It's official. The (relatively) windy season has started in Southwest Florida. Yesterday I left my formula board in the van and took out my "planing conditions wave gear", which is a 6.8 m^2 Aerotech sail paired with an 11'8" Exocet WindSUP (longboard waveboard) or a 106 liter Exocet Cross (freeride-wave shortboard).
Ironically, I'd just been reading the fall issue of the UK windsurfing magazine "Boards," which had 178 pages about wavesailing that barely mentioned sails larger than 6 m^2 or boards larger than 100 liters. When you live on a windswept rock in the North Atlantic you must get a skewed perspective about what light wind gear is. I'd need 20 knots of wind just to use the biggest sail (5.3 m^2) and board (81 liters) that they recommend in their "dream quiver" for a 65-80 kg rider. I'd only be able to wavesail a handful of times per year in Florida if I didn't have MUCH bigger stuff than 5.3 / 81 l.
One thing I did like about the Boards magazine issue was a term they used for wavesailing in less than perfect conditions; "chop bothering." Most of the wavesailing I do here in SW Florida is really just chop bothering, on disorganized lumpy wind-driven waves. However, there was a 20 minute period yesterday where a cold front passed and the wind switched from onshore to sideshore. For a little while I was able to ride small residual swells both frontside and backside with the 11'8" WindSUP at Wiggins Pass. It was the high point of the session- even better than when I switched to my 106 liter shortboard later on.
Heavy metal music in the video is by the band Sepultura.
UPDATE: Sunday had offshore wind and small but rideable waves, as predicted, and I filmed another session. I think it's the first I've had much success with the WindSUP in side-off conditions. The song in this video is by The Velvet Underground. RIP Lou Reed.