articles, stories, and announcements from Austin windsurfers

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer Newsletter

New Sailors Take to the Water at Learn 2 Windsurf Festival
The annual Learn to Windsurf Festival brought new and experienced sailors out on May 19-20. The club received a great deal of positive comments from students and volunteers alike about the quality of the event. I think we signed up 60, and about 55 showed. I saw lots of smiles on students’ faces. There were quite a few that expressed interest in Thursday nights with Mike. Several joined the club on the spot, and several others indicated interest in doing so. The party on Saturday turned out to be a good addition to the program.

This event couldn’t happen without the fantastic support from our main instructors, Roger Jackson and Ellen Faller from Starboard-Sailworks. Their enthusiasm and energy get all ages sailing so quickly.

It is terrific to observe the giving spirit of our club members, especially those that put in the behind-the-scenes prep work that provides the structure to enable a great event.

As always HUGE thanks to all our volunteers who helped make the day such a success. –story by Ron Hensley

Spastic Paraplegia Thank You for AWC Contribution

Dear AWC officers and club members,

Thank you everyone for your support for the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation being selected as the nonprofit organization to receive the contributions from the 2007 Learn to Windsurf Festival. Thank you to everyone who participated in making the
weekend a fun event for participants.

Through these contributions, research continues in finding the cures for the rare disorders Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia and Primary Lateral Sclerosis.

Recent research funded by the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation has helped a scientific team destroy a long-standing rule about neurons in the brain: that new ones
cannot be created--that you have all that you will have at birth. The researchers discovered proteins that can activate stem cells already in the brain to turn into motor neurons that begin to develop axons that project down the corticospinal tract. This discovery could lead to making an affected individual able to walk, stand and keep balance without difficulty.

I appreciate your help in making research possible.

Thank you,
Marlene Doolen

BBQ and More at Summer Party

Our mid-summer party brought out some great chefs for a pot-luck spread, which I know you’re sorry if you missed it. The Doolens kindly hosted the festivities, coordinating the barbecue and fixings.

Conversation stayed mostly on our rainy season, currently about twice the normal for this time of year. I did hear some discussion of the current fashions to avoid jellyfish at Bird Island Basin. Look for scrubs and lycra suits on our local members next time you’re down that way.

Aspiring Windsurf Professional
More tales from our newest sailors

So everyone is usually a little timid when they are trying out a new hobby. I was more excited than anything when I decided to go to the windsurfing clinic in May 2006. For one, any activity or sport where I can become one with the water is right up my alley.

I remember after a couple of hours of on land training learning about the boom and mast and what a jibe was, an instructor tied my board to his and we hit the water. I
continually fell off as if I was on a balance beam trying to become one with the water.

Shortly after that, I started attending the Thursday night instruction at Windy Point where Mike Schultz is always kind enough to provide boards for us to learn. Thursday
practice is a good way to see just how serious you are about the sport.

Well, by the middle of the summer I had my balance down, but my largest problem was that I could never "zig-zag" back from where I started so I came back this summer for more instruction.

In June, we were up at Lake Pflugerville since Windy Point has been washed out. At one point, I was in the water just leaning on my board watching the sun go down feeling a bit discouraged because I can't seem to master the "zig-zaggedness" of windsurfing. Mike asked me if I was done for the day. He tried to encourage me by saying that no one can really get back from where they started from. I said,
"the professionals can". Of course, it's hard to become a professional, when the rain keeps ruining every Thursday night. But the love of the sport will help me persevere.

Well, I don't know if I will ever be a professional, but I sure would like to give them a run for their money. I encourage everyone who isn't already a professional to do the same and maybe, just maybe someone from the Austin Windsurfing Club will win a World Cup. –story by Ken Wilson

Escaping Texas Doldrums in the Gorge
Guy Miller’s summer vacation in Oregon

This summer brought more than its share of wind woes: first the never-ending rains and then our typical windless days. For some, summer windsurfing means packing it all up and heading to the Gorge in Oregon.

