Where to begin? Here’s an early report on Saturday. (early? I know...)
70+ competitors turned out (including former PWA champion and new east coast windsurfer Josh Angulo) for 18-24 easterlies at Long Island’s Heckscher State Park, where the racing was fast and furious. We had two racing classes (open and 7.5 limited) but unless you had full blown racing gear and knew how to use it, 6.2 was as big a sail as most of us wanted, and the racing was fast and furious. Sailors were on every kind of gear you could imagine (maybe no wave boards)...vintage longboards, modern longboards, formula planks, freeride boards, freestyle boards, even SUP boards! With all the wind many of us found ourselves boarding down to freeride and even freestyle gear to make the jibing easier (if this isn’t a racing adage it oughta be: It’s not how fast you sail, it’s whether or not you can tack and jibe dry!) For myself, in the first heat I sailed my Techno and finished about 30th, while managing to brain freeze on port and force Joe G (rightfully on starboard) to drop into the water. Sorry Joe! Switching to a JP Freestyle board I followed George Marr around the course (for two reasons...he sails like a bat out of hell, and he doesn’t hit anybody) and finished fourth. Much better! My favorite race was a heat in which the wind kept oscillating up and down...one minute the longboards had the advantage, the next the racing shortboards, then the wind would come up more and the freeride planks ruled. I remember being left behind by the longboards at the start only to pass them all halfway through, then watched in horror as Peconic Jeff passed me on his SUP board. For that race, the answer to the question "what's the gear call" was "doesn't matter!" Much fun.
At the end of the day the 7.5 class was lead by The Terminator/Eliminator/pick your honorific-ator Pete Roesch.
Then there was the Open class, twelve guys with big sails and race boards. As the kids say: OMG. Pro sailors are pro sailors for a reason; champions even more so. It was great that Josh Angulo was so warm and friendly and outgoing on the beach, because on the race course, he finished the first heat before most of the competitors were half way around the course. It gets worse: Judge Mike Burns says Angulo wasn’t really gunning it in that heat. “C’mon, Josh,” Mike told him, “show these people what you’ve got!”
So in heat #2 Josh blazed...nothing but fin in the water. He crossed the finish line so early that Judge Burns shouted out “Hey Josh: go around the course again!”
And so in a single race Josh Angulo finished First and...wait for it...Fourth. "And he missed 3rd by a board length!" Mike Burns says. Against 11 other sailors.
There was freestyle, too! With so many competitors at this year’s festival the judges held a ten minute elimination heat to whittle down the amateur class to a more judgable number, with sailors going for new school and old school tricks in a mad wonderful display of style and moxie.
Then the Pro class threw a combination Expression Session and competition. The blur of backsliding backwinded aerial madness was dominated by the reigning King of the East Mike Burns, but The Jaw Dropping Moment was when Mr. Angulo threw a loop with a 6.9 sail that seemingly took forever. I heard a dozen “woah did you see that”s simultaneously alongside the chorus of ooh’s and aahs.
(Photos courtesy Richard Burns)