articles, stories, and announcements from Austin windsurfers

Sunday, March 09, 2008

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


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