Peconic Jeff reports on this January 5th sesh: "4.2 session at Sebonac: myself, George Pav (pictured), Scott, the Wolf and whoever else showed up after I left. Temps in the 30’s, gusts in the 40’s, and a passing snow shower = great January windsurfing!
I love me some January windsurfing. I hope to get out there soon, but need the air to be above 30 degrees.
(George puts on the brakes as he comes in to Sebonac. Photo by Jeff.)
For nary a decade I've been posting New Year's Resolutions for the coming water year. The lists have varied from long and detailed to "the unaimed arrow never misses" (no resolutions...just sail.) This year I want some goals. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Air, on port. I can't remember the last time I looked down from a big jump and thought "oh sh**). Or even had an elegant bayside jump with that extra second of hang time. Lack of conditions, lack of sessions, whatever. I want.
Air, on starboard. I am such a bad starboard jumper that people ask me why I don't jump on starboard (this is when I am trying to!) At this point it's in my head that I suck on starboard jumps. Must improve.
Duck Tack. The planing kind. I can actually do the tricky part (the sail work). Keeping the board planing while getting into switchstance is my bugaboo. A trip to Bonaire is coming, though, and I must take advantage of those conditions.
Work the waves. Windsurfing, SUPsailing, SUPsurfing...I need as much time as possible, and a better understanding. Every once in awhile I'll have a sweet long ride, and Jon or Scott will tell me how I was perfectly doing something...and I don't know what they are talking about. But hey...I'm the guy who can't find the channel! (actually I did get better at that.)
Enough words. I want to be more like the ocean. No talking, all action.
(I'm always happy to rig in January. Old Ponquogue photo by Jeff Schultz. Closing words by Perry Farrell.
Jeff reports on a sesh I missed last week: "...chose to brave face-pelting rain & sail the nuking nor'easter at Napeague with Scott, Frank, Bruce & the Wolf. I rode 4.2/86L fully sheeted out, and should have been on 3.7 like everyone else. Caught a few waves in front of the fireplace, including one full speed jump off a 4-5' wave."
Take a look at the windmeter for the day. Yeah, they got wind!
It was cold on the beach. "Wind chill" said Scott, but I thought it was the humidity. "What works is a long hood that covers your neck," Scott continued, showing me his, which is attached to his wetsuit. Mine doesn't come more than halfway down my neck. Must go shopping...I imagine a hood/shirt combo.
Jeff, the Wolf, George Pav, Scott, a seal and I hit Ponquogue (ESE 18-20, 3-4 foot waves) on everything from 5.3's to my 6.2 (the seal did not rig). The shore break wasn't particularly strong but it came all the way to the sand, so you had to carry your board over white water and get on fast while you still had water beneath your fin. This the Wolf would not do. And so Lord vanderWolf got worked, trying to time the perfect moment (which he did once, took a nice ride out and caught a fine wave back in. Once.) After an hour of abuse, finding himself a few hundred yards down the beach having had to chase his gear, he called it a day.
I myself had issues with arm strength...the lack of. Too little windsurfing over the winter made sailing unhooked a bear, and I had to come in to the beach a lot. Still was having a good time until I heard Scott say something about "it's time for 5.2" when it occurred to me that I was tired from carrying too much sail. Doh! With sand blowing down the beach all the 4WD guys rerigged on the spot. I had to hike to the parking lot, and by the time the 6.2 was down I was chilled to the bone, and so went girlyman, calling it a day as the Wolf drove by. My old 5.5 isn't waveworthy anyway...must go shopping.
Jeff had a waveworthy sail. But in his words he took one wave too many. How fixable is it? We await word. He may need to join me shopping!
All photos and video by Jeff Schultz. Scott goes back side, I contemplate a large seal, Jeff's sail, and Jeff's compilation video of the day.
Too bad I didn't get one this winter (not that there still isn't hope...we can get snow through early April!) But down Delaware way George Markopoulos has been sailing through the white stuff. Love the photo above, posted on his Facebook page.
(Top: If the snow was much deeper George could sail across the top of it. Bottom: Skippers meeting at Ponquogue from a few years ago...I love those sessions! Photo by Jeff Schultz.)