What’s the Gorge? According to the Gorge Sailing Guide: “The strong summertime winds funneled through a massive natural gorge more than 90 miles in length blow against the constant ebb of the Columbia River, snaking its way downstream to the Pacific Ocean. This collision of forces is what makes windsurfing here so special. The wind opposes the river's current creating rolling swells for jumping and riding. The current also means that it is easy to stay upwind here.”

Guy was in the Gorge a total of three weeks during which time he competed in the Gorge Blowout, which is a 20-mile downwind run from Stevenson to the Event Site. Only about 50% of the starters finished (he was one of them) due to extreme gusty conditions (in excess of 40 mph) for the last seven miles or so, and the large sail sizes being used (he was on an 8.5). “I swear that my arms felt several inches longer.”

He also joined up with Robert James and his kids Sabine and Hayden, Roberts's girlfriend Elizabeth, and Guy’s own son Colin, as they toured various sailing spots.

The kids tried their hand at windsurfing at the Event Site, but most of the time it was either too windy, or on rare occasions not enough wind.

The most memorable time for Guy was out at an Eastern spot called Roosevelt, where they enjoyed more winds in the 30 - 50 range. There was more carnage too as Robert broke a brand new mast at Doug's beach, and Guy had to sail a spare mast out to
him so that Robert could get back to shore.

There are smashing times in the Gorge, too (see photo inset). Guy says, “Moral of the story is don't borrow your girlfriend's ex-husband's board!!! He was pretty cool about the result of a little too enthusiastic sailing, but yours truly had a heck of a long swim back from the far shore.”

Other fun activities include hiking, camping, swimming in freezing cold rivers, bathing in natural hot springs, picking berries, kayaking, and golf. Robert actually drove cross country with his trailer full of toys, and some of Guy’s toys too.

All in all the kind of summer vacation to remember, that is until you arrive home to be confronted with weeds several feet high in the yard !!

So you want to know more?
Check out the Gorge Sailing Guide:

–interview by Vanessa Wilburn, photos by Guy Miller

Summer roundup from the Pres

(I'm posting Ron Hensley's summer round up of latest happenings with the AWC Club. --Vanessa)

While it has been rumored that most of our local windsurfing tribe should be committed, I can attest that they certainly are - at least when it comes to planning, preparing and executing a terrific LTW event. We have managed to create several new windsurfers, generated a tremendous amount of positive perceptions of windsurfing and donated significant cash to the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation. The volunteerism from our club members is deeply moving.

Austin Windsurf Club once again joined forces with Roger and Ellen’s “Taste of Windsurfing Tour” to host our annual Learn to Windsurf event. This is our 3rd year teaming with R&E and the equipment their sponsors provide for our long standing LTW event. They have been instrumental in helping us to enhance the quality of our annual charity event. I am personally deeply grateful for their support and that of their sponsors. The support provided by the event sponsors positively impacts my perceptions of the windsurfing industry and unquestionably makes their products the first in my mind at purchase time. I wish we could send each of the sponsors a bottle full of the enormous enthusiasm and excitement beaming from our students along with a bottle of appreciation from the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation.

The success rate of Roger and Ellen's process is staggering, especially when considering our deep water venue. It is amazing what the right combination of world class gear and instruction can accomplish. At any given time over the length of our event, if you looked out over the water, you would have likely seen a cove full of newbies eagerly, confidently and even competently sailing on Lake Travis. Students and volunteers alike were impressed by the sailing confidence and competence resulting from R&E's learning process. Several students sailed back and forth across the cove several times and never even got their hair wet… Not bad for a “learning to windsurf” experience. Ellen is truly gifted at using the simulator to establish skills and correct issues before students hit the water, and students absolutely love Roger's tow surfing introductory approach. Tow surfing is perfectly adapted for our deep water venue and, following the tow introduction, most students are immediately able to sail away solo with confidence. After completing their solo session, those that desired additional sailing time were provided club gear and additional coaching if necessary. One lady was so stoked after her lesson on Saturday that she sailed for several more hours on club gear then came back on Sunday morning for more club gear sailing and expressed interest in buying gear of her own. We had many, many newbies possessing high levels of excitement and sporting permanent ear-to-ear grins.

