articles, stories, and announcements from Austin windsurfers

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Karl's breakthrough weekend

I just got back from a four day weekend at the bird, and thought I'd share my adventures with my fellow sailors.

I took my new popup (nicknamed the Birdie -- short for the Bird House). I didn't get there until late afternoon Friday, so no sailing. Saturday there was no wind in the morning, so I went into to town for some Christmas shopping. When I got back around 2, it was blowing around 15 to 20 I guess. I rigged the 7.0 and went out for a bit, but couldn't get planing. I also tried a few water starts (chest/shoulder deep) with no success. I thought I'd try the 9.8, and started rigging it. The guy in the RV near me -- his name is Dan -- lives at Hood river the rest of the year and winters at the bird. He came over and helped get the 9.8 rigged, and then took a look at the 7.0, which I've had a lot of trouble rigging. He showed my how to do it properly, and said it should have a lot more power now, so I put the 9.8 away and took the 7.0 back out. More power, but same result -- couldn't plane or waterstart, just fought the sail most of the time.

Dan said my problem was my board -- way too big and way too heavy. We talked about different boards and sizes for quite awhile. A little while later, I was talking with Don at Worldwinds, telling him my planing problems and the things Dan had said. Don also had some opinions on the Start board -- not putting it down, but also saying it really wasn't suitable for someone trying to advance as fast as I am. He showed me the boards they start people on, and the next board up from that, and the next one up from that, and we talked about the learning curve, and how fast they transition folks from one to another. I told him I would come up the next day and try one or two of those boards.

The next day, around 1pm, it was blowing a pretty steady 16. I took my Start out with the 7.0 and sailed back and forth a couple of times, never planing and always fighting the sail. I then dragged it to the shore at Worldwinds. Don had me take one of their transition boards -- this one was a JP New School 180. Interestingly, it has the same dimensions and displacement as the Start, but a very different design, and is much lighter because there's less EVA on the deck and no retractable daggerfin. I just switched my rig to it and took it out to the dropoff. I started setting up to try a water start, then thought maybe I should just uphaul, since I'm supposed to be seeing how this board rode. I decided I'd try a couple of waterstarts (shallow ones, about chest deep) and then uphaul and sail. Well, I didn't have to -- I got pulled right up onto the board the first try -- I was surprised, but not nearly as surprised as I was less than ten seconds later, when I was planing across the water. All the various things I've read or been told came to mind -- I was no longer fighting the sail (not fighting to just hang on, anyway), and when a gust hit me, I just hauled on the boom a bit and went even faster -- way cool! I had been told that steering while planing can be done by pointing or lifting the toes, so I tried that, and the board carved some arcs through the water before going out of control and dumping me rather spectacularly (note to self -- buy a helmet).

I was unhurt by the 16 mph crash, and way too stoked to do anything but set up for another waterstart -- this time in neck-deep water. One try, and I was back on, and planing again. I'm not sure how a board can make that much difference in a waterstart, especially when it's the same dimensions as the other, but this one did make a difference. Over the next 40 minutes, I got the board planing six or seven times, almost effortlessly and pretty much on demand. I spent quite a bit of time working on sailing upwind without a daggerfin, but at any point I wanted, I could bear off the wind and be planing in seconds. Most planing episodes ended in a crash as I tried to learn to control it -- I wasn't in the footstraps yet, and after the first two crashes, as soon as I was planing, I unhooked the harness, so the inevitable crash would be a little safer. I also did five or six waterstarts. It was

So anyway, I bought that board. I've put my Start board up for sale on consignment at Worldwinds. I would have liked to keep it for Linda to learn on eventually, but I can't afford both boards right now. I'm selling the Start for $450. It's been used for learning, so it's a little beat up, but it's only three months old and still in great shape and was $750 new, and comes with the clipper wheel (a $69 accessory). The Start is a good board for learning and for safe, underpowered sailing. I've even watched Tim get it planing, and if you are able to, I think it's probably much more stable (less squirrelly) on a plane. Unfortunately, I was never able to get it planing. So, if you know anyone who's interested, please email me.

Anyways, today (Monday) there was very little wind -- I sailed a bit on the 7.0, but it was just slogging. I actually did try the 9.8, but with so little wind, it was just too unwieldy. Finally packed up the Birdie and drove on home.

So my four day sailing weekend really only yielded one decent session, but oh what a session! I've been working on planing and waterstarting for weeks. I still have plenty to learn, even about those two things, but to have finally made the breakthrough is a wonderful experience. Woohoo!

I hope everyone has a really great holiday -- I know I am!


Monday, December 04, 2006

All I want for Christmas is...

It's that time of year, when you can make a list, check it twice, and hopefully take your Christmas loot to Corpus.

So in the spirit of telling Santa (or that significant other that just doesn't know the difference between a power box and a deep tuttle), here's a list of goodies that would make any Christmas bright:

Got your own favorite list or think there's a better brand? Post a comment saying what you're really hoping to see under the tree this year.