I've been back from Maui for a week now, and still haven't been able to muster up a post about it. I can't figure out exactly what I can say about Maui, or how I can offer some insight or perspective about it. It's freakin' Maui. It's this tropical paradise that's a 5 hour flight from anything. The water is transparent and teal blue. Giant sea turtles are all over the place. You cruise over big white UFO shaped pieces of coral. You can sail to a variety of reefs where waves pitch and break, or gently crumble, depending on your cup of tea. These waves often jack up on your starboard broad reach so you can fly through as much airspace as your courage can handle. Point towards a flat part of the wave for distance. Point toward the pitchy part if you want to go straight toward the heavens. No need to think about technique for jumping. Just go fast and target something steep.
It feels like windsurfing on a movie set. Maybe that's because of the ingrained images of chase helicopter shots bearing down on Robby and Laird cruising at Mach 1. Maybe it's because you really feel like you've crossed into another dimension of existence. A dimension with warmer, clearer, water. Organized waves bombard all shores a few at a time, but take breaks so you can paddle out to surf them. Unrelenting wind that just finished a 2,000 mile journey fills your sail, accelerating at the finish line stretched across Haleakala and Mauna Kahalawai, Maui's towering twin volcanic mountains.
It's freakin' Maui. Windsurfers talk about it all the time, mostly complimentary, with some squeaky wheels who love to point out so-called shortcomings. The conditions are just like what they look like in the pictures. The weather changes more than you've heard. There's more to do there than you've heard. The locals are nicer than you've heard.
It's mecca for us. If you haven't been there, go. Don't let anyone tell you it's not worth it. If you feel so compelled, face west and pray toward it. If not, hitch a ride on your own one hundred fifty ton interdimensional flying steel tube, sit for several hours and see for yourself.
It's freakin' Maui.
Here are some pictures, since I know that's all most blog browsers look at. I have an addiction to hemorrhoid medicine. See? I'm not afraid to admit that because I know that no one actually reads windsurfing blogs. You're just here for the pictures.
This was a SUP race put on by Naish called the "doggy paddle" for obvious reasons. I drove down to check it out on a windless morning, and it 'twas rather fun.
A sample of what the conditions look like, with blur, at the spot we sailed at Kanaha beach state park. This was a windy day, 4.2 for me. We got a few of these and that really help us learn a lot about which boards ride big vs. small and are controllable overpowered. That's huge for most people because we can't all afford to also have a 70 liter board for nuking conditions.
Windsurfing babe Sierra returned for the 2nd year. She and a few other Mauians helped out with the test, which is very fortunate, since it takes a lot of work riding a ton of boards when one could be going out there just to ride and have fun for yourself.
Ultra-friendly financial guy Canadian Carl Speiss also returned. He's wearing his "I looped today!" smile because I believe this was his first day hucking them. He says I had something to do with inspiring him to go for it, but I think people mainly are telling me that because they say "damnit Aaron sucks, I can do it if he can!" Which is just dandy by me.
I sometimes see some exotic things going on with windsurfing gear in the bay, but if you really wanna see some crazy stuff, check out the beach at Kanaha. Windsurfing tinkerers are everywhere, but Maui has got to be the most concentrated place for these types.
My really great friend Dave Harrell, who flies for American Airlines.
I'm always skeptical when meeting windsurfing legends about what they're really going to be like as people. Francisco Goya is one of the coolest and most friendly people you will ever share a slice of pizza with. Write that down.
The last windy day, and I went back to my old devices. I had a pretty nice Starboard loop attempt on a gusty 23-35 day... went to waterstart, and just was too lazy to get planing before hooking in. Results above, and actually more painful than it looks.
Even better than going to Maui is enjoying it with good friends. Jake helped with the video work and Russel Faurot guest tested from the pro's perspective despite a dinged up ankle. Silly good times are what it's all about, to me.
