Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday slalom

board chattering over chop
sheet in and send it

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stoke - both vicarious and direct


The picture on the left is of Lindsey Vonn, who today won the Olympic women's downhill in Whistler, just a few hours north of here. Her team mate Julia Mancuso won silver. I'm stoked about this for all the obvious reasons (I'm sure you've seen some of the coverage on Ms. Vonn; without any personal knowledge of her, it's probably still safe to say that she's an amazing athlete and has worked very hard for this).

The reason I'm so stoked about it, though, is that the head coach of the US women's alpine team is windsurfer, fellow Sailworks rider and Gorge Cup racer Jim Tracey. You see, Jim is one of those quietly competent people; on top of that, he's a very good coach and one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

Jim has been volunteering as a coach in Bruce Peterson's junior race camp since its inception a few years ago. I got to take part in that this past summer, and it was one of the most rewarding things I've done in this sport, plus it was just a blast. What you have to understand, though, is that for us assistant coaches on the water, things were easy. We helped the kids out a bit, tried to reinforce points Bruce was making, and generally got a lot of stoke out of sailing with that many bright, inspired, energetic kids. Jim, however, spent most of those days shooting video for later analysis, either from the boat or, at one point, from the hot asphalt roof of a warehouse for hours on end. And he was stoked to do it.

When someone who is that committed to his vocation meets with the ultimate success in his chosen field, with two of his athletes at the top of the podium at the Olympics, it confirms that things are well and the universe does work the way it's supposed to. And hence my vicarious stoke today - congratulation to Jim and his team on what's a tremendous success.

And then there was the direct stoke experienced today, right here on Bellingham Bay, where I got to partake in steady 18-20 knots from the North, served up with brilliant sunshine and spring-like temps in the mid-50's. Perfect weather for the 9.9, it was a goldilocks session all around. Not too light, not too cold, and not too windy to where things would have been hard on my still-recovering ankle. Sweet.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Back - sort of

After over 6 months of serious withdrawal, my surgeon just cleared me for windsurfing as of last week. And as if someone had flipped a switch, the very windsurfer-friendly El Nino winter we've had (mild temps, lots of breeze) turned into what feels like early spring with even milder temps and no breeze whatsoever.

Friday, I finally seemed to get a chance to go sailing, with gorgeous weather, temps in the mid-50's, and a nice southerly around 12-15 knots - perfect formula weather, basically, and about as perfect for a first session since that day in July as I could have asked for. But then this is windsurfing, not indoor soccer - a sport that depends very much on the favor of the wind, aka that most fickle of mistresses.

And so I made it out to the launch just in time for the breeze to back off mightily, and while I normally would have recognized the signs of convergence pretty much immediately, my optimism, fueled by over six month of dry spell, propelled me out (because surely, it will fill back in - there's still a southerly gradient here), only to then leave me stranded a few hundred yards out with glassy water and the occasional 2 knot ripping gust off-shore requiring me to swim/paddle back (you know it's pathetic when you can't slog home on formula gear).

I ended up getting a ride from our local SUP maven (thanks, Beau!), whose example inspired me to do what I should have done to begin with by taking out the Kona and getting a nice SUP workout. My coming to my sense was rewarded with a spectacular bald eagle flyby and some curious seals stopping by for a visit. Not a bad way to spend some time on the water. I guess it's a good sign that I'm back to living by the wind forecast, though - means I'm back to being a real windsurfer (rather than one sidelined by injury and working really hard on my zen skills...)