The Wolf decided not to launch, and I could see why. "Head-high short period waves"...bam bam bam bam...made getting out at Ponquogue difficult. Stand in thigh high water getting pounded, waiting for a break between the sets, then sprint like a crazy person. Required a couple tries to make it, but soon I had joined Joe, Tomas and Jeff on the outside. Took me several minutes to catch my breath after that. "Don't ride the waves far...you don't want to have to fight your way back out," Joe advised. Count me in, Joe!
The 5-6 foot sets came frequently...pick one, go left or right. Bigger sets came maybe once every twenty minutes or so, and if you weren't another twenty-thirty yards out to catch them, they cleaned you out. One to two feet overhead, well shaped but fortunately (for the fallen) not overly powerful. I caught two of the big waves, and got caught by about five of them. Helmets were the call, both for head protection and to keep hoods on (the water is cold. Ice cream headache cold. Note to Lord Scotworth: gloves required!)
I've been moaning about not getting ocean time for months now. It was good to get out there! Looking forward to session next.
(Top: Tomas contemplates the wave gauntlet. Bottom: Joe tears it up. Photos by Jeff Schultz.)
I missed it (of course I missed it...there were waves. Story of my life these days...) but the Wolf, Scott, and Jeff were out on 5.3's at the Bowl Wednesday. "Sailed big boards from 2:30 - 3:30. Wind was due E to slightly ESE, and gusty. We alternated from nicely-powered to slogging. Bowl was mostly flat, except for a small outer sandbar that would jack up a head-high wave out of nowhere. Caught a couple giant airs and even a few short wave rides. Good sesh, sunny and smiling."
Don't you like how Jeff cuts to the chase? Then yesterday some of the guys caught more action at Sebonac Inlet.
One day I'll have a proper full-on windsurfing session again. I know...I just got back from Bonaire, but as Scott would say "I neeeeeeeed it!"
Switching topics to a different kind of Puffin, Scott says he saw some puffins a few weeks ago. This is great news...I haven't seen any puffins in the area in about three years, and I worry that whatever they eat (sand eels) are no longer around. I'll be looking for puffins at my next Sebonac sesh...this is the time to catch a glimpse of them.
(Jeff was too busy catching those occasional waves to snap many photos, but here's one he took of Scott on the inside at the Bowl.)
Where ist? Just east of the eastern jetty at the Shinnecock Inlet. Just = a click, 2/3 mile. Look at the Long Island Windsurfing Map. The map shows the ocean launch...for the helipad just look at the road...the pad is clearly visible just across it, with a big "H" marker. That's where the meter is.
How often is it updated? It looks like every 15-20 minutes or so.
Why does Peconic Jeff care? Because the Shinnecock meter works so rarely that we don't even bother to check, extrapolating ocean winds from iWindsurf's Mecox meter is tricky, and despite Scott's great enthusiasm, the meters to the west are not always portents of western winds to come, and for east winds fugedabada.
Why care about what P-Jeff cares about? He's as enthusiastic a windsurfer as can be found in Greater Peconica (not to mention a weather geek) so if he cares about it (and you're an area windsurfer) then you should probably take some interest.
Even as I post this Sir Jeff is heading to the Bowl, where Chimply Lord Scotworth (the Earl of Kielt) is already chirping about the wind. Perhaps Lord vanderWolf is heading there too. When we learn of their exploits we'll post, correlating sail sizes to the Heliport (helipad etc) wind readings.
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.
I just got these photos from the great Jimmy Rivera (documentary of many Long Island windsurfing events, and recurring water friend in Bonaire). All week during our trip we never saw Jimmy shooting on the water when we were sailing, so no pix. Then on Saturday (get in a quick morning session before running to the airport) there he was, so we buzzed him a few time, and were rewarded. Thanks Jimmy! BTW if you've never been to Bonaire, understand that Jimmy is not shooting from a platform or a ladder...he is simply standing in the thigh-deep crystal-clear water. Bonaire is so very very nice and easy!
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!)
The moment we hit the water in Bonaire, Sally began her jibe program. Okay she sailed 50 yards, got off the board to adjust the boom height, and then began it, but really there was no warm-up at all. Sally was there to jibe, I was there to give her loving uncritical unjudgemental loving warm considerate loving supportive jibing tips (while smiling).
We actually pulled it off! Sally has been hitting the occasional jibe for a few years now, but she got about 20 last week in Lac Bay, including one stretch with four in a row. Some were prettier than others, but the key was there were lots of jibes. Last year Sally didn't sail away from one until the last day.
While the official mission was to improve Sally's jibes, I too came with a purpose: Learn the carved Upwind 360 in the footstraps. I'd been doing them as part of nonplaning freestyle for a decade, but any time I went for one planing it was complete humiliation. I didn't understand...how hard could it be to carve upwind past "12" and then be in position to spin? I always made it to 11:30 (and then got stuffed.)
Enter ABK's Andy Brandt, who
A: Taught me the nonplaning upwind 360.
B: Is a windsurfing instruction genius.
C: I have done enough ABK clinics with him that he can speak in shorthand to me.
