Friday, May 6, 2011

There's just no substitute

There's that rush you get when you're planing along, flying the board on the fin. It's the purest form of sailing - your body an integral part of the system that converts wind power into velocity. The efficiency of modern windsurfing is staggering - in conditions like today's, on my formula gear, 10-12 knots of breeze are enough to propel you along at over twice the windspeed. And it feels easy and exhilarating, just cruising along.

With modern slalom gear, in 20-25 knots of breeze, speeds around 35 knots are doable in open water. That used to be world record territory for any sail powered craft back in the 80's - yet here we are going that fast any decent slalom session like the one I had last week. Talk about a rush.

Meanwhile, the freestylers are pushing the limits with tricks so intricate, I get dizzy watching, and the wave sailors are charging so hard, it's staggering. But for me, it's still purely about that sensation of power and motion.

I've been windsurfing since I was a kid. Back then, the sport was stand up sailing (hence that bumper sticker that's been around since the 70's). In those days, feeling the force of the wind transformed into (at the time, much slower) motion was pure magic - and it still is. Whether effortlessly cruising, or holding on for dear live on a speed run on the ragged edge of an epic wipeout - there's just no substitute...

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