Gorgeous day of windsurfing at West Meadow last Saturday. When I showed up at 2 pm the wind was in the 30's mph from WNW. A little too onshore for my taste but the tide was low and the ramps abundant, ranging from knee- to chest-high (and sometimes even more) waves. Plenty of kiters and windsurfers, too bad I didn't bring my camera. I sailed about 3h on a 5.5/92L. At the end the wind picked up a knotch and a 5 or 4.5 would have been more appropriate. More of the same on Sunday but the wind wasn't as strong and died in the afternoon.
I'm on vacation in Southern Italy where thermals rule this time of the year. I managed to borrow a windsurfer which is a mix of vintage and new parts.
It's a fanatic falcon 120 liter board, (narrow and long old school slalom board) with a Severne freemove 7.0 rigged on a NP 430 carbon mast and an old, flimsy aluminum boom. Not too bad after all. When the thermal kicks in around noon (and for most of the afternoon) you can windsurf in crystal-clear, warm waters with a scenic background (specifically the city of Messina in Sicily).
I really reccommend anyone to visit not only because it's Italy(!) but also because wind- and kyte-surf are popular here. As a matter of fact, you can snap pics of windsurfers and kyteboarders as your plane is about to land (see below) and there are spots where it's windy everyday.
We always think windsurfing as fun and often we forget the safety aspects related to our sport. This is even more the case for occasional windsurfers who don't spend too much time inspecting their "looks-fine-to-me" gear and want to rig as fast as possible to maximize their otherwise too short time on the water. Until something happens that reminds you to better be more careful.
To make a long story short, yesterday afternoon turned out to be windy on the South shore of Long Island. Much windier than forecasted. Maybe 30 mph from the SW. As I often do (being pessimist in terms of wind forecast) I grabbed my medium wind stuff. Plus the wind meter in Moriches was dead for the day and I had no clue what the wind was doing in the morning (did I mention I can't go home in the middle of the day so I need to decide from the morning what's the best choice of gear to take with me).
As I arrived at the beach at 3 pm I found it was blowing hard and I had a 6.3 and a 111L board when I should have had a 5.0 and a 90L board. What would you do at my place, go home? I kept saying to myself "Damn it! I knew it!" Then I opted for plan B which was to rig the 6.3 with as much out/downhaul I could apply and go out hoping the wind would drop a little. Which is what I did quite quickly. So fast that I forgot to check whether the plug on the top of the sail was fully inserted into the mast top. Actually, I thought the 6.3 had a cap not a plug at the top so "I could not go wrong". I have to say I'm used to check the top no matter what but there is always a day when you forget to do so and the consequences might be regrettable. So I put the hell of a lot of downhaul and went out. After a very short while, as I was saying to myself it was perhaps (uncomfortably) sailable with the 6.3, I heard a bang and instinctively looked up. What I saw was the mast sticking out of the sail top. Of course I didn't think "you haven't inserted the plug well" (human error), I thought "something must have failed at the top" because, after all, it's never our fault isn't it? This wasn't a life threatening situation in any respect. I wasn't too far from shore (maybe 400 yards), there weren't big waves, the place is protected and there were people on the beach and a few windsurfers upwind from me. The worst scenario was a long swim pushing the gear to shore plus some walk back. However, the same could have happened to me in the Sound with over 30 knots of wind, bigger waves and a further away from shore. In that case there would be less to laugh about.
In any case, the first thing I thought was to try jibing and sail back with a floppy sail. Having a large board on which was easier to uphaul also helped. Of course I missed the jibe (I’m not a pro, it was also windy and the sail felt really unbalanced without tension) and ended up in the water. This messed up the sail even more. Forget about waterstarting. I tried uphauling but could not sheet in at first. The second attempt succeeded and I could sail most of the way back. I then fell again, can’t tell why. At this point the mast came out of the extension and it was a total mess. I opted for the short swim. At shore I realized there was nothing broken, just the plug was not inserted all the way in the mast. It was simply pressing against it. With all that tension, as the mast flexed the top popped out. The entire mishap was caught on video and (although quite ridiculous) I decided to post it for the 2-3 people who read the blog and also as a perpetual lesson to myself about spending more time checking safety and less time swimming with my gear. A positive note was that I later re-rigged properly and the wind dropped and switched to the West and the 111L/6.3 was the perfect choice for some relaxed free-riding.
Yesterday we have experienced wind conditions similar to last Wednesday. The wind was just a little less strong and it dropped late in the evening. I went out around 6pm on the 92L/5.8 for more bump&jump, jibing, trying duck jibes and jibe 360's. It really helps to be spot on with the sail size to make good progress. I feel I have improved this year on the basic moves, I just need to be more consistent (the lack of wind in the summer doesn't help that) and refine the technique..... long way to go!
This week we have finally got the amount of wind we deserve every day in the summer. The prob is I had to wait 3 weeks for that! So last Wednesday my eyes where on the wind meter in Moriches to figure out when the cold front would hit. This time the timing was perfect for late goers like me as the wind started to crank up at about 3pm. I hit the water at 6 pm. I had just got a (used) 5.8 NP alpha which seemed the right choice so I used that on the 92L board. By the sunset the wind had grown even stronger and 5.0 (or even smaller) was the call. As an occasional windsurfer, with only 2h available I never re-rig. But that's a bad habit I'm trying to correct. In these conditions Shirley offers sweet bump and jump conditions and I have tried to catch as much air as possible. Even if my jumping sucks (working on that) I put together this video to show the conditions. It's a little dark as I was sailing straight into the sunset but I hope it conveys the fun. Enjoy!
