Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New England Windsurfing Journal

Some of you may or may not be aware that I write, on an irregular basis, for the New England Windsurfing Journal My most recent story recounting my February trip to Maui was published in the May 2008 issue, and I just rec'd my copy. So stoked about the pictures he choose to run with it.
The story i wrote was rather lengthy (no surprise) so he choose to break it up into two articles. Both are in the May issue. I'm most pleased with the short story I wrote about my attempt to sail to an outer reef on a day with a posted High Surf advisory.

Here is that story:

On Thursday, Feb 14th, I sailed in the biggest waves of my life. Well over mast high. To be honest, I was pretty much running from them, not riding on them. I believe the forecast was calling for 10-15 foots waves, which no shit translates into 20-30 foot faces. The bigger monsters break on the outer reefs. I mostly played on the waves that broke on the inside, and those were pretty meaty themselves. I generally blasted out thru the channel, hitting big jumps along the way, and go about as far as conditions allowed. Then either gybed onto a wave face or chicken gybed in front of a breaking one. Ride that back in, and then do it over again. I was content to do that all day. Paradise found. That being said, I wanted to see what those big ones look like up close. I mean, how many chances to do you get to sail in conditions like that? Unless you live on Maui, this may have been a once in a lifetime shot. From the first sandbar, you can see them out there. Big pitching beautiful blue faces, overshadowing all of the smaller stuff on the inside, and remember, the smaller stuff on the inside is pretty big stuff. The stuff on the outside is off the charts, just out there, breaking, beckoning you to come out and ride one. Very intimidating let me tell you. I have so much respect for the sailors that go out to the bigger breaks, like Spartans, just upwind from Sprecks. Studs. Well, on one reach, I found what appeared to be an opening out to the blue water, so I took it, fully powered, and blasted thru. Yeah, I’m a bad ass right? Well, low and behold they start jacking on the outside, and it can be tough sometimes to find a shoulder to skirt over. They just get too vertical with no choice but to chicken gybe or jump it. If you opt to jump the wave, just make damn sure you don’t come off a plane on landing, or else. Well wouldn’t you know it I screwed it up, on the first wave no less. I made it over the first wave by jumping it, but came off a plane, with the next one, even bigger, bearing down on me. It was like everything happened in slow motion after that. I remember thinking to my self, “oh shit, this is not going to be good”. Somehow, out of the straps, I made it over that next wave after it had broken out in front me. Huge white water, front foot up by the mast base, I did it text book correct. Of course on the other side there was a lull and I dropped in oh so lazily, maybe without even a splash. I’m in a perfect water start position to boot. No problem right? Just flip the sail, get up, and head in. Then I look up to see the next wave, even bigger coming. No time to flip the sail. I must of looked incredibly insignificant, down in the water, holding the sail up in the water start position as this impossibly large wave jacked up, right in front of me. I was definitely not in a good place, and it was terrifying. I was fortunate that the wave didn’t break on my head, but instead broke out in front of me, and it was the white water that pretty much mauled me. I held on as tight as I could, and was shocked that my stuff wasn’t ripped from my hands. I was held down for not so long a time, but its very disconcerting when you’re being held under, in the middle of the outer reef, in high surf, Hawaiian high surf no less, not knowing what is coming next when you pop back up to the surface. Was there another big one coming? Do I turn around to look? As best I could, I tried to remain calm, with no wasted energy or panicked motions. Controlled breathing. Let me tell you what, that was the best, quickest water start of my life.

I made it out before the next one came. Phew. Lesson, hold on to your kit no matter what, and maybe don’t sail out to an outer reef alone. I sailed back to the beach and literally sat there for almost an hour, shaking. It was honestly the most terrifying moment of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

4/27/08 The Secret Spot

Dare I say it? Epic?
There are several kinds of epic sessions. Epic Enernesto at Sandy Point, Epic Sprecks 8 weeks ago. Those are intense sort of sessions. Enernesto had my quads locking up later in the evening while sitting on the couch. Today was epic-ly fun! That was the consensus on the beach. Dave Coyle and James Roe were present. I sailed 5.8 well powered from about 10am to 2.30. The intermittant misty rain was a small price to pay. I shot two memory cards worth of video today. Below is the first session.

The second session was better as Dave and I really got into a groove out there, figure eighting each other and sailing close enough to basically shake hands. That was tons of fun. We were hooting an hollaring. Unfortunately what i'm realizing is that when you open the camera housing (to change batteries for example) , even the smallest bit of moisture will get inside the housing, causing condenscation when you close it back up. Was very dissapointed to see the video of second session look ghostly overcast and poor light.

Still shots from Hookipa

Friday, April 25, 2008

The first time I sailed Ho'okipa 7/14/06

There is a first time for everything. First time you kiss a girl. Getting married. Seeing the birth of your child. Sitting for the CPA exam. Or the first time you get in the straps, hook in, and blast out on a full powered up plane. Then there is the first time you sail Ho'okipa. And yes, I rank Ho'okipa right up there with all the other "first times" I've experienced.

