Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another fine day in October

Yesterday West Meadow beach drew a small crowd of windsurfers and kitesurfers. Even Long Island's finest (Mike Burns and John Sassone) were seen spinning around there. There are now new fancy signs pointing to the beach in case one needs directions. The town has also replaced the booth at the parking lot entrance with a shiny new construction. Apparently, this wasn't a necessary makeover. I learnt someone ran into the old one with a car this summer...! Luckily no one was injured.

The day got better and better since I arrived in the early afternoon. No water sport fanatic was on sight and the wind seemed kind of light (for my bigger sail, 6.3) so I spent 5 good minutes pondering whether to rig or not. Then a strong gust convinced me the 6.3 would do. Eventually, the wind progressively went up and by 5 pm the freestylers were on 5.5-5.0 I guess. I don't have a lot of footage because the GOPRO mount on the boom tail got detached after the tail hit hard the sandy bottom (the tide was ultra low). The camera was saved by the safety line I added as a precautionary measure (the new gopro doesn't come with one). Too bad because the antifog was working like a charm. But I haven't missed much beside a couple of badly-closed duck jibes and perhaps the chance of capturing a few tricks Mike threw in front of me when I was sailing by. I'll just post a couple of still pics.

Yesterday it became apparent to me the importance of taking a break during a session -- a luxury I can rarely take--. Usually, I have such a limited time before it rains or it gets dark or the wind dies on me or I have to run back to work or somewhere else, I only think of rigging, getting in the water and sailing until I collapse. Admittedly, this isn't the best approach for improving my (limited) skills. On the contrary, yesterday I had the time to take a break, switch fin, and return to sail reinvigorated and with a clearer mind. This is crucial in order to be in control and to avoid repeating over and over the same stupid mistakes. One of mines is not doing a boom shaka with my front hand before flipping the sail. This encourages me to grab the mast with the other hand thereby slowing the flip to the point it takes me too long to sheet in. After the pause I focused on this issue and I was pleased to perform a couple of clean boom-to-boom transitions. I know it doesn't sound as exciting as landing a forward loop (which I'll perhaps attempt one day as my jumping skills improve) by in my mind closing the perfect jibe still marks the transition from an average windsurfer to a good one. And that's all occasional windsurfers aspire to, namely to become good occasional windsurfers (being occasionally good doesn't really help).

(boom-shaka and...)

(no boom-shaka. The difference seems small due to the perspective but sliding the front hand about a foot towards the mast greatly facilitates the flip allowing one to grab directly the other side of the boom with the back hand)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back in action

The past "Suck-tember" I spent no time on the water due to a combination of shitty weather, work chores, various projects to carry on, and having to swap car with a friend (Lexus IS250's are cool to drive but don't carry windsurfing equipment). The beginning of October has been pretty much the same until last Saturday. I thought West Meadow would be "da spot" for the conditions: WSW 30+ MPH.
But when I arrived at the beach, about 2PM, I was surprised to see only 2 windsurfers in the water. As usual the kiter population was predominant. I rigged a 5.0 but the wind was really holey and starting to fade. The tide was going out which made for some kind of wave riding and nice port-side jumps. I'm trying to get more air out of these. After 2 months of windsurfing and weight-lifting inactivity my upper body strength is down to nothing but I managed to have fun. I put together a few jumps in a video which shows little technical skills and it has the sole purpose (as this blog) to remind me of this great day in October. The true highlight was meeting a great windsurfer called Jeff. I really had a nice chat with him and he was kind enough to share a glass of Montepulciano with me after the action! See you soon at West Meadow, Jeff!

