First, I have to say I've officially sailed more times over the last 12 months than I have in the last, well close to a decade of previous sailing. I know that sounds like it should be a huge number of sessions but considering I would get out a couple times a year, it's not.
The additional TOW has allowed me to progress and I'm actually starting to feel like a windsurfer. I'm getting comfortable sailing powered to slightly overpowered. I can sail in the straps when the board is set up properly, I can tell when the board isn't set up properly and I'm starting to understand what I need to do to fix it. I'm also finding I want to try riding my smaller board when the conditions warrant it's use. There are things I still have to work on, like committing my full weight to the harness, positioning the sail for waterstarting, properly setting up the gear before getting on the water etc.... But I am getting there.
On this day the planets were aligning. Usually there is wind when I have something I have to do. This day wasn't looking any different. I called my buddy to firm up plans for racing and found out he wasn't up for it. With Car Chief duties set aside I started to keep an eye on the IWS York River East sensor. The official forecast was calling for 10 to 15 SE with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. We got 15 to 20 SE and one brief rain shower, not even enough to get off the water other than to roll up the car windows.
I loaded up and rolled about 3:30 wind was 16SE and still building. I spent an extra 20 minutes driving around the vacationers that were parked on Interstate 64, most headed to the Outer Banks. I showed up at YRS around 4:50 by that time the wind was 18 SE. James showed up soon after and we rigged 5.8s. The launch area in this wind direction gets choppy but not unruly then about 100 yds out you get into some decent swell 3 footers give or take, beyond that is a flatwater paradise behind Allen's island. Great for practicing Jibes.
I had trouble getting comfortable on my Hifly Matrix. I just didn't feel right in the straps at all. If I kept my feet just in front of the straps everything felt great though it did result in a couple of catapults. All the discussion on the IWS Forum regarding helmets kept popping in my mind after each dunking. I don't wear one but I also never let go of the boom when I get tossed, I'm usually still hooked in. I did find out that a cup could have been beneficial after one trip over the bars.
Despite not getting in the straps I did get some good runs. I played around on the swell accelerating down the faces and then turning back to the top to do it over again. That acceleration was an intense feeling. I can only imagine what it feels like on a real wave I'm getting stoked to try it.
Riding small swell
I didn't do any tacks during the session I only practiced jibes. I was able to make one but I guarantee it wasn't pretty like this one.
Waterstarting was another thing I worked on today. I still have a difficult time getting the sail positioned and cleared especially in the swell. It is just exhausting even with a vest on. Something always gets out of position or the sail will loose lift when I'm in the trough then the clew will drop back down in the water causing me to have to re-clear it. If I'm able to just barely touch my toes on the bottom I can set up just fine and get under way. It's having to swim things around that gets me. The odd thing is I have very little trouble waterstarting my cammed 7.8. it's also the only sail I use a regular diameter mast on. Wonder if there is a connection?
After a while I pulled out my Cross 102 to give it a try.
James sailed it first and looked like he was really enjoying it. (Most of the photos are of him on it.) I jumped on, got right in the straps went blazing across the water until I went off the top of the first big swell. I don't know what happened but I ended up pointing the other direction board and all. Had the wind suddenly gone 180 I would have been in position to just pop up and sail away. As it was I wore myself out trying to get the sail in position to waterstart, again!
Once I drifted to an area where I could get my toes on the bottom I got back on the board and sailed no problem. I made up my mind that instead of burning the last of my energy trying to waterstart in the deeper water I would just sail closer to shore and get comfortable with the board. The wind was getting a bit more of a southerly component to it so I just had to pinch up wind on starboard and run slightly downwind on port to stay in the shallow areas. I was impressed with way the 9.5 True Ames Surfgrass fin went upwind. The jibe attempts even seemed easier on this board. It won't be long before I'm hitting my fair share.
Can't wait for more wind.
James launching off a ramp. That is the same boat in the earlier photo
No were not in China. This foul smelling decomposing algae bloom greeted us at the launch.
This photo of James down in the swell shows the conditons. Nice white caps in the background, sail powered up and twisting off the top.