Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting just a little bit cranky...

So I broke my ankle on the first day of Nationals back in late July. Or, more precisely, I broke the fibula right at the ankle. Clean break, non-displaced. No big deal, as every medical professional I talked to assured me. No way was this going to keep me off the water for more than 6 weeks, at the most. Except that's not quite how it went down.

After five weeks of being completely non-weight bearing, the bone was showing some pretty promising healing, and I got a walking boot. Since then, the fracture has continued to heal, but it's still not done, well over 12 weeks later. Turns out, the fibula doesn't bear a lot of weight, so there's not enough compressive force to really get the bone properly motivated to fuse all the way. Meanwhile, if you do put weight on it, there's all kinds of odd micro-movement and twisting, which then apparently slows down what healing there is.

Not that it matters much, as it turns out that the high ankle sprain I gave myself in the process of breaking the bone was the more pernicious injury anyway. Those apparently take around 16 weeks or so until you can really load up the joint again, and that's if things go really well. In my case, however, there's the unfortunate bit (quite literally) where the ligament that connects the tibia and fibia at the front of the ankle, when getting sprained, managed to tear a few fragments off the bone. One of those is now sitting in the recess of the joint, right next to the ligament, aggravating things in there and keeping the inflammation fresh. That might all go away in the next three to four weeks (that's the working assumption for now), or it might need some surgery to clean things up. The 3 months I haven't sailed since that first day of Nationals is easily the longest single period without windsurfing that I've gone through in 30 years.

Meanwhile, fall in Bellingham has been remarkably mild in temparatures and pretty darn windy. The local kiters have had to pull out their 5 and 7 meter kites a few times already, and I stopped counting the number of days that would have been nicely powered slalom conditions due South, with good swell in the Bay.

To add insult to injury, with the ankle being what it is, I'm pretty limited in the amount and types of exercise with which I can distract myself. It got so bad the other day that I seriously got my low back out of whack doing way too many sets of single leg hopping on the stairs. I'm sure I'm just a real joy to live with right now, which is a cross my loved ones have been bearing with remarkable grace. My wife did, however, helpfully point out that by the time I'll be ready to get back to sailing, the water will be cold enough to have a very beneficial anti-inflammatory effect on my ankle...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hydroptere takes it

Yep, those French guys have gone and done it. Hydroptere, that rather sophisticated and pricey foiling tri, just set a world record (subject to ratification) at 51.36 knots over 500m. Wow, and congratulations. Reading the article on sailworld, I couldn't help but be stunned at the efficiency displayed - 51.36 knots (with peaks around 55 knots) in about 28 knots of breeze. Pretty sweet, that. Yes, kiters and windsurfers can go almost as fast for way less money, but we need quite a bit more breeze to do it. The race continues...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fins for sale


End of season blowout. These are all high-end Finworks fins, in proven construction. Here's what's available:
  • 46cm slalom pro; this is a slightly larger version of the 40cm fin on which I won last year's Canadian Nationals. The 46 is perfect on bigger slalom boards, with sails 8m and up. I love it on my Exo 71 with an 8.2, only changing down to the 42 once it gets a bit furry. Great range, upwind bite, and remarkable speed. Like new, $240.
  • 70cm Formula Pro - race proven formula fin. This is what I use on my Exocet with the 9.9. Great balance of low drag and power; definitely a go to fin for these kinds of condition. Also works well as a powerful fin for 11m and up on narrower tailed boards (i.e., F2, Exocet, and Starboard through 2006, Roberts through 2007). Good condition (very minor nicks) - $275.
  • 70cm Formula Pro prototype - slightly stiffer version of the Pro. This would suit you better for really flat water conditions, and for narrower tailed boards. Will be really fast, but will not allow you to grind as much through choppy water. Like new, $300.
  • 70cm Formula Pro prototype - extra soft version of the Pro. If you're a bit lighter, then this will give you the same performance envelope as the regular Pro does for someone at my weight (around 200#). Lighter sailors often can't put enough pressure on the fin to get it to bend (and then foil) the way they'd like to. This fin will address that. Like new - $300.
  • 70cm Formula LT - this model is my go-to fin on 10.8 and in light air (I don't really use a 12, since we don't race those conditions on the West Coast). Works great as a light air power fin, but has remarkable range and control when things pick up a bit. Doesn't feel nearly as draggy as some of the other big fins people use these days. Like new, $300.
  • 70cm Formula LT +14 - this is a slightly thicker-foiled version of the LT. If you're stuck in a place where you constantly sail 12m sails on wide-tailed boards (like the new Exo, F2, Starboard 161/2, etc.), you want this fin. Yes, it's a little draggier than the LT, but if you're trying to get off the line in really light and flukey conditions, you care mostly about power to grind, and this fin has that in spades. Like new, $300.
You can get in touch by sending me an email through my contact page:

Friday, July 31, 2009


Sitting on my rear end with a busted ankle, I came across a photo spread in windsurfing mag on hero jibes. And it occured to me that a full planing jibe, especially in choppy conditions, tends to be one of those things that people "work" on for years. The reason I'm using those quotes is that it seems most people are stuck in a bit of rut with their jibes; they've internalized some of the conventional wisdom on jibing, and they're focusing on those things, but they never really seem to get rid of their weak spots.

For me as a racer, jibing is a pretty important tool. And when comparing my jibes to those of people like, say, Bruce, or the pros, I find much left to be desired. I have, however, noticed that there are a couple of things that over the years have made a huge difference in my jibes.
Since the "how to jibe" articles always give you the whole package, and since that seems to overwhelm people, here are two things to work on in isolation. Together, they make a huge difference in the quality of a planing step jibe (which, if you want to go fast, is really the only viable thing to do). First, look at that first picture above. This is in the middle of the carve, in the process of oversheeting (and, if you want, laying down) the sail. Be sure to look at the picture in full size, and focus your attention on the area below my front shoulder. If you look closely, you can see that my lats and obliques are engaged. That's because I'm pulling *down* on the boom with my front arm with all my might.

The jibe instructionals in the mags often talk about a straight front arm while oversheeting; the reason they do that is to get you to use the weight of the rig to keep the nose of the board down, not only keeping you from bouncing out of the turn but also engaging the front of the rail. If you're freeriding and only moderately powered, that's fine; if you're in race mode, and you're lit out of your mind, that won't do. Instead, you'll need to get pretty aggressive not only on bending your knees and getting your body weight down and forward, but also actively transfer your
weight onto the rig. That will require active participation rather than just passively letting the weight of the rig take care of things - hence the
engaged lats and obliques.

