Saturday, March 19, 2011

Very Windy Day at Nahant

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.)

3.5 Windsurfing in Nahant, MA, March 2011 from James Douglass on Vimeo.


Here's a wind graph of the day from the nearby iWindsurf monitoring station at Children's Island. I was out from around 4:00 - 6:30...
Photobucket

12 comments:

Brandon said...

Its pretty funny when you think about it. You can remember what kind of gear these guys are sailing, but you can't really remember their names... Lisa said it, not me. Looks like fun out there.

James Douglass said...

Hey Brandon- Yeah, that's terrible, eh? At least I know John and Fred because they're the regulars. Hows the Florida sailing?

Catapulting Aaron said...

Good stuff. I have a 3.7 that I use about 5-10 times a year. Totally worth having since you don't want to be sidelined when the wind is that strong. I've found that jumping 3.7 feels more safe than the sensation of sailing along on 3.7. For a few seconds you don't have the feeling that you're being bucked off the board while you're in the air.

Brian said...

Great stoke, James! You know it's windy when you start sailing right in the footstraps. Awesome!

Boris Terzic said...

Sweet video! What song is that I haven't heard it in years?

Jay said...

Nice!! Jealous I didn't make it out that day. Great vids, keep em coming.

James Douglass said...

Aaron- Cool. Next year if there's another 3.5 day I'll try jumping. :)

Boris- The track is a collaboration of Mike Doughty (the singer from Soul Coughing) and Brian Transeau (the DJ / producer "BT").

Jay- Thanks, man.

Morley said...

I looked at the sand blowing on the beach and though "oh yeah, windy!" then the cam panned to the sail - 3.5 "OH YEAH, WINDY!" Then the beach start straight into the straps "Ditto!" Nice intro!!!!

But 30 knots? How much windier is your graph location that shows 40-50 knots (I know the meters are 10 m high, more exposed locations generally but still...)

Your sail size calculator I have posted links to several times locally, this is a typical response:

"The resultant graph is completely incorrect for me except maybe in the very lowest windspeeds, no way I am on a 3.1 in 30 kts where I typically use a 4.0, nor would I ever be on my 4.0 in about 23 kts as this recommends. And I am not a "power sailor." Dangerously simplified imho."

I'm sure you have heard similar a number of times but I can't remember your responses, though I know you have various caveats about board volume , fin size, water condition, etc. also affecting things. But it seems most really experienced sailors find it underestimates sail size for windspeed, at least at mid and upper levels. Personally, I know I've sailed the low 30s (measured by an on-site weatherstation) completely comfortable on a 4.5 when the formula suggests I'd need something in the mid - small 3's.

James Douglass said...

Hey Morley- Well, the calculator isn't perfect, but there's a couple things to consider.

1. Pretty big difference between knots and mph. The wind graph is in mph, and between 4 and 6:30 pm when I was sailing the peak gust was 47 mph (41 knots), the low lull was 23 mph (20 knots), and the average was about 31 mph (27 knots). The calculator says that at my ~170 lbs, I should be using a 3.5 in 34 mph (30 knots). That seems about right, because I was perfectly powered some of the time, but underpowered more often than I was overpowered, especially at the end of the session.

2. Most weather stations report average wind speed but not lulls. So one may need to rig for less wind than the weather station average in order not to be underpowered in the lulls.

3. The fine sand at Nahant beach starts blowing in about 20 mph / 17 knots. It's one of the indicators I use when deciding whether to rig my 6.8 or my 5.5.

4. It seems reasonable that you'd be comfortable in 30 mph on a 4.5. Add 10 lbs for your wetsuit and harness (160 lbs?) and you'd only be 5mph windier than the "ideal" 25 mph for that weight and sail.

Morley said...

Ah, didn't notice the windspeed in mph. Here at bigwavedave.ca_land we exclusively use knots. Gusts into the high 30s/low 40s seems about right to me judging by the way the spray was blowing as you launched (and the way video always makes the conditions look tamer). Even though we log our sessions here as average windspeeds and gusts, its the gust speeds we inevitably think of I suspect!

FYI, the guy who's comments I quoted is a lightweight - about 140 lbs I think - but a very good sailor. I'm around 180 with a wetsuit on. So, I just looked up the last few months of sailing logs when I used my 4.0. Noted as 28-38 (avg-gust) three times, 25-38 once, 25-38 once, 20-32 once (noted underpowered much of the time). Any of my sessions where gusts were 40 and above were either on a borrowed 3.7 or noted as being badly overpowered. Your calculator suggests 4.0 is good at 27 knots (average) so maybe its closer than we think - because its given as average, and the gusts can be way higher (and still be quite handle-able).

John said...

Hey James - As far as I can tell, the wind was dead offshore that day with England or Greenland the next stop. Weren't you worried about that, with the cold water and all, and for that beginning sailor? I was out the other day in Boston feeling like the Michelin man, with nobody around, and was thinking that if anything broke I'd have a hell of a time fixing it with frozen hands or trying to put together a self rescue in the super cold water.

James Douglass said...

Hey John- The unwritten rules on an offshore wind day like that are don't sail further from shore than you can swim in, dress warm enough for a long stay in the water, and don't sail alone. There's still an element of risk, but I reckon it's worth it.