Monday, October 30, 2006

Stupid? Maybe, but worth it...

I was out of town for work, then flying solo with the kids for three days while my wife was out of town. Wouldn't you know it - it blew almost every day. Yesterday morning even started out sunny, with nice, steady 25-30 knots out of the Northwest, which makes for great Gorge-like sailing with big swells in the passage between the mainland and Lummi island (a friend of mine called me from the ferry to tell me the waves were running over the deck...).

Today, I finally got a window of opportunity. Sunny, but really cold (below 40F). Got to the bay, and it was way-powered 9.9. Could have sailed slalom but didn't trust the Northerly to stick around too long. Had a great session for about 40 minutes, then the wind died and I slogged back (glad I didn't take the slalom board, as that would have been a very cold swim).

So you'd think that it's kind of stupid to pursue a sport where you're that dependent on fickle conditions. And maybe you'd be right. After all, this kind of stuff doesn't happen in competitive knitting (is there such a thing?), and even kayak racers can pretty much schedule their workouts (plus there are very few kayak races that are canceled for insufficient conditions).

But then again - those 40 minutes made it very clear why I'm passionate about this thing. There's just nothing like that sensation of flying over the water, being the crucial link between your gear and the energy of the wind, balancing all three foils. It's something I haven't been able to explain to people who haven't experienced it.

Windsurfing is a fickle mistress... She demands a fair amount of commitment at the start - think of all the folks who've never really gotten past advanced beginner or intermediate status before giving up, since it just didn't seem worth the hassle (those are the people who think that the thrills you can get on a Hobie Cat are anywhere near the same; trust me, they're not...) And then, she continues to take her toll as the relationship continues; you get skunked after chasing wind for hours, you have dry spells without a session, etc. Yet still, the thrill is unique.

I guess that's why it's a passion - it's not for everyone, and it's not 'convenient', but man is it worth it. As I was slogging back to shore this morning, it just seemed like the person coming in was very different from the person who'd gone out just a short time before. Freer, more alive, more lit-up about life.

I don't know if you have something in your life that does this for you. If not, though, I'd recommend you start looking - it's too good to pass it up.