Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Black fish

I'm still firm in my quest to sail at least once every month, so last Sunday I headed to Lowman for a Puget Sound session. The wind was in the low teens from the South, so I thought I would try to make it across the sound to Blake Island and back (4 miles each way). As I was going to launch, one of the locals told me: you should have been here yesterday, the Orcas were here, quite a spectacle.
Pods of Orcas travel up and down the Puget sound, right in my backyard and playground, or should I say their backyard and feeding ground? I know, Orcas are very smart mammals, top predators that feed on only with the fattest Chinook salmon, but do I want to become the scientific anomaly? Do I want people to say: we don't know what happened, he was out there shedding and the Orcas just ate him. Hell no.
This is their house, they have right of way, and so I retreated to Newcastle and sailed in fresh water.
As I was driving away I could still feel the fear, that primal sense that one has when one is about to become someone else's lunch, that feeling that tells you: get the f*** out of there.

Puget Sound Orca, from the Seattle Aquarium website

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Finally!

I finally scored a sesh at Alki beach! After a bad call last week when I ended holding a 10.4 in 30 mph wind, today I had my redemption. The wind was out of the North, averaging 15 mph, so I went out on the Lightning and 10.4. I was able to plane back and forth, with no need to use the centerboard to stay upwind. I tooled around with the harness lines, both position and length. To be honest the long board always feels awkward when it's powered up and planing. I think the straps are not placed in the right place and angle for the more modern sails (Saliworks NX2). Anyway, I always end up struggling a bit with foot position and stance. By the end I was pretty dialed in, and the whole rig started feeling more lively on the water.
The wind came down after a couple hours, so I called it quits by 3:30 or so. All in all it was a great sesh, I can't wait to sail Alki again!

Sharing the sound with giant freighters 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nukecastle

Epic day at Newcastle yesterday! We've been watching the weather for a week, waiting for the forecasts to be wrong once again, but this time they got it right. The wind was up and down, through the day, and Newcastle was as gusty as it gets. I don't remember ever changing gear so many times during a session. I started early in the morning on 105 and 5.2, it was pure survival out there, trying to keep the board on the water. The wind must have been in the 30s gusting in the 40s, because the 5,2 Ezzy was rigged beyond high wind specs and still was too much. Swell was 3 to 4 feet, perfect but out of my reach because I was so darn overpowered. I then borrowed Michal's Gaastra 4.2 wave and his 85L Angulo, and that was the ticket for a while, thanks bro! Michal went back out on the Angulo, so I borrowed Giovanni's 70L board, and that was a little too small, thanks Giovanni! By then the wind had come down, and there was a hole in the middle section. Waterstarting a 70L board in gusty stuff was not pretty, but once on a plane, the board felt super lively and fast. Then the wind came down a bit, so back I went on the 5.2 and 105 for the grand finale. The last part of the day was a thing of beauty. Fully powered, just blasting and hitting that swell in the middle as hard as I could, although by then it had gotten a little smaller. 
The best part, however, was to see so many sailors out there, all so tired and happy, getting out, ripping, a true party!

Pictures courtesy of Kevin. Thanks for enduring the conditions and for getting some great shots!
Unknown sailor. This dude was ripping!

Getting some

Finally in control of the situation

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Winduro training

Yesterday I went back to Lake Washington on my long board for some winduro training. The winduro is a race around Mercer island (on Lake Washington). I had my first attempt at it a few weeks ago, and was not able to finish it, mostly due to not being familiar with my gear.
Yesterday the wind was much lighter than on race day, maybe 10 mph out of the S, SSE. Greg and I sailed upwind from Leschi, and went under the East I-90 bridge. We stopped at a small park upwind from I-90, and then crossed the lake back on one reach before heading downwind under the West bridge. It was a great sesh, and good training. Handling a big rig downwind is a hands full, and that's my biggest issue.
I'll sail the course as many times as I can, and in as many conditions as I can, the idea of circumnavigating Mercer Island is just too good to pass!

