Why Opposite End Windsurfing?

Long Island, NY
I really,really like to windsurf. It is my favorite thing to do, except for teaching kids about physics, that is. The only problem is that I am not so great at windsurfing, at least right now. Several people in my area have created windsurfing blogs, but they are really, really good at windsurfing (and not too shabby at blogging). So, I've decided to give a perspective from the opposite end of the windsurfing skill spectrum, hence the name Opposite End Windsurfing for my blog. In it, I will share the experiences of someone who is trying to become a really good windsurfer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Day......

not a good ending, for some.

so, I got up this morning thinking I was just going to drive out to WH and pick up a Fanatic Allwave 9'6" (not 9'2" as I am apparently not athletic). Anyway, since there was supposed to be (and was) a morning N/NW, I threw my boardshorts and top in the van and put in my contacts, just in case.

I got to WH a half hour later than planned, but picked up the SUP and all was good. However, I did notice that there were whitecaps on the bay going over the bridge before WH, and so I casually asked Jon if there was a good place to sail, or at least try out the new SUP, nearby. He directed me to the end of Cold Spring Rd. I was the only one there, and there was wind. I did notice a kiter out in the bay about halfway across as I started to rig my 7.5/130.
I rigged up, got the board ready, changed, and moved the van. When I got back to the beach, there was a kite on it. The guy (Rob) said that he had just finished a downwinder and was supposed to have hooked up with Jon Ford to do it, but Jon hadn't showed. I told him it was my fault, as I was late getting to his shop. At any rate, he derigged (or whatever they call it) and wished me luck. Out I went, and planed, and planed, and planed. At first, the water was fairly flat as the tide was coming in. super fun.

After a while, I noticed this guy Rob was laying on the beach, apparently with no way to get home. I came in after a while, for a drink and a granola bar (the only food I had in the van) and let him use my phone to call a taxi. I then went out again. This time it was choppier, I think the tide had started to go out against the wind, but the wind showed no sign of abating. I planed, and planed, and planed somemore. So nice to be in cleaner water, and not having to use a weed fin. I was easily able to rail the board up a bit and it was absolutely flying. It's pretty well impossible for me to rail it up with a weed fin. Made some nice jibes, and almost, almost completed 2 full planing jibes. It's fun running down the swell and that helps with the jibes too. Some of the swell was pretty big, at least logo high (well, the logo on my board shorts anyway - however, that is twice the actual amplitude, but that's another story).

I also had set up the board a bit differently last night, moving the mast base back about 1 cm or a bit less. Seems to get the nose up just a little bit and the board was great in the swell. I am used to chop or flat water and the last time I sailed it (Monday), the nose hit the back of chops several times so I thought this might cure that and make it go a bit faster. Seems to have worked, although I can't really say for sure as other important variables also changed (non-weed fin and swell instead of chop or flat water).

As fun as it was, at one point, I was flying along and all of a sudden, I was in the water, head on top of sail. Happy I was wearing a helmet. I don't know what the crash looked like to the birds and fish, but it was an interesting moment. Laughed it off and kept going. Hey, even the pros crash from time to time.

Anyway, I got in 3 - 4 hours of beautiful, completely unexpected sailing time on a gorgeous day in a very nice spot. Just what I've been looking for. Thanks, Jon.

another guy showed up with a JP board and a 7.5 sail, did one run back and forth with me and then pulled in to the beach. When I came in later, he said he was exhausted and neeeded a rest.
a great day, except on the way home I drove by two horrendous accidents on Montauk Hwy about 1/2 mile apart. The first one already had ambulances and such there, but had recently happened as more ambulances were pulling up as I got by. The second probably happened after the first, as no police or ambulances had showed up yet, but there were people helping the injured and cops and ambulances were just about there. I'd guess the second one (on the other side of the road) happened as a result of the first, but who knows. Be careful out there. What's really ridiculous is the way people were driving, even after passing two accidents, tailgating, swerving in and out, that sort of thing. I feel safer on the water, at least in a bay. Just hope everyone involved is still alive.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pretty Cool

Today was a day I was going to take off. I've sailed several days in a row and my right shoulder really felt like it needed some rest. But, this is summer and I would regret not sailing every day that I could come September. So, I resolved to do some light wind freestyle (backwind sailing, heli tack) on the Go 170 with a 5.3 sail. I've resolved to do this a few times already this summer. I study Tricktionary, I watch the Tricktionary DVD, then it blows up. The wind, I mean. Happened again today.