Well, from the vault of never to be forgotten favorite sessions, I have video of the first time I sailed Ho'okipa. Without doubt, this was a significant session for me. After all, we've all read about this venue. To say I was nervous is an understatement. If you've ever sailed Ho'okipa, the spot is quite tricky. The actual beach to launch from is quite small, I'd say less than 40 feet wide. You have a large papa reef/shelf upwind, and a rock garden just downwind of the main launch. Both conspire to collect dues from the careless sailor.

This shot is of Josh Stone-same session. Good one because it gives an accurate representation of how small the actuall beach is:

The date was 7/14/06. 5.0 conditions and small waves this day. The footage is derived from Sony 8mm tape that was converted to digital, so the quality is not the best, especially the parts that where zoomed in.

At the time (2 years ago) I had no misconceptions that I knew the first thing about wave sailing. So what your looking at in the video is a first timer trying to make it happen. I can honestly say that now I'm well on my way, but back in July 2006, I was clueless.

I still get a kick out of watching it. Especially the launch. Get up an go already!

My wife shot the video, and coincidentally, this was 2 days after we got married. She lampooned the beginning of the video, doing a spoof skit acting as an ESPN reporter-ette and I went with it. Also present where Dave Coyle and Ken Kellar. Good memories.

The video is legnthy, so I'm gonna do this in two posts. Check back later for part two. Heres the first part:

Part 2:

Here is part 3:

Looks like we will get some sailable NE conditions Sunday into Monday. Assateague Ken?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Video from 4/20/08

Broadkill Beach, De. this is my spot is about 12 miles from my house:

View from the top of the dunes:

Storm cell that ended our ocean session prematurely:

Wild ponys on Assaateague Island. Nice to see for about 5 seconds, then annoying when the tourists stop for 10 minutes, holding up traffic. Dont they realize it breezy:

Heres the video:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

4/20/08 Two venue day!

Well, three if you count my first trip to Assateague this morning. Was a bit of wind there, but too onshore for my liking. James Roe called from Keybox, and it was apparently breezy there as well, so i bolted for Delaware. Arrived and rigged 5.8. The ocean was very warm, but the session was cut short by thunderstorms. Still felt great to get out. I wore the helmet cam, and will be posting video later tomorrow. Not a pleasant feeling to be out on the ocean with thunder booming overhead lemme tell you.
So i went home and had lunch around 3pm, and it started getting breezy again. So we drove down to Broadkill. Ken, not the same beach we sailed last time. go right at the entrance to the spot we sailed last time, and follow the road all the to the end (bout 2 miles). They actually have vehicle access to the beaches there, and with no one around, I drove all the way to the top of the dunes, and parked it there and rigged. Swwet! Janis loved it and took some great pictures.
As for the sailing, I rigged the 7.0 and blasted around for an hour or so. Tons of fun, especially considering I'd thought the days sailing was over after the ocean session. God I love this sport.

Gotta run now. More pictures and the video tomorrow.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More footage from 3/19/08 Assateague

More edited footage from that big day back in March. This short clip predominately focuses on Ken Kellar as he breaks thru some pretty meaty waves. The first part is dervied from video taken from the beach by Daniel Kellar, and the later from Ken's helmet cam. I know the stills are kinda blurry, but I think they're a good representation of the size that day:

Here is the video:

Forecast tomorrow is for SE 15-25. Ken and I will sail Assateague. Could be fun!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

4/12/08 Warm day at Tower Road

The dry suit is on the shelf. Wore the wetsuit for the first time this year, even had to sail with it unzipped as temps soared into the 70s today! Present where Bob Ramsey and Any Pierce. I arrived a little late, around 11.15am, but quckly rigged a a 5.8 abd the 109ltr RRD, and sailed till about 4pm.

Wind was kinda holey, and i think there was a decoupling issue at the surface, but all in all, was pretty fun. Stuggled again with the heli-tacks, but pretty much have my port tacks wired, close to 100%. So stoked about that. My wife showed up for a few minutes and took these pics.

Hey, is that my harness??

Andy Pierce

James Roe

Wore the helmet cam for a session today.

Monday, April 7, 2008

4-6-08 The Secret Spot

Yesterday, the venue was the Delaware Bay. First drove out to Assateague, arriving about 8.45 am. That turned out to be dead high tide, with a pounding shore break and ripping current. We’d had enough of those conditions over the past few sessions, so not willing to pass up the day’s forecasted strong winds, we drove the 50 miles back up to Lewes and rigged at the Secret Spot. Was a fantastic day of high wind sailing, albeit we had to cope w/the light rain on and off throughout the day.

Delaware Bay on anything w/a northerly component to it, at dead high tide is so sweet. You get ocean like swell on the outside, and breaking waves over the sandbars. There is generally little or no current at this spot, so you can just focus on sailing w/no concern for going downwind. The backside riding was great yesterday, and some of the waves where large enough to have to respect. Present where Dave Coyle, Ken Kellar, and James Roe.

Lots of jumps where had by all. Dave Coyle and I got into a death match drag race thru large swell on the outside, and Dave wound up paying his dues with a harness hook thru the foot of his sail on his missed gybe on the reach back to the beach.

I pulled a few still shots from the video footage.
This is Ken Kellar gybing on the outside:

Dave Coyle:

I wore the helmet cam for a session, w/improved results. That being said, I still find the go-pro very frustrating at times. May be the colder temps goofing up the batteries. Here is the video.