“These are the worst conditions we’ve every sailed here….EVER,” Scott proclaimed.
Oh good. I’d never windsurfed Webbies, so when Scott made the call I jumped in the van and started driving. Scott and the Wolf were already there, rigging 4.7’s. Christian was also en route to have his maiden Webbies sesh. Webbies, AKA Belleview Park, is on Moriches Bay in Center Moriches. To be sailed on southerlies.
Arrived. Scott was tearing it up on a 4.7 so I rigged 4.5. Christian was already there rigging a 5.0, and the Wolf was putting the finishing touches on his 4.7. By the time the rest of us got our gear to the water a big lull came through, so we eschewed our smallest boards in favor of larger rides (that's right...I said eschewed.)
Gust lull gust lull gust lull gust lull...but hey in the gusts I was ripping (and could have used the 77 instead of the 93 I was on.) For the Great Shlog Back at the end I was thankful for the extra 16 liters.
First to wimp out was The Wolf. The rest of us stuck it out, and soon were rewarded with five great minutes. Then Christian went all girlie whirlie whilst Scott watched me shlog.
It's true that by normal standards it was le crap session, but it had been a couple weeks since returning from Bonaire and it felt great to hook in and fly. UnBonaire-like was the water, which was frickin cold. I wore a 5/3 and a hood and gloves. Scott said "you don't need gloves" but I'll bet he was wearing gloves when he said that. In the water my hands chilled quickly, inside gloves. Maybe I'm just another whining wimp.
Still, I was glad to see Webbies. I don't imagine I'll be sailing there much (it's a long drive for me...Tiana or Mecox or the North Fork are better choices on southerlies for this puffin) but for the occasional situation I may well return.
If only I'd caught it! Jeff reports: "Another magical winter session today with the Wolf, Christian, Joe & Marty. Knee to waist glassy lefts, blessed by a curious seal. Pic of Marty with the Wolf behind him."
"Another" because Saturday was good too. Nice! Pic by Jeff, of course.
I had a one hour window to sail. It wasn't windy enough when I got to K Road, so I had to bag it, even though the forecast was for building winds, and the waves looked so nice. As is my habit I asked Jeff to fill me in later on what I missed, so as to increase my jealousy. Here's the report:
4.7 frontside DTL 2-3 bottom/top-turn rides on 4-6' waves, that's all you missed :) Full powered at first, rode the 77L, then lulls (and a swim in the rinse zone) had me grabbing the 100L. At first, Scott & Frank were dragging their heels ("it's only 36F, I was expecting 40!" ... "aw man, the sun just disappeared behind those clouds!" ... "brrr, it's really cold!"), but once suited up and wave sailing, everyone was all smiles and plenty warm. Only thing holding us back from sailing another hour was our maxed out forearms.
The flu kept Christian out of the ocean, but not from a bayside session. You'll have to get the report from him, though I do hope he's asleep and healing his weary self at this point.
What else can I say but "oh man!" Great for them though!
I only caught one. A waist-high left. But after 45 minutes of wave faces that never jacked up sufficiently (or did so 50 feet from wherever I was) that one wave was sufficient. Had to be! Air temp 24, water 43...conditions were chilly, and when the wind started to come up, I headed home to make a fire. T'was Jeff, the Wolf and me @K Road.
"It's going to be a HIGH of 32!" Scott said. "Fireplace and football!" Scott was talking about Sunday, but it was still Saturday. Saturday too late... by the time we got to Sebonac and rigged (5.2-5.7) it was too darn light. Still, Christian, Jeff and Scott launched. I had rigged (5.5) but hadn't put on neoprene. The Wolf watched from his pickup. What had started as a windy day was now shlogfest conditions, though the three bold ones did score 3.25 reaches before giving up. The forecast for Sunday was big wind, but it was going to be cold, testing the Long Island Windsurfing Rule of 100.
But Christian was ready to have a go at it! And despite air temps under freezing, the Rule was met. Launching on Tiana Bay, the Hale Fellow Christian braved mad gusts (48mph measured at Westhampton Airport) and coldly temps, and did return to shore after his sesh with a sail full of ice. "I had to come in because the sail got too heavy and unresponsive due to ice build up. Otherwise I was as warm as toast except for the specific exposed section of windward face." Nice!
