With Christmas fast approaching, Santa is working on his jumps (presumably coached by Dasher.) Yeah he's got the reindeer to get him and the sleigh around, but with all the supersized gifts those reindeer butts are draggin' by the time he hits the west coast. So every foot of air Windchimp Claus can generate will help kids in Maui get their toys (like they need more toys!)
Producer, videographer and jibemaster Dasher posted this exquisite photograph on his Facebook page. A SUP paddler's-eye view of a board gliding through water smooth as glass. Those ripples in the reflected sky are incredible.
This just in from Dasher Films in Florida: The Jupiter Fall Classic. Check out the move at 1:46...this is new to me. There's a bit more trickery later in the video too. Of course the general waveriding is nice to watch on Thanksgiving morning!
When it comes to winter windsurfing, the community of lunatics I sail with is about as stoked as any out there. I just stumbled over a photo collection of these windsurfers in Norway, who appear to be true brothers and sisters in cold weather spirit. Found it on The Horse's Mouth (a most excellent blog for all things wonderful or weird on the water...also pretty girls and fish.) Thanks, Joe!
So many things I like are connected to this video: First of all, it's a beautiful bit of wavesailing (love that) on SUP boards (want to do that) in a video by Dasher (He Who Taught Me To Jibe, and a maker of fine video to boot!) The video is a bit of an impromptu promo for RRD boards, which are distributed in the U.S. by Tony Kardol (great guy I met at Vela Aruba when he ran the place)...RRD is sponsoring the mighty Andy Brandt and ABK Boardsports this year (They Who Taught Me Many Other Things), they make a board (Frank B owns one) that a few months ago I declared to be The Coolest Looking Windsurfing Board I'd Ever Seen, and you can get RRD windsurfing equipment (and stand up paddle gear) at Hampton Watersports (where else would I want to buy anything?)
If only my first SUP wavesailing session had gone as well. Topic for a future blog post...
My wife is learning to carve a jibe. I have a number of thoughts and emotions about this, so I'll just make a list:
1. It took me forever to learn to jibe...she can't just waltz on in, fit jibing into her mega-busy schedule of things to do, and succeed.
2. I still can't jibe! Actually I can...on a good day I rip through jibes and duck jibes, but I still blow some. The racer who said "Jibing is a career" in a magazine interview a few years ago had me in mind.
3. You have to sail pretty darn fast to be able to pull off a planing jibe. Sally has never had a taste for speed, though lately I've had to work to pass her on the water as she's begun to put the hammer down. And I'm mindful of Dasher's prophetic words to my svelte bride in Aruba: "Speed will never be a problem for you."
This all started last year in Bonaire, during an ABK clinic. I was looking across Lac Bay, catching my breath while struggling to learn Grubbies or some other mutant aerial, when my eye was caught by Sally bearing off and initiating a carve. I thought I was mistaken...she'd been hovering on the waterstart/speed in the footstraps plateau, working on pre-jibe skills...but there she was, working on jibing 101 on the Carribean blue water. I never thought I'd see the day. (I so commented to ABK later, who now sometimes put that quote on their website for promotional purposes.)
But that was last year. Yesterday we had a perfect late-summer session at Mecox. Sally was fully powered on a 4.7 (me on the 6.2) and she was charging into her jibe attempts with real velocity. Again and again and again. I realized that she's going to get this. Then she nearly hit her first, right in front of me.
When you step up to the registrar at the Huts College of Windsurfing (the instruction desk at Vela Aruba) you know you're in the right place. Back in Dasher's teaching heydey this is where I learned to jibe, but I always stared wonderingly at the exotic mysteries being taught in grad school. I secretly aspired to Psychology of Abnormal Jibing and Its Effects, but feared the required reading for Advanced Philosophy of Windsurfing Logic.
Elvis is in Bonaire. And Elvis has a message for us: Tricks are for Kids!
Three-year-olds can windsurf. Eight-year-olds can do a world of moves. Twelve-year-olds will blow your minds. Fifteen and sixteen-year-olds rule!
(Check out this excerpt from "ProKids")
Anybody who follows freestyle knows about Bonaire as a capital of the discipline. Tonky and Taty Frans have dominated enough competitions in enough venues around the world, and Kiri Thode...young Kiri was brilliant BEFORE the day he raised the bar for the entire windsurfing world by introducing nonplaning loops (the Gekko Flaka) leaving every freestyler on the planet in slack-jawed WTF-ment, and he's only gotten better since. But perhaps not everybody knows that an instructor named Elvis Martinus has been nurturing windsurfing culture for local kids on Bonaire for well over a decade, and freestyle has been a big part of it.
Dasher has been videotaping that remarkable scene for nearly as long, island hopping from his teaching gig in Aruba back in the 90's to capture some of the early days of this unique culture.