He gave me three key points...sheet out when initiating the carve (counterintuitive to me, but okay), luff the sail while bringing it forward, and get my head over the middle of the board. That will get me through "12", at which point the nonplaning 360 technique comes into play. It worked! My first day I was going 360...and getting slammed at the end. The second day I was waterstarting out of 360's. My first attempt on day three I sailed away dry from my first upwind 360, in front of several people including one of Windsurf Place's instructors, who gave me a big thumbs up. Yes! I hit six dry over the rest of the week, and as many with waterstart exits. Also more slams but whateva...
What else did we learn? Sally declared "I don't like gloves" and didn't wear them on day one. You know how that goes. Gotta love a wife who says "next year bring more duct tape for my hands!" Also she will wear her gloves on the first few days.
I learned to translate Jibe City's windmeter. This was bittersweet, because for years my favorite way to find out what the wind was doing was to ask Brendon Quinn (ABK instructor who is always around.) Brendon doesn't like to be asked about the wind by someone who should be able to figure it out himself, but that's half the fun of asking him. In 2014 Brendon took a stand, refusing to tell me what the sail call was. I asked him once anyway for old times' sake, before ascertaining that the meter works just fine. It reads in knots, but IMHO it's best considered as miles per hour.
There was of course a contingency of Long Island windsurfers there...Jimmy Rivera, Thandi, Jill, George etc. Special shout-out to Thandi, who I had to work like hell to pass on a speed run...just a few years ago I had the privilege of being at an ABK clinic where she showed up as a "never tried windsurfing before" student. Now she burns! Here was a first: I was going through comments submitted to the Puffin when I got one from people I'd never met, who were staying in the bungalow immediately next to us (hello Claudia and David!).
Lots more happened, but this is enough for now. Also I'm hoping to lay my hands on some of Jimmy Rivera's photos and video!
(Top: Lili, Dana and Sally practice one-handed jibe carve initiation. Bottom: My bride's hands at the end of the week.)
On this Valentines Day, ladies are you still looking for that special someone? Consider looking for love amongst the windsurfers:
10. The ratio of men to women is 4 to 1. 9. They can talk about something besides football. 8. They don’t smell too bad because it’s a good bet they’ve gotten wet recently. 7. They have another interest besides sex. 6. You know they’re rich enough to afford windsurfing equipment. 5. You always get the latest weather report, several times a day. 4. They are capable of commitment, at least to their sport. 3. They have no issues about wearing rubber. 2. You always know where they are, at least when it’s windy. 1. Windsurfers are generally fit, tanned, and have cute butts.
Non-windsurfing men should NOT...repeat NOT...pursue windsurfing women, unless they are prepared to immediately throw themselves into the sport. Otherwise such men will be surrounded by angry windsurfing men who all seek the great and rare prize: the girlfriend or wife who windsurfs (the editor is so blessed.) To squander such a find on a landlubber is an offense to those of us who sheet in!
(There is the opinion held by a small minority that it is a drag to be a man whose significant other windsurfs...you probably have to rig for them, they use your equipment etc. but generally speaking the willingness of such wahines to make every vacation a windsurfing vacation, to understand why the garage needs to be packed with tons of expensive wet gear etc. outweighs the rigging/sharing concerns. Discussion of such matters is encouraged.)
I met it as the Hoss Tack. A crazy jibey looking thing in Aruba, as performed by Andy Brandt and Jason Voss. A carved question mark. That was 2000.
I was hitting the occasional Hoss (ugly but dry) a few months later, but not long after that I caught the move on a Peter Hart tape, which referred to the move as a Push Tack. Boar-ring! Who wants to do a push tack? Where is the poetry? Hoss tack please! But by and by I kept hearing and reading "push tack" and finally found self saying "'hoss tack', usually called 'push tack'" to cover my ass. There was no joy in Puffinville.
Then just a few days ago I stumbled over this: "The Haas-Tack is a flashy transition that integrates a variety of technical skills such as switch stance riding, backwinding, and clew first sailing. When mastered this move is a flowing and artistic maneuver showing graceful sail and board control. Sometimes called (erroneously) a Push-Tack. Invented by Hass Jahrmarkt of Tangier, Morocco while experimenting with a variation of the Duck-Tack." You can also find it spelled "Hass"...I suppose only Mr. Jahrmarkt knows for sure.
Did some Googling and found this in several places. Erroneously called a Push-Tack! They might have added "unimaginatively" and "boringly" and "tediously"! Yeah! Haas! Go throw a Haas Tack. If you can't, go learn it. (I know the idea of backwinded clew-first sailing in planing conditions does not immediately sound...attractive or attainable, it is possible and it is fun. I hit my first one on a Seatrend slalom board with a cammed 7.5 sail. That is about as stupid as it gets, and I suck at freestyle, and I still hit it. So you definitely can!)
(In the video at the top, I hit (barely) a Haas Tack in Bonaire while being coached by Pete Dekay in an ABK clinic (2004). The still photo is of Hoss, for whom I thought the tack was named. Now I'm wondering if the dude tacks at all.)