Lord Burns has spoken: June 6th and 7th! "Pencil in the dates" he wrote in Facebook. Yeah well we'll write them in sharpie, and fix it later as kneed bee. "Cause the East Coast Windsurfing Festival is the bee's knees!
Friday morning. Light rain. I have developed a sore back from I don't know what (the beachside masseuse says the chop has been rough on people's backs. The beachside masseuse...yeah I said it.) So I am in pain. But it's blowing 21, we leave tomorrow afternoon for the frozen Northeast, and there's a planing donkey jibe with my name on it somewhere on Lac Bay.
Time to hit the water.
(A lone windsurfer on Lac Bay in the morning rain. In this tropical paradise it's like taking a warm shower, but the spoiled seem to be waiting for the sun to come back out. Not me.
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.
I wasn't able to attend the ABK clinic at Tiana last weekend (various personal obligations) but I stopped by Friday morning to say Hi and to sail the eastern breeze. Just being near the clinic pushed me to think about my technique, and as I sailed I thought about all the things I was doing in that 90 minute session that I'd either learned or improved in ABK clinics (I've done at least 17 of them over the years, and I ain't done yet.) On this fine morning the list included:
Carrying the gear to, into and out of the water.
Uphauling, beach starts, waterstarts, clew first waterstarts.
Hooking in, getting into the footstraps, and sailing fast.
Planing through lulls, planing upwind underpowered.
Fast tacks, helitacks, push tacks, nose spin hoss tack (good for clearing weeds from the fin!)
Attention freestylee sailors and admirers: Word is that Caesar mighty Caesar will be on the water (and at the simulator) at next week's ABK clinic at Tiana. For anyone aspiring to learn flowstyle (or mad freestyle): FYI! And regardless...if you're not signed up time is running out. As ABK's website says, "less than 6 spots remain.)
I caught the best part...an hour powered 6.2 on my 99 liter Skate. Jibes, upwind 360's and even a couple backwinded jibes. Woo Ha! (ABK is coming soon...I am preparing.) Then it began to die as Sally arrived, followed by Xantos 7.5 guy (must learn his name...) Sally planed a teeny bit on the 5.5 but soon enough was out on my big 109 with the 6.2 again, followed by the 93 FSW. I love that she's able to manage the 6.2 in light conditions! (Top: Sally on the big stuff. Bottom: She likes her 93 better.)
Photo from the 80's? 90's? Oughts (terrible word...have no idea how to spell it nor do I want to)? No No No! It's the great Pierre Coupal keeping it real in a time machine, as seen on his Facebook page today. Go Pierre
-people who tried windsurfing a long time ago and found it incredibly hard,
-people who windsurfed a long time ago and want to get back into it,
-people who enjoyed sailing around but never learned to use the harness or footstraps,
-people who managed the harness and footstraps but never got comfortable going fast,
-people who never learned to waterstart easily,
-people who want to sail smaller boards,
-people who want to learn the planing jibe,
-people who want to perfect their jibes and duck jibes,
-people who want to learn to jump (or jump higher),
-people who want to plane in less wind,
-people who want to be able to sail in strong winds,
-people who want to race,
-people who want to learn freestyle,
-people who want to relax,
-people who want to learn cool things to do on a windsurfer in light wind,
-people who want to meet and hang out with other windsurfers.
Fall is often the best time to windsurf on the east coast and ABK Boardsports is the people to hook up with to hone your skills and take it to the next level. Have FUN!
P.S. Don't wait until the last minute to sign up. ABK regulars know that the clinics sometimes sell out. The only thing worse than missing a clinic is missing a clinic because you assumed you could show up on clinic day and there'd be no problem. Sometimes yes, but often NO!
“In Hersey Pennsylvania, with a pistol in his mouth” I replied.
We are all grateful to Christian, who promised to be a wind sacrifice for the holiday weekend, and delivered mightily.
Friday: Olympic conditions at East Landing. George, Joe Natalie, Scott, Bill, Hulse, Tomas, Jonathan, the Wolf, a friend of Dr. Pain’s, me in 4.2-4.7 conditions with sweet ramps and rolling swell on the outside. I arrived, rigged my new 4.7, but then Bill came over and said the wind had dropped…I needed to rig bigger. Derigged the 4.7 just in time for Bill to come back over and tell me that the wind had come up…I should rig 4.7. Ha! Got out there and was sweetly overpowered for a few hours…then I was just overpowered. Air was cool (too cool for shorties) and blowing more from the North than we usually sail East Landing in (the reach was to the right instead of the left) but the Peconic was a warm welcome bathtub. Good jumping, good jibing off the swell…an excellent sesh! (editor's addition: I forget to mention the rain. Yeah the rain was sometimes blinding, sometimes hitting the water so hard that there was an "echo fog" from the rain splash a few feet off the water. Big deal...I'd take this day again in a second!)
Saturday: Sebonac Inlet, y’all. Tomas, Jan & Bruce, Felix, George, Joe, and your editor on five meter sails under sunny blue skies. For Felix it was his introduction to Sebonac, which while friendly was not serving up the trademark ramps. Took the 5.5 out. After 90 minutes (for me...George and Joe were on it early) the wind began to lighten, and some of us switched from chop hop mode to freestyle. I blew various attempts at donkey jibes and upwind 360's (hadn't hit a UW360 since Bonaire) before lightening winds forced us to pack it in. "We milked it to the end" George said.
