With only two weeks left to the winter, medoubts that the iceboards will be seen out east this season. Bellport and Mecox are not going to freeze over...
("SCREECH!!!" I hear varied disembodied friends and poltergeists shreiking. "What the heck are you doing...trying to JINX it? Are you a goshdarn evil GROUNDHOG? Dude...shut up!")
Ahem. As I was saying, we are not likely to get sufficient ice in what's left of this Very Warm Winter. A blizzard in April perhaps (my dentist predicts thus) but no ice sailing. The Wolf's Shopping Cart, Jeff Slecta's collection of ice rides...they shall not carve.
To fill the void, Shelter Island windsurfer Chris sent me a link to this video, shot in New Hampshire. These guys are going fast. As I always think when I'm on the ice, where are the brakes?
"Take a picture! Take a picture!" I implored Peconic Jeff. All my teeth were where they belonged and the pain wasn't bad, so my focus was on getting a good photo for the blog.
Jeff snapped a few photos. He wasn’t jazzed. "Unfortunately it looks like you're wearing lipstick," he tells me. Jeff understands...if I'm going to get pounded in the face and spit out blood, I should at least get a righteous photo out of it. Instead I apparently look like I've been playing with cosmetics.
I'm way ahead of the story here. Let's start from the beginning:
Scott called and said that ice sailing at Bellport was the move for Saturday. The Long Island Yahoo mob was also talking about windsurfing the hard stuff at Bellport, so off I went. It was quite a scene...ice skaters, ice boaters, windsurfers all enjoying the beautifully iced bay. I found Scott and met Jeff Slechta (an ice-board guru) and began wandering around the staging area checking out all the different boards (including Pete Roesch's ski board, which uses skis instead of blades.) After ten minutes of gawking I took a spin on the Wolf's unconventional rig (which Scott calls "The Shopping Cart" for all the racket it makes.) The Wolf was down in Florida, but his gear was here and I took advantage of it.
After fooling around with the Cart for a while (couldn't make it jibe, but had some fairly speedy helitacks) I returned in search of a more conventional board to try. I found Jeff returning with a Slechta board sporting a bent blade...Jeff had been run down from behind by an ice boat, dinging the blade and sending Jeff flying (Jeff was okay). I tightened the strap on my helmet and took a board that Scott handed to me (thank you Mr. Slechta for your generosity with equipment!) and went out to try and carve my first ice jibes.
The board accelerated much faster than the Wolf’s, and carving into Michael’s first ice jibe was a tentative affair. But I exited with plenty of speed, and was overly confident when I initiated my second jibe a minute later. Here’s what happened:
I dropped the rig to the inside of the turn when I was just past straight downwind. Unlike conventional windsurfing, this had no effect at all on my speed. I bent over to pick up the rig, which carved the board through more of the turn.
So now I’m flying along on a broad reach, and will be backwinded when I raise the rig. I thought I had enough speed-generated apparent wind to make controlling the sail possible, so lift it I did.
I don’t really know how it all went wrong, but I do know that the boom head slammed into my mouth and knocked me off the board. Fortunately the unmanned board and sail didn’t slide much further than I did, and I was soon reunited with board and sail. Though some drops of blood were spotting the ice. Slightly dazed, I sailed back to look for Peconic Jeff…I had to get a photo out of this!
Top photo: I was so happy to get a photo. About fifteen minutes later my lip swelled up grotesquely. Middle: Pete on his ski board. Bottom: Long Island Men of Ice. More photos from the day can be found on Jeff's Flickr page.)