Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blog closed for "winter weather"

This weekend snow storm has reminded me it's time to close the blog due to "unsuitable weather conditions". Well not completely closed, I'll still post something entertaining for my (2-3?) readers (especially those interested in winter sports). If you really want to read about winter windsurfing (and debate on the meaning of the word "crazy") you can always check Mighty Mike's blog.

Yesterday night some parts of the island got 25" of fresh powder. Completely wasted. Why LI is so damn flat???!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A short december session

So, yeah, I haven't windsurfed at all in the past two months. The first month and a half because of my foot injury and the rest because of too much other stuff going on, specifically a lot of work to do. With the winter around the corner the chances to squeeze in a session were thinning every day. So last week, when the forecast called for strong SW winds and warm temps on Thursday, I decided that was my day.

As usual NOAA forecasted too much wind. By noon the wind had shifted from SW to WSW and dropped to about 20mph. In the morning I had grabbed my 90L board and the 6.3, 5.5 and 5.0 sails and that wasn't good news. I went to the usual place, Shirley beach on the South Bay. Not only the wind was dropping, the direction wasn't optimal either, too onshore. But at the end it didn't matter, I just wanted to get out there.

As the Peconic Puffin pointed out recently, this time of the year the water in the bay is definitely colder than the ocean. I could tell because I didn't wear gloves and my hands were freezing after I fell in the water a couple of times! The 4/3 mm wetsuit seemed to do the job though.
I tried the very popular boom-tail-mount with the gopro and it worked just great. Much better than my jibes. Boys I'm rusty! I edited a video and tried many times to upload it on youtube and directly on the blog website without success. Since I have no time for dealing with such s*** right now here are a few pics from the movie.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash"

That's the title of a recent article by Lindsey Hoshaw on the New York Times about the infamous Pacific garbage patch. I hope it will raise awareness amongst the masses for the problem of plastic debris in the oceans. If research will convincingly show that toxic chemicals in the debris enter the chain food and eventually end up in the human body, people will finally realize the magnitude of this ecological disaster. At that point, more strict rules and regulations concerning plastic production, recycling and disposal will be put in place. Global warming alike, this problem is planetary and it can be seriously faced only by defining and adopting international environmental treaties. Frankly, I don't think that asking people to drink less soda or recycle their shopping bags is going to change anything.

"Light bulbs, bottle caps, toothbrushes, Popsicle sticks and tiny pieces of plastic, each the size of a grain of rice, inhabit the Pacific garbage patch, an area of widely dispersed trash that doubles in size every decade and is now believed to be roughly twice the size of Texas." Photo and caption : Lindsey Hoshaw for The New York Times

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What I have been doing lately

What to do when your foot is busted and it's not able to support your body properly?
Well, you can certainly focus more on your work since superfluous outdoors activities such as running, biking and windsurfing are forbidden. However, if you are lucky enough to have to wear a removable cast, you can still practice a sport where gravity is virtually absent so that your feet don't have to support your weight (162 pounds in my case). I'm not talking about going into space or on board of those fancy NASA's parabolic flights even though I admit I'd like to try that.
I'm talking about swimming. I have been swimming regularly in the past month and it really feels good after a 2 X 1/2 mile session. Without a really serious training I shove almost a minute off my previous personal best on the 800 yards freestyle. And my goal is now to shave another minute off.
I also hope that all this upper-body exercise will be beneficial to my first windsurfing session after the injury. And I really want to score some good sessions before my 4/3 wetsuit becomes too thin for the season...

Three STS-114 astronauts give a simultaneous thumbs-up signal during an underwater training session in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fracture of the base of the fifth metatarsal

That's what happened to me in medical terms. It results from badly twisting your foot e.g. during running. Running on the streets is indeed dangerous, with a lot of debris and potholes you need to be careful where you put your feet and the one time you are distracted...bang, you have busted your foot. This accident will change my training habits for sure. It may take 6-8 weeks to recover and I have to wear a removable cast. It's a lot like wearing a ski or snowboard boot most of the time, you just never have the chance to make a downhill run.

These are the most immediate implications of this injury for me:
1) No more 5K run I have been training for in the past months.
2) No more windsurfing for 6-8 weeks which means no racing at the East Coast festival in about a week.

Good news are that I can swim. Anyhow, I'm focusing on recovering and hope to be able to jump on that board before the sea freezes. I don't have a drysuit and sitting on a chair is not the best way to end the season...