I have no pics of Mercer island. This is Vashon island, a beautiful spot in front of West Seattle

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back to Seattle

Seattle gave me a welcome back today. We had a killer sesh at Lowman with Greg and Dan. I got there by 11 or so, it was cranking. There were white caps all the way to the beach, and it looked pretty gnarly out in the middle of the sound, the wind must have been above 25 because my 6.5, with max downhaul on a 105 wave board still felt like a hand full. Greg showed up and rigged 6.0 on a 130 race board. We were out there for 30 minutes and it was pure survival sailing. There were nice ramps, maybe 4 to 5 feet, but I was not going for them because I had too much sail. We sailed back, traded a few nervous smiles, and went back out. I think that's when Greg sent the email saying we were OPd. Dan showed up and rigged a 5.0 on his long board. I rigged 5.2 and that was the ticket. I rode the 5.2 fully powered for an hour or so, but then the wind came down a little (maybe to low 20s), just enough for Greg to be "in da zone" on his 6.0, and for Dan to go out as well. I rigged back up to 6.5, and we rode for an hour or so more before calling it a day. What a day!

Lowman's notes: the wind was steady and predictable, water temperature was not an issue with a dry suit. Swell was gentle, as I said, maybe 4 to 5 feet, typical bump and jump conditions. The launch is. however, not to be underestimated: the beach is narrow and flanked by walls, and there is some current with the tides. This is not a Fall/Winter solo spot. 

Greg ripping on the way back to shore

Saturday, October 26, 2013

JP Aloha Classic

The JP Aloha Classic PWA event is happening right now on Maui, and I just so happen to be here, what a coincidence... Paia is bustling with windsurfers from all over the world, and with some of the local talent as well. Ho'okipa delivered good conditions for the last two days with side to side off to almost offshore winds, so we were able to see riders like Kevin Pritchard, Levi Siver and Graham Ezzy in action. These guys really rip! Tomorrow the skippers' meeting is at 10:00, and the action starts at 10:30. I hope I'll be able to catch Robby throwing down against Ricardo Campello, old vs new school! Will Ricardo have some respect for the man himself? I don't think so...

Off da lip

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back to Maui (part one)

I am in Maui right now, It's been a pretty intense day. It started with a visit to the Goya headquarters, where I was blown away by the hospitality and good vibe of all the folks there. Jason Diffin (Ezzy, North, Severne, now Goya sails... yeah that dude) was working on a sail, but took the time to show me around, and introduce me to the others. Keith Teboul was there working on a prototype, but stopped to chat for a minute... with me! I'm a total stranger, a regular Joe who pretty much walked through the door. My biggest windsurf accomplishment is that I haven't drowned yet, and yet everybody took their time to introduce themselves Goya stopped and chatted for a bit, before offering me to demo some of their stuff: Nexus sails 6.4 and 7.5, and an FXRS (I told him I ride an FXR) because Kanaha where I was headed had more free ride conditions. Pascal Bronnimann even offered a bag for the board.  
So yeah, I was blown away by the guys at the Goya Loft, and I haven't told you about the session yet!

More to come.

Jason Diffin

Francisco and me

Francisco

Keith Tenboul

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sailing backwards

We had a great day at Kirjland today. The wind was out if the north, enough to cruise around. Fifteen people showed up with big rigs, anything from 8.5 to 10.4. At some point the wind got so light I thought the bubbles made by my board were going faster than me. Am I sailing backwards? Us that even possible? 
Zero to 6 mph and 15 sailors on the water. That's the spirit!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

DNF

Las Sunday we had the ideal conditions to run the winduro: 15 to 20 mph SSE all over the Seattle area. Well, it was not my day. I rigged a loaned Sailworks Retro 8.5, on my F2 Lightning. I didn't know the sail, and how to tune it right, so I did the best I could and launched. The first leg of the race is downwind under the I-90 bridge. I was not able to point the board deep enough, so I had to do several reaches to get to the bridge. I was falling a lot, and the harness lines felt very long, so my arms got really tired. After going under the bridge, I hit a big buoy in the middle of the channel, and my rig snapped from the  board at the U joint. I was able to retrieve the rig and board, and make it to shore, but by then my arms were done. I fixed the rig and sailed back upwind to the start point. 
To me, the big difference between riding bump and jump, or waves, and racing long distances was that in short reaches, for short time, you can compensate for any rigging issue by adjusting your posture, using your arms, or whatever. When you are sailing for so long, every detail matters, and every rigging error becomes painfully evident sooner or later. 
Oh well, live, learn, and train! Next time I'll be more prepared. 
Congratulations to those who finished! 
At the winduro start

