Thursday, June 30, 2011

New England Firsts

I'm not one of those people who is super spontaneous and jazzed to try new things at every opportunity. I'm more likely to take my time and to get deeply into one or a few things. But every now and then it tickles me to break out of the usual pattern and do something without precedent. In the last week I had two such adventures.

1. Sunday I cruised around Boston Harbor on my friend's family's humongous motoryacht. It was so much fun- maybe I should buy one? ;)


One of the coolest parts was getting close to Logan Airport and watching the planes fly right overhead. Another cool part was jumping into the water off the upper deck, which was at least high-dive height.


2. Wednesday after work I drove 2.5 hours to Enfield, New Hampshire to pick up a freebie longboard windsurf at the Dartmouth College Sailing Center on Lake Mascoma. The board is a Mistral Equipe XR, 372 cm long. It needs a little TLC, e.g. a new daggerboard gasket, but a comparable board today would cost over $2k, so I think I got a dang good deal.


The drive through the mountains of rural New Hampshire was beautiful, and the brief windsurfing session I had on the lake seemed pretty special. I can see why Yankee city-folks like to retreat up to these kinds of places in the summer. So peaceful.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just Plain SUP

My dad requested that I do a sail-less standup paddleboard video to show what s.u.p. is like from a first-person perspective. I managed to do that Monday evening, in some very small waves at Nahant Beach. The hardest part was getting over my embarrassment about wearing a helmet camera in plain view of multitudes of beachgoers, while doing a slow and mellow sport that clearly doesn't require a helmet. But thanks to my extensive prior life experience of being dorky, I was able to do it. Here's the video.

The board is a 9'8" 'Suppah Slippah' from Angulo, which has a sturdy core but a padded deck. It's shaped to be stable and to catch waves easily, and it's meant for beginner and intermediate paddlers who weigh 160 lbs or less. (There's a 10'8" version for people up to 196 lbs.) From my experience demo'ing the 9'8", I think it will also work for a bit heavier rider if they have surf or windsurf skills.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Supsailing Video

While my pro-windsurfer neighbor Josh Angulo was away this week at a PWA event in Aruba, I got to use and share his van full of water toys. Angulo's stand-up paddleboards saw the most use, because the wind was usually too light for shortboard windsurfing.

Despite my initial skepticism about s.u.p., I'm becoming more of a fan now that I've had a chance to try some "real" sup boards in proper waves. (My only previous sup experience was on the Kona ONE windsurfing longboard.) The sups make it easy for even a kooky non-surfer like me to catch and ride waves. Compared to a normal surfboard a sup can get going on smaller waves, and can catch waves further offshore and longer before they break. It's also quicker to get from point A to point B by paddling a sup than by swimming a surfboard. The upshot is that you can catch a lot of waves and get good long rides on a sup in conditions that would be lousy for regular surfing. The downside is that the big sup boards are less maneuverable on the waves, but I don't mind that at this point.

I've noticed that some windsurfing skills help with sup, while others don't translate. A windsurfer's practiced ability to balance on a floating board in choppy seas helps a lot. But a windsurfing habit that doesn't work for sup is moving back on the board as it accelerates. On a sup, moving back too far can kill your speed suddenly because the tail rocker is different and because there's no sail acting as a "third leg" to keep your weight forward. Angulo's soft-top 9'8" sup has a lot of tail rocker so the stalling effect is most obvious on that, whereas his 10'8" thruster sup accelerates a little more like a windsurf board because it has less tail rocker.

My best sup session this week was actually a windsurfing session on the 10'8", which comes with a mast-track. The wind was side-onshore at a mellow 5-15 mph, and the waves were about 3' high. I used a 6.3 GunSails "Toro," which wasn't enough to get the board planing, but had plenty of juice to drive the board out through the waves, and to catch the waves on the way in. The video is below...

This board got sold out from under me yesterday, but Angulo has some more sups with mast tracks coming in soon. I'm curious to try some of the slightly smaller sizes, and to experiment around with different fin setups to see if they can get more windsurf-like planing performance. Talk to Josh if you want to demo or buy one of his sups or windsurf boards. His email is joshangulo at mac dot com.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Racing and Freeriding Videos from the 2011 ECWF

Hey. I edited up some more footage from last weekend's East Coast Windsurfing Festival on Long Island. Watching myself make all kinds of mistakes in the races has me motivated to shore up my major weaknesses, like tacking.

Here's a video of the races. I only filmed on Saturday (the windy day), but we also did some non-planing races on Sunday. Overall, I came in third place in the "Open" class, behind Josh Angulo (who won every race on Saturday) and Bill DeGeorge. The songs in the video are by Nirvana, Jimmy Hendrix, and David Bowie.

After the regular racing was over on Sunday we did a fun relay race on longboards. My team, captained by Peconic Jeff, won first place in that, as you can see in Peter R's video...

Between races I took a spin on Angulo's 110 liter freestyle-wave board, the "CV1". The song in this video is by Led Zeppelin.

Angulo literally took a spin the same board during the freestyle contest. It was pretty impressive.

Monday, June 13, 2011

East Coast Windsurfing Fest Report: Angulo-vision

Woo hoo! I just got back from the biggest gathering of windsurfers I've ever seen north of the Frisco Woods Windfest in the Outer Banks. It was the "2011 East Coast Windsurfing Festival" at Hecksher State Park on Long Island, New York. The event was organized by Mike Burns, the East's best freestyle sailor, and it had racing, freestyle, relay-races, just-for-fun stuff, and gear demos with Josh Angulo. Also, it had WIND, especially the first day. I got a lot of video that I haven't had time to fully edit yet, but for starters, here's a little clip that compares the first-person experience of being me on a windsurf to the first-person experience of being a PWA champion on a windsurf.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

She Comes in Colors

Nahant served up another nice windsurfing dish last Thursday. This one had tiny waves but blasting offshore wind, so I used my small 83 liter board and 4.7 meter squared sail for the first time in a while. The song in the video is "She's a Rainbow" by the Rolling Stones.

Saturday's serving was a different style, with mellower, straight-onshore wind. It was nice to just cruise and do a little bump and jump with the 106 liter board and 6.8 meter squared sail. I set up my camera in the window of my apartment to take a picture every 10 seconds, hoping that it would capture me in windsurfing glory. It didn't work very well because my sail was just a tiny spec in the wide-angle panorama and I had to pick through hundreds of boring pictures to find the OK ones.


The most interesting were a few that captured some European Starlings oddly frozen in flight.


These birds are obnoxious, non-native species that like to peck native birds to death with their sharp yellow beaks to steal their nests. They were introduced back in the 19th century by nutty literary buffs who wanted to bring all the birds described in Shakespeare's plays to the new world. True story.