So then you're onward to stepping your feet and shifting the sail. Look at the second picture (courtesy of Arnaud, who took this at the Blowout).
The jibe exit is the thing lots of sailors completely neglect - they just disintegrate. Here are some key pointers for a poised exit:
  • Legs are still bent - if you're standing up tall in this part (or really any part of your jibe), you'll just end up getting pulled over the handlebars at some point. You're about to flip the sail and sheet in/power up - you had better be braced for that with a low center of gravity.
  • The front hand might have moved forward on the boom - but it's still pulling down. Not as extremely as during the carve, but you're still adding to mast base pressure.
  • Your gaze is forward, towards where you're going. If you start looking at the boom to see where your hands need to go, you're pretty much guaranteed to fumble the exit. Look ahead while aggressively shifting the sail.
There you have it - downward pressure on the front hand during the carve, and a poised exit. This applies on formula and slalom gear alike. If the mantras you've been saying ("bend the knees", "nose to nose", etc.) haven't fully solved your jibe issues, try working on these two things to see if they make a difference for you in aggressively committing to your jibes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

USWA Nationals - Day 2

More typical Gorge slalom conditions than yesterday's wild ride. The Men/Masters and Grand Masters fleet were split into Gold and Silver fleets, so finally all the top sailors got to compete against each other. Bruce Peterson dominated Gold Fleet racing - straight bullets, except one OCS (he and James Dinnis were both called over early in Heat 10), and a 3rd in Heat 11 where he got buried at the start and clawed his way past a bunch of pretty fierce competitors to challenge the leaders. James Dinnis was charging hard and giving Bruce some keen competition. MacRae Wylde and Chris Prior pushed hard as well and were always mixing it up there. From the Bay Area contingent, David Wells and Steve Bodner were contending with the leaders; Steve took the bullet when both Bruce and James were over early.

Bruce and James provided very instructional sailing all day long. They both had great speed and displayed great starting acumen (they were both over early once - in slalom, if you're never OCS, you're simply not pushing hard enough). Bruce tended to own the advantaged position at the pin end of the line; that move works only if you can be confident that you have enough speed not to get rolled even by people running at a broader angle from above. And both did some beautiful jibing.

There was a bit of contrast in technique, though. James was pulling wide, g-force laydown jibes in the Anders Bringdal tradition. Bruce, on the other hand, varied his technique, but usually made his jibes a bit tighter, especially the exit, while not giving up any exit speed. In the rare instance that he's not the first going into a mark, that usually allows him to get inside the other guy and get up front. In today's racing, that played out only once between him and James, after a start that resulted in a general recall. James was ahead getting into the first mark (before they figured out that the fleet had been recalled) and did a very fast, wide, laydown jibe. Bruce went into the mark a bit higher and wider and exited right at the mark, getting by James on the inside. That's when they both sheeted out and went back to the boat, having noticed the recall, so we didn't get to see that one play out. Would have been fun to see if Bruce could have punched through. It certainly set him up well for the second jibe (as the second reach is tighter, and he had a higher line).

Those jibes were what allowed Bruce to recover from (uncharacteristically) getting buried in the last heat of the day; he made up a lot of ground against a bunch of pretty fast sailors. It's hard to pass on a reach - but Bruce was able to sneak by people on the turns. I guess the lesson is to work those transitions (yes, including tacks - the one tack on the outside in the Gorge box slalom/M-course format tends to be a great opportunity for those who have their short board tacks down solid).

In the Silver Fleet, Torsten Tabel and Jeff Fagerholm were duking it out; in all of the melee, though, one sailor truly stood out. Ben Bamer, after having sat out the first day in the wild conditions (they just don't do slalom in Berkeley...), lined up with the field on his formula board and 10.0. We've seen people do well on Formula gear in the Gorge slalom in the old days, when the upwind leg was more significant, especially on light and patchy days. Friday, however, was nothing like that - the slalom sailors got close to being able to tack right on the mark, and the breeze was pretty filled in (no one was using anything bigger than 7.1, I believe, with most sailors on 6.0-6.5). Despite the lower board speed of that setup, the wider jibes required, and the control issues when power reaching, Ben stuck with the slalom guys; I'm sure that was really good strength training...

The juniors and women's fleet showed a lot of good close racing. Jay Watermeyer is clearly leading that field with strong, consistent sailing; Aaron Cardwell and Alex Nielsen were duking it out for second. There were a lot of really tight races between those three, with Jay usually getting a bit of an advantage through tighter jibes and clean tacking.

Marion Lepert led not only the junior girls, but the women overall as well, with Alyson Fromm in second for the juniors (and still in front of some accomplished, older racers). And then let's not forget the fact that those two (ages 13 and 15), as well as Ben Grodner (age 13) raced all day on Thursday and finished their heats despite the truly crazy conditions. And the Technos came out today, too. It certainly wasn't their kind of conditions, and the kids had to work it pretty hard to get those big boards around the course in what for them were very windy conditions. They all showed some serious guts, though.

And that really gets me to the main story of these Nationals. Between the junior fleet and the Technos, there are 22 sailors age 17 and under on the water. That's out of 68 competitors so far (there are a bunch more in the wings waiting for Formula, as they don't have slalom gear or don't race slalom). These kids are energetic, enthusiastic, and they've all displayed enormously quick progress in their skills. Personally, I'm incredibly stoked to be part of a sport where an experienced guy in his mid-40's can dominate a fleet, and where a bunch of young guns are charging it this hard. Despite the bummer factor of having to sit out the rest of the regatta (and, actually, the racing season) with a cast on my leg, that makes me feel pretty good about things.

I won't be able to report on Saturday's or Sunday's racing, as I got an opportunity to hitch a ride home today (with my left foot in a cast, driving a standard and pulling a trailer for over 300 miles just didn't seem like such a good idea). The forecast for today was for Formula conditions, and despite earlier predictions of a stifling heat wave, even Sunday looks like it will have raceable conditions. Check the VMG Events site for results. The slideshow below has some shots from the junior/women's, silver, and gold fleets that I took from the bluff before I needed to get my leg elevated and iced again; there are links to more pictures at VMG Events.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

USWA Nationals - Day 1

Today saw the windiest slalom racing anyone here in the Gorge can remember in a very long time. I had a real struggle getting my big (and only) 71cm wide slalom board to stay on the water, despite running a 6.2 and a 34cm fin. Bruce was racing his (probably sub-80 liter) small slalom board and a 5.4 - and was LIT. We were racing in age groups, so he ran in the Grand Masters, and I ran in the Men/Masters fleet, with the juniors and women getting their own start (the Techno 293 fleet wisely sat this one out...).

