I'm sitting in the upstairs living room of a big rented house in Avon, North Carolina. We just had a humongous Thai dinner cooked by Sue from Buffalo, NY, and now a bunch of the fellas are sitting around the dinner table drinking beer, wine, and coffee and talking about religion, taxes, and politics. I reckon they got in this philosophical mood after our windsurfing celebrity guest, Josh Angulo, arrived yesterday. Josh gives a lot of credit to Jesus for helping him and his family through some rough patches in life, and when he was showing us the "Angulo" boards he brought for us to test he explained why they all have "Jesus Loves You" written on the bottom. Even though my own spiritual views are pretty different, I can identify with feeling a heart and soul connection between windsurfing and life.
Anyway, the windsurfing here has been great. I'm posting some footage of the first two days of our trip...
Day 1: 25-35 mph Northeast. Rode the Naish Nitrix 105, RRD fsw 101 (not in the test), JP All Ride 106, Starboard Carve 111, Quatro Freeride 110, F2 Vantage 126, Tabou Rocket 105, and Exocet Cross 114.
Day2: 10-20 mph Northeast. Rode the Starboard UltraSonic, Exocet Twixx 145, Goya FXR 144, and JP Slalom 76.
Hey Dudes and Dudettes! Greeting from sunny Avon, North Carolina, where I am participating in the Windsurfing Magazine freeride board tests for 2011. We have an awesome batch of boards here. These are just some of them...
More importantly we also have an awesome batch of people here, notwithstanding several Canadians. Andy McKinney, the owner of the "Wind NC" watersports store, filmed some of us at dinner the other day.
Today is our one "light wind" day of the week. I got planing this morning on a big board with an 8.5 sail, but it seems to have tapered off a bit since then. Sunday was super windy (25-35 mph) and monday was pretty windy, too (10-20 mph), so we're not missing it real bad. The rest of the week is supposed to nuke. If it was just a little warmer it would be perfect.
I'll post some helmet camera windsurfing action videos pretty soon.
My smallest windsurfing sail is 3.5 meters squared. It needs very strong wind to work properly; about 30 knots. I never used it at all during the two years I lived in Florida, but Friday I got a legitimate session on it here in Massachusetts. My sailing pals Fred, John, and another guy whose name I always forget were there on blue 4.2, orange 4.7, and red 4.7 msq sails, respectively. The guys on 4.7 were overpowered, but they're good windsurfers so they could handle it. There was also a young first-year windsurfer named Chris(?) who gave it a bold shot with a big board, a 4.2, and a small fin that I leant him.
To be honest, the conditions had me a little nervous, and I didn't do anything cool besides blasting back and forth. Sure was fun, though. As a bonus, the weather was an unseasonably warm 70 degrees or so. (It's back to the low 40s now.)
This summer I'd like to teach some of my new Massachusetts friends how to windsurf. The problem is that I don't currently have a board suitable for beginners, and if I get one I'll probably have to sell one of my other three boards to make space. My current board "quiver" is:
Starboard Evo 83- High wind, wave-oriented shortboard used with 5.5, 4.7, 4.2, and 3.5 m^2 sails. 83 liters volume. Exocet Cross 106- Medium wind, wave-oriented shortboard used with 6.8, 5.5, and occasionally 4.7 m^2 sails. 106 liters volume. Exocet Warp SL 71- Medium wind, speed-oriented shortboard used with 8.0 and 6.8 m^2 sails. 118 liters volume.
The one that would probably have to go would be the "Warp", since the other two are vital for wavesailing, which is my favorite kind of windsurfing. It would be nice if the beginner board could have some of the characteristics of the Warp it would be replacing, specifically:
1) Fitting inside my van. 2) Fitting the role of early-planing shortboard for me.
I was thinking something like an older Starboard Start, Starboard GO, or Bic Nova might do the trick. Maybe one with just a small, removable center fin instead of a full daggerboard. I guess there's no rush to make the switch now, though, since it will be a few months before it's warm enough for beginners to get in the water. In the meantime, if you think you want to buy my Warp or sell me a beginner board, let me know. I would consider selling the mint-condition warp for $800 with no fin or $900 with a 44 cm slalom fin. Here's a picture-
It was "nice" in New England today, with sunny skies and a high around 50. The surf was waist to head high at Nahant Beach, and the 38 degree water was full of surfers, paddleboarders, kayakers, and a windsurf or two if you count me. The wind was flukey and offshore, but strong enough on average that a 5.5 and 106 liter board worked OK for me. I spent a fair amount of time getting rolled by the waves and swimming after my gear, but the drysuit stayed watertight, thank goodness. I had one or two memorable rides where I felt like I really carved deep furrows in a big wave. Heh heh heh.
There were also several kite-powered buggies buzzing around. It's amazing how fast those guys can get going with a kite much smaller than an on-the-water kiteboarder would use in the same winds strength. I guess it takes less force to keep wheels rolling than it does to plow a board through the water.
One of the lab groups that I work with at the Northeastern University Marine Science Center, the Trussell Lab, does a lot of experiments with barnacles, the snails that eat barnacles, and the crabs that eat the snails that eat the barnacles.
The tricky thing about doing research with barnacles is getting the barnacles back to the laboratory intact. You see, barnacles literally glue themselves to the rock that they settle on as larvae, and if you try to pick one off you'll inevitably bust it and kill it. So the only way to get barnacles for your experiments is to put a little piece of rock or tile in the water where and when you think the barnacle larvae are going to settle, and then pull it out once it is encrusted in small adult barnacles.
In New England, the barnacle larvae, little swimming bug-like creatures, usually descend from the plankton down to the rocks around the beginning of spring. This Tuesday though, Trussell's PhD student Catherine Matassa noticed that the critters were already starting to settle on the rocks of Nahant, weeks early. That meant we had to scramble up to our barnacle hotspot in Maine to deploy a bunch of tiles for them to settle on. (The barnacles in Nahant usually don't settle in great enough densities to make usable tiles- that's why we have to go to Maine.)
It's cold in Maine in winter (DUH!) but I got to use a loaner "Mustang Suit" that kept me fairly warm. It was neat to see frost and ice floes all around while doing marine biology stuff. Luke Miller set up a tripod to do a time-lapse video while we were working. I'm wearing the orange suit with the black legs.
Following my first New England winter, a time with typical highs in the 20s and 30s, last weekend's temperatures in the 40s and 50s seemed like a breath of summer. Time to the inaugurate the 2011 windsurfing season! (The one session in Florida doesn't count.) I couldn't jump right in on Saturday, though, because there were a few chinks in my thermal armor that I didn't want to expose to the 36 degree water of Massachusetts Bay. I.e., though I had purchased a "bag" drysuit in the fall, I still needed some 7 mm booties and a proper hood to go with it. Those bits were easy enough to find at a dive shop in Somerville, but it meant I had to wait until Sunday to get started.
Fortunately, the wind was still pumping from the South in the 15 - 20 mph range when I arrived at the Nahant causeway. I was so excited I ran a stop sign going into the beach parking lot and got busted by a Nahant cop. He also nailed me for not having a state inspection sticker, so I cursed my $95.00 - wasting haste. Arrrgh. Finally at the launch spot I rigged my trusty 6.8 Aerotech Phantom and 106 liter Exocet Cross with a 32 cm Maui Ultra Fins "no spin" fin. There was a small swell coming in and the wind was almost perfectly sideshore. The suit kept me plenty warm enough, although I chose to sail relatively conservatively to stay out of the water to the extent possible. Here's a video from the session, with an intro showing the beauty of spring in Lynn: