Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wind Thresholds and Kitestration

On the rare days that the weather is suitable for kiteboarding, I always seem to have an equipment problem. Most recently it was a busted pump. I had to pump like, 1000 times to inflate my main kite bladder instead of the usual 40. At the end I was tired and sweaty and the kite still wasn't fully hard. I thought it would be alright, but after just two minutes of riding, it folded in the middle of a power stroke and dropped from the sky like a scorched moth. It nearly self-destructed in the shorebreak before I could swim to it and drag the whole sandy, algae-entangled mess out of harm's way. Shit shit shit shit shit.

Windsurfing has been better to me. I managed to procure a loaner formula boom last week so I can rig my 9.8 again. (Thanks, you-know-who.) Friday I had a good sunset session in onshore winds, and today another good one in offshore winds. Neither sesh would have possible on kite gear, because of the lightness, flukiness, and / or direction of the wind.

All this got me thinking about the wind requirements for windsurfing versus kiteboarding, and inspired me to make the graph below. It shows the approximate wind needed for longboard windsurfing, formula windsurfing, bump & jump windsurfing, and kiteboarding. (Windsurfing on a big freeride board would be something intermediate between the curve for formula windsurfing and B&J windsurfing.)

Anyway, all the types of wind-riding are pretty cool in 15+ knots, but their rideability and planing thresholds are different below that. Here's why I drew the curves like I did, based on how each toy's handling changes as the wind increases:

Longboard Windsurfing-
0: Can't move.
1-4: Move slowly in any direction with the daggerboard down.
5-8: Move well in any direction with the daggerboard down, but have to force board to rail.
9-12: Board begins to rail itself and go upwind great. Railing straps can be used if the wind is steady. May be able to surf swells with the daggerboard up.
12-15: Powerful upwind with the daggerboard down, and can plane off the wind with the daggerboard up.
15+: Full-power planing with decent angles possible without the daggerboard. Have to be skilled with railing straps to sail with the daggerboard down.

Formula Windsurfing-
0: Can't move.
1-4: Slow slogging, limited upwind ability.
5-7: Stable slogging and ok upwind. No planing; at least not without constant, aerobic pumping.
~8: Concerted pumping will initiate planing, but hard to go upwind or downwind on plane.
~10: Less pumping required, ok angles while planing.
~12: Little or no pumping required to plane; high upwind and deep downwind angles possible.
~15: Intensely powered-up with awesome speed and angles and fully-planing jibes. Beyond this it gets kinda scary for most people.

Bump & Jump Windsurfing (manouverable board just big enough to float the rider)-
0-3: Can't move
4-8: Slow, precarious slogging with little or no upwind ability.
8-13: Stable slogging and ok upwind. No planing unless riding a wave.
~14: Can pump onto a plane, but not much power for jumps or manouvers.
15+: Few pumps required to plane. Good power for jumps, jibes, etc.

0-6: Can't launch or fly kite.
~8: Can launch kite, but hard to keep it in the air.
~9: Can fly kite and body-drag ok, but not enough power to get up on board, and can't relaunch kite from water.
~10-11: Can ride board, but only by constantly working the kite. Can't stay upwind and tough to relaunch.
~12: Can ride and stay upwind, but have to work the kite a lot.
13+: Can "park" the kite and ride steadily most of the time. Can jump and stuff.

The thing is, with kiting, even though you have the lowest planing threshold besides formula windsurfing, you're basically dead in the water below that threshold. And the threshold is actually higher than it seems from the chart, since you have to account for lulls in the wind. Like, even if the wind is averaging 12 knots, if there are lulls to 8 knots, you're in trouble. I think that's why most of the kiters around Fort Pierce only go out when the average is around 15, and why, since the wind rarely reaches 15 between May and September here, the kiters disappear for the summer.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend of Windsurfing and Kiteboarding

It's blowing about 10 knots and your formula windsurfing boom is broken. 48 hours of weekend yawns before you, and you have important work to procrastinate on. You:

a) Rig the biggest sail you can on your smaller boom, and ride a longboard
b) Put that sail on a shortboard and try bobbing for waves
c) Kiteboard
d) All of the above

If you answered "d", then you and I have very similar approaches to weekend management. This weekend's activities are documented in the two videos below, both shot with my gopro helmet hero wide camera and edited with windows movie maker. I finally learned how to add music... so you might take this moment to make sure you know where your "mute" button is.


