A couple weeks ago I made my first pilgrimage to a place called Punta San Carlos. All windsurfers have heard stories. Wave rides lasting over a minute on both a surf board or a windsurf board. Easy access to a friendly wave that won't crush you if you slip up. Living in a tent for a small part of your life, when nothing matters but the waves that are rolling in at that moment. The wind steadily blows from the perfect direction. The water stays smooth and flat between perfectly spaced sets. It's all true -- well, most of the time.
I made the journey with my buddy Rob, who is the president of windsurfing for the Cal Sailing Club. It's a really long drive. Probably over 20 hours total, including a crazy dirt road at the end of the drive. We camped on the bluff, along with some other folks who've made their temporary homes in this beautiful, yet desolate place. I can see why people go with SoloSports. If you don't have sturdy vehicle, it can be tough to get there. Even my cargo van is making some funny squeaking noises that it didn't used to after the trip.
The week we went was described by the local squatters as "the worst week of the season". We had several days without wind in a row and the waves, at the very biggest, were chest high. The bigger ones were very infrequent. Even though it was flat, I caught waves every day on my 8' surf board when the tide was right. A bigger longboard or a stand up board would have been the weapon of choice. When we showed up, the wind was cranking. I was overpowered on 5.0 and 75l. It was the evening we got there, so we sailed for 45 minutes and decided to set up camp before the sunset, ya know, since we'd be sailing 5.0 or smaller for the whole trip. That was a mistake. The rest of the time there, I was mostly underpowered on 5.6 and my 97L freestyle board. Only 4/8 days we were there had planing wind.
I'm not bitter, but I was on a the verge of insanity after a few days with not much to do in the desert. It's hard living down there. Hot and dry during the day. Cold and wet at night. Beautiful scenery, but it doesn't change very much. Fortunately the people around us were great, we made great friends and ate like kings. It felt like we were part of the 20 or so people who were living on the edge of the world somewhere.
The sailing wasn't all bad. On the last couple of days, I went out slogging for waves on my big board and a 5.6 and caught some memorable down the line rides. I had never had that feeling of being powered up on the wave face quite like this. I can say that "I get it" now when it comes to wave sailing. Instead of being a normal flat water or jumping session in the bay where I'm pushing myself the whole time to make a new maneuver, I was getting out there... waiting for a wave, then screaming down the line with a gigantic smile on my face. No frustration, no high self- expectations about my performance of a specific move, just pure pleasure of combining the things I've learned in surfing and windsurfing the last couple years.
Wave sailing in Punta San Carlos is joyous. I can only imagine what it's like when the conditions are good. I will be back to find out.