Friday, December 31, 2010

Good bye to a rig

Yesterday I sold my light wind speed machine. Thinking about this rig brings memories of the places I visited, and the people I met through windsurfing. Fogland, RI; Cape Cod, MA; Cape Hatteras, NC; South Haven, MI just to mention a few. My brother Carly sailed this board on Lake Michigan, and I will never forget his face when he came back to shore, only to tell me that he was going out again "for a little more". I remember sunny and warm summer days in Fogland, sailing until late, and then coming back to shore to have some jalapeno burgers and enjoy the sunset.
My life is about people and places, and this rig has taken me to both.
Farewell my friend, it is time for you to make someone else as happy as you made me.

Afternoon in Fogland
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aging well

We had a sunny and warm day here in the Midwest. Alpine Valley was packed, which I didn't mind at all. After sailing solo for years, and rigging in desolated beaches covered by snow, a little company is always welcome. There were two more ramps set at the terrain park, both around 12 feet tall, and I spent all my day hitting them with everything I had.
Some people stay young by doing yoga, some others meditate, there is another group of people who stay young by getting airborne once in a while. Air time, even a split second, is my recipe for aging well.

This dude, for instance, is 64

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snowkiting day 2. Real kites

As my search for the ultimate wind powered snow rig continues, today I had my first encounter with real kites. The wind must have been 8-10 mph, WSW. "There is no way we'll be able to do anything with this wind", I thought to myself as I pulled over at Montrose. I was wrong. We put up two kites, a 6 m foil, and a 10 m inflatable. The little foil kite kicked butt, staying up in the air and pulling me pretty hard. The other kite did not get a chance to shine, but showed its potential in the short time it was in the air.
Now all i need is a board on my feet, I already have a helmet...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowkiting day 1. Trainer kite

Today I went out with my trainer folil kite, which must be around 1.5 meter square. The wind was 8-12 mph, side shore, and gusty. The kite is very sensitive to the gusts, at times dropping from the sky like a rag, which is a little concerning. I hope bigger kites can handle gusts better... It's good to learn how to fly these small kites, also because you encounter all the other issues related to kitesurfing in general, i.e. dealing with strings, tangles, etc.
The search for the most efficient snow rig is on!!!

Next chapter: snowkiting lesson... Stay tuned!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Alpine Valley

Second snowboarding session of the season! I'm warming up before going to Utah in January... I better get my turns tighter before hitting a real mountain.
This time it was a place called Alpine Valley, in Wisconsin. In most places, when the GPS says you are 10 minutes away from the ski resort, you can at least begin to see signs of it: maybe the slopes, maybe a hill, maybe snow... Not in the Midwest. Here you have no idea of where the mountain is until you pull on the parking lot. Then you go: "ah... THAT is the mountain"... Yes, many people would laugh at our icy, short, shallow and overcrowded mountains, but the burgers here are world class, and only cost 3.50 (cash only)... Beat that Lake Tahoe! Anyway, I had a great time, because as with wind, I am not a snow snob...

Alpine Valley Notes: This place is, in my opinion, better than Wilmot. It's bigger, it actually has a terrain park with some rails and a 10 foot ramp. The runs are about 1 minute long, there are plenty of lift chairs, an the lodge is OK. It's 1:45 hours from Chicago, and the price is the average for these places...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow time!!!

Chicago is known for many things: culture, music, architecture, food, sports, and so on. However, if there is one thing this city is not known for, that is skiing. But we are windsurfers, and for us (and many other zen monks) the obstacle is the path. So today I headed to Wisconsin looking for some slopes, road trip! I found Wilmot Mountain, and I spent 4 hours going up and down in 800 feet of ice, and I was loving it until I discovered... hold on... is that a ramp?
By the end of the day I was landing my jumps, and that was fun...
One time, Jim Ballantyne from Sail World Cape Cod told me: windsurfing is the best sport, you have the water, the chop, and if you add to that even a little wave, then that's all you need...
That little slope, that little ramp was all I needed today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cold weather windsurfing

It is still unclear to me why an otherwise mentally normal person decides that it is a great idea to go windsurfing in freezing temperatures. For this individual, weather has only one variable: wind Vs. no wind. It is of little importance if the wind is associated with rain, snow, ice, day or night ( I spent many nights sailing in Pleasure Bay, Boston, with my buddy Sean). For the other windsurfers out there who may think they are insane, you are not alone... Winter windsurfing rocks.

