articles, stories, and announcements from Austin windsurfers

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Winter newsletter

New Launch Point from Park Cleanup

After a mild winter, our home park, Windy Point on Lake Travis (Bob Wentz Park) could stand some brush clearing. Indefatigable president, Brian, lead the charge this year. On February 23rd, we tackled a larger launch spot near the boat ramp and away from the swimmers on the cove and point.

This area to the East of the boat ramp has ample space with a wide beach, but too many bushes. The LCRA staff helped us to identify native trees (such as oak) and butterfly bushes that we kept. All the rest got the business end of a saw!

Future plans include the park staff moving sand into this area and continuing to maintain the picnic tables and cleared brush.

It will be nice to have a choice between the two sides of the boat ramp. I for one will enjoy more room for water starts than we have immediately West of the boat ramp.

Speaking of that little area West of the ramp, the park staff cleared away more brush in the rigging area and will plant grass seed. This clearing made more space up under the trees and widened the overall available space. Take a peek next time you’re there. I bet you set up a chair in the shade for those few moments when you are not on the water.

As part of a day at the lake, we had the opportunity to spot a Great Blue Heron, up close. Just another reminder why windsurfing on Lake Travis is so great.

Big thanks to our hard-working club members for their time and energy: Brian S, Mike S, Darran R, Vanessa W, and new member Bryan. Obviously, we can’t make any of this happen without the cooperation and assistance from our park rangers, Ram and Tim. Hats off to them! –Story and photos by Vanessa

Planning Meeting for Learn to Windsurf Festival
March 19 at 7:30 pm

Our next club meeting will be at The Boathouse Grill to discuss the Learn to Windsurf Festival. The club is looking for volunteers to help with all aspects of the event: registration, coordination, water coaching, equipment, publicity, and goodie bags. The festival will take place the weekend of May 31-June 1.

Also, if you are interested in helping out with any of the open positions for committee leaders (see list below), the club would love to hear from you. So come enjoy a hamburger and great company. The Boathouse Grill is on 620 at 2222.

Grab the Spring Winds on Club Trip
Bird Island Basin, Corpus Christi

Yes, the winter winds have been amazing this year. But for those folks who like their water a bit warmer, a club trip is in the works.

Vanessa W and Chris D will be heading to the coast for a weekend of sailing at Bird Island Basin. If you haven’t had a chance to sail the “spring season” down there, you’ll get to rub shoulders with folks from around the world. The Bird is famous for its great spring winds and mild weather.

We’re hoping for a weekend in late March or early April, or both! After a day of sailing, we’ll gather for a casual group dinner on Saturday evening.

We’re watching the weather and water temperatures. So just look for an announcement to the AWC email list.

What’s in Store for AWC in 2008
President’s Thoughts

1) Start a Zero wind minimum racing program in conjunction with our friends and fellow sailors at the Austin Yacht Club. Thursday night has been mentioned as a possible/favorable day for these races and given the relative warmth of Lake Travis I'd like to see a racing season synchronize with Daylight savings time (March 8 - November 4) or at the very least Windy Point Summer time hours (May 1 - September 9).

2) Perform a large Learn to Windsurf weekend with all proceeds going to charity (our current charity -SPF- will be my continued recommendation for this event) and hopefully including Roger and Ellen from the Sailworks/Starboard "Taste of Windsurfing Tour"

3) Perform several smaller Learn to Windsurf events every month from April to October with all proceeds going to the AWC treasury. I envision a small fee of $25-30/student and smaller classes in the 10-20 student range, but more would always be great as gear and volunteers to teach become available.

4) With the funds gathered during the smaller monthly LTW events (point 3 above), entrance fees and local sponsors, I would like to hold a 2-day weekend sailing event "The Lake Travis Invitational" in which invitations of some kind (could be as simple as an email) will be sent out to local and regional participants. Ideally, trophies, T-shirts (I'm thinking Tie-Dye with the slogan "Keep Austin Weird - Windsurf!") and a party/dinner can be accomplished. It would be awesome if a local band or funds permitting "*Van Halen/The Eagles/Engelbert Humperdinck*" could perform at the party/dinner. Fall 2008 seems like the logical time to hold this event as it will provide time to gather funds and to train up our local racers with the Thursday night series.

5) It would be awesome if we could hold 2 swap meets this season (near the start of the season March/April and end of the season October/November) and to continue our refurbishment program. Old longboards with a few problems and antiquated mast foot hardware seem to be in relative abundance in and around Austin. If you have a board like this (or any other board for that matter) that you never ride and are tired of seeing collect dust in your garage, feel free to donate it to the Austin Windsurf Club. (Question for club members with Accounting Experience: As a non-profit organization can we offer donors a receipt that can be used to write off the donation on their income taxes?)