(that's what you get when you are not careful)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Out of commission

I was really looking forward to this week. Wind and warm temperatures, a nice combination to savor while the cold winter is approaching.
Unfortunately, I badly injured my left foot running and be out of commission for a while.
I'm just looking at the meters: SSW 23mph and temperature in the mid seventies....
I just have one thing to say (yelling): NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two interesting interviews

I'm back from vacation to find a substantially windless LI. From what I have read on the other blogs I have missed some good action! Too bad but I had a good vacation anyhow. While I wait for wind, I thought to share two interesting interviews I recently came across. One is with Mr. Neil Pryde who tells about past and future of windsurfing and his company. Perhaps not everybody knows that Neil Pryde is a real individual. Here, he gives some some interesting insights, for example I did not know he was the owner of the snowboarding bindings brand FLOW (incidentally my favorite brand) and that NP is planning to make.....BIKES????
The other interview is from John Carter, the official PWA photographer, on how he got involved in the business. It's less romantic than what I thought!! Also, I must love his radio-controlled shutter!

The interview with JC can be found in the Starboard corner

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Nice NE flow!

We've got some wind this weekend! It seems that expressing discontent about the sucking, windless weather of the week has helped (whereas nothing happens when the Peconic Puffin prays, calls for hurricanes, or even embraces the Buddhist faith for the sake of wind...). I should do that more ofter.

In any case this morning the meters were showing a decent NE wind but quite gusty (up to 25 mph). I decided to head to Cedar Beach, near Mount Sinai harbor, since my first choice, West Meadow beach, was not good with a NE breeze.

When I arrived there a 6.5 seemed the best option but since I don't own this size, I rigged a 6.3 instead hoping that the wind would strengthen a bit. But unfortunately the wind was too "patchy". Later it picked up a bit more and I was really going! I haven't been sailing Cedar Beach in a long time but today I really appreciated how nice of a spot it is. The beach is quite long, there are no weeds (like at Heckscher and anywhere else in the South Bay) and the wind swell is quite big. In some spots there where almost head-high waves! As a matter of fact the LI Sound really goes off in the winter when it blows 40+ knots from the North.
I was quite disappointed to see no other windsurfer there (Mike Burns, where were you?) until about 1:30 pm when I called it a day. Only me and a kiter.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Board repaired but no wind

Quite disappointing week for sailing on LI. We've got the perfect weather for any outdoor activity (running, biking, touring) but not windsurfing. Actually, last Monday seemed "sailable" but not if you have a FTJ (that's not a f**king terrible job but a full time job).
So when it's windless and you have a bit of free time you fix up the disasters caused by your bad sailing. Like this one:

The leftover of a dull catapult on the nose of the carve 111.

And here is the easy fix: epoxy filled, sanded, a touch of paint to try matching the color of the board

No, I'm not a student of the Board Lady, it's just the magic of photography that makes it looks pretty good (now you understand why Hollywood stars look the way they look).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What a rip-off!

Another beautiful, sunny and windy day today. Solid 5.5 to 6.0 conditions for most of the day until....I hit the water! As you see from the wind graph, about 30 mins after my board touches the water at about 4:30 pm the wind speed steadily declined to almost nothing. There was little for me to do since I left the bigger sails at home. I rigged the 5.5 thinking the wind would last until the sunset but I completely missed it this time. It turns out that I overestimated the wind strength going out and the 5.5 was too small, I only had a few planing runs and then intermittent planing and then schlogging. Lately I went from rigging too big to rigging too small. I think that my "slightly underpowered" experience is over. I ended up practicing my tacks and hoping for a miracle that never happened. I am sure everybody else had a great day on the water today.

(The best time to go windsurfing and get skunked today was the one I chose indicated on the graph by the black arrow)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The perfect summer session

Last Friday was the epitome of the perfect summer day. Sunny, hot and windy! 5.5 to 6.0 was the call (look at the nice twist and little belly of my HSM superfreak 5.5) but going up and down at times. Two days a week like this and the summertime on LI would be perfect!! Nice to see all the people at the beach enjoying the fine weather. Up to 6 windsurfers at Shirley beach. The only negative note was that I damaged my board in a stupid fall. On the last run late in the day (when the wind was dying) I was schlogging when a gust caught me unprepared and I catapulted like an idiot. It really does not happen that often to me (as a matter of fact the nose of the carve was pristine) and when it does I try to let the mast fall a bit downwind to save the nose. This time it slammed right in the middle of the board and this is the end result:

The compression shock has caused a 4" crack near the rail. It doesn't look like there is a lot of water coming out of the crack but I will try to vacuum bag it and then l fix it with some epoxy filler. The carve '04 wood is a sweet board that reminds me of a woman a lot (I won't be more specific...): light, nice curves, lively and fast but very delicate and high maintenance. I'll be using the AHD 92L for a while. Is that cheating???