There has been a sense I've been getting of the windsurfing season winding down this month. The common wisdom in the bay area is that if there was a date to pack your gear up for the winter, it's Oct 1st. Normally as that date approaches, sessions are fewer, further between, and a grade less windy than our normal sessions. Think 5.3 or 5.7 instead of the usual 4.2 to 5.0 days. Then mother nature giggles at our hopeless understanding of her and we got one of those fronts yesterday that felt EXACTLY like a really strong spring cold front.
The best place in the bay, from my experience, to catch a big NW is 3rd avenue. The shipping channel isn't too too far, and the water surface gets BIIIIG out there. Estimations for yesterdays' swell size have ranged from head high (from a local gorge snob) to mast high, or double box car high (from a 3rd channel first timer). Another 3rd avenue vet claimed it was the best he's seen in 18 years of windsurfing the spot.
I don't think there is a picture or video out there of really big swell in 3rd avenue. I think only the people who have been out there have any idea what it's like. I considered for a minute taking my waterproof camcorder out there, but there was no way I could sail out there one handed. Even if I strapped it to my arm, I would have been scared sitting in the middle of the chaos out there, just because people were flying all over the place and it's really really easy to lose track of where the other sailors are. It would have been begging to get landed on.
Bay sailors get a lot of grief for their love of "flat water", but let me tell you, the SF Bay can be anything but flat on some days.
I've been only windsurfing once or twice a week for the last month or so due to a nagging shoulder injury. I've been going to physical therapy a couple times a week to strengthen my left shoulder in preparation for Maui, but my windsurfing days have been very laid back and short. It's a major bummer to be injured at the end of the season, right as I was getting a hold of the forward loop, but I'm finding other ways to distract myself.
When someone is injured, it's really easy to disappear into the abyss of Matlock marathons and competitive eating... but the best thing to do is get out and hold the camera for your friends. Here's a video I put together from a bunch of sessions at Candlestick this month. Late in the season the wind gets lighter and flukier and only a handful of spots work on a regular basis. Candlestick is one of the only spots that works on warm late-season days, so you'll find a healthy crowd there when everything else has more or less shut down. Like every good thing, seasons must come to an end, so it's best to look at each late-season session as a gift. October and November are usually the lowest wind months before our winter storms come through.
**In this video, I captured Sofy going for a move called the "Toad", which is akin to a clew-first forward, and Kevin grabbing his first on film shakas, and leche (aka switch stance kono). He's been doing those tricks for a year, but no one has been holding the camera. It's awesome to get to sail with skilled freestylers so much, and it's been a huge reason that I've been able to make so much progress this year.
ppps. For the record... "squishing" people is far from being my original concept... for a good laugh: I CRUSH YOUR HEAD
There are a lot of highs in windsurfing, which is ultimately why we windsurf. We are substances abusers just like any crack head. The primary difference is that the source of our sensations isn't a dirty meth lab or the jungle of a 3rd world country. The source of our drug is within us. It probably looks like little drops of fluid being released from tiny glands hidden in different parts of our skulls that feeds a rush of feeling through the soluble contents of our bodies. It's a feeling we call "stoke" and it unites us as windsurfers.
Just like they say, there is nothing like your first high. Most people can distinctly remember their first day planing. If you've ever planed out of a jibe, you will completely remember that feeling, too. Two of my friends recently completed some very impressive firsts. Juan learned to do a spock 540 and Asma learned the grubby. I captured them doing so last Friday at Candlestick Park.
Jacob, aka "Lofty" lent me his camera to snap these photo sequences, then went the extra mile spending his time stitching the pictures together... outstanding work.
