Friday, July 31, 2020

Pushing Foil Limits

It's been a hot and windy July. I've been on the water for 19 windfoil sessions, and windsurfed four times, often when the wind picked up so I could plane on a 5.0 or 5.6 m sail.

Yesterday was a day with a mediocre forecast, which tends to make for great foil days. I started foiling when averages were around 13-14 mph, which made it quite nice with a 5.6 on the i84 foil. Here are the GPS tracks for the day:
The flat water was nice for tacks, and encouraged me to try a few sail-first jibes. I ended up with a few reminders why you should not let the sail get to the outside of the turn. I also discovered a disadvantage of the sail-first jibe on the foil: if the board gets all wobbly after letting go of the back hand, crashing safely gets much harder since only one hand remains on the boom. It took me a couple of tries to understand that.  The first one was a warning which I ignored; the second one was harder to ignore, since the board tilted sideways. That put the foil exactly where I was falling. Fortunately, I have a hard head even without a hard hat, so I did not even bleed after hitting the back of my head on the foil. It killed my appetite for additional jibe tries in the same session, though.

Instead, I headed into the flat water behind the Hyannis Port pier, and pushed the foil a bit faster than I had ever foiled before. By then, the wind had picked up into the mid-20s, and it was time to head back in. The strong wind made for a very interesting ride in steep chop. And then, it got even stronger, hitting 29 mph averages and gusts in the low 30s. Waterstarts, which were difficult, one-footed, and only in gusts at the beginning had long changed to the two-footed, "keep the thing controlled at all cost!" variety, were not placing enough weight on the front foot meant I was foiling before I was even over the board. But now, I was either getting catapulted right away, or the wind just grabbed under the board and flipped it over, completely ignoring the heavy aluminum foil. Not even body-dragging with one foot on the board, my usual fail-safe when things get crazy, worked - board and foil were blown out of the water  and flipped over within a couple of seconds. Eventually, I discovered that body-dragging clew first from the leeward side worked, with the added benefit of being an excellent workout. After dragging a quarter mile downwind, the wind finally let up enough so that I could waterstart again, and foil in the last bit, with a fully flagged out sail. Meanwhile, Nina, who had been wing foiling on her 4.2 the entire time, stuck around and enjoyed that the strong wind let her foil through her jibes with ease. Maybe I need to get one of these things ... but I have the suspicion it just would not work quite as well for me.

Well, an interesting session it was, and certainly a memorable one - but also a lot of fun.