There I was, after lunch, laying down to try and rest the shoulder. I check the meters on iWindsurf - 16 mph SW. What? Wait, they predicted something like 8-12 max. Then I check again, onsite post, yes, it's really 16 mph. So, reluctantly, shoulder aching, I go down to Heckscher/Joe's Beach. Lots of people sailing. Looks more than 16 to me. I see Pete R., he says he's on slalom gear, 8.7 and 132 liter 81cm wide slalom board.

So, I quickly pull out the Ray 130 and rig the 7.5. Run into the water, and take off. Holy crap! This gear is too big. I launch off a Heck chop and feel like I am in the air for half and hour. But, I land it. Turn around and head in. It starts to pick up some more, the wind that is.

Come in, start rigging the 6.3 and 102 l board. Everyone is rigging down. Wind comes up some more, so I rig the 5.5. Go out, one run on 5.5/102. Pretty wild, esp. with the chop, wakes, who knows what else. Come in again, and get out the Fanatic Freewave 85 for it's second sail. Now, this is windsurfing! I even make my first few jibes on it. Nice! Sailing with the big boys!

Holy crap, its getting dark. Come in, start de-rigging and putting boards away. Crack of thunder, flash of lightning (actually the other way around), rain, rain, I think some hail. Drive home, sunny and dry in Huntington.

All in all, an awesome day. Another small step up the ladder, first completed jibes on an 85 liter that I can remember at Heckscher anyway. I've made some out at Napeague, but that water is dead flat. But now, my shoulder is really cooked. I will HAVE to take tomorrow off, have real world things to take of also.

Great day.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunny Sunday

Seemed like nothing much was going to happen today, but there was a little phrase in the iwindsurf forecast that held out a little hope. Something to do with having enough sun to generate a thermal effect. Heard that one before, and most times it does pay off.

Today, it did, and it didn't. You see, the sun wasn't out the whole time which may have held wind speeds down a bit, but despite everything, it was a really great day. 7.5/130 for me. Felt really good, made all tacks except for one or two. (Don't forget to look up throughout the tack, and balance against the backwinded sail before tacking sail and pushing nose of board through the wind).

It was real choppy, but of course that's what happens at Heckscher/Joe's Beach. Wind chop, motor boat wakes, all combine to make one heckuva mess! Anyway, got some real good speed going today, made just about all the jibes, but alas, not a full planing one, yet.

Just a real nice day. Supposed to be full on rain, hail, lightning, thunder, etc. tomorrow so will have to wait for Tuesday, I guess.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Night

So, back to windsurfing again. Had a good evening sailing on the 7.5 and the Ray last Monday afternoon/evening down at Tanner. Really like that flat water. Jim M. and Stephen were sailing, but left so I sailed by myself for awhile. Really quiet, flat, like a magic carpet ride.

This past weekend was ok, but not great. SE wind, really puffy, not very strong. Sailed 7.5/130 on Saturday, but was not planing all the time. Did a lot of tacks. Now, have to work on keeping speed up through tacks. On Sunday, I tried the 7.5 with the Ray, but it wasn't happening. So, I came in and got the Megacat. It worked okay with the Ezzy 7.5 but had a hard time railing it as the water is really shallow at Tanner and I didn't want to chance dinging the centerboard, so I only had it down part way. Plus, the Ezzy has a loose leech which I don't think produces enough power. It was a nice mellow day out on the water, though. I think I figured out how to jibe it while still keeping the speed up. (Not doing a flare jibe).

Anyway, it seems that some wind might be on the way for Tuesday through Thursday. Hoping for the best. A good SW blow would be nice.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Night

Hi there! I know it's been over a year since I last posted, but alot has happened in the past year. I lost my father at the end of September (can't really talk about that, still having a hard time dealing with it) and then in December my former band teacher/director, the very famous Clem DeRosa, succumbed to cancer. There was a memorial held for him a couple of weeks ago. As a teacher myself I can't believe how many lives he touched, and how many former students of his became professional musicians themselves. I know my love of the baritone sax (still play) and big band jazz came from his tutelage. It was one of the great joys of my life to have had the opportunity to play in a band again under his direction several times in the past few years. It was like closing a circle.