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Finally some solid wind

When the insanity of LI windsurfers was reaching alarming levels and some of us had even entered a state of delirium wishing hurricanes would hit the island, today another cold front brought us juicy 6.0 conditions. They said the front was weak but frankly I have seen weaker than this...
Anyhow we were blessed with beautiful sunny skies, temperatures in the eighties and complete absence of thunderstorms.

This post is about how useful a mast cam can be if you wish to improve your jibing. These shots were taken with my trusty Canon, not that GoPro toy.

the entry; ok that's easy but I should have moved my right hand further back

the carve; not too crappy

the mast moves to the outside; at this point my left foot should be out of the strap and about to step on the inside rail (it is not)

about to flip the sail but my left foot is still hanging on the center of the board and I haven't moved my right foot forward yet. What the heck!!!

I conclude that my slow footwork has screwed up this jibe. I have to move that foot earlier! Note that the footwork was slow but did not necessarily stall the board (a 111L). Fans of the "flip the sail first" like my compatriot Giampaolo claim that switching the foot first increases the chances to stall the board when you are learning to jibe on smaller boards. Hhmmm not so sure about that. "Giampa" likes provocations but I doubt he reads this blog.
In any case there is no chance to get planing exits without an efficient footwork. But practice (and a mast cam) makes perfect.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thermal winds

In his or her quick descent to insanity caused by lack of wind, the summertime LI windsurfer has only one hope: thermal winds. In between cold fronts when high pressure builds up and remains over the island for several days, the chance is that a SW breeze will blow from midday though early afternoon due to the temperature difference between the land and the ocean. These thermal winds are the only thing that can get our boards moving these days. This is more or less what happened yesterday in the South Bay.

As you see from the wind plot, the thermal builds up in the morning as the land warms up reaching about 15 mph by midday (gusts are more representative of what you get on the water). It's not a lot but it can get me on a plane with my largest sail/board combination pictured below:

It's an Exocet Speed Slider 135L with a big weed fin and a Goya FXR 8.0. I launched near Bellport in a spot I never checked before close to a few really cute summer houses right on the beach. There were at least other 2 windsurfers in the area one of whom lunched with me around 2:30 pm when the wind was weakening. He gave up after one hour I think while I stayed longer. Later the wind picked up and I could plane in the gusts. In these days you realize what it takes to be a Olympic class windsurfer....
I have to say summertime thermals are not as strong and consistent on LI as on other places (notably the Southern Mediterranean) where I used to sail. But that's what it is. The best one can do is getting the most out of it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Missed it!

Very nice, "sail-able" day on the island today. Cloudy but relatively dry and a nice easterly breeze around 25 mph. Unfortunately I missed it (yeah, I do have a full time job) but I suspect the Puffin & Co. have scored a good session so let's wait for Mike's report from the East end....
In the meantime, let's close our eyes and imagine we could jibe like this:

(Bora Kozanaglu - PWA Alacati 2009)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Josh Angulo's insight into the Fuerteventura Slalom race

I recently made a post about a spectacular slalom race which took place at the PWA event in Fuerteventura. In that post I have been wondering about any differences in the sail size used by the winner Antoine Albeau and Josh Angulo who finished second. Now Josh gives us some insight in to that race.

(Josh Angulo in Fuerteventura, image courtesy PWA-John Carter)

Q: Hi Josh and congratulation for your performances in Fuerteventura. The final when you were leading but later you were passed by Antoine (who eventually won) was spectacular! I was really curious whether Antoine was rigging a bigger sail than you. Can you tell us what size were you rigging versus Antoine and your special insight into that race? Again congratulations and good luck for the rest of the season.

A: Howzit Tonywind, Antoine and I were both on 5.5's and the wind was gusting over 40 kts. That was a pretty sick race. I had a good start and committed down the first leg, had the speed and took it into the 1st mark and remain in 1st up through the 3rd mark, after the 3rd mark Antoine passed me and to be honest it was soooo windy and gnarly sailing, that before the race I told myself just to sail my race, and part of sailing my race was just to survive and in surviving I got second behind arguably the best slalom sailor in the world at this moment. I also had another second , a third and a 1st in other finals that week, so it seems that things are coming together. Next event is Turkey, which is a completely different animal, but I'm thinking the 8.4 and my Magnum 83 are gonna be the key tools there and they are a sick combo.

So, the conclusion is that Josh proved to be extremely competitive not only in wave (were he's currently ranking 1st) but also in slalom. Antoine is simply a race machine capable of amazing speed especially in the most challenging conditions. Try holding a 5.5 on gusty over-40 knots winds! Undoubtedly the number 1..

