Friday, November 10, 2006

Another good one...

Yes, it really is storm season now. Had another windy day today; while not as epic as last week's storm (and not packing as much moisture, hopefully sparing the region from more flooding), there was plenty of breeze. Sailed Post Pt.; found Glenn there, who had driven up from the South Sound. He started on a 4.8 Hucker and his 80 liter board; I started on my 24" wide Roberts slalom with a 6.0. It quickly became apparent that it was windy (it's hard to tell sometimes from shore, since it's a wee bit offshore, and visibility isn't that great). I found out later that the sensor at the cold storage at the north end of the bay was registering gusts into the 40's, with one spike up to 50. I'd say we probably had (once outside in the channel) about 30-35 mph as a base, with frequent puffs that took the spray off the waves.

I came back to shore after a few reaches to rig down. Decided to try something truly stupid - a 5.0 on my big slalom board, offset with a 32cm fin (I usually run a 34 with my 6.0). Surely, this couldn't work, but the small board wasn't really an option (it's got all of 70 liters, I weight 210#, and there was a big hole to about 1/4 plus from shore). Lo and behold, the combo actually felt pretty good. Sure, it was hard to keep the board down at times, but the monster puffs weren't quite as daunting since with that big a board there are no holes so when the gust hits you're already going fast. In a way, it seems that it's easier to hold a big sail on a bigger board, with more leverage and all (funny, actually, since a 5.0 is not a big sail, but today it sure felt like it). As I went out, Glenn came in for his 4.2 Hucker, which he then used to good effect for the rest of the session.

So today, I probably would have been happier on a 4.2 or 4.8 Hucker, using something like a fast freeride board around 85-90 liters or so. But the 100 liter slalom did pretty well. It was a little too big to safely go for air, but I had a pretty damn nice session. One of the surf-ski paddlers who were out in force to surf the swells (which got to well over 4 feet; the paddlers kept talking about 6 feet plus, but given their lower vantage point I'm not surprised by that) came up to me afterwards and told me that he used to sail (even has some 15 year-old gear in the garage) but had had no idea you could go that fast on a windsurfer. In between the big swells, there was the occasional stretch of smooth water allowing me to hold the hammer down for short stretches - sure was fun. Wish I'd had the GPS.

Lots of debris in the water though - the flooding rivers are depositing a fair amount of floatsam in the bay. After seeing what all floated down the Skagit this past week from my office window, I imagine it's worth down south though.

Tomorrow and Sunday promise either very powered Formula sailing or even a chance for slalom sessions. And it's not even that cold - air temp today was 47 degrees, and I was able to sail with bare feet and hands. I'd call that a good day ;)

Friday, November 3, 2006

Winter storm season has started...

Started with 6.0 on my 24" Roberts slalom. Had a great time, then got blown off the water. Switched to 5.0 and my 20.5" Roberts slalom. Had a great time, then got blown off the water. Watched the liquid smoke for a while, then went home to get some work done. Nice day ;)

We get quite a few storms blowing through here fall through spring. This one was a notch up from the normal fare, but I've been thinking about getting something besides my small slalom board for when it's blowing smoke. It's not so much pure size (it's at most 75 liters, I guess), as it's the on-off sensation. If you're going, you're going so fast you're almost losing bladder control. And if you're not going, you're swimming. Given the big wind shadow on the inside when it gets a bit Easterly, and the very rough terrain out in the channel, this is not quite the right stick (it works great in powered Gorge conditions, though, where you have nice orderly swell).