Sunday: Return to Mecox. The forecast for Mecox was perfect: Warm building southerlies. Sally, Eileen and I launched from the Yacht Club...Sally on a 4.5, Eileen 5.0, and me on the 6.2/99 liter Skate (could have been on the 5.5). This was Sally's triumphant return to windsurfing after our February Bonaire trip. She felt overpowered but managed some deep water waterstarts, whilst Eileen claimed a perfect jibe. For myself it was mostly jibatorium step and ducks, as the UW360 continued to humiliate me. Until my very last attempt! Yes... Also on the water: Eileen's dog's vet (I sailed with two veterinarians in one weekend...a first) and one lucky guy with a house on the bay.
Three days of windsurfing on the Fourth of July weekend...that my puffins is a summer holiday!
(Top: Eileen and the editor inbound at the Yacht Club. Middle: Dr. Tomas is not in fact working with medical marijuana. Bottom: Sally shreds.)
Had a lovely solo session at Towd Point on Sunday (woulda been a buddy sesh with Bill if he arrived earlier...he launched as I packed it in.) 6.2 on the 109 in sunny onshore NW...modest ramps on port, and a sweet jibatorium on the inside on starboard. I missed the East Coast Windsurfing Festival, so I decided to have my own little event. How'd I do?
The High Point: Had a duck jibe so sweet, so glorious carve lost not a drop of speed switched feet late perfect posture...at Starbucks they now serve a duckjibe-ccino with four extra sugars that has a photo of me printed on the cup. OMG did I throw a duck jibe. "Kiss my ass," I thought as I ripped away from the duck.
The multiple Low Points: My planing upwind 360's attempts. On vacation in Bonaire earlier this year, I learned the carving upwind 360. Or at least I was taught the steps of the UW360, and hit six of them dry. Would I be able to recreate my successes?
Not on Sunday. Oh man.
"Sheet out while carving upwind." Check
"Luff the sail as you bring it forward." Check
"Head over nose of board." Check
"Backwind pivot jibe." Check
"Drop back into counterbalance position." I (slam) am (slam) trying (slam) to find that (big slam) position (you get the idea.)
Kicked my ass. The Starbucks guy saw it all, so the duckjibe-ccino was cancelled before they even printed up the cups.
This is a good one. Planing freestyle too (shot down at the mangroves at the end of Bonaire's Lac Bay) but his flowstyle lightwind work is once again devastating. Check out the new article about him in Boards.
ABK's Spring clinic for Long Island (May 16-18) has been cancelled. Andy Brandt tells the Peconic Puffin "while I love the Long Island windsurfing crowd, and the Hudson River crowd, and everybody else who comes to our Long Island clinics, not enough of you have signed up for me to bring ABK to Long Island in May. The September clinic is still scheduled...don't forget to sign up early!"
So there it is. I am bummed. I will be signing up early for September.
Here at Peconic Puffin World Headquarters we receive a lot of inquiries about Bonaire. The blog posts are apparently not enough...some folks want specific questions answered. Here are the answers to the usuals:
Best Place to Rent Windsurfing Equipment: Jibe City, because it opens at 8AM. Windsurf Place is just as good, but it opens at 9, and the wind has been up in the morning in Bonaire. (If you've never been, these places are 50 yards apart...both on the water with excellent equipment and service.)
Restaurants We Loved: We don't eat everywhere in a week, but here's our latest news: At Sea is still outstanding, as is Appetite. We tried the tasting menu at Appetite this time (with paired wines)...we were entertained, but I think we'll go with the menu next year. Bistro de Paris gets a downgrade. I hate saying this, but since they moved to a larger location two years ago it's just not as good. The food is fine, but service and charm are down two notches, two years in a row. New spot worth checking out: Ingridients (that's the correct spelling.) On the water at a dive club, we ate great entrees while watching pools of light move on the water from the night divers below. Their appetizer concept is annoying ("bites"...bite sized individual items that we predict will not be there in 2015) but otherwise very pleasing. We'll be going back.
Do I Need To Wear Booties? Every year I say yes, though I haven't stepped on anything that felt (through my booties) like a problem in years. Like a sea urchin, for example. On the other hand why would you want to risk hurting yourself and possibly missing a lot of sailing? Bonaire is almost entirely shallows...you'll be walking on the bottom a lot.
How is the wind? Word there is it's been blowing solid for two years straight. I spent time on six meter sails every day of our week.
Best Windsurfing Instruction: ABK is there (of course.) If you're not going during a clinic week, Caesar (the lightwind freestyle master) is teaching out of Jibe City, while Elvis at Windsurf Place has a number of people who I observed teaching, though I can't say which is better
Flights to Bonaire: All we know is the Newark run on United, but if you haven't heard, it's civilized now. Used to be take off at midnight Saturday, arrive 5AM Sunday and have to wait for your hotel to open (or book an extra night for early arrival) with a very early departure the following Saturday (7AM so get to the airport before dawn, and no windsurfing of course.) No more! Now arrive Sunday afternoon (we got two hours of sailing in on arrival day) and leave Saturday afternoon (we got two hours of sailing in again!)
With Bonaire it's important to get in front of these things. If you arrive without a gear reservation or restaurant reservations, you can actually get shut out (on this trip I planned to rent from Jibe City, for example. I forgot to book it in advance but took for granted that I'd be okay when I arrived. Jibe City was polite and a bit mortified when they told me they could not equip me! Fortunately Windsurf Place still had some slots left. Same for restaurants...the good ones book up more than a week in advance, and they're not all open every day of the week. Best solution for me has always been Ann Phelan, Bonaire travel agent (and windsurfer) who lives there half the year, knows everybody and knows the minutia and latest changes better than anyone. (I have made mistakes by ignoring some of her recommendations!) She doesn't charge you (she charges the vendors) so there's no reason not to use her. Peconic Puffin endorsement.
Other commentary and recommendations welcome (let the Wil's Grill fans let it fly!)