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Winduro clinic

Today we had the Winduro clinic. Winduro is an annual "race" (more like an endurance feat than a race) here in Seattle. The idea is to circumnavigate Mercer Island, on Lake Washington. The guy who is standing up next to  the board is Mark D, the dude has done this course more than 100 times, more of them solo. He is going over safety, strategy, and how to sail under not one but two highway bridges. This is like nothing I've done before, darn, up to this point I did not know how to tack a long board.  I try to keep my mouth shut and listen. So the Winduro is on, for the next 4 weekends we are on wind watch, waiting for South wind 15 to 20 knots. I'm just hoping to get to shore, any shore, in one piece. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Storm session

A storm rolled into Seattle and brought South wind, rain and thunder. I went to Lowman to check it out and it was blowing enough for the 10.4. The thunder was East of me, so I gave it a shot. I sailed for 2 hours in great conditions. I am finally getting to know the 10.4 and how to tune it. The long board is still a mystery though, it goes upwind like nobody's business, but I can't handle it well in stronger winds. Today I ordered some stuff to re-do the deck, which is slippery as hell, not good when you're tacking a huge sail. Speaking of tacks, I need to get them dialed before winduro, because I bet it'll be a long board event... 
I better get used to low visibility, or get a marine radio in case I get lost out there, no joke!
BTW the season is on in Chicago. Check out Montrose going off!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What makes a session?

Someone gets out of work at 6:30. He drives through traffic to the beach and gets there by 7:15. He's on the water by 7:35 and sails until sunset. He de-rigs under the moonlight and goes home. That is what I did today in 12 mph wind out of the North. I glided out and back, and being out there made me happy. So that as a session for me, and a great one! I launched at Lowman again, found a spot to rig right there on the beach, perfect. There were two guys on a Laser who just got out of the water, there were other people having a drink and watching the sunset. It was quite a scene.
October is coming, and so is winduro, I better get my jibes tighter on the F2 if I want to make it around Mercer island.
In other news, the guys in Chicago are getting ready for the best part of the season, more to come about that. 
Sunset at Lowman


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The sound

Yesterday as I was driving home through the West Seattle bridge, I could see white caps all over the sound. I got home, grabbed the Goya and went out for a sunset session at Lowman. The wind was from the North, 15 knots or so, so I rigged the 6.5 and off I went. I could have used my light wind board, but I just wanted the Goya to touch the Pacific waters. She's an old board, and has taken a beating through the years, so I don't know how many sessions she las left in her.
So she now has been in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and in between; good board, has always brought me back to land...
More to come on all the Seattle launches, and all the great people I've met...
Sunset at Lowman...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lake Washington

Awesome day on Lake Washington today. It was great to see so many windsurfers out there. I was out in the middle of the lake on Gregg's F2 and the prototype Sailworks, which we believe is a 9.5 when the wind picked up from 5 to 18. Wind like this is rare in Seattle, I'm glad we caught it. 
First time out on Lake Washington, I'll post more data later. It's a fun place to ride...
Gregg is the tiny dot in front of the boat. He's smiling

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The windsurfing zone

Last Sunday I met more of the Seattle windsurfers. And one thing really impressed me: these dudes are skunk proof. And it's not their gear, nor are the conditions, it's them. They sail a bunch in sub-planing conditions, railing long boards from the 80s and 90s. As it turns out, boards from that era represent the apex of sub-planing design. The  Holy Trinity is the Mistral Equipe, the Fanatic Cat and the F2 Lightning. After that, there's nothing until the newer Starboard Phantom... well' there's something but not as good. 
These guys have a totally different attitude from any other riders I've met. Don't get me wrong, some of them are extremely skilled riders, and they go out when it's 20 knots as well, but they take whatever wind is there and make it work.  They reminded me of a time when I was just as happy jumping on a board and going forward, just as happy about being out there cruising the water, propelled by the wind. And now I want more!
Yeah I'll still go to the Gorge, and Lake Wenatchee, yeah I'll still try to put myself in orbit. But on a sunny afternoon, when the air is warm and the sunset seems to last forever, you may see me slogging out there on my long board, propelled by the lightest of winds, just because it's fun.
An old sign I found at the launch... 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lake Wenatchee

Just when I thought that July was going to come and go without sailing (I got skunked at the Gorge two weekends ago), I caught a session today at Lake Wenatchee.
The place is a mountain lake that works basically like the Gorge. There's warm air on one side, cold air on the other, and a narrow passage where the moving air picks up speed. The locals got it figured out (no minor feat given that regular models do not predict actual wind speed), and today they got it right. It started slow at 10 AM but by noon it was solid 6.5 conditions. By 5 PM I could have been on a 5.2, but as usual I didn't want to come back and re-rig. Dick, a local rider, was there on his 7.0 and 120.
This is the first session since I moved to the Northwest, it felt good to be back on the water...