Anyway, on to windsurfing-related matters. Quick update: I still haven't accomplished a full planing jibe. I am beginning to think, no, I am sure, that there is some mental block about commitment that I have to overcome before I finally complete one. Maybe I have to finally get married or something, I don't know. Also, I picked up a few new boards since I last posted. I am now the proud owner of a '90s-vintage Fanatic Megacat that looks brand new, a Fanatic Ray 130TE, and a Fanatic FW 102 TE. All sail sensationally well.

Back to the Megacat. Well, over the past few years, I had spurts of glory at the East Coast Windsurfing Festival at Heckscher State Park sailing my Exocet Pacer 300. Last year, though, I finally realized that I just had to get a genuine longboard in order to have a chance at doing anything in lighter wind racing, my over 40 years of sailboat racing experience (including an East Coast regional championship in Hobie 14s, the 1988 Sonar NA Championship and numerous small and big boat wins including a top 12 steering a Farr 41 at the IMS World Offshore Sailing Champs in 2000) notwithstanding. I thought that my sailboat racing knowledge would help me jump to the top in windsurf racing, but that has not been the case. Seems that one first has to have complete confidence in one's windsurfing ability in order to implement real racing strategy, as well as the right equipment. Hooda thunk it?

So, I picked up the Megacat last year to help with the light air speed. It helped alot at the ECWF this year as I ended up placing third in the 7.5 m2 class. Which was great, but I was often right near the top at the windward mark, and in one race fell twice on the downwind leg and went from 2nd place to about 8th. If I could have stayed up on that one leg, I may have taken 2nd place for the event, but I am fairly satisfied with 3rd given my lack of windsurfing experience compared to the competition. However, I do know that I am fast upwind in lighter airs, just like I was in sailboats. Interesting. I even beat some of the open class competitors to the windward mark, esp. in the first race on Sunday woo-hoo!!

One thing that I was a bit disappointed about is that I basically had no chance to get 1st as Pete R. found himself a Div. 2 board. But, I did just about beat him to a windward mark. Instead of crossing him, I should have tacked beneath him and beaten him to the mark, but I am still not confident enough in my windsurfing skills to use them to execute tactics, as I stated above. So maybe, just maybe, the Div. 2 is not the total answer (didn't I say that about longboards before I got one for myself?).

Nevertheless, skill is growing and if I can just gain more confidence, I am sure I will find that I am not as bad as I think I am. I also need to remember and practice all the skills that I have learned from Andy and Tom at the ABK race clinics.

The ECWF, as a whole, was a smashing success. Thanks again to Mike and Chrissy B, Thom H. and the whole crew for a very well run event. Everyone that attended had a great time.

That was actually my second windsurfing trophy, my first was a 2nd place in the novice class at an event held by the old Olympic Windsurfing Shop at Heckscher State Park over 20 years ago. I still use the cooler I won that day. This new trophy will go next to all my sailboat racing trophies.

So, time to get back to practice, practice, practice and hopefully learn to plane all the way through a jibe and to comfortably tack the Ray 130  in case the wind is up for the ECWF in 2013.

All in all, it was a great weekend and I even had a great planing session (that's the first time I've used that word, been feeling self-conscious about it for the past few years as it's a word that "real" windsurfers use) on Friday evening at Tanner Park with Jim M.

(PS I am sorry I used the "I" word alot and tooted my own horn alot, but this IS my blog).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Back to Reality...

and it's not too bad, however..... I came back from Hatteras two weeks ago and was looking forward to getting in a lot of windsurfing and building on my TOW, but have been only able to sail 4 times since then, and only about 2 - 2.5 hours per session. The two most recent sailing opportunities that I had were Friday and Saturday (yesterday) on 7.5/133l board, both at Tanner Park.