Another windy day at Wolf Lake 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

WIndsurfers on the road

Sometimes the wind blows in the middle of the night. Some other days it blows when you are at work, or while you are getting married, reading a book, or doing anything else but sailing. Some other days, though, the wind starts blowing right as you enter your beach parking lot, it stays up to epic conditions for a few hours, and then it disappears.
Those days you sail like there is no tomorrow. Because in fact, there is no tomorrow (the next session might be in two months), and all you have is here and now.
Well, that's what happened today at Wolf, with the exception that tomorrow it might be windy again, and all my pseudo-zen BS may get blown away...
Pray for wind...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October is here

October is finally here, the wait is over. This weekend the situation turned critical at Montrose, with 30 mph N winds and rollers all over the place. I decided it was not a good idea to go out in those conditions, and ended up at Wolf Lake, which was much more manageable. I was still overpowered on my 5.2 at times. It was a great session, but I still think about Montrose... The place was going off, and who knows if I would have been fine. Know your limits, I guess... Maybe next time.
Boring picture from Wolf, I keep telling myself to stop and take pictures, which I never do...
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

The last drop of wind

Today we had another great day at Montrose. The wind shifted to NNW and there were pretty nice rollers to play with. I was on my 6.5, which was just enough to get me going. The guy in the picture was on a 7.2 and it looked like that was enough... It's been my fourth straight day on the water, Fall looks promising...
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Two in a row

Fall is in full effect here in Chicago. Thursday I had an evening session at Montrose with strong SSW wind. The wind was dead offshore, perfect for speed runs in super flat water. After a couple reaches I realized I was getting far away from the beach, trying to catch more wind, so I decided to call it, it was a little past 7 when I left the water, but I saw another sail cruising around. Someone else sneaking a session before dinner...
Yesterday was just another epic day at Wolf Lake (sorry, no pics). SW, powered up on a 5.2 until 5 PM, then 6.5 for the last two hours. There must have been 20 windsurfers out there, all having a great time.
Today I woke up and there were white caps everywhere! I got to the beach, but it didn't feel enough. The rollers were leftovers from last night's wind. Did I still give it a try? What do you think?
Tomorrow the forecast is calling 15-20 mph NNE. Let's pray for wind...

Montrose beach from my window
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Old school

So fall is upon us. And soon the wind will start cranking everywhere. In some places, it's already happening. Rocktober, the windsurfer's window of opportunity, when it's crazy windy but not crazy cold. In Chicago this window is even narrower for a simple fact: the lake freezes, so we have to make the most of these epic days. So I'll hopefully be posting a ton of notes about short sessions squeezed here and there: late afternoon, early evening, after work, etc.
Here is a picture of last weekend's sesh at Montrose (Brotherhood), iwindsurf has a forum with a thread called: oldest gear that you still use. This rig is pure beauty to me...
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Thursday, September 16, 2010


Last week I got married in Portland, OR. It was a very exciting week, and most of my family came from Argentina for the wedding, my brother Carly among them. Carly is a windsurfer, and the reason I became one. So put yourself in the shoes of a dude who is sitting at a wedding ceremony, an hour from the Gorge, and it's blowing... I swear I could hear him whispering numbers of sails and boards "5.2, 4.5, 85 liters" during the ceremony... He did not sail the Gorge in his first visit to Oregon... Again, put yourself in his shoes. Anyway, we came to Chicago after the wedding, and Carly came along... So this Sunday we went for a light wind session at Montrose, and the wind was enough to plane for a few hours... enough for Carly, who live with a smile and a promise that next time, we will visit the Gorge.

Light wind speed machine in action

Carly on Lake Michigan
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Montrose wave special

OK, maybe you live in Maui... I, on the other hand, live in Chicago, and I call a 3 feet roller a wave. Adapt or die said Darwin to the windsurfers, so we developed an incredible range of gear so we can have fun in the water no matter what...
The day started light, with non-planing runs on my super light wind gear. Then, it picked up to planing conditions and beyond. The wind kept getting stronger, and the rollers kept getting bigger, so I decided to give the 6.5 and the Goya 105 a try. Did it work? I must say it was fun to play around in the waves, but I think we were still a couple knots short from epic...
Montrose beach, you can spot the bigger sets in the distance (just kidding...)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Montrose session

Wow... It's been a long time since I last posted... Times have been a little crazy here so I've been slacking a little... But anyway, I just moved to a new apartment right in front of Montrose beach... I can see the beach from my window, so I guess I don't have any more excuses.
Today the forecast was 15 to 25 knots from the SW, bad for Montrose, great for places like St. Joe or Oval beach in Michigan... However, the morning was rainy and there were some thunderstorms in the forecast too, so I decided to go local...
Montrose notes: Nice launch, with buoys (for the jetskis mainly) and a rigging area close to the beach... The place may work on N, NE, even in SE, not so good on SW or anything from the west (there is a big city between you and the wind, hahaha)... Anyway, it was great to be back on the water. By the way, I'm going to reformulate my yearly windsurfing goals... 40 sessions stays the same, but a sesh will be any time on the water :) Even without planing...

