Sunday, February 23, 2020

Foil Jibes

Foil jibes are easy. A lot of foilers say that. I thought so, too, in my early jibe sessions. My lovely wife probably still thinks so, because she foils through jibes on a regular basis, even on her little 90 l freestyle board.

Foil jibes are hard. Many foilers say that. I moved into this camp a few months ago, when I started crashing every time I tried a jibe. Here's a picture of a typical attempt:
When windsurfing, I can jibe just fine. But when foiling, I often found myself stuck. For some reason, there seemed to be no way to move the feet or the rig until it was way too late.

I looked at lots of videos and read every bit of advice. Sail first jibe or step jibe? Foil high or low at the start? Everything seems to work .. for some. Just not for me.

Finally, I connected a few things. Some guys say "start the jibe with the foil high because it will go down". Others say "start low because it will go up". Ideally, though, you'd want to foil to just stay at the same height!

The other piece of the puzzle was understanding why I could not move my feet. When I started foiling, I was backfoot heavy. With little weight on it, moving the front foot back is no big deal. But as I foiled more, I adjusted the trim so that I now have even weight on both legs. Try moving you leg with half of your weight on it - it's impossible! You first have to move the weight off the leg, then you can move it. But if I move my weight around a lot on the foil, it will go up or down - not good! Even if the foil does not breach, the sudden change in height will probably freak me out, and I jump off.

So - how can I move my feet without affecting the foil? Not really that hard a problem. First, the back foot moves forward and outward, towards the carving rail. It's a small and quick movement, and easy since I'm foiling without straps. With the back foot further forward, I have to put more weight on it to keep the foil balanced, so shift the weight to the back foot! With most of the weight on the back foot, moving the front foot now is possible. For balance reasons, we'd want to put it in front of the back foot, so we can shift all weight to it, and then move the old backfoot forward. The final little step is moving the new back foot back a bit.

I tried this yesterday, and it ended months of wet foil jibes. No, I did not foil through, but 3 out of 4 jibes were dry (all except the first one), and one was planed through. By focussing on my foot work, I messed up the sail flip a bit, but nevertheless, this was a big improvement! I would have tried more but the wind dropped quickly, and I have yet to find out how to get decent upwind angles on the foil when I am barely powered. I think the 71 cm wide board with a comparatively narrow tail is a bit limiting here.

As luck has it, James Douglass just posted a video where you can see the weight shift to the back foot very nicely:

Lots of nice foiled jibes in the video. One of these days, I want to foil jibe like that!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Wind Sacrifices

We windsurfers know that wind requires sacrifices. Currently, Nina is the sacrifice. She had to fly to Germany because her mom is in the hospital. Nina makes a great wind sacrifice! The wind started the day she left, and has continued for 5 days afterwards, with averages above 20 mph every day. I just had to go windsurfing (or, just one day, windfoiling) to distract myself from her absence. Here is a summary of the sessions from the GPS Team Challenge:
The session on the 3rd was with Nina, before she left. Two foil sessions are not listed; both days, I was overpowered on 5.6.

Yesterday's morning session was interesting, because I got to sail the Turtle Island Slicks for the first time. The wind was a bit too southerly and too weak for a really fast session, but the spot worked and was fun. To show my thanks to the wind gods, I sacrificed my carbon boom in a slow-motion catapult when I got too close to a spoil island on the way back to the launch. Fortunately, the boom held together for the 2 mile run back from the crash site, after I had flipped it around so the "good" side was on the windward side.

As superstitious as I may me, I had not really planned to sacrifice the boom, so this was a bit of a bummer. Fortunately, the sun came out while I was having lunch, which in Corpus Christi means one thing: more wind! So I hurried back and got a second session in on smaller gear. I stayed far away from any spoil islands, and ended the day without any additional sacrifices. Here are the GPS tracks:
Today's forecast was not very promising - 4 mph less wind, showers in the morning, and "mostly cloudy" in the afternoon. But the weather here often is nicer than predicted, and after about 10 rain drops in the morning, the sun came out a bit - actually, a bit more than yesterday. You all know what that means! By the time I made it to Grassy Point, the nearby wind meters were showing 25 mph averages. Time for the 6.3 and the 72 l speedboard! Here are today's tracks:
The tracks show where the water is shallow and flat. For about the first mile from the launch, the water is mostly hip- to chest-deep, with a few deeper shipping lanes; for this part, the chop can get a foot or two high. After that, the water depth drops to knee- to hip-deep, and it gets pretty smooth! Not quite as smooth as the best Ozzie speed strips, though - a little bit of chop remains, and deep-downwind runs would require a bit more skills than I have. But even at angles that were just 10 or 15 degrees from square, I managed a nautical mile that of almost 30 knots - my third-fastest nautical mile ever, and the fastest one I have sailed in the US (the others were in Fangyland and Lake George, on very very flat water). Not bad for only my second session on the speedboard in almost a year! But as fun as the last few days were, it was just half the fun sailing without my lovely wife. The wind is predicted to take a (welcome!) break for the next few days; hopefully, it will return when she returns!