The launch at an undisclosed spot ;)

Friday, June 21, 2013

One more at Montrose

I know, I've been saying "this is the last one" for a month now. It's just that I don't want to leave this place. On Tuesday we had yet another awesome day at Montrose, straight North, 19 knots at the crib, I spent all day on 6.5 and 105. The morning was foggy and the wind was just beginning to pick up, so I went for a mini kiting session. An hour later the wind picked up enough to put up the 6.5, and stayed up until I left at 5. Andrew, Matt, Steve, Alan and a bunch of kiters kept riding until well past 6. 
Good bye Chicago, I'll miss you. 


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Weko Beach Notes

Just as I thought my windsurfing days in the Midwest were over, I ended up on a last road trip to Michigan with Matt, Andrew and Mike. This time it was Weko Beach. The guys had heard of this place South of St. Joseph from some local riders at Little Sable Point. The place is supposed to work like St. Joe, on any North with a little bit of West in it. So last week we decided to check it out. When we got there the wind must have been in the high teens, North to NNW. The beach is beautiful, and the waves were about 5-7 feet. The issue with Weko is the same with St. Joe: at the beach on sunny days the breeze is stronger, and it drops once you get out past 100 yards. So on a NNW or NW, if you try to go downwind to get on a plane, you end up loosing a lot of ground, which you can never recover because the wind does not pick up the farthest you go. This leads to massive downwinders, and painful walks up the beach.
Everybody rigged 5s, I put up my 6.5 and 105. I was able to stay fairly upwind and catch some waves. But the wind kept dying on me and on the last run I slogged by way back, and had a massive walk of shame.
By then the wind was almost gone, so we called it a day. The sun was starting to set in one of those perfect Michigan sunsets. It turns out the wind picked up right before sunset, but we were all gone by then.
So in conclusion: Weko is a very nice spot. It works on NNW to NW, which provides side-shore conditions. On sunny days the breeze at the beach may be stronger than out on the lake, so rig bigger than you would. If you notice decreasing wind after 100 yards, don't try to go further out in search for a puff. It just doesn't happen. Just turn back and rig bigger. After the sesh, you can stop by Pablo's for some awesome Mexican food. One more thing, apparently the spot shuts down if the wind shifts East, so be aware.
Weko at the bottom, and St. Joseph up North

Beautiful rigging area



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Good bye party

It's time to start saying god bye to Chicago, and in order to celebrate three years of awesome windsurfing we gathered at Andrew's house and threw a hell of a party. Mike, Steve, Brian, Matt and Andrew showed up, so the whole Cult was there.
I'm going to miss Chicago, I'm going to miss waking up in a frigid and windy morning, looking over my window and seeing Montrose go off. I'll miss Wolf Lake, polluted as it is, with its 30 hard core windsurfers. I'll miss 12th Street Beach, jibing outside and coming back with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop. But over all I'll miss this bunch of nuts that call themselves my friends. 
From left to right: Michael, Andrew, me, and Matt

From left to right: Brian, Andrew, me and Matt

A toast to Chicago's windsurfers!

Friday, June 7, 2013

I'm back! (to kiting ,that is)

Perfect day to shake the rust of my old Liquid Force. 12-15 mph at Montrose, straight North, sunny and relatively warm. I pumped the 12m and tooled around for an hour or so. It was great to see that after almost a year the kite still holds air...

Friday, May 31, 2013

One more at Wolf

Good session at Wolf yesterday! 5.2, gusty, slogging at times, overpowered at times, typical Wolf. Post sesh tacos at Perez (we are getting fancy with the restaurant choices, thank God, we've got our post-sesh tacos at some shady establishments).
OK that's all, did I mention May was EPIC?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Greenwood

I should have posted this last week but I left town after this epic session at Greenwood, and just got back. Friday we had winds in  the 30 knots straight from the North. LB went for a dawn patrol at Montrose and according to him it was already nuking when the sun came up. At 4 PM, after about 100 emails back and forth we decided to hit Greenwood. The place is a famous windsurfing spot on the North side. People have ben talking the place up since I moved to Chicago, but I never got the chance to go because, well, because Montrose is 5 minutes from by house...
The launch is on a sandy beach, and there is a nice grassy area to rig (you have to have a parking permit, which we did not have, so we risked a ticket, oh well). The beach has a mean looking metal break wall on the South side; Northwestern boat house is on the North side. On a dead North day, a curve on the beach creates a wind shadow that makes it tough to get out, so the trick is to rig a little bigger to get enough juice to pass the white water. Once you are out it's just great: massive ramps on the way out, and on the way back you can drop on a 7 foot face and hit three bottom turns before jibing between waves in the smoothest water. 
The break wall is scary, especially if you wipe out in the surf, and the wind shadow on a North day makes getting out an art. So in conclusion: the place kicks ass, but if the wind is dead North or it has any West, you are better off going to Montrose.
You launch from Dempster St. launch

