The flowstyle genius Caesar Finies was not putting on his daily magic shows last week in Bonaire. When I asked around I heard he’d hurt himself recently and so was on the mend. Our loss, but okay. Then on Friday while hanging out in the Hang Out bar, I heard someone loudly ask “WHAT IS THAT? WHAT IS HE DOING”. I turned and saw Caesar back on the water, just 25 feet away, and he’d lost nothing during his break.
I’ve seen him a dozen times before, and while it was still jaw-droppingly amazing, it was almost as much fun to stand next to someone who had never seen Caesar ever:
“Look at that!”
“He’s dancing with the sail!”
“What is that?”
“How does the sail know where to go?”
“I’ve never seen anything like that!”
“Oh my god, look!”
“What? What? Oh!”
“This is unbelievable! They’re dancing!”
It was great fun. And good to have Caesar back!
(The video above is not from last Friday...I shot it a few years ago, but if you’re not familiar with Caesar it will give you the general idea. He's actually much better now! And hey...if you like this, please like us on Facebook.)
I am back, baby. After being unable to windsurf since October I managed four 2-hour sessions in Lac Bay: The previously reported 7.3 day, an 8.0 day (I haven’t sailed a rig that big in ten years), a 6.6, and then overpowered on a 5.9. I couldn’t pull off anything tricky (strictly jibes, duck jibes and tacks) and my recovering arm hurt quite a bit afterwards, but 8 hours in a week beats two minutes over the last several months. I am back, baby!
Lac Bay is wonderful. Truly the easiest place in the world to windsurf. Thigh deep 95 degree water, steady onshore breezes, the occasional amazing blue or yellow or green fish that swims by in crystal clear water. Very nice indeed. For three dimensional sailing you must do what Georges Pav and Marr did: tack and tack and tack until you finally get to the reef that separates Lac Bay from the Caribbean, then sail through the channel into the waves. Mr. Pav reported an excellent session out there!
Back on the flat water Sally (Jibe Sally Jibe) continued to close in on her first planing jibe (in one attempt she was still planing as the sail flipped...a perfect catch would have taken the gold ring but alas) and also is starting to take shortboard tacking seriously.
We met some brand new members of the tribe (Liz and Alex)...Alex is seriously addicted. He took his first windsurfing lesson, and then promptly went out and sailed for four hours, coming in only when I promised him he’d be crippled for the rest of the week if he didn’t take a break. After an hour of conversation we realized that Liz and Alex live around the corner from us in New York City...literally on the same block! We also met sailors from Toronto, Boston, and Lala Land.
Who we didn’t see were Bonaire’s three freestyle superstars: Kiri, Taty and Tonky (currently #2, #4 and #6 in the world) were not on the bay last week. George Pav reports "I sailed with Kiri 3 or 4 times...he waited for the stronger wind at the end of the week. I heard that Taty and Tonky left last week to train in higher winds in Fuerteventura."
There is of course a fourth dazzler on the water in Bonaire...I’ll tell a story about Caesar tomorrow.
(Top: The Bonaire wind cam last Friday. Bottom: Alex, Liz, Lili, the editor, and Sally make medicinal use of caipirinhas after some quality time on the water.)
Sitting on the beach looking out on the water and along the shoreline, I thought "there's a whole lotta Long Island windsurfers here!" There's George Pav sailing backwinded. Chrissy Burns just threw a sail body 360. God knows what Mike Burns is working on. There goes George Marr. And Kurt, Marianne, Susan, Tomas, Jill, Jeannie, the Dana/Andy/Lili/Wilson Napeague axis, not to mention your editor and his lovely wife. There's even Jay, an OG Puffin from the early 90's Puffin House. Lotsa New York here.