The cold statistics don't do this event justice, but I will include a few for reference... It seems we hit around 90%, 30%, 10% - stoked, committed, and converted. On 19&20 May, we provided 55 newbies (60 registered) with a "Taste of Windsurfing" via our LTW event. I'm guessing our youngest was around 8 years of age. About 50 of these appeared to be truly stoked about their successful windsurfing experience. About 15 indicated a strong desire to continue their windsurfing this summer and 5 or so are actively windsurfing. By combining our volunteers with R&E, we were able to create windsurfers at an average of 5/hour. I must admit this is a rather slow and instructor intensive process, but the positive student experience was well worth the efficiency limitations. We raised over $1000 for the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation. Absolutely all proceeds from the event go to charity. All expenses not covered by sponsors come from the club coffers. We received many complements on how well the event was run and on the quality of the student experience.

Finally, please note that the Austin Windsurf Club does not stop our support of newbies with this event. Via "Thursday Nights with Mike," the club provides free use of club gear and further assistance with learning to windsurf throughout the summer. FYI, the club added another new board to the Thursday Night Fleet and Mike added some new sails. Several members also answer questions and provide other help via the Club message boards.

Thanks again to all that provide your support to help the Austin Windsurf Club promote windsurfing and generate money for an under funded charity to find a cure for a disease which one of our most cherished members endures.


The winter and spring offered some terrific sessions and the record low water level of Travis is one of my favorite venues. We had a very beneficial Windy Point Clean-up, resulting in many of the stump hazards being removed.

The LTW was a grand success despite significant challenges with coordinating the event date relative to other events around the state. This year the LTW date was unfortunately in conflict with the Texas State Championships. The US Wind and Water Open (formally the Velocity Games) moved off of their traditional date of Memorial Day weekend. That resulted in a shuffle of event dates and we quickly ran out of May dates.

Picking next year’s LTW date… I’m targeting LTW 2008 for the weekend of 17-18 May, as this is ideal for water temp, volunteer availability, and favorable weather probability. I’m attempting to initiate coordination with Abilene’s event, R&E availability, the Gulf Coast Championships and the Texas State Championships. The LTW can’t be earlier than May without requiring wetsuits of the newbies – a really bad idea. The US Open is indicating May 10-11. The SPI Blowout is always? the first weekend of May. Holiday weekends are bad for volunteer availability and provide increased boat traffic on Travis, so that rules out Mother’s Day (weekend of 11th) and Memorial Day (weekend of 24th). The TSC has always? been on Mother’s Day Weekend. The Gulf Coast Championships were in April last year.

The club purchased another new learner board in continued effort to support introducing new windsurfers to the sport. Several newbies are making good progress despite flood, rain-outs, and venue changes. Thanks to Mike and Brian for their continued support of the newbies. I've joined the few times that I’ve been in town and have enjoyed those sessions. We taught a rigging clinic on one of those Thursdays (about 1/2 the clinic was taught from inside the car while it rained buckets).

The Doolan's hosted a nice summer party (or so I'm told). I’m sorry to have missed the party, but am glad to have finally made it to Cabarete. I’m sure someone will write a summary of the party. I can only tell you that Cabarete is an excellent June windsurfing destination.

I tuned the TV to the radar channel on Friday and heard NOAA broadcast that Austin has had 39 inches of rain this year - 19 more than normal. Hmmm, twice as much rain as typical – is that all? Seems like I should be tuning into Noah, not NOAA… The lake went from record breaking low levels to flood conditions in typical Travis fashion – in short order. There are rumors that Bob Wentz Park is open again, but haven’t seen any reports from our local sailors yet. Anecdotal data suggests that it has been a light sailing summer thus far. Maybe it is just that when I try to sail, rain and/or lightning drives me back to shore. On the positive side, it has not been nearly as hot as is typical of a Texas summer and some of the storm winds have been strong if totally unpredictable.

Looking forward, late August thru late September mostly offer the doldrums (or is it dull-drums?). I think August/September require serious travel to log serious wind. I should note that there is a small craft advisory for CC on today and I’ve had many good August sessions there in the past. Otherwise, it may be time to work on freestyle moves and/or perhaps build up "honey-do" credits.

It is coming up on time to schedule some sort of fall event. Historically at this event, we elect officers, grill up some grub and pray for wind.