The other day while I was taking a little coffee break or something, I thought about how I've been slacking off from my usual obsessive pace of windsurfing and blogging. I could attribute it to a combination of summer fieldwork, scheduled weekend activities, exciting new romance, and lack of wind. But I'd rather not substitute excuses for action, so I'll try to get back on my game, following the James' Blog philosophy of "100% Science, 100% Windsurfing, 100% What-have-you." To begin with, I'll do a little review of some of the "bests" of the Summer 2011 windsurfing season.
Best Jibe = Josh Angulo's high-wind slalom jibe at the recent PWA contest at Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, captured in this photo by John Carter. Look at how aggressively he's laying down the sail and digging in the rail. It's like a hardcore wave bottom-turn applied on the slalom course. Badass. You can see a bunch more photos and videos like this on the PWA website, which seems to get better every year.
Best New Competition = The American Windsurfing Tour. This year kicked off the "AWT", which is a series of expert-to-amateur-level wave windsurfing events in North America, the likes of which has not been seen since windsurfing's heyday in the '80s and early '90s. They've already had successful events in Santa Cruz, California, Pistol River, Oregon, and San Carlos, Baja, Mexico. The next one coming up is in September in Hatteras, North Carolina, and the final is in November in Maui, Hawaii. The competitors in these events are an interesting mix of up-and-coming youths, wave-savvy women, semi-retired professional legends, and local wind gurus taking it to the next level by competing. All in all I think it's a good indication that hard-core windsurfing is still alive in this country. (Photo is from Pistol River, Oregon. I'm not sure who the photographer was...)
Most Utopian Windsurfing Racing Class = The "Kona" one-design class. The Kona ONE longboard has been around for a few years now. It's a nice board to sail, and it has become the basis of a very successful racing class in some parts of the world, especially Scandinavia. It's successful because it's easy to use, it's pretty fast in both light and strong winds, and because the class rules allocate different size sails to different sailor weight classes to insure fair competition from spry and petite girls all the way up to hulking burly men.
Most Lust-Worthy New Board = The Starboard UltraSonic 147. It's a high-performance, 93 cm wide shortboard that achieves a fine blend of slalom-board speed and formula-board planing power. It has an ultra-light, ultra-stiff, ultra-expensive construction, with fancy shaping features like a deep concave in the top deck and a complex arrangement of cut-away sections in the tail to reduce drag and improve top speed and jibing. I tried it at the Windsurfing Magazine board tests in Cape Hatteras this spring, and I can confirm that it works as advertised. So if you're a successful orthodontist or hedge-fund financier and you've paid off your mortage and your kids' college tuitions, you should get one. And buy me one while you're at it. (The video is a short clip of one of my rides on the board at the board test.)
Best Sign of the New Generation in Windsurfing = The Techno 293 Worlds in San Francisco. The Bic Techno 293 is a board used in a growing one-design racing class for kids and teenagers, which is intended to be a feeder class for Olympic type windsurfing. Though the biggest Techno 293 fleets are in Europe, they had their world championship this year in San Francisco, California, and it was awesome, apparently.
Best Windsurfing Session for ME = August 4th in Lubec, Maine. I sailed around Quoddy Narrows in a nice East Wind from the Bay of Fundy. I was riding a Mistral Equipe XR longboard with an 8.0 camless "Freespeed" sail from Aerotech. I started out going way upwind with the daggerboard down, eventually approaching the shore of Canada's Campobello Island, where I might have sneaked ashore on a small islet and might have stolen a rock as a souvenir. The wind picked up as I went back downwind, and I got some screaming reaches, interrupted only by occasionally snagging a piece of Laminaria kelp on the skeg! When I was in about the middle of the bay I decided to make a beat against the current towards the narrows and the bridge at downtown Lubec. Though there was plenty of wind power, it was amazing how the current turned the water slick flat and slowed my forward progress to almost nothing as I got near the bridge. I barely made it under, but was rewarded when I did with the sight of a bunch of playfully leaping seals in the tidal rapids. As soon as I tacked I was rushed back out under the bridge, and took a series of broad reaches back to my launch site. Ahhh.
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