I have two goals for this trip: Improve Sally's jibe, and test my long ailing right arm. So far Sally has been carving into her jibes but grinding to a halt before flipping the sail. Then yesterday she managed to hold good speed into the carve, plant the heel of her front foot on the inside rail maintaining speed, felt the rig go light as she began the flip...and then she caught her toe on the front footstrap stepping forward and fell. Still, it's the closest she's come to a full planing jibe ever
Me...after two days of whining about not wanting to use a larger sail, I finally grabbed a 7.3 and windsurfed for the first time since October. So eager was I to soak in the joy of Caribbean planning that I failed to adjust the boom height or footstraps...comfortable I was not. After all of seven seconds of planing I realized that I was about to get catapulted. I don’t think I’ve been catapulted in a year (not in a decade in such cushy conditions.) I thought “this can’t be happening to me”. And then it started, a great slow motion waaaaaaaawhomp! Textbook doofus! I never got dialed in yesterday, but I did manage enough runs and enough jibes to see that I can sail "some". Looking forward to more wind and another arm test, and time on the water with the Long Island Fleet, and more jibes from Sally.
Watch the festivities on the Bonaire Wind Cam. Best forecast for this week is for Thursday and Friday.
Who: Andy Brandt and his merry band of windsurfing instructors.
Where: Lazy Point @ Napeague, on the water and on the beach
When: May 18th-20th, 2012.
Of course you have questions, and there's nobody better than Andy, Brendan, Tom and friends to answer them and get you sailing better on the water! So sign up already!
Remember last year when a dozen people who planned to come didn't sign up in advance, and ABK cancelled the clinic because they thought they were going to have a poor turnout? You don't want that. AND you don't want what happened to some people in September of 2010, when a few people who planned to come didn't sign up in advance, arrived at the clinic only to find out that the clinic was FULL and so they couldn't join! Avoid these disappointments and sign up. Every day sailing is a great day sailing as it is...every day sailing in an ABK clinic takes it to a whole new level. You want to be in a photo like the one here, believe me. And you DON'T want to be like the guy in the top photo, standing on the wrong side of the sail and facing the wrong direction. ABK can fix that. Seriously though, if you've never windsurfed before, if you're a competitive freestyler, or if you're anywhere on the windsurfing learning spectrum, if you want to learn more, this is the place.
We received LOTS of traffic from Poland yesterday. Do you think they were looking for more Puffin prose? We think they wanted to see more sails. In any event if you like the Peconic Puffin, Like us on Facebook (please)!
Ladies, are you still searching for that special someone? Consider looking amongst the windsurfers:
10. The ratio of men to women is 4 to 1. 9. They can talk about something besides football. 8. They don’t smell too bad because it’s a good bet they’ve gotten wet recently. 7. They have another interest besides sex. 6. You know they’re rich enough to afford windsurfing equipment. 5. You always get the latest weather report, several times a day. 4. They are capable of commitment, at least to their sport. 3. They have no issues about wearing rubber. 2. You always know where they are, at least when it’s windy. 1. Windsurfers are generally fit, tanned, and have cute butts.
Non-windsurfing men should NOT...repeat NOT...pursue windsurfing women, unless they are prepared to immediately throw themselves into the sport. Otherwise such men will be surrounded by angry windsurfing men who all seek the great and rare prize: the girlfriend or wife who windsurfs (the editor is so blessed.) To squander such a find on a landlubber is an offense to those of us who sheet in!
(There is the opinion held by a small minority that it is a drag to be a man whose significant other windsurfs...you probably have to rig for them, they use your equipment etc. but generally speaking the willingness of such wahines to make every vacation a windsurfing vacation, to understand why the garage needs to be packed with tons of expensive wet gear etc. outweighs the rigging/sharing concerns. Discussion of such matters is encouraged.)
11. Ladies, if your man isn't home during the day, you'll know where to find him. 12. He'll be on the water so often won't have time for anybody else besides you.
Half way around the globe a fellow nicknamed Pittsy posted reasons to conside boat sailors, on the Aussie watersport site Seabreeze. Here is an edited selection:
-We know what to do when things get rough -We are good with ropes, knots, and harnesses. -We can usually get it back up after a couple of minutes. -We can harden up on demand -We know when to pull and when to release at just the right time -Female skippers know how to grip the extension -We know how to get into tight holes no matter what the size of our boat. -You can't expect to keep your sheets dry for long. -All it takes to raise the pole is a yank on the topper -Sailors are good at pumping and rolling -Sailors instinctively know when to point high AND when to go down -Sailors use blocks to gain leverage
Conditions were nothing to speak of...knee to waist high waves without much left or right to them.