In the Grand Masters, Bruce dominated the fleet, and in the Men/Masters, James Dinnis (of Carbon Art fame) did the honors. If we get a chance to have a final rounds to determine an overall slalom winner, it will be a treat to see those two battle it out. I'll probably get a chance to watch that, too; after three heats of pretty deep finishes (5, 14, 6), struggling with the ballistic conditions on my big board, I finally got a good start with James and Chris Prior in the 4th heat. I nailed my first three jibes, and while James was out of reach, Chris seemed within striking distance as I locked in for the reach to the offset mark and the subsequent tight reach to the start pin to go into the second round.

I'm not quite sure what happened next- I only know that I went over the handlebars in what people on shore called a pretty spectacular wipeout and somehow came down with my left foot coming down hard on the sail (and, probably, beneath it the board). It felt like having twisted my ankle, and in the water, it was pretty clear that something was wrong as I couldn't even kick to swim into waterstart position, much less tolerate the pain of getting that foot up on the deck of the board to get going. Instead, I body dragged to the beach, a bunch of helpful folks got my gear and helped me out of the water, and when 30 minutes of icing failed to numb the pain at all or keep the swelling at bay, it was clear that I should get this looked at. Now it's splinted, with two fractures in the fibular - so I'll be off my left foot for at least a few weeks.

Racing continues tomorrow - since I can't do much else right now, I'll be on shore watching. Pretty bummed at this point, but then again, it's a clean bone injury that required no setting or surgery, and there doesn't seem to be serious damage to the ligaments beyond a mild sprain. And if I had to get hurt windsurfing, it couldn't have happened in a more supportive environment; not only did folks take care of all the logistics for me (thanks, Shelley, Michel, MacRae, Amy), but within five minutes of the injury I was being taken care of by an RN, a PT, and a podiatrist (thanks, Amy, Jay, and John), and then given rides to and from the ER (thanks, Ellen).

The slideshow below shows a bit of action from the 4th heat, as well as the result of me not having much else to do other than take pictures of my bum ankle afterwards... Not sure if the pictures do the conditions justice - it was furry out there. Darren told me later that gusts at the boat reached to 40; apparently, for the last heat, it picked up even more.

US Nationals start today

Yes, the Gorge can be a windy place (nope, that flag didn't get to look like this by just gently sagging off its pole...). We've had really good luck with the wind in the last week and a half. All of last week, I got to sail slalom every day, including the blowout. Monday, all the forecasts except Temira's were blessedly wrong, and we had great Easterlies at Stevenson all day long into the late afternoon (pretty much unheard of) for the junior race camp. Tuesday, Westerlies were back, so the camp moved back to the Event Site with great conditions. Lots of enthusiasm and hard work and fun - those kids are awesome, and if we could bottle that kind of energy... (I'll have a separate write up on the camp soon - it's pretty much claiming its spot as one of the highlights of this season already!).

Yesterday was registration day for the US Nationals, and the Event Site is slowly filling up. Lots of juniors, most of them freshly tuned up after the camp, and a bunch of familiar faces from all over the place. The Kerns are here from Florida, we have a few East Coasters, Charles and Chad Allen from Corpus Christi, Chris Prior and Bill C. from BC, and of course the Bay Area contingent. Yesterday saw full-on slalom conditions at the Event Site, and a bunch of the Bay guys were out getting used to their slalom gear. Lots of fun and big smiles all around.

Looks like today we might actually run some slalom - the forecast is looking promising for that. Tomorrow and Friday look a little lighter, so there should be some good course racing, and Sunday looks like we might get hit with a heat wave and no breeze - but the forecasts have been pretty fluid, so I for one am thinking it's entirely possible we'll get a whole four days of racing.

Major kudos to Bruce Peterson of Sailworks, who jumped in and saved the regatta for several sailors who had chartered gear. The chartered FE rigs didn't arrive as planned due to some logistical snafus, and Bruce stepped up and helped folks out with a killer charter deal that can't come anywhere close to covering his cost, not to mention time and effort. In addition, there was a parade of sailors getting help with all kinds of odds and ends and repairs at the Sailworks loft yesterday, and they all got help, regardless of what brand they were on. Way to go to support the sport!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blowout - results are up

Results are up at the VMG Site. Note Tyson Poor in 5th and Casey Hauser in 7th. Note also Mark Dix in 6th - on a ten year old sail and a probably 15 year old board. So, what's your excuse, since "I'm not a racer, I do freestyle" and "I only have old gear" obviously won't fly anymore ;)

Thanks to Arnaud Lepert for the picture - this one's actually from the Blowout. I think that's at Viento, mid-jibe (that's the only required mark rounding between Stevenson and the Event Site - so the whole "I don't do courses" doesn't count either...). Dear sponsors, please note the prominent display of the distinctive black Exocet board, as well as the Sailworks, Finworks, and 2ndWind logos ;).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2009 Gorge Blowout

What a fun race - normally, the Blowout is known as an epic downwinder from Stevenson to the Event Site. That's roughly 17 miles upriver, and since there often is pretty light breeze in Stevenson, and there often are big holes in the wind around the Narrows (just west of Viento), you usually end up massively overpowered once you hit the corridor east of Viento on whatever gear you had to choose to make it through those light places.

This year, conditions were more even - or maybe it only seemed that way, given the incredible range of the gear I was using. Last year, I had serious gear envy; Dale and I had both been running formula gear (Dale on 9.1, I on 9.9), and Bruce, rigging away from the crowd, surprised us on the start line with his big slalom board and 8.2, then proceeded to sneak through the light spots, leave me behind like I was standing still in the windy corridor and almost got Dale. This year, with my Warp Slalom 71 and 8.2 NXsl, with a 42cm Finworks slalom pro, I was properly equipped to overcome that gear envy - and I was amazed at how well this setup was doing compared to the formula gear near the start (where I had to milk it a bit and pump some to battle for clean lanes) - but once it filled in a bit, it was one long, fun ride down to the Event Site.

