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.