So in 2006 when an all-kid freestyle windsurfing event was announced for Bonaire, Dasher was there, and earlier this year released "ProKids," featuring way-hot sailing from the littlest of sailors up the amazing talent of windsurfers like Sarah-Quita Offringa, Jaeger Sint Jago, Arturo Soliano, Kiri Thode, and of course Tonky, Choco and Taty Frans. But it's not a straight portrayal of competition; instead it's more of a celebration of freestyle windsurfing and kids on boards in Bonaire. It's a great DVD to get your own stoke going, and if you want to get the attention of someone who thinks windsurfing is for mom and dad, this is the ticket. There's also a bonus "movie" called Just Tricks, which includes more sailing, a great night freestyle session, bloopers and such. Much windsurfing fun.
You can buy the DVD and get more information on the ProKids website.
As Dasher says, Bonaire rules, and these kids rule! For fun I'm including some stills taken from a video Dasher made of "The Bonaire Kids" back in 1997. Somebody is working on something like a Grubby before Grubbys were invented. And look at those Disney kiddie sails...if they put Goofy on adult sails, I'd buy one.
(An impending trip to Aruba after six years away has brought past adventures to mind. In that spirit, Peconic Puffin Classics presents:
Why I Really Love Aruba
The Unexpergated Version, for the Discerning Puffin
(In the summer of 2000, Windsurfing Magazine asked the editor of PP to write an article entitled “Why I Love Aruba” and provided a basic description of what they were looking for. PP happily complied. Upon receipt of the Puffin piece, an editor decided to “improve” the article to make it “more suitable” for their readers. Horrified by the changes, PP felt it crucial to get the Original Words out to fellow Puffins. Here, for the first time, is presented the original piece, Puffin-style, and all the “more suitable” stuff left out. But I am using the magazine photo that accompanied the article, showing someone getting fine air off of nonexistent chop. I hope everyone thought it was me. It was the amazing Jason Voss).
Why I Love Aruba.
As the plane banks towards final descent, my wife and I have our faces pressed to the window. "Look at everyone on the water!" We’re giddy…we can’t wait to Get There. What did we check a bag for? We’re idiots! We could have easily brought everything as carry on.
We land. We pick up our bag. Emerge from the airport into the breeze, grab a cab. Fifteen endless minutes until we get to our room. Drop everything on the floor, change to bathing suits, grab the harnesses, race to the beach. Get a 45-minute session in before the day ends, then grab a beach chair for the question and answer session with instructor Eddy Patricelli. With a Polar beer in tired hand, I glance at my wife, who is reflecting my own huge stupid smile. We are Happy. We are back in Aruba.
Five days later it’s Judgement Day. All week it’s been blowing a beautiful 5.5 with three-to-six inch chop on the inside. My jibes are getting wired, I’m ripping upwind, my wife has elatedly hit her first waterstart, but still, today is the Day. The day the instructor Dasher videotapes everyone sailing, and edits it into his weekly windsurfing spectacular, complete with soundtrack, to be shown to any and all at the Thursday Night Party. If you sail well for the camera on Judgement Day, you feel like a million bucks. In my four previous trips to Aruba, I’ve always been so exhausted by Thursday that I, well, felt like 1000 bucks…good but not great. But this time I’ve planned. I’ve rested for this day. I want to see myself on the small screen sailing like I sail in my Aruban dreams, the way I’ve felt all week.
I get to the beach early, check out a board and sail, and take a quick run to get the harness lines and footstraps dialed in. I make peace with my maker, accept my karma, run through my lessons in my head, and hit the water.
Cameraman spotted. I’m flying across the crystal clear water, seeing the shadow of my rig zipping over the undulating white sand four feet below. It feels so great just to be Here, Now, that all of a sudden it doesn’t matter, I’m just going for it, and so bank the board and rig hard over…switch feet…flip the sail…catch rig on broad reach, sheet in…and complete the best jibe of my life. I look back and Dasher’s lens is locked on me…he got it! I howl, tear back from whence I came, jibe (well again!) and return.
More great jibes. This is unbelievable. I’m having the best session of my life, and it’s just too easy. Teacher is smiling. Okay, let’s get wet…let’s try a duck jibe.
Earlier in the week I’d taken a duck jibe lesson, and had even succeeded in catching the rig on the far side of the duck without falling, but with the board dead in the water. Ugly, but the first step. Now I’m flying again towards the camera, the board and sail just perfect for the perfect wind and perfect water, bank in, flash back to lesson (don’t think about the sail, just keep carving) and catch the sail on the plane. Don’t switch the feet too soon! I don’t, and come ripping out of the duck jibe, and look back.
Dasher’s jaw is dropped…I am sailing way too well.
That night in the video, I get my own montage.
We’re booked for next year.
I once watched a friend slice mushrooms with a Rainbow V1 blade fin, but the full range of possibilities was revealed to me in the Gin Su Fin infomercial.
Starring Chef Alberto Benitez (then an instructor at Vela Aruba) and Dee Imbert (star of The Search for One Eyed Jimmy) this ten year old clip is a sampling of the early video work by Dasher, then the dean of the Fisherman's Huts University of Windsurfing in Aruba, and one heck of an instructor (he taught me to jibe, and I was TERRIBLE. )
(Editors note: Dee Imbert's comment about the Gin Su Fin are in "comments" below.)