Also, he put together a goofy little clip from the same day of some true "buttsailing":
Dearest Blog Readers (aka: the other bloggers and my mom),
Thanks for your courageous support during this trying time in the world of windsurfing. The printing press at a nationally syndicated magazine known as Windsurfing Magazine made a terrible error and mistakenly published a piece that I wrote. Kiteboarders everywhere rejoiced this aquatic apocalyptic event that would surely end our sport forever, opening up endless oceans and lakes of dangle-room across the world. The lawyers of the international shark coalition are looking for loopholes in order to assure my eventual consumption by chumming for what I've done to the supply of their food source. The American Red Cross has deployed Disaster Mental Health (DMH) Counselors across the country in local windsurfing stores, who are on hand with anti-depressants.
OK OK OK.
Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the "Confessions of the Human Catapult" article in WSing. It's been a year in the making, and editor Josh Sampiero had to threaten my family in order to get me to finally get something done on it. In addition, I have to give him a lot of credit for making it somewhat readable and qualifying as the "English Language". Thanks to everyone who enjoyed it to some extent. For me, reading it is like coming home to cat vomit on the floor and deciding to pick through it with a needle to look for a newspaper clipping you had set aside earlier. I guess that's what they say about reading your own writing. Actually, "they" probably don't use the cat vomit analogy because "they" probably have manners.
In any case, the positive reactions from my efforts make me feel encouraged to focus a bit more on the writing on my blog and the other outlets. Stay tuned for some slightly less sucky prose.
Yours in Robby,
Aaron, the catapult
ps. James Douglass, a far better windsurfer and writer also had a sweet article about jibing published in the same issue.
pps. The issue in the picture above is not the issue I'm in, but I used that picture instead because it had a cute girl in it.
ppps. Dude, nobody cares, shut up.
pppps. Hey, this is my post-script dammit! Who's typing on my blog?!
ppppps. This is your conscience.
pppppps. Oh, you again, yeah a lot of good you've done me so far.
Treasure Island is probably the best and most consistent windsurfing on the San Francisco Bay, ESPECIALLY late in the season. My friends have been religiously going there for years in August and September because when other spots start shutting off or becoming more intermittent, TI becomes the "epicest*". The fetch at Treasure Island is 4 or 5 miles. The swell has that same amount of space to organize, space out, and otherwise become beautiful.
But before you wipe your drool and grab your gear from this description, I must inform you of dear old caveat emptor. Treasure Island has the worst launch of the whole bay. A 25-30 yard u-shaped wind eating jetty from which you launch in the downwind armpit. Launching goes straight downwind in annoying fickle wind. Thus, coming in requires going directly upwind in garbage wind. Also, if you're sailing TI, you'll probably want to be on a pretty small board so you can make the most of the conditions beyond the shadow. Most of us choose to doggy-paddle home at the end of our session, but a handful feel as though they must SAIL their SAILBOARD in. I've never seen a shadow sailor beat a swimmer, but they sure are fun to watch:
The other thing to note is that if something were to go wrong, it could go pretty darn wrong. A couple days ago a few guys went out at TI, then got swallowed up by fog. They all made it home, but they all also had pretty scary experiences finding their way back.(Link to those stories) If your gear breaks down between Treasure Island and Angel Island, it could potentially take you a very long time to get back to dry land in any direction. Not to mention the large tug boat traffic, bridge construction traffic, and 25-knot-traveling commuter ferries.
TI is the best spot in the bay, but ya gotta respect it.
*epicest is a term coined by the German Shepherd for "most epic". Pronounced with a hard "c".
I'm not going to claim to be an expert on looping, and I'm not going to describe the technique for doing one because there are tons of places on the internet to learn about that. I even recommend taking a lesson if possible (an ABK Freestyle clinic worked for me). I will, however, share with you the facts behind my loop experience thus far. I also wanted to include some of the best philosophical tips I received as I was learning the trick.
Me and Looping:
I still get nervous before my first attempt of the day. After I get through it (and invariably eat crap but sail away unscathed), I'm ready to try them until I'm exhausted.
The forward loop is the one move I've wanted to do since the first day I saw a windsurfer. I saw spocks and vulcans that day, but didn't find them nearly as impressive.