Shortboard and Kiteboard

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fibersnap Booms (Rant)

Doh! Just as the summer doldrums were giving way to decent, 10-knot, after-work seabreezes, I broke my big Fiberspar boom. This makes it impossible to rig my big 9.8 msq sail. The max I can rig now is 6.6 msq, which means my planing threshold has gone up from ~9 knots to ~14 knots, which is not-unless-there's-a-hurricane wind this time of year in Florida.

This is the second boom I've broken since my re-entry into big-sail "formula" windsurfing earlier this summer. The first was no surprise, since it was an aluminum boom. The one yesterday was a carbon boom, but it was still no surprise, because I broke the same headpiece on another Fiberspar when I first got into formula in Virginia. Replacing it was a huge headache, which hastened my 2-year forumla hiatus.

I think the Fiberspar headpieces, which are the same for small booms as for big booms, just aren't strong enough for the stress of handling jumbo 9.0 - 12.5 msq sails. Some people, after they buy a formula boom, painstakingly reinforce the headpiece with several layers of expensive carbon fiber cloth. Aaaghhhhh... it gives me a headache just thinking about it. Why don't they make them strong enough in the first place? They're definitely expensive enough.

The only thing that makes me feel a little better is that I got this boom relatively cheap, used, for $200, and it served me for a dozen or so sweet-ass sessions on my formula board and 9.8 sail. Ironically, a new headpiece would cost me about the same as the boom did. An entirely new boom would be $700 - $1000, though. Insane. I'll figure out something, but might have to put aside my formula dreams for another couple paychecks.

In related news, my stylish minivan now has non-bald tires, fresh brakes, and four hubcaps. The speedometer and A/C still only work when they feel like it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Reef Tank

I recently did an interview for a post on "The Reef Tank", a conservation-oriented website for recreational aquarists and marine-life enthusiasts.

In the interview I discuss some of my favorite topics: marine conservation, windsurfing, and myself. If any of those topics interest you, you can read the post here.

PS- If you live near Florida's Treasure Coast area, you should check out the real-life reef tank at the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit on S. Hutchinson Island. It's kinda small for an aquarium, but there's lots of hands-on stuff for the kiddies, and lots of scientifically-accurate exhibits and information on local underwater habitats for the grownies.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Support Obama on Healthcare Stuff

Here's why:

*The people who benefit most from the current system are lawyers, lobbyists, and pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

*Their benefit comes at our loss, because they get richer the more expensive and less efficient health care becomes.

*They HATE Obama's plan.

So, if Obama's plan is hated by lawyers, lobbyists, and pharmaceutical and insurance companies, it's probably GOOD for the rest us. I.e. it should do what Obama says it will do: make health care cheaper and more efficient.

That's the end of my main point. Now I'm going to digress a little bit to illustrate the expensive inefficiency of the current system.

Exhibit A. This humongous, shiny box contains mostly empty space. Along with the empty space it contains three, identical, small boxes. Each small box contains mostly empty space, plus a manual, plus two aluminum sheets of pills. Each aluminum sheet of pills contains mostly aluminum sheet, plus seven tiny pills. All 42 pills in the humongous, shiny box would easily onto one of the aluminum sheets, or in one tiny pillbox.

The only reason I can think of for the absurd over-packaging is to disguise the even-absurder price that you pay for just over a month's worth of pills.

