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2010-09-01
Sailor: Windshark
Location: Windsurf Bay Park


Storm Outflow

The forecast on my day off did not provide any certainty, just a possibility of thunderstorms, and without being at the beach I stupidly reported winds at 15-20 on the wind report (on this website) for Windsurf Bay Park. When I got there, it may have been only occasionally gusting to 15 out of the southeast. With no one around, thunderheads on the horizon, and not a bird in flight it remained a kind of peaceful abyss. I tried this Ezzy Zephyr 7.5 sail on my Bic Veloce (137 litres); would have rather had a free-ride sail in that size, but one works with what they have.

When I finally got planing (for 5 seconds) the nose went WAY up making getting into the straps impossible without loosing it - I am thinking the fin was too big, positioned badly, or perhaps that particular sail's center of effort is weird. Bottom line; not enough wind to test any adjustments I could have made. What to do? Lee-side sailing, light wind freestyle, pivot jibes? No go, the wind eventually just died by half past one. Then, Mikey, also known as 'Jumpin' Mike', rolled up with windsurf trailer in tow. I could not fathom what a wind snob such as himself could be doing there, so I went to talk to him.

"There's nothing going on, I think I might go home." Mikey had his weather radio going as always. After some small fin-talk (fins are great for conversation starters), I still could not figure out what he was doing there.
"Umm, are you planning to actually sail?"
Mikey pointed to the forming storm clouds to the north. "You see all that shit out there? Outflow, dude. Now, it may start raining, thundering, and lightening all at once, then it will suck, but you never know." I thought about making a reluctant "We'll see," remark, but I can't abide nonchalant pessimism.
"Well I could wait too, I need to make some foot strap adjustments anyway."
"Yeah well I have been down two months. I'll wait at least an hour for it." He was going to rig a 4.7 and a 6-something, I think it was.

I thought he was nuts. I did not want to be struck by lightening or caught in a tornado. I did not have a sail small enough for one of those...with an echo of nervousness, I did some foot strap adjustment, and got my 6.0 out for rigging. Then Oswaldo, a new but competitive and aggressive sailor from Honduras showed up. He asked if I was leaving since the storm was coming. I said "No, I'm going to rig this 6 and see what happens."
"Good, I like that attitude." Maybe he needed help deciding himself.

Within ten minutes of the conversation with Mikey the wind shifted abruptly to the northeast.
"I think something is happening," I said.
And ten minutes later, as if in answer to our conversation, it was blowing 25 miles per hour, perhaps gusting more. No rain, no thunder, no lightening, just a lot of wind! Still an echo of nervousness down the back of my throat since I worried that the 6 was too big, I just secured the 7.5 laying nearby so it wouldn't fly away, and continued rigging.

I also realized that the Bic Veloce would be passed by these other guys if I didn't get something smaller out. A recently acquired Mistral flow 83 freeride/slalomish board at 115 liters, a good choice (weird bright green color), since I needed to 'de-virginize' the 'new' used board. Along with a relatively curvy freeride fin, the onshore chop, although friendly, was relentless. A fin with some curve in it would help with maneuvers.

Hidden reserves kept me calm and collected during rigging and prevented me from going over to Oswaldo or Mikey to whine about how rusty I was in high wind, it had been about three months. Instead I just finished rigging, and followed Mikey out there. First attempt, minor catapult over the front - no big deal. Second attempt, spot on start with no pumping necessary, but an immediate pop up onto a plane. The only problem was stiff foot straps. I had to ram my foot in there.

And then...greatness, glorious. I remembered how to do it, and do it well. Mikey, since he is a bird-like creature from some unknown planet, was already finding ramps to launch himself fifteen feet into the air. Whereas I was just happy to be moving at speed. I cannot jump like he can (few can). It seemed that this board was slightly too large, perhaps the mast base was too far forward, or the waves just weren't big enough for my kind of jumping. I consider a 'jump' at least five feet of air. Bunny hops, sure.

The board is perfect for practicing jibes. Not so large that it spoils you, but when I messed up a jibe I could drop my guts and regain control without falling. With some minor harness adjustments the board rides flat and steady. Its a good speed board. Not quite as nimble and jump-ready as my smaller Hifly free-ride board, but perfect for north Texas where the wind is contrary.

The three of us had at least a couple of hours of steady wind. After some minor tuning adjustments, such as harness line placement and opening up those damned foot straps, we sailed one reach after another, sometimes mixed with stinging light rain, and it kept up until I became soar (out of shape as I am). The open blister on my hand from a previous session got bright pink. The time came to stop.

Mikey finished when I did, although it certainly was still blowing while we de-rigged. The rain finally arrived and killed the wind. "Well Mikey you were spot on..."
"Wasn't that just great?" He said. "See? It always pays to be optimistic."
Now that I am properly jolted and my sedentary physicality dislodged, I am ready for more.

-Windshark


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