I had not hit the water in a preposterous time period spanning 20 days(!). So yesterday afternoon after work I said to myself let's try catching the leftovers of the NW wind at West Meadow beach. No matter what, even if dies on me and I have to swim back. Actually, I was more optimist that than because in the afternoon around 4:30pm the wind still looked decent, perhaps enough for the 7.0/111L combo. And so I went.
It was ultra low tide so I had to walk a little to launch. As soon as I was up and going I realized the wind had dropped and was really not enough to get me on a plane. Even if I pumped the sail. There was an occasional "teasing" gust putting me on a plane and then dying. I sailed towards South past the long sand bar hoping the wind would get stronger down the harbor. But nope, no chance.
As I was getting more frustrated I realized that after all the reason I was there was to chill out and enjoy the Ocean (well the Sound, whatever). It still gave me the chance to practice low wind jibes and tacks. Then the wind Gods listened and turned up the breeze a few notches and I found myself planing in flat, knee-deep water for about 20 minutes. Too bad it didn't last but that made my evening!
The thermals are back! Time to dust off my light wind stuff. Around noon yesteday there wasn't a leaf moving on the North shore whereas a nice SW thermal was starting to kick in on the South shore. When I arrived at Shirley around 3pm I was pleased to see little whitecaps. Wooo hoooo! I rigged my new (kind of, it's actually a prototype I bought cheap from Neil Pryde Maui) NP V6 on the Exocet speedslider 135 L. What a great afternoon! Check the video below
Well, we (Steve, James and I) did at Shirley. Another perfect, summery "lunch break" after a stagnant, windless and hot weekend. The best way to start the week. SW winds in the 25mph range. 5.9 was probably the best call but I was on a 6.3 I'm seriously thinking of getting a 5.9. The gap between my 5.5 and 6.3 is indeed too big...
Yesterday sunny skies and sustained WNW winds brought to Shirley Beach the largest group of windsurfers I have ever seen there. On top of the local sailors there where some more from the Patchogue-Bellport area who were dragged to Shirley by the wind direction. Even the King of the East, the mighty Mike Burns, was there spinning around. It's equally possible that there is a crowd constantly following Mike, who knows?
The wind was really "holey" and dropped later in the day but I still had fun on the 92L/5.5m2 combo. Perfectly powered at times, slogging at others. The setting was great though and it was nice to see the beach packed with gear (see pics).
(beach packed with gear)
(a windsurfer's dream: sandy beach on a warm, sunny and windy day)
Another great day of summer windsurfing yesterday. A strong SSW breeze powered by an approaching cold front provided ultra-fun, worry-free sailing conditions. No sign of the thunderstorms and tornadoes NOAA had foretasted for the region which is truly surprising because the risk was indeed high. Just another reminder that the weather is still difficult to predict accurately.
These wind conditions are ideal for me because I can go windsurfing West Meadow beach, which is less than 5 minutes drive from my house. A total of 3 windsurfers and about 4 kiters were at the beach yesterday. I guess that most people go to Heckscher park when it blows from the SW. By the way, let's hope everyone will be blessed with the same conditions this weekend (well, actually a little less wind otherwise it will be a little boring for the formula guys;))). See you at the beach!
Temperatures in the upper seventies, blue skies and constant SW breeze made yesterday the best day for me to start the 2010 season. Yes, I admit that it took me a lot to get out of windsurfing hibernation this year but I have also being quite busy in the past few months. After seeing on the radar a front of thunderstorms coming our way, I decided that the wisest option was a quick lunch session at Shirley. It turned out that the wind was stronger than I had anticipated/hoped (gusts up to 30 mph) and I ended up overpowered on the 111L/6.3m2 combo. If I had the choice (or a van) I would have rigged the 90L/5.5m2 even though a 5.7m2 was the call. After blasting for 2 hours and being blown off the board a few times while jibing, I called it a day. I was pleased to find out that the water is already so warm in the South Bay, it makes the 3/2 wetsuit superfluous...perhaps a sign of the hurricane season to come? Hopefully we'll stay out of the path of dangerous storms. After a quick de-rig & lunch staring at the whitecaps I was back to work just in time to avoid rain and thunders. Hope Steve (who pulled in with his trailer around 2:40 pm when I was about to leave) had a little fun before the rain. A savory taste of summer.
Quite a few trips for me this month. Let's start from the fist one to Germany/Austria. I had the chance to go snowboarding on the Austrian Alps near the lovely capital of Tirol, Innsbruck. I was happy to end a long period of inactivity lasting since Copper Mountain, Colorado 2007 (shame on me!). I was also proud to have tried the half pipe and have made it back in one piece. Next time I will push it a little harder (I really had to avoid the hospital this time around). The snow was good and abundant but the weather could have been better. One day the fog was so thick I could barely see the tip of the board. Awful! Below are few pics.