6) On windy days and weekends - "Fill the lake with sails". The more sails on the water we display, the safer we will all be. I'm not sure why, but it sure seems like the more sails/sailors that show up at our beach the more exciting things become. If you haven't sailed in a while, ask yourself "Why not?" and start making plans for what I hope will be a very exciting new year for windsurfing in Austin. –Story by Brian S.

Holiday Party Snags Some Great Door Prizes

Back in December, Lyn V hosted the annual holiday party for the club. The food was fantastic with Lyn providing Turkey, Salmon and a fantastic garlic mushroom cream sauce. The rest of the food was also fantastic with an awesome cornbread (made by Lisa H), a multi-bean salad (made by Darran), several pizzas, several salads and a variety of excellent cookies. Much Eggnog, beer and wine were also present and readily consumed by the attendees. My apologies to anyone who brought a dish I didn't name here, but I really did try to personally sample everything and it was all fantastic.

A Raffle was held and the following items were handed out to the following winners:
$50 WorldWinds Gift Certificate - Robin F
$25 Sail & Ski Gift Certificate - Erika S
$25 Sail & Ski Gift Certificate - Mike S
$25 Sail & Ski Gift Certificate - Guy M
$25 Sail & Ski Gift Certificate - Alice J
An O'Neil wetsuit top from Sail & Ski - Hayden J
Trivial Pursuit (SNL edition) - Karl T
Super Soaker Water Gun - Lisa H
Christmas Candle - Jon P
Blue Flame Sun Shade - Marlen D
House Bowling Set - Linda P

Once again, Karl T entertained us with his music as he pulled out his guitar and put on an impressive performance. While I didn't personally see any dancing this year, I'm sure things would have been different if Tim could have been in attendance (he was running the Trail of Lights 5k with his wife). –story by Brian S, photo by Jon P


March 19 7:30 – Planning meeting for Learn to Windsurf Festival

March/April – Club Trip to Corpus Christi

May 31-June 1 – Learn to Windsurf Festival, Lake Travis

Fall newsletter

Long Board Saves Vacation

If you've been reading any of the windsurfing literature or looking at new gear offered from any shop anywhere you have probably noticed that the windsurfing industry is now awash with long boards.

I hold a certain personal affinity for long boards as my first board was a cheap, heavy long board that I purchased 4 years ago from a college friend.

I rode it each and every day after work and totally enjoyed every aspect of my learning curve. My first planing run, waterstart and fully planing gybe were performed on this board at Windy Point.

I recently realized that in the past 4 years I have spent more time riding long boards than anything else and in that time I've owned, ridden, sold, and kept at least 10 different long board styles.

I recently took Long Board #9 (Mistral IMCO One-Design) on a trip to South Padre Island. While September is the least windy month of the year in South Padre, I figured it would be windier than Austin and I hoped that I might get a few Formula days in the Gulf/Laguna.

I also hoped that I would get some solid 5-10knot sea breezes to ride my longboard and for teaching my 2 newbie friends. (Continued on next page)

Things worked out better than I could have anticipated and I sailed 6 days of 7 with the exception being the very last day which I sacrificed to make the 6.5 hour drive back to Austin during daylight hours while preserving our late breakfast tradition. Of the 6 days of sailing, I spent 4 days on the longboard and 2 days on the formula.

During the first few days, at least one and sometimes both of my newbie friends would ride pretty far offshore and I'd get to utilize one of the cooler properties of long boards, they can go upwind very nicely in light air. So well in fact, that I was easily able to tow my friends back upwind to the beach each and every time they were blown downwind.

Another cool property of long boards, you can achieve reasonably high speeds in relatively light winds and thus go on a bit of a journey. On one of the more consistent 5-10 knot days my friends appeared to be managing things well, so I rode my longboard several miles North in the Laguna up to an area where there were no buildings blocking the wind and the water was extremely clear. As I hung off my boom skating wistfully above the sea grass and sand I could see several varieties of small colorful fish swimming around below me. I was clearly beginning to fall into some kind of a trance when I noticed a rope running out to a boat that I had noticed earlier near the horizon. I narrowly missed the anchor line with my dagger board and as I passed by, I saw an older naked man jump off the boat into the water and start washing the boat attached to the rope.

This startled me, and I became aware of just how far I had traveled! While attempting to honor the old man’s privacy and turn around as quickly as possible I swept downwind and behind his boat in a large arc and headed back towards the shop (

On the 6th day, I deemed it too light for towing as the wind was due offshore and blocked for the first 50meters off the beach. After testing things out on the Laguna side with my longboard and pumping pretty vigorously to keep moving the whole time, it seemed like a good day to skip. Since this was the 6th day of our vacation, my newbie friends and wife were sore and happy to skip a day of light offshore sub 5 knot winds. On that day I thought I'd try sailing in the Gulf of Mexico with my longboard for a half hour or so just to say I'd done it. To my great surprise, I was able to punch through the small waves generated by a sub 5 knot breeze and sail for several hours in beautiful water with flying fish and 1-2 foot rolling waves to propel me back toward the beach.