The committee-boat-as-rabbit start in Stevenson came off pretty cleanly - big holes on the Washington Shore, so it paid off to foresake some of the usual advantage of starting down the line and stay in the breeze in the channel. Within a few minutes, Dale was ahead, Bruce in second, with me and MacRae following. The formula guys (Stephane, Jay, Britt) stayed with us for a while, until things picked up a bit a few miles upriver. Until Viento, and even afterwards, there were a couple times that I actually crossed in front of Bruce, and I had speed and angle with him, but most of the time he was clearly ahead. Home Valley was really windy, and things were patchy and squirrely around Dog Mountain, with Bruce doing a better job of taking advantage of the opportunities in those conditions, slowly but surely putting a bit of distance between us. Meanwhile, MacRae was an ever-looming presence behind me, charging hard and sailing ever consistently with good speed and clean jibes.

Jibing around the mark at Viento (where the first sailor, Dale, served as the rabbit for the start of the Junior Blowout), I got a big kick out of seeing the juniors take off - Allyson, Ben, and Fiona were leading that pack and looking really strong. The big surprise came in the corridor; approaching Swell City, instead of the expected spray fest, the wind was actually pretty light again. The rec sailors were mostly slogging on their 4-ish sails as we came through, and it wasn't until past the Hatchery, towards the bottom of Wells Island, that the breeze picked back up.

Bruce got pretty close to Dale there for a while, but got a little too aggressive about the Oregon Shore at the bottom of the course I think - looked like he got briefly parked in lulls a couple times. In the end, Dale won in 59.07 (pretty close to the course record, I think), Bruce was just behind him (I think the gap was less than 20 seconds!), and I came in 3rd at 1:01:10. MacRae wasn't far behind either in fourth. Full results and some pictures should be up on the VMG Events site soon (I'll post a link when they're up). Full disclosure on the picture above - that wasn't actually from the Blowout, but was taken a couple days earlier by my wife on the same spot on the Event Site jetty where she was helping finish competitors during the race. Since I was on the same setup, it seemed appropriate to use it...

There were 56 competitors in this year's edition. Some standouts:
  • Marion Lepert (13!) ran the full course and won the women's division well in front of Farrah Hall. She ran an Exocet Formula board with, I believe, a 7.2 Sailworks NXsl. Oh yes, she also kicked quite a bit of grown-up male rear-end in the process. To the credit of all those men she beat in the race, they all were genuinely stoked for her.
  • Ben and Allyson, who won the boys and girls divisions, respectively, of the Junior Blowout - and looked really strong in the process. Allyson, by the way, was out sailing some more shortly after finishing, taking advantage of the beautiful conditions.
  • Fiona, who completed her first junior Blowout - on a Starsurfer. She was hanging with Allyson until around Swell City, where she got tripped up by a gnarly barge wake and really wrenched herself a bit. She persevered, however, and finished the race, displaying some serious grit.
  • Jay Watermeyer won the junior division on the full course from Stevenson in a pretty convincing manner.
  • The juniors in general; I'll have to check the results when they come on-line, but I suspect that almost 1/3 of the fleet was under 18.
  • The freestyle guys - Tyson Poor and Casey Hauer, sailing unfamiliar slalom gear and doing very well, thank you very much. Tyson was later seen sailing at the Event Site some more - again on his slalom setup. Perhaps we'll see more of these guys on the course soon?
  • Pieter Botha, who gets the McGyver award for the day. He sailed a really nice, solid race all the way down to just before the Event Site, then broke his mast. He then disconnected his base, stood on the board, and held the rig, aiming for the finish. It was slow going, but he made good steady progress; then, 50 meters or so before crossing the line, a kiter dragged his stuff right into him and Pieter got entangled in the lines - so he ended up swimming for a while to get his gear liberated, then had to swim around the kiter, and by now was downwind from the finish line so he had to swim/paddle back up and around the mark. I'm sure he expended more energy on that finish than he did on the whole rest of the race, but he sure showed some serious determination.
  • Pepi, who managed a top 10 finish - on a Prodigy!
A note on gear choices; a few years ago, the front of the fleet switched from slalom gear to formula gear for this race. This was before my first entry, but I'd speculate that with the slalom gear of the time, the formula stuff just had way better range, allowing you to survive the big breeze in the corridor and just trucking away from the small gear in the light spots. Last year, Bruce in 2nd and MacRae in 4th demonstrated that modern slalom gear with its big range can equalize that gap in the light stuff, and is still way faster when it's windy (last year, I was in front of Bruce until we got into the corridor; from then on, it was simply no contest).

My experience this year was a bit of a revelation. Yes, it's a bit of work in the light stuff - but given that they had to run sails smaller than 10m to ensure survival in the windy spots, the formula guys didn't have much angle (and certainly no speed) on us in the light stuff near the start. Turn out, a big slalom board with a big sail has tremendous glide. And once you get into the breeze and swell, the shorter outlines and curvier rockers of today's slalom boards do a lot better than formula boards - and tons better than those long, flat, narrow slalom boards of years gone by. And while deep downwind runs through large swell with big gusts can be a bit hair-raising even on modern slalom gear, there's a lot less resistance than when you punch a formula setup through those kinds of conditions. Sure made for an enjoyable ride.

Next up are Nationals Thursday through Sunday. The forecast looks great. Before then, I get to help out at Bruce's Junior Race Camp Monday/Tuesday - the kids are already displaying an enormous amount of stoke, so I can't wait.

Monday, July 6, 2009


"What an ugly morning!" says the old lady to her husband as they're walking their dog at Marine Park here in Bellingham. It's about 7am, and I'm derigging after something like 1 1/2 hours of very powered up 7.1 slalom sailing. Sure enough, it's raining sideways, the sky is grey, and the bay is churning with whitecaps and some pretty sizeable swell. Funny thing - there are quite a few characterizations of the morning so far swirling through my head, all of them pretty much diametrically opposed to her assessment. Which would explain why, as I hear it, I break out in laughter; they give me a look, then walk on.

25 knots is a gift no matter when, but here in Bellingham, in the middle of summer, it's sure to make me hum all day long...

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Had a short session on the lake today. No whitecaps in sight; at the end of the dock at Lakewood, I measured right around 8 knots. Took the 10.8 and my Finworks LT, and wouldn't you know it, with a bit of pumping, I popped onto a plane and was able to go upwind at a pretty good angle. There were a number of people who couldn't believe it (a bunch of dinghy racers and sailing instructors, who all have dabbled in windsurfing or maybe are even teaching it). When the wind picked up another knot or two (now you could actually spot the occasional whitecap if you looked upwind, especially since it was so sunny), the whole thing turned from being work to being downright fun.