Was it cold? Air 35, Water 42, but it had been 22 weeks since my last SUP sesh, so:
36 + 41 + 22 = 99
and 99 seemed close enough to the Long Island 100 Rule. Besides, I'd driven all the way to Cupsogue, the Wolf was already on the water, Peconic Jeff was about to head out too, and Joe Natalie was on the way. I've been nursing my stupid bicep tendon injury (which is damaged in the shoulder and elbow, and has been eluding cures) for what feels like half a year, so the baby-ass conditions on Saturday were just what I wanted.
I had a blast. The first wave felt So Good! As did the ensuing baker's dozen. I'm not a good SUPsurfer as it is, and I surfed poorly even by my standards, but Jeff was encouraging: "That was your first SUP in 5 months? It's no wonder you were in shocked-as-a-newbie mode (i.e., go straight down a wave with a big goofy grin on the face)." That's a good description (though I did work one wave decently to the left). The key thing was the grin.
The next day the arm hurt moderately, but I think I can return to a moderate amount of paddling. The next test will be windsurfing.
"Stained Glass Shredding, Rusalka Wind Sculpture"? How about "More cool windsurfing stuff from Ron"? About a week ago I posted some photos of great looking old boards on Ron's deck, and afterwards Ron ("noshuzbluz" on the iWindsurf forum) turned me on to some other extraordinary windsurfing art living on his patio.
The stained glass was made by Ron's friend Kevin in Rio Vista. And here's what Ron had to say about the wood art: "I get a call from my wife one Saturday afternoon. She said "Bring your truck, I'm downtown at an antique/junk shop." I get there and she shows me this! Oh how I love my wife! She named it Rusalka. She (and it's definitely a she)is pretty weather worn after 8-10 years. She used to have a jute skirt and ankelets that have since rotted off. My wife won't let me put a harness on it. Geez! I can't have any fun!
Rusalka...from Wikipedia: In Slavic mythology, a rusalka (plural: rusalki or rusalky) was a female ghost, water nymph, succubus, or mermaid-like demon that dwelled in a waterway. According to most traditions, the rusalki were fish-women, who lived at the bottom of rivers. In the middle of the night, they would walk out to the bank and dance in meadows. If they saw handsome men, they would fascinate them with songs and dancing, mesmerize them, then lead them away to the river floor to their death."
This is just too good not to share. When I stumbled over the Lake Erie wave sailing video earlier this week it lead me to the web site of the Reef Warriors tribe. They dwell upon Lake Irie (mon). They windsurf, they kite, they Hobie, they SUP.
I suspect that if you can do it atop the water without a motor, they're on it. There also seems to be a rum cult (rum being their sacremental imbibation of choice.)
Every year on February 2nd, Peconic Puffins emerge from their burrow and consider their shadows. If there's a shadow, what does it mean? Should I visit Bill and Hulse in Puerto Rico? Take the wife to Bonaire? Check the seals on my drysuit? Or just bring my fin collection to the kitchen table, do some winter maintenance with sandpaper, and daydream about April wave sessions at the Bowl?
The druids celebrated the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox (though the date is off by a week...not bad for people without decent iPhone apps) and in Punxsutawney I've read they used to hunt groundhogs and then have a barbecue. But those were the old days. This Groundhog Day I'm gonna check my drysuit (and dream of Bonaire.)
(Photo courtesy Gareth James at Geograph. And if you're wondering what the kayak & cucumber blog set have to say about it, check out the Groundhogma on Frogma.)
I've recently learned about the Legend of the Reef Warriors, a small but mighty tribe who can conjure such magic as wavesailing on a Great Lake. I am still studying the legend, greatly stoked by the following video that a Warrior has revealed in an iWindsurf post. It's great stuff...enjoy!