Sunday, February 22, 2009

Windsurfing Photoshoot Perils

I've been combining windsurfing magazine board testing with seagrass studies in the Kennedy Space Center by setting up camp at the Banana River Resort in Cocoa Beach. Stacking up work and play had led to some long days where I'm windsurfing before breakfast, mucking around seagrass beds until sunset, and scraping epiphytes in the lab after dark. Of course, doing fun things I don't get too tired. Actually, I'm not so crazy about scraping epiphytes (chlorophyll? - more like bore-ophyll!) but the rest of it is cool.

On Thursday morning the WS Mag Editor Josh Sampeiro was there taking pictures for the magazine. So I got to be in a photoshoot. A couple neat pictures are posted on the Editor's Blog, but of course the better ones will only be in the magazine.

It was hard windsurfing in a choreographed way with two other sailors. We'd have to line up together offshore, shlog upwind to a certain spot, then all get on a plane at the same time, maintain equal speed while sailing scarily close together, display "big, sh*t-eating grins" per Josh's instructions, and jibe or tack at the last second without hitting the pier or each other. If you were in the middle, you couldn't jibe until the person downwind of you jibed, and you couldn't tack unless the person upwind of you tacked. I was in the middle one time when the person downwind of me jibed pretty late. I panicked that I wouldn't be able to jibe without hitting the pier, so I tacked instead and "BAM" realized that the person upwind of me was jibing when her board hit my head. Josh said she put on the brakes pretty hard before impact, which must be what saved my noggin and her board from any visible damage.

Reflecting on the incident, I've thunk of some safety rules for tightly spaced sailing that I'll want to follow in the future:

1. Plan the run in detail, including who will jibe and who will tack and how much time and space each person thinks they need to do their move comfortably.

2. The downwind sailor should initiate the jibe first, and should start it with more room to spare than just what he needs, because it will take a second for the people upwind of him to see and react to his move.

3. The most tentative sailor should be the one upwind, because only the upwind sailor has the option to balk at the jibe and do a tack instead.

1 comment:

John I said...

Welcome to my world. Another rule, the fastest person has to be upwind in order to close any gaps that sometimes occur in group runs.

Also, the ground needed to set up a photo run is always lots more than it ought to be. Choose gear that you know will offer the most angles of attack for you. One time at another locale, I climbed upwind 200 feet of 2 others just in time to get the snaps. Some of the gear would allow that much "leeway."