I'm not particularly fast, I'm not a particularly good jumper, and I'm not particularly brave. Many would agree that I have a bit of weakness in all three of these areas.
I had many days this year where I told myself I'd go for a loop but chickened out. I drove home mentally beating myself up. This has probably happened to you too if you've ever wanted to loop.
I sail with people who loop for about half of my sessions. On days that people are throwing loops, there's never a question in my mind about whether or not I'm sailing loopable conditions.
Taking a lesson helped me a lot (ABK). It was a windless day and I didn't get to make an attempt, but understanding how the physics worked and trusting in science really helped me overcome the fear.
Sailing "angry" would sometimes help me go for them, but I didn't get close until I was sailing relaxed.
Getting spun by the sail for the first time was as exhilarating an experience as planing for the first time.
The next day I attempted loops after the filmed one, I didn't waterstart out of a single one.
Best tips I've recieved:
"Sometimes you have to pick your days." --Kevin Kan
"There is no perfect time to go for your first loop." -- Kevin Kan
"Don't do it unless you're ready. And if you're gonna do it, move your hand way back and just freakin' do it!" --Sofien Sehiri
"Don't be angry at the move. Go take a couple more tacks, get your favorite song in your head, relax and try again." -Sofien Sehiri
"You are totally ready to loop. Piece of cake. You got it." -- Matt Case
"The only reason you aren't looping is because you aren't trying them." -- Andy Brandt
This is the type of coverage that windsurfing needs more of. Accessible, easy to watch, easy to understand what's going on. The low angle helps capture the speed, but a high angle from a tower would be really compelling on this sort of race as well.
This is a video taken by someone last month of some windsurfers getting after it at Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach is the main beach on the West Side of San Francisco. It's about 4 miles long and a couple hundred yards wide on low tide. It's fairly unusual to find good windsurfing conditions, or even conditions that are windsurf-able out there. The predominant winds are directly onshore and the water conditions, as you can see, are pretty friggin' gnarly.
Ocean Beach is considered an advanced surf spot. Usually, you'll have to paddle through 10-20 lines of white water to get to the break. When you get there, the waves are extremely peaky. It's hard to position yourself and you normally are paddling to different positions the whole time you are out. I've been crushed by a couple of waves out there, so I can attest to the power and speed of the wave there.
The long and short of it is that windsurfing this spot is NOT for the faint of heart. You had better have skills, courage, and a hunger to challenge yourself to go after it here. Props to the sailors in this video. Ryan from South Africa (silver naish) and Vincent from France (Yellow MS) are Crissy regulars who definitely have a reputation of being a couple of the braver guys in my neighborhood.
For those of you who haven't heard, a windsurfer passed away in the Columbia River Gorge last weekend while Stand Up Paddling on a light wind day. The details of how it happened are unclear. He was missing for several days after his board was recovered and finally his body was found early yesterday morning.
This has definitely weighed heavily on me, I knew Paul. Paul was a Crissy Field regular and was the local rep for North Wave sails. He was very well known and well-liked among the crowd and he always had time to chat and joke around. Being the new guy at Crissy this year was a little intimidating at first for me, but Paul went out of his way to make me feel welcome. He remembered my name the first time we met and would always make a point to say hello and give me a hard time about my sail choice. (4.2? Are you nuts??)
Even in the short time I knew Paul, he had a positive effect on my life and on my windsurfing. At the end of the day, that's what life is all about right? Even in our imperfection, we should ask ourselves "Am I having a positive or negative effect on the people around me?" Paul unequivocally brought good times, a smiling face, and constant stoke to the windsurfers around him. His life may have been unfortunately cut short, but I know in my heart that he, like all windsurfers, truly lived.
The picture below is of a gathering that was held at Crissy for Paul. I know that he would feel so happy if he could have seen all the people who showed up in his honor. All of them were undoubtedly better off having known him.