I'm often told that Formula sailing isn't real windsurfing. But the amazing efficiency of the gear (and it's ready and very reasonably priced availability in gently used form) sure makes it a pretty compelling thing to do in those nice light summer thermals. Other than an 18' skiff or similarly technical (and expensive) performance boat, I can't think of anything that's faster or more exhilarating to sail in the kinds of conditions most of us get most of the time.

And that efficiency provides its own thrills - it's fast, fun, affordable. And no matter how far modern slalom gear has come (or modern freeride gear), none of it can provide that sensation of power in that little wind. Racing the stuff makes it even more fun - but just going out for a cruise is pretty sweet as well.

The picture was from last year at Squamish, in similar wind speeds (courtesy Gwen l'Hirondelle). Yes, if I raced in these kinds of conditions, I'd probably get a 12; but just to get planing and go upwind, the 10.8 is already pretty optimized. Yes, I like stand-up paddling. I also like longboard sailing on my Kona. And I can even see teh appeal of light air freestyle. But given that I like going fast, in light air, there's just no substitute for formula...

Monday, June 22, 2009

GorgeCup - June 20


After two super-windy GorgeCups with at times epic slalom, the forecast for Saturday was calling for more of the same; alas, the clouds had pushed inland a bit further than predicted, and the Event Site was right on the bubble, with some big gusts coming through, but also some larget holes over much of where the slalom course would have been. That made it an easy call for the RC to run formula.

The course was a short upwind to a port rounding, downwind to the start pin for another port rounding, a reach around the boat, an upwind to a second, more distant upwind mark (and another port rounding), and then a downwinder to the start pin and a reach to the boat to finish (the picture, courtesy of Scotia's camera being used by Rick on the boat, shows me and MacRae reaching for the finish. At this point, I'd say we were comfortably powered; things would get more entertaining later on.)

That course layout, along with a significant port bias to the line, limited tactical options. Pretty much the whole fleet started port (with that short upwind leg, even if there'd not been as much port favor, the extra tack was too much penalty to try anything else). There was plenty of space to lay the mark with one jibe, so again no incentive to try something different on the first downwinder, and the reach at the bottom was pretty much a drag race. Tactics, then, came into how to position at the bottom mark for the longer upwind leg - pinch off the rounding to take the inside line, or duck people above to foot for speed and gain clean air, then pinch up from there?

That calculation only really came into play when rounding in very close proximity. On the first heat, I found Chris Prior and Bruce ahead of me by about 50 yards at the mark, with Chris pinching and Bruce footing; having nowhere to go on port tack that would provice clear air, I tacked off - and the lighter air and lack of current on the inside cost me big time, so it became clear that wasn't really a viable option.

The only place to worry about tactics, then, came into play with the layline for the upper windward mark (as you were quite far out when you had to make the call, and there was a lot of current, so people tended to overstand the mark a bit), and then on the second downwind - as the inside had lighter breeze and some big holes, it was a matter of either jibing off pretty soon to stay with higher pressure (but battle the current a bit more) versus going to the inside for flat water, no opposing current due to the eddy, and just hope to either dodge the holes or perhaps get the golden header puff off the shore.

The first couple heats had some light spots; most of the fleet were on 9.9's or 9.1's, and Bruce was looking for power on his 9.1. Chris Prior took full advantage of that and took the first two heats from him, with me coming in 3rd; Bruce then went up to his 9.9 and took the remaining heat (with the exception of #5, where both he and Chris were OCS). Chris showed that he's definitely a force to be reckoned with, giving Bruce some very spirited competition throughout the day.

The two of them were spot-on in their starts for most of the heats; Chris had amazing angle, while Bruce had his usual good angle paired with really good speed. I got myself stuck in the wrong place on the line several times, having to foot off for clear air and as a result missing out on the inside of the lift on port tack. That usually resulted in the two of them rounding windward first, and from there it was a parade to the end. Through the day, I found that I had good speed and, when I had things together, good angle upwind. My starts were not so great, so that's the next thing to work on.

After four heats, the breeze was definitely coming up a bit. We took a bit of a break, with Darren contemplating switching to slalom. There was a lot of pressure coming up the river - but by the time he had to make the call, there were still a bunch of holes on the course. Darren therefore made the only possible call, which was to stick with Formula; sure, the puffs were getting pretty massive, but running slalom at that point would have resulted in pretty inconsistent racing.

At the start of heat 5, however, the breeze definitely picked up a bit. Unfortunately, I ended up getting lifted out of the water on the first beat when I hit some stray chop just as a big gust came in. The crash that followed must have caused quite a splash; it took me a while to get out from under my gear and get myself sorted - at that point, there was no one left behind me, and it took me the whole race to claw my way back up to fifth (which, due to Bruce and Chris having been over early, turned to 3rd).

The breeze kept building for heat 6, and for #7, things were going positively ballistic. I stayed with Bruce and Chris throughout the course, and at the bottom mark, I was able to shoot out to leeward of them, footing off for clear air. Bruce was up and ahead; Chris was pinching on the inside but losing speed in the steep chop, and I had a clean lane below Bruce with good speed. Next time I looked back, Chris actually tacked off to look for smoother water inside. Usually, that would be a really bad idea; by now, though, it had gotten windy enough that the swell in the channel was getting really lumpy. I was having a pretty challenging time keeping things together and attempting to keep the foils working. Bruce, having switched back to his 9.1 a couple heats back, was clearly enjoying the easier handling of the smaller sail. When I tacked at the layline, things got really entertaining; spray was flying everywhere, and I ended up going sideways a fair bit. Chris made it to the mark at about the same time as I did, but I had the benefit of being fully up to speed going around the mark while he was pinching, so I got by him and was able to pull away a bit on the downwind, finishing that heat second behind Bruce (a nice end ot the day's racing after all 3rds).

Normally, going to the inside should have cost Chris big time, but as crazy as things got out in the channel, it was the probably the smart thing to do and almost worked out for him. If I had bobbled my tack, or had I not been able to hold it together after one of those spinouts on the long hairy starboard tack across the channel, he would have been long gone. The conditions out there on the last race sure made me feel good about investing a bunch of gym time into crosstraining, as it was pretty much a matter of grunting through it at that point.

