, it was great for foiling, powerful but stable. Cool!

The picture above shows my favorite "flight height" on the 60 cm mast: just barely above the water, so that the board just touches the waves a bit every now and then. One excuse for flying low is that I frequently get spinouts when most of the foil is out of the water. Those are usually not very dramatic, but often end up with the board slapping back down onto the water. The gently touches when flying low are much nicer, and loose a lot less speed. But perhaps it's really just my inner chicken asserting itself.

We took turns on the foil a couple of times, and I used the 5.2 for my second session. Here's another "flying low" picture:

Occasionally, I ended up foiling a bit higher, and I'm definitely making progress controlling the height.
I'm still amazed how much fun foiling is even at low speeds. My speeds typically were around 10-13 knots, with only rare spikes above 15 knots. That's about half of the speed of sailing on freeride or slalom gear! Here are the tracks for the day:
I had a few runs of 700-800 meters, pretty much the entire distance I foiled (limited by shallows on the left, and the stones from the old pier on the right). The longest "high foil" without touching the water was probably less than half of that distance. I made a few dry jibes, one of them close to planing, but did not foil through any. In contrast, Nina foiled through one of her jibes "by accident". I'm sure she'll have more of these "accidental foiled jibes" soon.

We have ordered a second foil, and it should arrive early next week. Maybe that will cause the strong summer winds to come back? We stayed with Slingshot because we really like the modular system, and the short 60 cm masts are great for low tide foiling. But we decided to get an Infinity 84 as the second foil (together with last year's front wing which Slingshot pretty much gives away for free), since I hope that it will push my almost 200 pounds up sooner. It may be a bit slower, but I don't think that's a bad thing anymore!

I almost ended up buying a Starboard GT-R foil. It would have been a few hundred dollars cheaper, and comes with a longer fuselage, which should make keeping a constant height much easier. One of the speedsurfers we met in Western Australia, Stroppo, regularly posts sessions with top speeds in the mid-20 knot range from the Starboard GT foil. Without any doubt, I'd be at least 5 knots slower (just like on the windsurf board), but that would still be plenty fast. However, I did not see any option to buy a shorter mast for the Starboard foil, which would have made foiling at Kalmus during low tide questionable, and foiling in the Hatteras sound impossible. So all I could do to imitate Stroppo was to try to look a bit like him:

During the session, wind averages from the iWindsurf meter at Kalmus were mostly 15 mph, with a few readings of 17; gusts were mostly in the 17-18 mph range, with a couple of 20 mph readings. I tried to plane with the 6.5 m sail on my Skate 110 a few times, but either the wind was too light, or I have forgotten how to sail a "slapper" in marginal conditions. When foiling, the 5.2 m sail was mostly ok, and only a bit smaller than I like in the lulls; the 6.5 was plenty big, and I could get up onto the foil pretty much anytime I liked, with (at most) minimal pumping. After 12 sessions on our foil, and about 20 foil sessions in total, foiling already had dropped the "good day" wind definition from 18-20 mph to 15 mph (and probably 13-15 mph). Sure, I could have planed with a 7.8 m sail on the 70 cm slalom board, but that would have been a lot more exercise and a lot less pure fun :-).

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Light Wind Foiling

Yesterday's wind forecast was light, but it predicted a slight increase in the late afternoon. When the local wind meter readings increased to 11 mph, Nina suggested to try foiling with her 7.5 m longboard sail to find out how low she could go. Here's yesterday's wind graph:

By the time we were rigged and ready to go, meter readings were down to 8 mph. This may be foilable for PWA pros with huge sails and foil boards, but Nina only had 3 or 4 foil sessions on our gear, and fewer than 15 sessions overall. For more than an hour, her board stayed solidly in the water, except perhaps for a couple of seconds after vigorous pumping. But then, the wind picked up just a bit, and for 20 minutes or so, she was foiling most of the time, getting nice, long, controlled flights. When we got back home, we looked at the wind graph:

The highest wind average reading was 10 mph, gusting to 12, for about 10 minutes (9 knots gusting to 10.4). To plane on windsurfing gear, she usually needs at least 13 mph on the big slalom kit, and perhaps 18 for her freestyle gear.

Foiling in 10 mph with pretty limited experience is pretty impressive. The sail certainly helped - it's extremely light, has a deep profile and a tight leech, and soft cambers. But it was not rigged quite right, and Nina has not yet figured out how to pump it really well with the foil, so there's some room for improvement. We also just ordered a Slingshot Infinity 84 foil, which is larger and should lower the planing threshold a bit more. Hopefully, though, the larger foil will mostly help to get me going in similar light wind. Even on foils, bigger guys need a bit more power...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Silly Grin

I can't wipe the silly grin off my face. What a great day! It was raining. The wind meter readings were at 20 mph for about 20 minutes, and that was after I had left the water. I crashed a lot. My top speed was 17.3 knots, and my distance sailed 14.6 km - both numbers that usually would indicate a terrible day.

But I was on the foil. I had spend about 8 hours repairing my 71 cm slalom board that had a large-scale delamination on the bottom. Here's a picture of the zombie board in its current state:

Well, the little zombie works  a lot better than old Skate 110 or Nina's Bic Nova 170 I've tried before, so I've been foiling every time I got a chance in the last week, even when we got enough wind to plane on regular gear. Here are today's tracks:
It was low tide, so I stuck with the 60 cm mast, which probably limited my upwind angles (at least that's my excuse :-).  I spent a lot of time pinching upwind, but I was just barely powered most of the time. That limited the number of jibe attempts to less than a handful, but even in several of these attempts, I was amazed how long the board stayed on the foil and out of the water. Here's a video of one of the attempts:
I was so surprised to still be foiling that I just held on to the mast and waited for things to drop down...

I'm not sure what it is about foiling - the silent flying? The gently touches? The 100% concentration that forces you "into the zone"? The fun of learning something new, and be scared by going about half as fast as when windsurfing? Whatever it is, I love it! So big thanks to Andy Brandt and the ABK Boardsports crew for giving me lots of opportunities to try foiling; Slingshot for sponsoring ABK; and Britt Viehman from North Beach Windsurfing for advice and hooking us up with a great foil.