(In case anyone is curious about my personal medical history, I take this stuff on Dr.'s orders to treat my eosinophilic esophagitis. Eosinophilic esophagitis is a weird combo of allergies and heartburn that makes your throat get small so you choke on food. I didn't know I had it until a couple years ago when it got bad and I started choking embarrassingly at every meal. They gave me an operation where they put a balloon down my throat and blew it up to stretch it back to normal diameter, then they prescribed an allergy inhaler plus heartburn pills to keep my throat from shrinking again. I stopped using the allergy inhaler because it was like, over $100 a month and not covered by insurance- I guess choking and dying is not considered a serious health risk. I still take the heartburn medicine, though. Seems to work because I haven't choked in the last couple years.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Photobucket Holding Me for Ransom

**UPDATE- Did the upgrade thing. $$$igh...**

**Begin original post**

Sorry my pictures are gone. Here's why...

Attention [username]

You have exceeded the 10 GB monthly bandwidth limit on your free
Photobucket account. As such, your image and video links have been
temporarily disabled. Your images and videos have not been deleted but
will be reactivated on the 18th of the month, when your bandwidth
usage resets to zero.

If you'd like to re-activate your links right away, you can upgrade to a
Photobucket Pro account for FREE by clicking on this offer.
*Free Trial Pay offers may not be available in all areas.

With a Photobucket Pro account you get unmetered
bandwidth, 25 GB of storage, removal of advertisements in the account, and
premium support. Pro accounts are $24.95 for a full year -- just a drop
in the bucket, but by accepting this offer you get it for FREE.

Click here to upgrade now and keep your
images and video clips active!



Yeah, thanks for NUTHIN you sneaky sleazeballs! Oh, well. I guess I'll pay my dues to the corporate overlords so that y'all can continue to peep my pics.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Anatomy of a Summer Windsurfing Sesh in FL

The windsurfing weather has been crappy here in Florida since I got back from vacation. It's the typical summer pattern; saturating heat and humidity under mostly cloudy skies, with hints of afternoon seabreeze usually squelched by over-spilling thunderstorms.

Yesterday looked like another bummer when I checked iwindsurf in the morning. Then there was a teaser wind blip caused by a thunderstorm. When there's a thunderstorm early, it tends to blow any chance for a seabreeze to re-develop, so I wrote off windsurfing for the day and did some other stuff. Branches started wiggling around 4pm, though, enough for me to put my formula gear in the van and drive down to the beach to have a look. It looked great! A nice 10+ knots of breeze, perfect for my 9.8 msq sail. I rode powered-up for two hours.


So that's how you get a good windsurfing sesh in Florida in summer. Patience, luck, a big-ass sail, and willingness to jump on any wind opportunity.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

More from the Northwest

These are some pictures from my recent Washington / Oregon vacation.

1. On account of their bicoastal and international living, my folks no longer own a car in the Northwest. So they borrowed two junkers for their summer transportation. This Honda makes even my ailing minivan look like a Lexus.

2. One of the essential pieces of Olympia, Washington's crunchy counterculture is the downtown farmer's market. It sort of like a smaller version of the famous, fish-throwing Pike's Place Market in Seattle.

3. Bumblebee gettin' some from a really big thistle flower at the market.

4. Johnny Douglass remembering how to tack at Hood River Waterfront Park in the Gorge. Go dad!

5. Fast daggerboard-down sailing on the Mistral Pandera in Hood River. White Salmon Bridge in the background.

6. Nice layers of hills where the White Salmon River joins the Columbia River on the Washington Side of the Gorge.

7. Desert hills in the Eastern Gorge.

8. Multnomah Falls in the Western Gorge. We went on a long hike up, around, and over the falls.

9. Sun shining through a gap in the forest created years ago by a fire.

10. Looking Eastward from a viewpoint above Multnomah Falls.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm in Windsurfing Magazine Again, etc.

Catapulting Aaron and I both have articles published in the latest issue of windsurfing magazine. (This is clear evidence that editorial standards have plummeted - lol!) An artist for the mag painted a funny picture to go with my article, which I think is cool. If you don't already get the magazine, I recommend you check it out.

On a totally unrelated note, I have a song severely stuck in my head right now. At least it's a good song by a Seattle-based band called Fleet Foxes. I embedded the youtube music video below. Maybe it will get stuck in y'all's heads, too.