See you out there...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

63rd St short session

Last Sunday the forecast was 10-15 mph from the North, so I decided to go for a bike ride. As soon as I hit Lakeshore Drive I was hit by... wind? That was not supposed to happen!!! So I went back home and grabbed the gear. I went out at 63rd St and it felt good in the inside, but there was NO wind in the outside, something I've noticed on Lake Michigan quite often...
So I derigged, and went for a swim instead... Short session again, but I'm happy to be out again!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gotta love this pond

I'm beginning to love these evening sessions! Today's conditions at Wolf were a little light for the 5.2, but the sail felt perfect in the gusts. There was little chop, enough for a few jumps...
Forward loop update: I'm getting used to jump and look back, but I still don't have the guts to hold on to the boom... anyway, I'll need some more courage, maybe next time...
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Evening session

The forecast for today was 17 mph or so gusting to 20s, coming from the ESE, great chance for a sunset session at 63rd beach. I got there by 5, and the wind was enough for a few runs. By the time i got out of the water the street lights were on, I derigged and went home.
It's almost midnight now, and as I write this I hear the wind whistling trough my windows; it must be cranking at the beach now, only 10 blocks from my house. I'm going to fall asleep to that sound, thinking about the epic evening session that I'm missing.
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Saturday, May 8, 2010

The boom killer

Some people break boards, some others do the same with sails. I, on the other hand, specialize in breaking booms. A ridiculous number of boom have perished in my hands in my short four years windsurfing. Every component gave up at some time, and some more than once: the head, the alloy "arms", the outhawl clip; and now, my new thing: braking harness lines. Booms famous for lasting "forever" last a season in my hands...
In other news, we had a good session at Wolf today (depending on who you ask...). The wind was WNW, which according to the locals sucks at Wolf... I kind of agree now: the east coast of Lake Michigan was the place to be, with a new boom of course.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


35 mpg gusting up to 40? In Chicago? Impossible... Well, some people still say that there are no waves on Lake Michigan... I packed my stuff and was at Wolf by 5. I was not going to risk it on an off-shore day on Lake Michigan as much as I wanted... Wise decision, as the forecast turned out the be real, and we had one of the most brutal sessions since I moved to the Midwest. I was totally overpowered on a 5,2... of course I was overpowered! But that's my smallest stuff anyway... Do I need smaller gear? I hope so!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

63rd St beach offered everything you will ever need

OK, maybe it didn't offer everything, especially if you live in Maui and your name is Francisco Goya. But I live in Hyde Park, Chicago, I work on Sundays until noon, and my name is not Francisco Goya, but I do own a Goya board, and that is a good thing...
Today it was cloudy, rainy, and warm, so there was a great chance that the forecast (18  gusting to 28) was going to hold. I got to the beach at 2, and it was already blowing (fully powered on the 6,5). The wind was on-shore, which created a stack of rollers as far as I could see. And where there are waves, there are wave riders. Four kayakers were hitting the shore break, which made me extremely happy... Territoriality is something strange to the Lake Michigan waterman, we're just happy to see another insane soul putting some rubber on and hitting the freezing water with ANY sort of craft.
And so we shared the break, and it was perfect. The on-shore wind was just great to practice some wave riding, and to get the occasional air time. A few hours later I said bye to the kayakers, who turned out to be a pretty cool crowd, and left the beach.
The perfect session? Of course! Perfection is just a point of view.
See you out there...
These guys knew how to deal with white water...

Most of the times...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The quest for 40

Now that spring is definitely here, it's time to define my windsurfing goals for this year... And since there is no harm in dreaming, I'll be extremely ambitious. Number one: to land a forward loop. I'll be happy if I land on my back once... Number two: to have 40 sessions. There are about 52 weekends in a year, so 40 sessions will take a lot of commitment, considering the lake freezes in the winter... I'll cut myself some slack here, and will consider a session anything with at least one planing run, and sailing on ice will count too...
Too much for a weekend warrior? Time will tell...
Chicago from 63rd St beach
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

St. Joe notes

Last night the forecast for Lake Michigan read: NNW in the high teens gusting to 20s (mph), so I thought about trying St Joseph, MI... This spot has a reputation of going off with anything from the north, with a little bit of west. I heard countless stories about epic swell hitting this place. The stories come from windsurfers, surfers, and kiters... I have my own scary story about this place. It doesn't involve big waves, or great wind; it involves a swell big enough to crash you against an ice covered break wall, during a November session that went wrong...
So I spent the rest of the night remembering how I climbed the frozen ladder out of the water, and how I almost lost all my gear. The mistake that day: I wasn't fully powered close to the beach, but I could see the windline so I went for it. Coming back I did not have enough juice to make it to the beach,  I fell, and got pushed by the current against the break wall...
Long story short, today I had the same feeling as I went out. I could see the whitecaps just a few yards from the shore, but near the beach the wind was not enough. I went out on a 5.2, came back rigged the 6.5, and had the same feeling. After I made it back, and as bad as I wanted to give it another try, I packed my stuff and called it a day. I'll go back though, I have yet to see the legendary St. Joe's wave...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

63rd St. beach, and the Big Guy is ON!!!