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Two at Wolf

May is the new April I guess. We had great conditions in Chicago pretty much every week so far. The southerlies hit the city for the past two days: 6.5 conditions at Wolf both days. Again, I could have been on smaller stuff but blasting up and down the lake powered up on some big rig just does not get old man. 

If small sails are your thing, check out Andrew's new rig: Naish Boxer.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The cult

Sweet session at Montrose last Friday, everybody was there! It blew in the high 20s with gusts in the 30s from NNW. I've never put so much downhawl on the 5.2, which was kind of ridiculous. I should have been on a 4.7; is it me or it's getting windier in Chicago?
We went for tacos after the session, the Cult in full, I'm going to miss these nuts.
Cult Meeting

Friday, May 3, 2013

One more at Montrose

We had a classic Montrose day yesterday: 20+ knots out of the NNE, 5 feet waves (with the occasional 6 footer on the outside), 50 degrees (OK maybe high 40s, but who cares!). Andrew and I showed up in the morning, and it was honking already. I was on my 5.2, Andrew rigged a 4.8 and we both were lit up. By 4 PM the wind came down a little, but then it picked up again. I had left the beach already but Michael, Steve and Andrew squeezed every  drop of wind left. We met afterwards and watched some footage of the day over dinner, perfect Thursday! 
Note: I broke both harness lines. I'd like to think it's because of all the hard riding, but I'm starting a diet just in case ;)
Riding in the sky

Andrew from the jetty

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Montrose on a South day

Rode Montrose with Mike yesterday. It was blowing 25 knots or so at the crib (3 miles off shore), out of the South, wrong direction for Montrose. We had no choice though, we were both coming from work, so we took it. Between the dog beach and the jetty the wind was flaky and gusty, but past the jetty it was all good. I was on a 6.5 and 105, Mike was on his 7.5 and 140 (I think). His rig was too much once we were out there, so he sailed mostly inside.
I don't know how many more sessions I will have in Chicago, and one of the things on my bucket list was to make another run to the crib, so I gave it a shot: my first solo crib run, epic.
The Crib, Chicago in the back

Sunday, April 7, 2013

4.7 at Wolf? Nahhh...

video
And yet, the official kickoff session at Wolf was a brutal one. I was on 5.2 for about 30 minutes, completely out of control. Michael let me borrow his 4.7 and that made it a little less chaotic, but still the Goya was way too much... 30 gusting up to 40 knots, about 15 riders on the water, 2013 is ON! Good thing to ride with Michael and Matt once again...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Job done!

The Goya was finally discharged from LB's clinic, and she is ready to roll... I hope... This Saturday I'll do some testing at wolf and see if she is sea worthy.




Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nose job

The Goya is getting a nose job. Dr. Bordeau (a.k.a Little Bird, a.k.a the board surgeon) removed a lot of stuff and put some serious epoxy patches, but he thinks the board will make it. After an hour of work, we were done for the day, so we went for tacos. I certainly hope the board survives, I need her in full force for my lest season in Chicago.



What lies beneath... the duck tape layer

Little Bird at work

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Couldn't wait any longer

And so the season started. Yes there was ice on the beach, yes is may have been snowing, but I couldn't take it any longer. The rest of the crew is in Corpus Christi, I'll post pictures...
See you out there!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Will it happen?

For the past 3 years, the season in Chicago has started in mid March. By then usually the ice is gone on Lake Michigan, and the smaller inland lakes are ready as well. This year, I'm not so sure. Some desperate souls have decided to migrate to Texas in search of steady winds and warm weather. I'll post pictures of that trip soon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 is here!

It's been a such a long time! 2012 is gone, and hopefully I'll get to ride more this year, so be prepared for some sesh reports, business as usual. The 2013 season is around the corner, and to begin ramping up the stoke, here's a picture that Mike sent me today. Apparently windsurfing has not been cancelled on Lake Michigan.