 Friday was quite interesting as the wind was on the light side to start and Jim M. and I were both on 7.5's. After an hour or so, the wind picked up. Enough that Jim went in and rigged down to a 5.8 and a smaller board. I was unwilling to waste sailing time (I started at around 4 PM, Jim had started at 2 PM or so) rerigging so I downhauled and out hauled the Ezzy Infinity 7.5 (new this year) and went back out. It was really windy (over 20 mph) and I had a bit of a time going upwind, but when I headed deep downwind my board just kept going faster and faster. It was, in the dictionary sense of the word not the slang over-used sense, AWESOME. I didn't have my GPS with me, but I did go by Jim one time almost like he was hardly moving and he said his GPS read about 24 mph around then. Really cool.

Yesterday, I got in about 2.5 hours with Jim M. again, again on 7.5's. This time it was more real 7.5 conditions and fun. Jeanne B. also came out for a while on a 6.0 and 101 liter board. Then, clouds rolled in and the wind died. but a fun day and good to sail two days in a row. Lessons learned from these two sessions: I need to get further to the leeward side when cranking into jibes and need to keep the weight on the inside rail in order to keep the board turning. As you can tell, still haven't done a full planing jibe but was really close the last day or two in Hatteras. Wish I could have stayed there for another week.

As it was, though, I did get to sail (plane) six days in a row down in Hatteras. It was great fun and actually perfect conditions since I hadn't really sailed since last fall (my two abortive attempts to sail earlier this year notwithstanding) and so the conditions down in OBX (I love saying that) ended up being perfect for me. Day 1 - 7.5/Pacer. Day 2 - 7.5/Pacer then to 7.5/133l. Day 3 - 6.3/Rogue Wave 102l. As you can see, the wind just built and built until it was like 30 on Thursday (Day 5) - sailed 4.2/85l although I probably would have been more comfortable on my 3.7, as George M. was. Then Day 6 it backed off a bit and I got back on the new Rogue Wave (which I've named "Stoker" in honor of my first boat, a Laser, that I got back in 1971 or 1972. Any way, that board is just amazing, and in spite of what Billy T. might think, who picked it up at Heck last week with a 32 cm weed fin in it and proclaimed "Wow, this thing really is solid". I took that to mean that it felt heavy. It's really not, it's pretty darn light. Anyway, it seems to plane in a fart and seems to be really fast, although I've gotten out on it 3 times now (twice in Hatteras, once at Heck since I got back).

Anyhow, I am still working towards completing that full planing jibe, but like I said to Jim yesterday, to expand on what Thomas Edison once said, I have now learned 5000 ways NOT to do a full planing jibe, so I am that much closer to it. It seems like I may never get it, but I know that I will and to be fair to myself, I've sailed so little the past two years (this is the first time I've gotten to sail in the spring in 3 years) that I really don't count those years as years sailing.

Oh, and you know how I mentioned in my last post that I had loaded all of my wetsuits? Well, I discovered over an hour into my trip that I hadn't put any wetsuits in the van at all. So, I ended up buying a 3/2 on the way to Frisco Woods at Ocean Air (where I ran into a contigent of LI'ers) on that first Sunday of vacation and ended up wearing it 3 days, if I remember correctly. The other days were all in board shorts. Oh, and the trip down on Saturday (the day  after my last post) ended up being "The Night of Tornados" in Va. and I stopped that night in Gloucester, Va. and saw the aftermath of a tornado strike on a middle school about a 1/4 mile down the road from where I pulled off for the night due to yet another traffic jam that night and seeing ambulance after ambulance go up the road the other way. I think I missed that tornado by 15 minutes or so. THAT was an AWESOME night also. I am thankful for having made it through that.

So, now that I have received the clew-view mount for my Go-Pro (invented by Jerry Evans at Chatham Wind and Time, whom I met at Hatteras - he was just a couple campsites over), and the windsurfing mounting plate for the Shadowbox, I can't wait to get out and make ride recordings and videos which I hope will advance my learning curve, plus provide insight as to how I really sail.

Btw, I've already made reservations for campsite 32 at Frisco Woods Campground for April vacation next year. That's my new favorite place in the world, much like Newport, RI was when I was racing sailboats.

Oh, and I need to thank Pete R. and his son Devon for helping me to have a great time. It was my first vacation in over two years and it was one of my all time best. Also, thanks to George M. and his kids for making me laugh so hard. It's been a long time since I laughed like that.