Special shout-out to Ben and Fiona, youngest sailors of the day. Both of them finished all but the last heat (and #5 and 6 were getting pretty furry already); quite an accomplishment to get big formula boards around the course in those conditions when you're that small. Here's a picture (again, courtesy of Scotia and Rick) that puts things in perspective a bit on the size issue:

I got to do a little slalom sailing afterwards, which was nice. Given how tuckered I was after racing (especially those last few heats), and how windy it had gotten by this time (I was way maxed on my 7.1; a 6.2 and a smaller board would have been a much better fit), it ended up being a short session, but definitely some good practice ahead of Nationals next month. Interestingly, when I ran the course on my slalom gear, I found that my angles weren't that far off. Sure, upwind I was going a bit lower, and it might have required an additional tack to make the uppwer windward mark. Downwind, though, I was definitely going faster, and as long as I stayed in the breeze, at about the same angles (oh, and it was really fun rather than character-building). Food for thought for next month's Blowout.

Thanks to Scotia for organizing another flawless event. It sure would be nice if we could turnout up a bit; some of the usual suspects have been absent this season (yes, we know who you are, and we're planning interventions...) Some nice pictures taken off the boat by Rick during the first few heats (when things were still very civilized...):

Sunday, June 7, 2009

More slalom action

Another Gorge Cup, and more slalom racing (full disclosure, the picture is actually from the last Gorge Cup; since it was pretty much the same cast of characters and all the same gear, that didn't seem entirely inappropriate...).

Conditions yesterday were challenging -there was a lot of breeze, but it was frontal, not thermal, so there were some really furry gusts, but also some big holes to deal with. Bruce dominated, except for one heat (where it looked so windy that he took his 6.2 and tiny, 75l (?) slalom board and did really with his blazing speed and g-force jibes until he hit a hole, at which point he did the hula with the water reaching up to his belly button - hey, fat boards rule!).

I was on the Exocet 71 with my Sailworks 7.1, and that combo feels really good. It's got great glided through the holdes, can be pushed upwind, but still has very much competitive speed on the super-powered reaches.

MacRae and I had some really spirited battles for second place; I got him in the the end by something like a point. He once again sailed a very consistent set of heats, with really solid starts, good speed, and very reliable jibing. Jay put in a solid day as well. And then there was Sam Bauer, who just moved up to a more modern slalom board from his ancient Mistral - and got a bunch of top 5 finishes. I'll take full credit for that (as it's my Exocet 67 from last year he's riding now) ;)

The course was a bit modified from the usual box slalom, de-emphasizing the upwind leg a bit and making it possible to pretty much hit the mark on that, so there was less need for layline tactics on where to tack. This might be a good compromise for Nationals, as the out-of-towners usually aren't used to the upwind component, but a pure downwind slalom often turns into a bit of a follow-the-leader parade. The course felt a bit squished this way, but part of that was the way it had to be laid out to work with the oscillations in the breeze (yep, it was frontal for sure...). With a more reliable thermal, Darren should be able to stretch it out a bit more.

All in all, another great race day - we got in seven heats (and timed it just right - I sailed a bit after the last heat, and at that time it got flukey - there was still huge gusts, but the holes were now becoming pretty permanent on the inside marks). Racing conditions were a bit tough and character building; perhaps that's why the turnout was a bit low (or maybe those folks just went east instead - things were apparently classically Gorge nuclear out there). Seems that with the new, bigger slalom gear, those kinds of conditions can still be really fun to race (it just adds an element of challenge to the equation instead of making it frustrating, as it did in the days of narrow sinky boards and not-as-rangy sails).

Again a good junior contingent; Alex and Jay had a spirited battle (this time, Jay took it), Alyson finished EVERY heat (right on!), and Fiona came to race for the first time ever, negotiating the full course for the first two heats on her Starsurfer and a 2.5 before having to rush off for a soccer game (she actually stayed out at the boat after finishing the first heat, ready to go again).

Pictures and results probably pretty soon at - Scotia again pulled off flawless organization, and Darren ran a tight series of heats. For all of you still on the fence about coming for Nationals in July - it's going to be awesome!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gorge Cup - race report


5/27 upate: Pictures, courtesy Michael Hildreth - Nice shot of a start (Bruce below me, MacRae above me), and a great study of what a jibe looks like when done too tentatively (notice weight too far back, sail not aggressively enough sheeted in).

First Gorge Cup of the season on Saturday, 24 May - and wouldn't you know, despite the fact that it was not only a race day but also a holiday weekend, it actually blew! We had 9 heats of very powered up slalom, with some pretty furry gusts.

After having been way late to the start in heat 1, I clawed my way back up to 3rd after Bruce (on form, as usual) and MacRae, who set the tone for his performance that day by being on it at the start and executing flawlessly throughout the race. 

In heat 2, I managed to be on the line with speed at the gun, following Bruce through the first three jibes. He was on a smaller board, so I was hoping to maybe get by him on the upwind leg - but just before I got to the offset mark at the bottom of the course, I had one of those wipe-outs where everything happens so fast, you don't even know what happened. All I know is that I got sent, and that in the process I hit my left thigh on something - hard. It hurt like hell water starting, and when I got on the board, my leg just sort of buckled, so I went in and sat out the rest of that heat with an icepack stuffed under my wetsuit leg.

I got back out there for heat 3, and while the adrenaline (and icing between heats) kept the pain at bay, my leg was awfully weak, which didn't serve too well in overpowered reaching, making my way through the chop to the start, or jibing. The racing was still fun, and at times it was even reasonably tight. MacRae continued to have a stellar day, taking two heats from Bruce (he joked later that he'll just retire now that he'd such a golden day;  my take is that this is the result of lots of practice and his great, go-for-it attitude) and placing second in the others (except for another bullet in the last race, which Bruce sat out). The recipe was always the same - he was right there at the start, had good speed down the straights, made solid jibes all day long. Way to go, MacRae!

I ended up with a bunch of 3rds and a fourth, plus a couple deeper finishes (usually following a bad start or a fall). Interesting note on gear choices - it looks like most guys have upsized a bit. Jay is running an iSonic 111; I'm on my Exo 71 (118l); MacRae is still using his three-year-old 105l F2 (and he's clearly tuned up on it). Bruce was going for a smaller board for a few of the heats (two of which he lost to MacRae) but also experimenting running his 6.2 on a bigger board.