Monday I sailed Crissy Field on a pretty strong flood. Two and a half knots was the forecast, some people said it seemed more like 4 knots in some places. The flood can be problematic at Crissy because the wind and the current are going in the same direction, so getting upwind can be really difficult. To add to that issue, there aren't a lot of great places to swim in or land if the flood is cooking, especially if you have a gear breakdown. Once you hit the piers which are about a half a mile downwind, you're probably going to get sucked right along to the Bay Bridge. The wind reading was averaging 24 on the inside. Normally I would have sailed a 4.7, but I rigged my 5.3 just so I could be sure I could beat the current.
The water conditions were really messy on the inside, but pretty clean and flat on the outside. I felt overpowered at times in the 30kt gusts, but it wasn't a big problem because I really needed to point as much as possible. Overall, a pretty fun day. Also, there were some memorable jumps when the freighters went by. Normally these only leave a big moundy wake, but on Monday they left a wedgy wave that came directly towards a slight upwind reach... WEEEE...
Sailed Crissy again on Tuesday and it was similar, but less windy. The 5.3 was barely enough for me to keep ground. It wasn't a great day, but who am I to complain? Any day of sailing is, in fact, a great day of sailing.
I've been a bit under the weather the last few weeks with very little sailing, but yesterday I was feeling good enough to get after it so I drove over to Coyote to check things out. When I arrived, Mo, protectress of Coyote, had already donned her wetsuit but was looking back at me with a not-so-positive expression. Her hair was dry, which gave me no indication of whether she had windsurfed, because she virtually never falls. She said she suited up and went out with small gear but the wind had completely died. Bummer. I REALLY wanted to windsurf. We sat around and guffawed for a while with another local sailor, and the conditions started to look "a little" better.
It really wasn't good. The wind was probably averaging 15, with gusts to 17... on the outside where the wind is "better". I decided to put together the biggest kit I have. A 5.7 that I rig six times a year, my 104L Freewave, and I even went as far as to pull out a honkin' 38cm fin. When I was finally suited up I slogged out a couple hundred yards and got on a light plane. I slipped only my front foot into the strap and lightly rested my back foot on the rail so I could hopefully make some upwind progress against the half-knot flood. I tacked a couple times and was making some favorable upwind progress, but I was definitely working for it.
Being marginally powered has become a frustrating premise for me lately. As I've adjusted to moderate to high wind conditions, I've become used-to and comfortable with pretty much planing for almost whole sessions at a time. This day I was probably only planing about 75% of the time, and I was working for it too. I had to pump through the holes and even make decisions to slog when I wasn't making good upwind progress on a plane.
I dropped a couple f-bombs. I begged and pleaded with the wind gods a bit. In my mind, I could hear the vocal whining of my inner-six-year old.
Then as I was going out for another run a pretty piece of swelly chop arose near my imaginary jibing mark. As I looked really closely, I could see my name written right across the face of it, and my social security number... strangely enough. I initiated my jibe with a drastic oversheet right across the face of the swell and ripped me right through on a full plane I flipped the sail and accelerated downwind out of the turn. A sudden catharsis found me.
Today might have been one of the most tame, boring days I had all year. But after that jibe I suddenly remembered something very important. This might have been the best day I had all year in previous years living as a land-locked east-coast working shlub. A year and a few months ago I would have thought "5.7? Tiny! 104L? Tiny! 15mph average? SWEET!"
Almost every day of sailing in the bay area is pretty equivalent to the best day of the year along my previous six years of windsurfing on the east coast.
Don't get me wrong, I had some really nice days on the east coast... Mostly in the Outer Banks. But my yearly or semi-annual treks to the OBX came up windless many times. Windy days would frequently happen during the middle of the week, and I lived over an hour from any decent windsurfing, when you factored in rush-hour traffic.
Now I can have the best session of the year almost every day.
