Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birds Walking and Humans Flying

A big frontal system swept over Florida today, accompanied by a delightful mixture of rain, sun, and wind. The rain brought opportunistic cattle egrets and white ibises into my neighborhood to munch soggy bugs and earthworms. It's cool to look out over your bowl of cereal to see exotic wildlife also having breakfast.

By lunchtime the rain was gone, but a SW wind was kicking up nicely. After some hemming and hawing I decided to take a "nooner" windsurfing session in the ocean, at a sandbar break I sort-of discovered a while back. The wind was gusty, but the side-off direction and the wave setup were perfect for frontside, down-the-line rides in small, forgiving surf. Seasoned waveriding windsurfers go ape for side-off conditions, and I'm starting to see why. The energy from the wind is blasting in one direction, and the energy from the wave is blasting in a perpendicular direction, so when you zoom into the intersection of the wind and wave energy you can spring back and forth from one to the other like jumping between two giant trampolines that are canted 45 degrees to face each other. I took some video (below), but it doesn't really capture how fun it was.

Side-off windsurfing mellow waves in Florida from James Douglass on Vimeo.

After work I stopped by Jaycee Park to see my kite buddies riding in the increasingly strong winds. I took some still pictures with my normal camera. Doug Smith was lit on a 7 msq kite (that's really small for a kite), and getting some huge jumps (picture below).

Brent Beringhaus, a local college student and kiteboarding instructor, was also going big. He almost had a kitemare at the end of his session, though. He was on the beach getting ready to land his kite when he accidentally pulled the black "more power" trim strap instead of the red "less power" trim strap. He was instantly lifted into the air, headed straight for a tree, but he quickly grabbed the "chicken loop" below his bar and pulled it down to depower and return to earth. He was only a few feet from the tree when he landed. Yikes! That kind of thing reinforces my decision to reserve high winds for windsurfing.

Below is a slide show of pictures from today. I think if you click on it you can see it larger in a separate window.


rod.r said...

Hi James

After reading your post refering to "chicken loops" and "trim straps", it would be interesting if you did a piece on how that all works, from a non-kiters perspective. You read about gizmo's to depower in an emergency etc but I have no idea what and how they work.

James Douglass said...

Hey Rod- That's a good idea, actually. I'll start working on that for my next blog post. :)

Robert Bruce said...

Ibises are rather interesting. Observing them, I am always reminded as to how Darwin came up with his theory of evolution i.e. bird beaks. This prompted me last year to buy a copy of >>The Origin of Species<< which I hope to read.