Outside the surf zone the wind seemed to freshen, and I was able to gybe comfortably and actually pick up enough speed to catch waves. On several rides I rode so far up the beach that I sunk my 38cm fin into the sand and was left high and dry as the waves receded! Fortunately, the sand was soft and I noticed no damage whatsoever to my board/fin. Despite the fact that day 6 had the lightest winds of our vacation, it was by far my most memorable ride and I can't wait to go do it again!

Had I not brought my longboard, I very seriously doubt my newbie friends would have sailed more than 1 day after trudging home on foot through 6 inches of muck and swimming across the channel next to the beach. I certainly wouldn't have bothered sailing in the Gulf on the lightest day of the vacation and I wouldn't have had the patience to ride a Formula board several miles from my origination in 5-10knots. In short, my longboard saved our vacation. –story by Brian Shepherd

Holiday Potluck and Board Elections
Saturday, December 8 at 6:00 pm

The holiday spirit is bringing another year of food, festivities, and surprises to our club. Lyn V will host this great event that has seen live music, giveaways, and live deer sightings in the past.

Please join the club as we celebrate another year, elect our Board for 2008, and share our favorite dishes. Lyn lives at 11903 Mustang Chase in Austin (78727); her number is 417-2721.

Driving from either direction on Highway 183, exit Duval (north of Braker, south of Oak Knoll). Turn East towards Mopac (coming from the south, turn right; coming from the north, turn left). Go past the nursing homes, Davis Elementary school on your left, past the big stone blocks on the left. Take the first left on Mustang Chase after the school, about 1/4 mile from 183. Proceed 6 houses up on your right to 11903, look for balloons on the mailbox.

Don’t forget to bring a covered dish or treat to share with your fellow windsurfers.

Welcome New Members

Here’s a big Welcome to AWC’s newest members: Christopher N, Kat K, Glenn C, and Oliver S. We hope to see you at the holiday party and of course out on the water.

And if you haven’t heard, Lake Pflugerville is full of weeds and is currently un-sailable. The city has been notified, but currently weed abatement is not in the budget.

Jellyfish: Do’s and Don’ts
Everything You Didn’t Want to Know about Jellyfish and Portuguese Man of War

First off, the jellyfish season in Corpus Christi is typically in the Spring. So, you have some time to find the perfect combination of sailing patterns, clothing selection, and vacation plans.

Per the Padre Island National Seashore web site, “Portuguese Man-of War are found at the park throughout the year. These attractive, blue jellyfish cause a painful sting, which is usually accompanied by redness and some swelling of the affected skin area. If stung, seek first aid. A very small percentage of those stung will experience an allergic reaction, which can cause difficulty breathing, numbness in the arms, legs or elsewhere, severe pain and/or disorientation or unconsciousness. Visitors experiencing these or other symptoms should notify a park ranger immediately and seek medical attention.”

Some other jellyfish include Sea Nettles, Moon Jellies, and Cabbagehead (also known as Cannonball) jellyfish. Of these three, Cabbageheads are harmless to people, but, in most cases, Sea Nettles and Moon Jellies can produce a rash similar to poison ivy, if handled. According to the Parks Department, windsurfers typically find Sea Nettles in Bird Island Basin and Portuguese Man of War on the Gulf shores.

Fashion Advice to Avoid Stings
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, what do these nasty critters have to windsurfing? Our local enthusiast, Karl T, provided some excellent tips about what to wear to avoid stings from Man of War as well as other types of jellyfish that populate the waters around Corpus Christi.

Full-body lycra suits will provide the most protection, especially for your legs. You’ve probably already seen the Corpus locals wearing these year round. You can find these suits through dive shops and some sports outlets. If you’re thrifty, you can try out the pants of a nylon track suit. The material dries fast, and often comes with elastic around the ankles to keep the pants from riding up. For other nylon options, sports retailers such as REI and Academy have convertible pants, where you can zip off the legs to have shorts.

Help! I’ve Been Stung

The Corpus Christi Caller Times provides this helpful advice to treat stings. “When stung by a jellyfish, a paste of rubbing alcohol and unseasoned meat tenderizer is recommended. The tenderizer works with the body’s natural proteins to break down the injected poison.” Additionally, rinse the affected area with salt water only. Fresh water can further activate the sting and worsen the reaction.

• Use protective gloves or cloth to remove any tentacles still in contact with the skin.

• White vinegar along with meat tenderizer can help inactivate any remaining tentacles and may help decrease symptoms.

• Use over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to control pain symptoms.

• Watch for an allergic reaction in response to the initial sting.

• Seek medical attention. These suggestions are in no way a substitute for medical advice. Some stings may require immediate medical attention.

December 8 – Holiday Potluck and Board Elections
January/February – Windy Point Adopt-a-Park Cleanup