West Meadow in October from tonywind on Vimeo.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bye bye Irene

I never liked you. How can one like a one-eyed girl anyway? So Irene passed by and thankfully "only" as a trop storm. It took down lots of trees and with them the electric power. I heard it will take up to Friday to fix it up in Stony Brook?? I hear talking about rebuilding the infrastructures of the US as a way to create jobs and modernize the country. How about a new, smarter power grid? Anyhow, I have been following the storm on the radar and on the wind-meters linked on this webpage until early Sunday morning when the power went out. The wind picked up on the south shore first and the Moriches meter recorded a gust of 80 mph(!) from the E at about 5am. The North shore followed with lots of shacking and falling trees. It was also very clear from the radar that the mainland was to take the most of the rainfall as confirmed by the reports of catastrophic flooding in NJ, VT and parts of NY this morning. By 1pm things calmed out a bit then the wind switched to a very windsurfable WSW breeze. I thought some nut-job went windsurfing West Meadow beach by then. I even considered going to check the situation myself but decided to wait. I'm glad I did because (as expected) the wind turned into a brutal, super-gusty westerly, even worse than the one experienced the previous night. As a result this morning the road to WMB was flooded up to the Old Field Club. I read a windsurfer died yesterday afternoon in the South Bay near Shirley. I'm very familiar with the spot and I might have run in to the guy a few times. That's quite sad and a reminder that these storms are serious business.
Tuesday 8/30 update: LIPA restored the service this morning. Thanks for the hard work guys!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Finally a solid, seasonal southwesterly

If you ask a windsurfer what summer should look like, he'd tell you sunny weather, warm water and a nice beach sandblasted by 25+ mph winds. Although rare this year, (I was away the past two weeks so I perhaps missed something?) these conditions materialized yesterday concomitant with the passage of a frontal system. Even in the usually gusty and holey conditions of West Meadow beach I had a solid blast from 1 pm to 4pm on a 5.8. I had another session at WM last Thursday on a 6.3 so today I'm bit stiff. What a great day! But Nostalgia is kicking in because the summer is about to end and I hate rubber...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dusting off the mast-cam

Yesterday a nice SW breeze brought some relief to parts of the scorching island. A few locals savored the perfect summer conditions at West Meadow beach. As usual I joined later in the day when the wind picked up a few notches and 5.5 was probably the right size. It's easy to underestimate the wind speed at WM when it's blowing from the SW. The wind gets much stronger far from the shore. I dusted off the mast cam for the occasion and the raw video below mercilessly shows my less-than-perfect jibes, failed duck jibes and various other splashes....

Untitled from tonywind on Vimeo.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Miracle on a Sunday afternoon

It's a beautiful summer Sunday, not too hot. I'm working at home on a deck and the forecast said there won't be much wind. Nor there are such things as thermal winds at West Meadow. I think to myself "It's better this way 'cause at least I can avoid frustrations and focus on finishing this damn job". But in the early afternoon the trees start moving. As usually, I think "it's all in my head" but the breeze seems persistent. The Northport yacht club's meter confirms I'm not hallucinating after all (the meter is actually screaming by the summer standards)! No brainer! 15 mins later I'm at West Meadow. Still on big stuff but happily zipping through the water. But the "big sail complex" remains (I seem to sail bigger than anyone else). So I tried a few times to duck jibe the 7.5(*). I grabbed the other side of the boom but never close the jibe. Give me a few more of these "miracle Sundays" (and a new GoPro) and I'll prove I can do it...

(*) Old chinese proverb: "It's not to big if you can duck under it"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is the summer going to suck?

I have been planing only 4 times since end of May. Mostly big sail sizes. Last time was on Monday afternoon at West Meadow on a 111L/7.0 combo. Good time. I'm sure there is a little more wind on the South shore but I rather spend less time in the car (what's your carbon footprint?) and more in the water. It seems to me we have had no strong SWesterly associated with cold fronts so far....
Anyhow I've bought a paddle and I plan on doing some flat water SUP on the 135L board. Sounds crazy I know, we'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Season kick off

Sunday, May 29th was my first day in the water this year. At least on the East coast. I did some SUP in Santa Barbara in March, I might blog about that one day if I ever have the time (I don't). Anyhow, gorgeous day a West Meadow beach on Sunday. I was the only windsurfer there (at least in the entire afternoon). I was on my biggest combo 135L/7.5 but who cares when you are flying on the water riding your fin and you haven't windsurfed in months? Plus it was sunny, the water was warm and the people friendly. Paradise! Further, being an environmentally-conscious person, I value having to drive only 1 mile to go windsurfing. If I could find one of those big bike trailers I would just bike there with my gear... In all instances, for an occasional windsurfer like me, is psychologically very important to be able to say "I started sailing in May!"