So... This is 63rd St beach (the southern beach on the picture), on the south side of Chicago, literally 5 minutes from my house... and from this place I launched today, my first session on Lake Michigan. The breeze was 16 mph or so, coming from the NE. The rig call was my light wind speed machine (Starboard F type, 9.8 Sailworks sail)...
On the inside the rig felt fine, but on the outside the breeze was a little stronger, almost overpowering at times...
It was pretty cool to go back to the lake... I was getting a little concerned about my avoiding attitude towards the Big Guy, always finding an excuse for not going out...
Anyway, I'm just psyched that the season on Lake Michigan started!!!
See you out there...

Saturday sesh at Wolf

This Saturday we had another nice session at Wolf... It's crazy how this little lake gets packed with windsurfers and kiters.  I guess it's because the lake is so close to the city...
We had a good time, I was fully powered on a 6.5 (again, could have rigged less... I know, this is becoming my motto lately)...
Sorry I don't have pictures, my camera was dead. But I'll post some pics from another day, so you'll get the idea...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tarifa 2010 four years later

Tarifa, on the Spanish coast of the Gibraltar strait, will always be a special place for me. This medieval town, right where the Atlantic Ocean joins the Mediterranean Sea is the first serious place where I sailed. In 2006, my brother Carly, a hardcore windsurfer who is as nuts about the sport as anybody else, invited me to Tarifa to go windsurfing. By then I had not stepped on a board in my whole life, so I learned the basics on the Charles river in Boston,  and off I went to Tarifa, whithout knowing: a. how to waterstart; b. how to put my feet on the straps; c. how to use a harness. What followed was one of the most incredible trips I have done; sufficient is to say that I have not stopped sailing since then.
Carly's rig: Mistral Synchro 90L and Ezzy wave Panther 5.5... Thanks bro!!!!
Spin Out gear rental and the bar/lounge for post-sesh relax
Gotta love Ezzy sails!!! That 5.5 handled some pretty tough gusts...
ANYWAY, last month I went back to Spain to visit Carly, his wife Lula and their twin daughters, Olivia and Elena. As much as we tried to arrange a trip to Tarifa, work schedules were conspiring against us. While I was in Madrid, Carly, who as any other normal person, checks the weather forecast every 30 minutes, found that it was going to blow in by mid week, and in an action only understood by a windsurfer, he and Lula gave me their car, and Carly's gear and said: GO. And so I went. I drove the 8 hours from Madrid to Tarifa across Spain, an amazing road trip, but that's another story... At some point, when you reach Malaga, you can hear radio stations in English (Gibraltar is a british colony), French, Arab (Morocco is just across the stait), and Spanish. That gives you an idea of thte place where you're going to launch, a place where geography, cultures, and WIND clash...
As you can see, I can go on and on about Tarifa, so I'll just show a few pics and let you discover it for yourself... If you want to know more, just find me at the beach and ask "Hey, how was Tarifa?"

What to rig? These guys are totally spoiled by the way, 5.5 is big stuff for them. C'mon!!!

Some of the locals started to show up by noon...

East wind, also known as "Levante", can get pretty gnarly
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

My kind of weekend

Yesterday I had my first session of 2010 in liquid water, and it was lots of fun... But, as it turns out, the wind never stopped blowing and it ended up being one of those weekends when you get to sail Saturday AND Sunday. Regardless of the conditions, those weekends are always remembered as epic by the weekend warrior. And speaking of conditions, today turned out to be even better than yesterday for several reasons: more wind (overpowered on the 6.5), more sun, and the presence of other windsurfers!
In other news, my drysuit is dead. The neck seal melted, and I had to duck tape the pieces to my neck. Not the safest thing to do I know, so I used a wetsuit underneath the drysuit... pretty funny to look at.
I took some pics of the windsurfing crowds (6 windsurfers, 1 kiter). They are not awesome, I know, but once the season kicks in, we'll be back to the high quality pics that we're used to (i.e. Reid from will be taking them)...
Anyway, enjoy the pics, send some comments, and as usual, I'll see you out there!

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