“All I sail is 4.2” Scott proclaimed. We were in the parking lot at Tiana Beach, rigging for what was going to be the second second day of back to back 4.2 sessions (the previous weekend ‘s Sebonac fest having provided the first two.
It was true. Friday we caught it again at Sebonac. Starting just after high tide, conditions were a mess…worst I’ve ever seen there…which we attributed to wind being a bit more North than usual. But hell it was 4.2 so off we went! For some reason (to be revealed shortly) I got cold on the water, and after trying in vain to warm up in the van finally left. “What’s wrong with me? I’m in a 4/3 and I’m cold when the air is 50 degrees?” But cold is cold and I was not having fun. That night checking out my drying wetsuit in the shower, I saw the “3/2” on the sleeve, and realized that I’d been wearing the wrong neoprene. Kook. (Frank later said “3/2? I was cold in my 5/3!”)
Then came Saturday at Tiana. Frank, Jeff, Scott, the Wolf, Dr. Pain, Joe Natalie there for the good times. What started out as 1-2 foot waves started building, until Scott proclaimed the outside as 5-7. I was sailing closer to shore, where for the first half hour I blew every jibe. What the heck? At least I was warm. After taking a break I headed back out and Lo! Started hitting my jibes! Excellent…let’s sail a bit further out and have some fun. Fun was being had when I spotted a nice little inbound ramp to jump off…jumped…back foot came out of strap…landed and did a split on the board, while pulling the boom head straight into my forehead. All of that helmet but I found a way to make direct contact.
I was more concerned with my legs, which did not feel good after the split. But there was some blood coming from my head when I made it on shore. Surely it was nothing, but before I found a mirror I found Dr. Pain. For fun I asked him how my head looked. “They put stitches in all sorts of things,” he began. Stitches? C’mon I just bumped my head. I thought. Then “If you were young and beautiful you’d be lining up for about $4K of plastic surgery, but at our age we don’t worry about the scars.” “So neosporin and a band aid” I asked? Yep.
(Top: Sweet Tiana. Bottom: It's still a great day! Photos by Jeff Schultz)
“This week has been crazy” Christian said. “There has been nonstop texting about where to sail since Tuesday! It had indeed been nuts. But after what seemed like 4.5 days of nonstop text traffic we were at Sebonac Inlet (instead of West Meadow or various Montauk spots, or the ocean) and 4.2 was the call. Saturday under dark and sometimes rainy skies were Scott, the Wolf, Dr. Pain, Christian, Frank and I hoppin' and boppin on WNW winds ("watch out for the big rock" Scott advised. "Rock...how about the giant black oyster farm" countered Christian.) Sunday the crowd thickened, with Fisherman, Jan and Bruce, Kurt, and the Natalies added to the party on the water.
But CD was not to be seen. What befell Lord Chimpleton, we wondered?
More wind for us, though! Of Sunday's sunny high wind fest, Scott proclaimed "one of the ten best Sebonac days, all time!" Hard to argue. Good ramps, warm water, warm sun, a fine shimmer on the water. The only thing missing was CD.
Attention all windly hopeful: Scott thinks Sunday is going to be a big day. Windy. Wavy. Me I think getting excited about a forecast five days out is an exercise in windsuffering. But in the meantime, lets hear it for Sunday!
Taking a break from the 4.7 conditions, the conversation turned to our feet.
"Why are you wearing winter booties" I asked Scott. The water was warmish...I was more than comfortable in my summer booties.
"They don't let sand in," Scott replied. I couldn't remember the last time sand in my booties was an issue.
"Look at your feet," Scott said to Hulse. "You have red tyrannosaurus rex feet!"
I checked out Hulse's feet. They were red, but lacked the ripping and tearing claws that are the hallmark of T-rex feet.
Then we went back out sailing. Wind straight from the north (good but not great for Meschutt) it was Dr. Pain, Joe Natalie, Christian, the Wolf, Hulse, Scott, yours truly, Bill Barber (still on his Long Island visa) and more playing on the Great Peconic with the occasional decent ramp, though not the perfect halfpipes that are Meschutt's calling card on NW blows. Just the thing for a Sunday afternoon, and who cares about a bit of rain? I had to leave midway through the sesh, but the wind was picking up when I did, and I 'spect a number of the guys rigged down to 4.2.
Whining heard about the terrain today at East Landing:
“My teeth are getting rattled.”
“My kidneys doth complaineth.”
“The chop sucks.”
I windsurf with a pack of old women, who spend their water time contemplating their vaginas. Probably I shouldn't say that because they're all better sailors than me, and most of them are bigger. Too late.
It was bumpy, and rainy to boot. But it was also 4.2, so Peconic Jeff, Dr. Pain, Natalies John and Joe, Scott, Bill, Jonathan and myself had some fun on the Great Peconic, in the NE that was gusty but strong (at Napeague/Gardiners it was strictly 3 meter sailing...I'm still getting back into shape for that, and happily most of the wind chimps passed as well.) But those bumps. They were fine with me...I said "you guys, I didn't even know from good conditions until I started sailing with you ten years ago. I ALWAY sailed in stupid chaotic chop!" It was true.
In any event, four meter sailing is always good times!