Well folks, June 1st is the day I can celebrate my anniversary of moving to San Francisco. Overall, it's been awesome for me in terms of windsurfing. I'm I think in the last 365 days, I've easily had as much time on the water as I did the 6 years previous COMBINED while living on the east coast.
I've been under the weather and haven't sailed much in the last couple weeks. Hopefully I'll be all better soon and ready to go after the rest of my 2009 goals...
Last week, I visited some friends in the UK who live in a place called Tynemouth which is just outside Newcastle. Northeast England is not exactly known as a windsurfing destination per se, but everything we had heard is that April is a pretty good month there and there are tons of spots with varying conditions. I figure what the hell, it's an excuse to check out a country I hadn't been to and visit some really cool people who I had met in Maui last October.
So the trip was booked. I would join Dave from Epic Sessions on a trip to visit our friend Chris Peacock. We would indulge in local food and drink (or at least I would, ha!) and try our hand at windsurfing in the North Sea (I can't think of a colder sounding body of water).
Perhaps I should write a culture piece about my experiences with the local Jordy culture and the ominous food choices including pickled eggs and "BEASTY HAGGIS", but for now I'll stick to the windsurfing.
The North Sea is cold. True story. While I had some really nice beach weather it seems that most of the good windsurfing comes along with some pretty bitter weather. I might be off here, but I can't remember a photo shoot in the UK with really sunny weather. Can someone correct me?
The good news? The features of England's coastline create a HUGE variety of incredible windsurfing conditions. When you look at an aerial map, you can see that the coastline has limitless variation to it. It looks like a fractal diagram from advanced algebra. There are tons of tidal inlets/wave setups, and places where you can get in behind the chompy zones of beautifully breaking waves.
Did I mention the incredible scenery? You find yourself windsurfing in front of rolling bright green hills and beautiful castles. You almost feel like some modern day viking battling the cold seas with ancient architecture right before your eyes. I managed to neither rape nor pillage, as I'm sure my readers will be glad to hear.
I certainly could not claim that I caught extremely epic conditions, but we did get one day of powered 6.3 (easily could have been 5.5) on some tasty sets of crumbling windswell in a spot called Beadnell Bay. Since we were sharing gear, we also pulled out a Naish SUP board with a 4.5 and split time riding that as well. It was unbelievably fun. We didn't have harness lines on that kit, so that was definitely robbing me of hand energy.
So now for my editorial regarding the title. Maybe I'm soft (ok, I'm definitely soft), but given the toughness of the weather, I have to tip my hat to those folks that live in cold places and windsurf. Canadians, Englishmen, Norwegians, heck, even those clowns from New York and the Great Lakes. I'm originally from Florida and I gotta say I don't think I ever would have gotten into windsurfing if I had lived in one of these colder locations.
Now that I've caught the bug, it all makes more sense. That said, I can't imagine having spent time putting on a dry suit or 5mm wetsuit to uphaul a windsurfer unsuccessfully over and over. I always tell people that the most important quality for learning windsurfing is persistence. If someone from a place like Northeastern England wants to windsurf, it's gonna take even more persistence... and a pair of weatherproof brass balls.
I'll tip back a terrible American ale for that bloke tonight!
I'll try to post up a few pics this weekend... off to Vegas!
When I moved to SF, I thought to myself "why are there not many blogs about windsurfing in the bay area?".
There is tons of wind out here. There are tons of windsurfers out here. There are lots of creative/internetty types out here.
Then after about 10 months, I figured out why. People here windsurf a lot. They also work a lot. Then they have lots of friends too. All of these adds up to not a lot of free time for things like blogging.
I've taken some pictures and video lately, but just haven't had time to sit down and post any of it up. There was an amazing day at Crissy a couple Tuesday's ago where I sailed on my 3.8 fully powered. Pictures can be found here (and HEY! I'm in a few of them). I was on an eight-of-ten day streak and the wind died last weekend. It's finally picking up again. I learned how to duck-jibe. They aren't pretty, but they are mostly dry.