So yes, the bigger boards can be a handful in the big puffs, but they sure come in handy on the short upwind, or when tacking after that leg, and they don't seem to carry too much of a speed penalty. And while they don't jibe as tightly and quickly, they make up for that with faster acceleration out of the jibes, especially on the inside if the breeze lightens up a bit. At the time, I kept thinking that maybe I would have been better off on something smaller than a 71cm board and a 7.1, but on the drive home it finally struck me that - duh - I was working on 1 1/2 legs, so no wonder that things seemed a bit out of control.

I'm pretty stoked with how the day went, and two days later, I'm actually walking almost normally again (and might be completely pain-free if I hadn't decided to go sailing today - but hey, it's Memorial Day, and it was breezy and sunny...). Great way to start the season - lots of breeze, a well-organized event (Scotia really has this down to a science - Nationals this year will be awesome!), a well-laid course and tight start sequences (way to go Darren - again, Nationals should be great), and a ton of racing taking full advantage of the conditions. Strong performances from the juniors (Alex and Jay were seriously pushing some of the seasoned racers; Alison did a great job getting into slalom, and Ben was inspiring in his tenacity), added to the happy picture.

Results (and maybe even pictures - Michael Hildreth was out on the point with a _very_ big lens) soon at the VMG site.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Off to do some racing

After light Easterlies last weekend led to cancellation of our season opener, it looks like we might have better luck today. This morning, there are bright skies and a good breeze in Hood River, and the forecast looks promising - perhaps even slalom potential. Should be a good time!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dialing in the slalom stuff

That s&^t-eating grin on my face to the right (as captured by Shawn Davis)  pretty much says it all - I'm pretty happy with my slalom gear this year. I got my new Exo 71 just before my trip to the Bay Area, where it got put to good use on both the 7.1 and the 6.0, and since coming home, I've been able to sail it with the new 8.2 a couple times.

Some observations:
  • The board is almost stupid rangey - 8.2 feels really comfortable, and I'm sure it can easily pull off a 9.0. And it's really tuneable - when sailing it with the 8.2, the biggest fin I had at hand was a 42 (very sweet Finworks slalom fin - keep your eyes peeled for more on these soon). That's a bit small, but just moving the base forward an inch put everything into very nice balance. The board shines in 7.1 conditions - chop is eaten alive, and you can just keep on pushing. It's everything that I loved about the 67, but even more point and shoot.
  • The new 7.1  Sailworks NXsl is sweet. The previous 7.2 was an amazing sail. The 7.1 takes that to a higher level. It's still got the same range, but even better control at the high end, and more potential to juice it up for when it gets a little lighter. It's definitely an evolution on the 7.2, not a radical departure - and that refinement really shows. This is my go-to slalom size (last year, I raced all slalom on my 7.2), and I'm really stoked about this one. I'm surprised by how tuneable things are on the downhaul - the sail doesn't get all draggy if you let out a 1/2" of DH - it just powers up more. Lessons learned from the Hucker, I guess. And when you flatten it out for high end, it gets super slippery - but remains pumpable out of the jibes.
  • The 8.2 NXsl is remarkable. I've had a ton of fun on it in pretty marginal conditions, but when the wind picks up a bit, it doesn't feel that big. It's got the same happy demeanor as the 7.1, just in a bit bigger. This is a great companion for the new breed of bigger slalom boards. I was a bit surprised that I actually found some speeds around 32 knots in my track log - not bad for an 8.2 and a 71 liter board in open water, I'd say (especially since I wasn't really doing speed runs - this was just letting it fly off the breeze a bit on the way back in). This sail, together with the 118 liter Exo, is fully raceable in conditions that, if on formula, would still see me on my 10.8. 
This Saturday is the first Gorge Cup - or maybe I should say, this Saturday might be the first Gorge Cup, as the current forecast is for light Easterlies. Hopefully, that will change (fronts move fast this time of year). Cross your fingers for raceable conditions.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Battle at sea...

The St. Francis Yacht Club and the hardy racers of the Bay Area fleet never cancel racing. It just doesn't happen. At the 07 Nationals, we raced the final two heats in conditions that caused the race director to issue stern warnings to people, as well as send competitors in against their will when they were floundering at the start line. But they don't cancel racing.

Make that they very rarely cancel racing. Last night's Friday night race didn't happen. It was blowing somewhere around 30, with a vicious ebb throwing up some pretty big voodoo chop, and when John Craig (said race director) asked the assembled (and fully rigged) crowed of racers whether they wanted to race in this, only one hand (Jean's) went half-way up.

Instead, I got to test just what the upper limit of my Exo 71 is. The board did remarkably well in overpowered 6.0 with a  34 (a 36 would have made for better jibes - that is a pretty wide tail on that board, after all). With that much range, Exocet isn't doing itself any favors - people just won't be going out and buying multiple boards if each of them has that much range. Good for the consumer, I guess (and so, in the long run, good for Exocet). Lots of fun was had as most of the guys took out their slalom or freeride stuff. Much tailwalking and hilarity ensued, along with white-knuckle maching reaches through the troughs (usually ended by some stray piece of chope throwing up a ramp where there hadn't been one a second before - gotta love Crissy on an ebb...)

The pictures don't do the day justice, as it was pretty tame on the inside 200 yards or so, which pretty much exhausts the effective range of my little camera.  For a reality check - David Wells (blue Aerotech) was on a 5.7 and an 84l freeride board; Jean (red Aerotech) was on a 5.0 and a 78l wave board. It was windy...

Today's CalCup will be in Berkely - lots of wind expected for that. After that, it's time to drive home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

That's more like it!

And just like that, the heat wave is over, the marine layer has reasserted itself with a vengeance, and after a long day of pretty interesting sessions on database performance tuning, I got to play with my new slalom toys.  Crissy was showing off its normal self, with voodoo chop caused by a nice strong ebb going out against some pretty stiff breeze. 

I got to try my new Exocet WSl 71 (yep, another black machine) and my new Sailworks NXsl 7.1. Normally, I try to only dial in one piece of new gear at a time, but since I couldn't bring my old board with me for lack of space in the car, there was no alternative. The 71, however, behaved just like the 67 - I set straps the straps in the middle position, put the base at 135cm, put in my 40cm Finworks, and the board felt like an old friend from the first reach. Jibing is as friendly and transparent as the 67, but with better speed throughout the turn (bigger boards are nice that way).