Friday, July 31, 2009

A windy end of July

The end of July has brought juicy 5.0-5.5 conditions to the Island. A rainy morning turned into a sunny afternoon with a strong SW breeze powered by an approaching cold front.
As usual a busy afternoon at work made me miss most of it. When I could finally hit the water it was about 4:30pm and the wind speed had reached 25-30mph. I brought the GoPro with me but with much improvisation, the mount being not very reliable. Again, the battery life was short (need to test it at home) and I missed some action messing with the start/stop button. For fun I put together this short video. Hope it is not too boring and you can appreciate the speed of the board. At the end I don't land the jump well and I'm still hooked which results in a catapult....oh well.
The water was rougher than it seems in the video because the wide angle lenses of the GoPro flatten the scene out a little. Also Steve, a constant presence at Shirley, makes a little appearance in the video. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Playing with the GoPro

A cold front passed this evening over LI providing some good wind and therefore the chance to make my windsurfing less occasional. After work, I went checking the South Bay (Shirley) and the meters were accurate, the wind was pretty weak maybe 10-12 mph. But the front was approaching so I knew something was about to happen. The radar did not show isolated thunderstorms in the area so I decided to rig a 7.4 on the carve 111 (because I hate to schlog...) and just wait and hope to catch some wind before the sunset. I was surprised not to see Steve or James, perhaps the wind was so weak the entire afternoon, they gave up.
By 6:30 pm the wind started to pick up and by 7:00 I was clearly overpowered but still in control. At the end the wind did not exceed 20-25 mph, perhaps a bit more in the gusts.
The other reason I wanted to go out was the GoPro wide I just got. Unfortunately, the mast mount I built in a hurry was too close to the boom. In the little time I was out I just took pictures and here is the outcome. No radical action, but, believe me, for the wind-starved windsurfer on LI this time of the year, this is paradise.
In the picture above I'm happily planing. Here are a few more:

(A spin-out, look at the turbulence caused by the fin)

(carving a jibe)

The rechargeable NiMH batteries (1000mAh!) run out pretty quickly but I'm not sure whether they were fully charged. We'll see how much video I can shoot next time. I saw another windsurfer who launched upwind from me and later was reaching close enough that I could see he was rigging a North Sails with a sail number 7. You can identify yourself if you read this, fella!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nice late afternoon session

After more than a week I caught some nice SWesterly this afternoon after work at Shirley beach (check the Puffin's map). As usual I was too late (hit the water at 6pm). Well powered on a 7.4 and my carve 111L. Nothing epic but warm water and nice crowd. A guy was swimming along the beach and thought I would slice him in two. On the contrary I saw him well and stayed clear of him. I'm myself a swimmer and the first rule is respect the other people at the beach.
I met fellow windsurfers Steve and James who just arrived from Florida with his camper. No pic but here is what the sunset looked like at Shirley after another nice session on July 14th

Spectacular slalom action at Fuerteventura

I like to follow the slalom race action of the PWA worldtour. What a spectacular display of technique from the pros..
Well, apparently the final of the Fuerteventura event was epic. A thousand words can't describe it better than a movie from PWA that (finally) showed an entire race almost from start to finish. You see Josh Angulo coming first at the mark followed by Kevin Pritchard. Kevin does a mistake right after or when closing the jibe (hard to tell) and ends up in the water! The race loses one the toughest competitors...KP said he was in tears after that error. Anyhow, the mythic Antoine Albeau starts chasing Angulo, he passes him and literally smokes him and Dunkerbeck too who was behind him. At the end Antoine pulls a gigantic leap out of nothing to celebrate the victory. Unfortunately, the jump was not caught on video. You can see only when Albeau lands it and the crowd goes wow-wow-wow in wonder. Here is a picture of the jump (courtesy of PWA).
What a race!! It would be nice to know which sail size Angulo, Albeau and Dunkerbeck were using respectively. I suspect Antoine was holding down (he is a powerhouse) a bigger sail than Angulo since he literally smoked him. Technique matters also but, come on, Angulo is fast too. Don't tell me the difference was in the board because that's bull$#@.
In any case, chapeau Antoine, you are the best.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not a serious blog

The question is: do we really need another blog about windsurfing on Long Island, NY? The answer is simple (at least to me): NO we don't!! There are already other windsurfers who make a great job (above all the Peconic Puffin) at describing the action on the east end of the island. Moreover, I frankly don't have the time nor the dedication to blog about the great sessions I missed because I had to work or the cold front passed above my head overnight....
So I will use this space as a dumpster of occasional thoughts (often not politically correct), pics and videos of my (rare) windsurfing activities. Also, it is really nice to have my favorite links organized in one page! But feel free to post a comment if you want to.