Monday, September 22, 2008


American kite- and windsurfer Rob Douglas (from Boston, I believe?) just broke A2's outright record. 49.84 knots over 500 meters in a shallow bay in Namibia. Check out the video - that's pretty damn fast. 50 knots is awfully close. Remember Albeaus's run, at 49.09, and how even the tiny chop on the canal caused so much chatter on the board, and you can see why the kiters might have an advantage here, now that their kites have come such a long way in efficiency. The upward force from the kite allows them to use tiny boards (whereas windsurfers need them to be at least big enough to where they can waterstart). Perhaps if we can figure out a way to jettison part of the board, or get some sort of running start off a boat or something...

Congratulations to Rob (and his coach Mike Gebhardt). Alway cool to see someone push the limits like this!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

29 years

It was in September of 1979 that I first learned how to windsurf. I was all of 9 years old, the gear was heavy and kludgey and monstrously awkward and slow by today's standards. I learned on a tiny little pond that I could have swum across in all of fifteen minutes. Even now, 29 years later, I remember the incredible rush I felt when, after repeated uphauling and flailing and stalling, the stars aligned: I sheeted in, and a little puff got me going. I had sailed Optis for 3 years at this point, so I knew about the feeling about being driven by the wind - but the immediacy of the experience was different.

From that moment on, I was hooked. The thrill of catching the wind and feeling its power come through your body, transformed into motion, is something that has never let me go to this day, and probably never will. To me, this sport is release, zen practice, plain fun, competitive outlet, and so much more.

This summer, as we were out on the water in the Gorge, my daughter Hope (now 8) and I were on a raging plane on the Start together; as we were coming into the Event Site, after almost hollering herself hoarse, she looked up at me and said: "Dad, I really get it now!" That week, she'd been doing the Big Winds kids' camp, had felt the wind in her hands, and now she had experienced the adrenaline rush of skipping over the water on a full plane. I don't know if she'll ever be hooked the way I have been; at that moment, though, windsurfing, often seen as a lone individual's pursuit, was a bridge for connection - a shared experience between father and daughter, her window into a part of my soul, and mine into hers.