It had been two years since my last sesh at Gardiners Bay ("Goff Point!" Scott says). I was intimidated...Gardiners gets big (we don't call it Land of the Giants for nothing) and I'm out of windsurfing shape from a summer of waterly indolence. But who can pass up the drama, the excitement? Gardiners wasn't huge but it was solid medium, and so I joined Scott, Jonathan, the Wolf, Fisherman, John Natalie, Jan and Bruce, and (in a special return engagement, straight from Cape Hatteras) Bill Barber. Regular sized guys were on 3.7's and 4.'2's, with larger specimens on 4.7's, and whatever Jan was on it was working (3.3?)
I could only manage about 90 minutes of water time before arms were fried, but I'm looking forward to getting back out somewhere today (if I can sheet in.) Saturday looks windable too...get out there!
At an undisclosed location on a special body of water to be named never (though its attributes…warmth, friendliness to beginners, shallowliness..may be reported) the mighty ABK traveling windsurfing clinic engaged with a group of windsurfing students for a clinique extraordinaire. Extraordinaire because the students ranged from never-before-windsurfed types to advanced sailors. Extraordinaire because instructors Andy Brandt, Tom and Brendan brought their most excellent games. Extraordinaire for the six count ‘em six women in the clinic (and two others had to cancel at the last minute…the return of women to windsurfing!) Extraordinaire for the entirely new concept in ABK shirts (transformational I’m telling you. Must have!) Lastly extraordinaire because I haven’t been in a clinic for a few years (you may not care, but I do.)
We had two days of light wind, and one of on/off/on planning (I planed plenty, because years ago ABK taught me to be efficient.) My better half Sally was in the Wide World of Jibes group (plus waterstarting etc) whilst I was in the duck tack/backwinded jibe/anklebiter/back to back/general freestyle group. My duck tack attempts went from coming apart at the seams two seconds after I start to “holy cow I’m planing in control switch-stance and am actually beginning the sail throw!” Also hit a planing backwinded jibe or two, and some obligatory duck jibes. Quack quack.
I got to ride in the boat during 15 minutes of Brendan Insanity. Starting with the notion that towing two windsurfers, one instructor, and their gear piled up on a giant SUP to the best sailing spot (what could possibly go wrong?) would be faster than sailing there, Brendan arranged gear and students in a manner that even I thought was hare-brained. “Have you ever actually done this, or is this all theoretical” I asked Brendan. He laughed. “I don’t even have a theory!” Outstanding. Everything went flying only three times (during the second reassembly we noted people passing us on their boards). All three chose to sail back rather than take the ride.
It was an outstanding event socially as well…saw old friends, made new friends, re-met people whom I failed to recognize (sorry Sam.) A classic great ABK time. I will be back to ABK, for clinics secret or declassified.
Note that this coming Friday, ABK Boardsports returns to Tiana Bay September 23-25 (sharing the secret spot’s attributes of warmth, friendliness and shallowliness) for what will surely be another outstanding opportunity to have fun learning to be a better windsurfer. There are, we are told, a few spots left in that clinic. If you are thinking that you’d like to spend a fun weekend with fun people learning to windsurf better, sign up now. ABK turns away people once they are full (though when enough people sign up early they will add instructors, to maintain a proper student/instructor ratio.) There’s also a New Jersey clinic in Atlantic City September 30-Oct 2.
(Photo: Sails ready to rock at the clinic. Beautiful, well-composed photo courtesy editor’s wife.)
Watch out, world...I'm back on the water. After two months of landlocked exile, I returned to windsurfing yesterday, sailing with Bill at Mecox. Beautiful 6.2 conditions, and a jibatorium perfect for remembering how to do this darn sport. We ripped back and forth for an hour before Bill had to leave for a sailboat race.
As we stood on shore talking about how great a sesh it had been, a woman walked up and asked us how bad the water was. "What?" we said (or words to that effect). She told us how the toxic algae had given her dog pneumonia and so on, pointing at the signs that we had walked by several times, oblivious:
Don't you like how my gear is on the other side? Oops. Mrs. Puffin arrived as we discovered the situation...she was going to rig and join me on the bay...but we thought better of it and instead repaired to our house, where my better half launched with a 4.5 on the inlet, to practice pivot jibes and tacking. I changed at the house (didn't want to track any Mecox contamination into good water) and as I stood on our beach watching Her progress, she dropped the sail and pointed at my board shorts. Which were on inside out.
"A new windsurfing shop in Manhattan" I wondered? Then "could it be a sailboat store?" No and No. At the site of what used to be Paul Smith's menswear shop (where I once interviewed Dee Dee Ramone) North Sails now appears to be a fashion brand. Oh well. I saw a surf shop in Kansas last month. Yep.
The Save The Waves Film Festival is making it's way along the East Coast, and will be stopping in Easthampton on Friday September 2nd at Guild Hall. Noted Puffin/Wind Chimp/maker of films Christian has a hand in it, and he says "it'll be a spectacular evening of beer, surf movies and attention to this fragile playground we get to take advantage of so much."
How do you say no to that?
Other stops on the tour include Virginia Beach and Long Beach Island, but if you want to say Hi to Christian you'll really need to get out to East Hampton. For more information, check out the Save The Waves Film Festival web site.