I wish I'd gone. Dang!
*Not familiar with the Windsurfing Rule of 100, or the Long Island Rule of 100? 100 Rules are guidelines for when is it too cold to windsurf. The garden variety definition states that the water temperature plus the air temperature must total 100 for it to be sailable. Most people who buy drysuits say "pshaw" at this, and push it down to 90 or lower**. On Long Island, where any number of year-round windsurfing crazies may be found, we have a more nuanced rule of 100, which states:
Air temperature + water temperature + winds speed + weeks since last session +(if it's sunny out) 5 must total 100. So for Christian: 30.5 air + 45 water (guestimate...Sebonac was 47 on Saturday) +30 wind speed...we're already at 105, and we haven't counted Christian's windless weeks. And the sun was out! The Rule gets interesting when the water in in the high 30's, but as The Wolf says, "if it's sunny and the wind is good, it can be beautiful!"
**Seven years ago Peconic Jeff and I made a point of trying to sail in conditions that would ice the rigs and get the air plus water total as low as possible. Our record was 66.5. As I recall the iced sail wasn't as much a problem as the boom being 100% slippery!)
(Top: Jeff jibes in one of the few Saturday gusts. Middle: Christian gets it done. Bottom: Look closely...there's ice well above the boom. Nice! Top photo by the editor, the in-focus photos by Jeff Schultz.)
Sailing with the Wolf and Scott usually means that you're in location perfect for the wind and tides. A 5 degree difference in direction will change the launch call for these guys. So imagine my surprise when I arrived at Mattituck to find about ten people windsurfing in the wrong direction. The wind was southwest (Mattituck is meant for SSW) and so the point to the west was creating a wind line. Quell horror! But I'm ahead of myself. Right before I arrived people were on 4.2's and 3.7's and it was nuking! Right before I arrived the wind died...big time. There was half an hour of standing on shore, talking about 6.2's. "If it was summer we'd be thrilled about these whitecaps" more than one said. But it was January, everyone was in drysuits, and big wind was what people wanted.
Then the wind returned...not all the way, but to blessed 4.7. Perfect! Except that it had been so long since I'd sailed that my van wasn't properly loaded and I didn't have my 4.5. Unbelievable. There was no mercy on shore: "Forgot? You have a WINDSURFING VAN!" said everyone. And they were right. I was an embarrasment to windsurfing van owners, a contemptuous failure to those who would like to own a windsurfing van, a pathetic disaster. Then Christian offered to loan me a 4.7 (he would rig a 5.0 that he also had, for himself.) Saved! Christian's sail was perfect, and this pathetic embarrasing contemptuous out of practice kook got a good little session in...who cared if we were in the wrong spot! Warmish (air) 4.7 windsurfing in January? That's a win. Thank you Christian!
On the water at Mattituck: the Wolf, Scott, Frank, Frank, Joe Natalie, Peconic Jeff, Christian, Jeff Slechta, Jake (visiting from Deleware!) Rich Simons, and one or two people I'm forgetting.
I've never seen so much sand blow at Sebonac before. Still, when the sail recommendations were 3.7-4.2 I rigged the 4.0. Took off, caught one blessed jump, then came back to the sandstorm to add downhaul and outhaul on account of I was nuked. Scott came over to supervise, and immediately said "oh man!"
What was he down about?
The hole in my sail...the hole I hadn't yet spotted. Couldn't tell you how it got there, but the wing was ten years old. Caught a lot of big winds and one newspaper cover with it, but now it was junk. Rig the 3.4!
STILL I was overpowered! Scott cackled with approval at every gust, but it was still glorious to get out there and join the crowd: John Natalie, Frank (said to have launched, sailed two hours nonstop, then quit), the Wolf, Jon Ford (back from Maui), Peconic Jeff, Scott, Kurt Veith, and Christian. I even switched to my thermonuke fin (an 8" slotted wave) which did keep the board in the water better, but I can't ever say I got dialed in. Overpowered 3.4...not my strong suit. But I'm grateful for a December sesh!
(Scott leans into a gust as he prepares to launch. Photo by Jeff Schultz.)