So yeah. Sorry for the lack of content. When I get injured or have some time, I'll just upload a bunch of crap and put it on here...
April is considered by many bay area windsurfers to be the best time of year. The wind is typically very consistent and fairly strong. This April has been a little ... strange I guess. We had a whole week with very light breeze that finally ended last Friday.
This weekend was a full on delivery though. I sailed Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Crissy. Friday was 4.7, Saturday and Sunday I sailed 5.3, but could have gotten away with 4.7. It was pretty windy on the inside too, so no 45 minute slogs to the wind line. I was sailing pretty juiced up on the 5.3 at times which I gotta admit was fun!
I'm pretty beat up now... All kinds of body parts hurt, but I'm sporting the perma-grin in the office today for sure.
From 2:30 to 5:30 I was sailing a 4.7 and having a lot of fun. I was planing about 85% of the time and this is what the wind graph looked like. The water was pure flat butter as the tide had a little ebb going.
Kinda hard to believe, huh? Rich and Arnie from Pappas Rock were there with me working on freestyle. We were all getting very wet and having a lot of fun. I could have been on a bigger sail, but was having a lot of fun using a 4.7, working on efficiency and using a sail I could really toss around.
I'm not sure if it's meter accuracy or the big board effect. Maybe I'm even getting slightly more efficient... *gasp*
Today was one of the windier days at Crissy Field, even some of the die hard Crissy folks were shaking their heads and getting blown off the water. The regulars seemed to think wind like this was a once or twice a year type of thing. I started on 4.2 and 86L and lasted about 30 minutes before I decided I would be having more fun on my 3.8. The 3.8 felt better but then again Kevin speculated that it wasn't so much the strong breeze as the chop making it difficult to go, especially on port tack. The chop was steep and really tight together. Definitely one of my more challenging days on the water. It actually reminded me a lot of the gorge, only less forgiving in terms of the water surface conditions.
Thanks to all the suckers...err friends who showed their support yesterday. If I ever switch to kiting, please get me institutionalized.
In any case, I got a session in at Candlestick yesterday on a 4.7, either overpowered or bobbing. Super gusty conditions, but still fun. A few of the guys from Berkeley came over which was great. Any time my buddies show up, I push myself harder and try new things. It's really easy to sail by yourself and be satisfied doing the same kind of jibes you do all the time... which is actually kinda lame, right?
I know this is going to come as a surprise to many of you but I just have to come clean. After much careful consideration, I've decided to sell all my windsurfing gear and make the switch to kiting. While I was in La Ventana, I met a whole bunch of really cool kiters and took a few lessons and found it to actually be a lot more fun than I have had windsurfing in years. I bought a 12 and 8 meter kite while I was down there along with a board and it's a big reason why I've been blogging so little about windsurfing lately.
So this is also going to be my last post as the Human Catapult. I really appreciate all the support and all of the close friends I've made through the years windsurfing. It really has been great, and I'll hopefully be able to swing by and say "hi" now and again.
I did start a new kiting blog, so if you want to keep up with me check it out.
Good winds to all,
Aaron, the artist formerly known as the "Human Catapult".
So the windsurfing season is underway here in the SF bay. I'm starting to get a little more dialed in and on schedule with getting out now, which is great.
Last Sunday was an awesome 3.8 day at 3rd avenue. Pretty amazing! During the week I got out to Candlestick once or twice and Crissy a couple times. I really need to try to document this stuff. Saturday was great sailing late, but I had other plans... Sunday was really nice 4.7 (many on smaller) at Coyote point. I tried out a boom-mounted cam but I only managed to grab a few frames... I need to figure that thing out...
Looks like everyone in the blogosphere is getting breeze this time of year... cheers!
My last 3 sessions of windsurfing have been super fun laid back days at Crissy Field.
