I did not windsurf in Hurricane Irene on Sunday. No regrets- I stayed cozy away from the beach. The storm does seems to have been sailable, though, and several of my buddies made it out in Nahant. Josh Angulo wrote a little blurb about his Nahant adventures with local badasses John, Fred, and Matt. Next time there's a storm I'll make sure to get my GoPro camera on the big man's rig to document his glory and maybe analyze it to improve my sailing.
Whether a hurricane is "sailable" or not is kind of a vague measure, because where you are, where the center of the storm is, and what point the storm is at in its life cycle all make a difference. At some point it's simply not possible to stay upright on the board or make forward progress, but bad things can happen well before that point is reached. Needless to say, the windier and wavier it is, the more likely you are to injure yourself, get too exhausted to hold the sail, break a piece of equipment, or get separated from your gear and not be able to catch up with it. Also, whenever you're dealing with a hurricane, there's the potential for the winds to change rapidly from sailable to unsailable while you're still on the water. Being a good windsurfer doesn't necessarily help you in a serious emergency, and a rescue is also less likely to come because the conditions make it dangerous for the rescuers. Anyway, what I'm leading up to is a very sad part of the Irene story: An experienced Long Island, NY windsurfer named Joe Rocco was killed sailing the hurricane in East Islip on Sunday. I believe it was at the same site where Angulo and I attended the East Coast Windsurfing Festival, and if I'm not mistaken Joe was one of the many nice windsurfing folks we met there. :( My condolences go out to his family and friends and to the whole Long Island windsurfing community.
*UPDATE- You can read Long Island windsurfing blogger Michael Alex's reflections on Joe's passing, and what actually happened, at The Peconic Puffin*