At times, the combo should clearly have been too large, as it got pretty darn furry, but giving the sail a bit more downhaul and moving the boom down an inch made things manageable. Lining up with the guys, it seemed that the large board did not incur a speed penalty in the heavy stuff - and the way it glides through holes and accelerates out of the turns bodes well for the upcoming slalom season. The 7.1 is a nice refinement from last year's sail - it's got a bit more shape down low and is way more pumpable - but when you're lit, it just goes into low-drag mode and keeps going faster.  I'm psyched - I don't get nearly enough time to tweak my slalom setup, given that I don't get to sail slalom much at home, so having gear that's this plug and play is a real blessing. If you're looking for new slalom kit,  you should take a good look at Sailworks and Exocet - it's working for me. 

At one point, I took a short break and shot some pictures; unfortunately, the haze and flying sand/spray on shore made it pretty hard to capture anything exciting. It was fun sailing with David, Steve, Jean, as well as Royce and Robert. Glad to see there's a bit of a slalom scene at Crissy - the spot is so perfect for it (if you don't mind getting your fillings rattled on port...)

Tomorrow's another day of cramming my head full of information, hopefully followed by a quick session with the Berkeley crowd. Then it's on to Friday Night racing at the St. Francis, the Calcup on Saturday, and then the long drive home.

Monday, April 20, 2009

SF heat wave

I'm getting to indulge in the geek's dream this week, attending the MySQL conference in Santa Clara - which just so happens to be conveniently located in the Bay Area, home to some of the most reliably windy conditions anywhere on the US Mainland, as well as what has to be one of the most competitive local racing fleets anywhere. Of course, the Bay Area is having a bit of a heat wave right now, so when I rolled into town on Sunday, Crissy Field looked more like a Mediterranean beach than its usual wind-battered, fog-covered, self. The Bay, meanwhile, was far from displaying the usual voodoo chop, and thousands of people were roasting in the sun as temps reached the high 80's.

Today, after a long day of tutorials on data warehousing in the morning and scale-out/scale-up of transaction systems in the afternoon (yes, Karryn, I took copious notes...), I escaped the Silicon Valley heat sink and made it to Crissy Field. At that point, a wee bit of sea breeze was starting to build, and a lone kite racer got some rides. Soheil was there as well, and we both rigged 10.8's.

It took a bit of slogging, but I finally found a patch of breeze and a rip that went against the massive flood to get me towards the South Tower; Soheil went in to wait for a bit more breeze (hey, he gets to sail here every day if he wants to, so his sense of urgency is probably a little less than mine...). I was rewarded for the slogging and the pumping with a glorious sunset session close to the Bridge - nice steady sea breeze, glassy water, not a whitecap in sight, and tons of porpoises feeding on the rip lines. After 45 minutes of bliss, the breeze started to fade, so I started the journey back.

I got to shore just in time before the breeze died totally; Soheil (who had come back out when the breeze filled in a wee bit) actually had to paddle back the last 100m or so. Forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same (but a bit stronger), with the marine layer coming back on Wednesday, which should produce some solid breeze. I hope that comes true, as I've got a brand new Exocet WSl71 to dial in, along with a new set of Sailworks slalom sails.

Monday, March 30, 2009

For Sale - Spring 2009

The new season is starting, and here's your chance to get a great deal on some well-maintained, high-performance gear. Check out details at and take a look at the slideshow. Besides what's advertised, I also have a bunch of smaller items - from adjustable outhaul setups (for those of you who like cam cleat setups rather than the super smooth Sailworks system), miscellaneous extensions, etc. Can deliver in the greater Pac NW (Seattle, Vancouver, Gorge), am planning a trip to the Bay Area in mid April - so you might not even have to worry about shipping (which can, however, also be arranged).

If the recession's got you down, this may be just the stimulus you need to kick the season off in style without breaking the bank.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kona time


Came across this shot of my (then) 2 1/2 year old looking very old school on a Kona that Pepi at 2nd Wind had graciously loaned us for a couple days last summer in the Gorge. Which instantly reminded me of all the fun we had with that board. The reason we got it was that Jen was frustrated with the on/off sensation she had with our big wide beginner board - she loved the stability, but she'd gotten it planing a few times, and now she'd tasted blood and wanted more.  And getting a 100cm wide barge planing requires a bit of active participation (especially with a 5.0). What's worse, for a beginner/low intermediate, the barge is an exercise in frustration when it's gusty (as it often is at the Event Site) - in the lulls, you're slogging (which is about as exciting as watching grass grow, and doesn't feel all that comfortable); when a gust hits, you get slammed. Until you have it planing, you never feel effortless.

Enter the Kona - still on that same 5.0, the Kona would just smoothly get going for her.  In the lulls, she was happily gliding (as opposed to slogging) along, going way faster (and feeling way smoother) than on the wide board. And when the puffs came, the board would just accelerate a bit more, ever so smoothly, and if it was sustained, she'd find herself planing for a bit. The whole thing was pretty effortless. She loved it!

So now I was curious and took it for a spin as well. And yes, that gliding sensation was really nice - big time reminder of what made me fall in love with windsurfing in 1979, before there were short boards. And getting it planing, the ride was incredibly cushy - definitely more Cadillac than sports car. Overall, it was a hoot - and very pleasant and relaxing. Couldn't help but get all nostalgic. No wonder the Kona is inspiring such an exuberant following. As a racer, I spend a lot of time on formula and slalom gear. I absolutely love that on-the-edge feeling you get when you're way overpowered and just pushing it to the max. But there's something about just cruising along. It's an aspect to the sport that's long been missing - kudos to Exocet for so successfully bringing that back.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another year - right on!

This coming year will mark 30 years of windsurfing for me (yep, I started when I was a pup). It's been a great ride, and over the decades (whoa, sounds odd to put it that way) the sport has given me so much to be grateful for. Lots of exciting experiences, lots of personal growth, lots of physical and mental challenge, and just tons of all-out fun. It's not one of those things that provide instant gratification - I assume every windsurfer would heartily agree with that (even those who live in places where warm waters and reliable winds prevail; not that I'm jealous or anything given the uncharacteristically cold and snowy December we had...).

May the New Year bring you lots of breeze, great sailing, and lots of opportunity to enjoy what to me, after all these years, is still the most amazing and thrilling sport I can imagine - Happy New Year, everyone!