Perfectly powered 5.3 conditions, smooth sections of water, occasionally nice ramps. Sun. Happy beach goers. Such a great scene. Nice ebbs, no worries of getting home.
Crissy, I hope you can forgive me for my previous negative posts and comments. Yes, I still think you're beautiful. Yes, you tempt me like no other. And I know that when I break beneath that chilly exterior, the reward of your love will be unmatched. I promise to be more patient with you if you promise to be more patient with me. I'm so drawn to you, I feel like it's almost meant to be.
I finally threw some of the video I took in Baja into iMovie and stuck it all together. Just some freestyle video from Wyatt and Tyson. Toward the end I started getting very cold from filming in the water, so you can see the camera shaking like hell! In any case, there is an easter egg at the very end if you manage to hold your lunch for that long...
I know, I haven't written about Mexico yet. I suck. I've been very busy since I've gotten home and just haven't had the time or creative juices to get it done... I'll do it eventually!!!
Today I sailed 3rd Avenue on a 4.2 and 86L board. Slightly overpowered at times in the channel, which boasted the biggest swell I've ever seen at 3rd. I believe the ebb was 5+ knots... some occasional sets that were like big brown school buses trudging across the bay. Very cool.
I guess it was kinda cold, but I got away without gloves or boots and a 5/4... The sun was showing bright which I think helped quite a bit.
I felt as though something needed to be posted about the drink of choice for wind-travelers on the Baja Peninsula. It is a beverage called a "Ballena" which is 32 ounces of glorious Pacifico beer. It also is environmentally friendly since you bring back your old bottle(s) and exchange them for new ones when you buy them. I'll not say how many of these I've drank thus far on this trip, but I will say that these beers have been very, very good to me.
I'm not going to write much poetry about this trip until it's completed because there is a lot to say about the beauty, the culture, and the desirable lifestyle of La Ventana and the Baja Peninsula. So for now, I'll just report on things that have happened. I've been extremely fortunate to have met some really awesome people down here. I've mainly been hanging out with windsurfing royalty down here; Namely Wyatt Miller and Tyson Poor. Those guys and their friends have been super friendly and we've shared a "few" beers and some great stories.
On my first day, I had a 5.5/95L session that was pretty fun. The water condition here was like laid-back bay conditions. The period of the chop and swell is a little longer and the wind is maybe a little steadier. It was a fun warm up day. By strange coincidence there was a huge party that night called "Burning Bush" which was a miniature version of burning man. The crowd was about half gringos and half chicanos. Things were being lit on fire in every direction with flame throwers, there was live music, and delicious food. It was a really fun event that's put on every year by a couple guys who normally sail in the Sacramento River Delta.
The second day the wind was too light to windsurf, so I ended up going to a real Mexican cockfight. I'm not going to post much about this because PETA will most assuredly find my blog and try to take me down, but I will say it was neat to experience a slice of real Mexico. The locals there were also really friendly and willing to take my money with their superior knowledge of razor-wielding poultry.
Yesterday was supposed to be very light wind, but I ended up sailing a 5.8 for a few hours, should-have-been 5.0 for the last hour. I was way juiced up and I must have planed out of 10-15 jibes. It was sooo much fun.
No windsurfing pics -- I've only been windsurfing when it's windy!
Yup, it came down to the wire and I decided to head to La Ventana Mexico. Hopefully my travel will go without a hitch, there is a 3 hour drive from the airport involved. I'm going in with the attitude of not being a lazy blogger and actually rewarding your index fingers for their occasional humancatapult mouse clicks with some real actual pictures and content.
Two human feet, last seen at Crissy Field near the Golden Gate Bridge. Size 10.5, including a total of 10 toes. Suspect took feet while I was windsurfing in 45 degree winds and 50 degree water. Feet were replaced with imitation feet that are opaque white and have no nerve endings.
If you have any leads on who may have stolen my previously functioning feet, please email me.