I'm sure awesome video, photos and other media will be coming out in the next couple of weeks to cover the event. Pretty cool to get a jump off done in what is basically the mecca of windsurfer jumping - Pozo Izquierdo (sp?).
(Screenshot taken at the 1:16 mark of this video. Creepy? I know.)
Welp, I made a Swayze (aka flaka) and I'm feeling pretty lucky about it. Not because it was a freak accident that I made one, but because it's a move that is easy to get stuck on. Fortunately, I was able to avoid a lot of the pitfalls and ultimately win the beer. There were about 10 people who took the bet, but I don't think any of the other guys sail as much as I do. I'm planning on splitting the beer with whoever gets one this year.
Many thanks to those who gave me tips in person.
Also, a huge thanks to BRENDON from ABK for giving me the hint that tipped the scale. While it looks like I'm awfully close in the last video I made, he was able to identify my issue, which was that I was leading with my feet instead of the sail. I spent the next few sessions making sure to start the sail movement earlier and suddenly I was getting a different kind of crash that involved the sail jibing itself, a rail catching during the slide or spinning all the way around and splatting on my back from over-rotation. Eventually I got the one in the video and the next day I made two more.
Brendon wins a Ballena which I'll need to deliver to him. Sure, maybe it's a little unfair since he IS a professional windsurfing instructor. I will say this: if you have the time to go to an ABK clinic, you should. It will be the best windsurfing investment you'll make, even better than a board. I've been to 3 and although I didn't always immediately start making a new move, I was given the tools and thought process to make huge strides. So do yourself a favor. Sign up for an ABK camp, then in a year, look back at today and laugh at how crappy of a windsurfer you used to be.
Nathan Mershon is kicking ass and taking names. Nathan who?
I'm probably not alone in looking at the top 10 list for the Pistol River Wave Bash and being somewhat surprised to see Mershon's name on top. I'm a pretty avid fan of high-level wave sailing and for sure Nathan has been on the radar with videos of him doing huge cleanbackloops in the gorge, but for this relatively unknown guy to come out and win the first two contests of the American Windsurfing Tour over names like Kevin Pritchard, Boujmaa, Kai Lenny, Kai Katchedourian, Graham Ezzy and Josh Stone is surprising.
Surprising, in a pleasant surprise kind of way. I saw the single elimination final with Pritchard vs. Mershon at Waddell. I think at the time I thought KP won because he had a very memorable (and large) one footed backloop, but when I think back on it, the set waves weren't very frequent and Mershon did catch a bigger wave and get a couple of nice off-the-lips. It is a wave riding contest and the rides count for more than the jumps, so I can see how it would have went that way in hindsight. I'm looking forward to Mershon getting more coverage from the windsurfing media outlets in the future, he's obviously proving to be one of the most consistent rippers in the US. Kudos!
Another interesting placing is top US Freestyler Tyson Poor getting 6th overall. Ty is a super talented guy, but if you were to press him he'd tell you he's a freestyler much more so than a wave sailor. I know he's got to be pretty happy with his result. I guess that week or so at Punta San Carlos this year really paid off! It also makes you wonder what would happen if he moved to Maui for a little while?
Another cool thing is Ingrid Larouche competing in both Women's and Amateur (Men's and Women's... but mostly Men by a long shot) divisions. She secured another top 5 placement and obviously is proving that a woman can rip just as hard as the guys can, particularly a woman that has been dominating North American windsurfing for a few years now.
In the youth division you see a pretty typical top 3 line up in Morgan Noireaux, Bernd Roediger and Zane Schweitzer. These three young guys were born and raised on Maui and just absolutely rip as hard as anyone else. It's awesome to see such youth performing the way they do, particularly when given the advantage of being from the best place in the world for wavesailing. I'd like to give a shout out to "our" guy Nick Dudet. Just a couple of years ago I saw Nick at 3rd avenue crashing on vulcans and trying forwards. He seemed like the kind of kid who would go for it, but I didn't think too much of it. Last month when I saw him sailing Waddell, it was like I was seeing a different sailor. HUMONGOUS end-over-end forwards, amazing down-the-line style, aggressive lip destruction. It's exciting to see a local kid coming up with obvious passion for the sport and achieving great results.
Also congrats to Atilla Tivadar, a local guy who lives in Pacifica for scoring 2nd in the Masters. He's a super-big, super-nice guy who simply rips. Also congrats to Royn Bartholdi for winning the masters division. I still visit his webpage, roynbartholdi.com, as I work on Freestyle moves.
Lastly, kudos to Samantha Bittner for running another successful event and Kevin Pritchard with Maui Nerd productions for making some really slick videos of the event. The fact that the event is alive not only for people who attend the events, but for people who will only get to check out one or two stops makes such a huge difference.
The forecast for this year's event is even better than last year, if that's even feasible! Unfortunately I won't be in attendance this year, but I'm very much looking forward to seeing the photos and videos.
All the best of luck to the competitors, spectators and hosts! Should be a doozy!
One of my main goals this season is to make a flaka, also known as the Swayze. It's a move that, when performed by someone who knows how to do it, looks pretty easy. (I guess that could be said for any maneuver, but this one is one that people really get dialed.) I'm not counting the number of attempts this time, but I am trying them a lot particularly because there is a case of beer on the line (specifically, Mexican Pacifico Ballenas). Whichever of the dozen or so of us that are trying them this year gets it first wins the beer.
I've gotten to this point where I'm getting the nose down first and rotating, but I can't seem to get the move to go all the way around. Can someone who can flaka please help a brother out in the comments section? I'm looking at you Brendan, Chachi, and the rest of youse guys!
**whoever gives me the tip that unlocks the move will WIN one of the beers from the case.
***I filmed this using Sergey's Mast Mounted Cam previously discussed on the blog -- it worked like a charm!
**** using my 86 Freestyle Wave in the video due to some "damage" to my freestyle board, which might not be ideal for learning, but I've always thought practicing things slightly handicapped is a good thing.
If you haven't been following it, you probably should be.
Carl Spiess, an extremely friendly Canadian who I met through Windsurfing Magazine's board test started a blog to document a year that he's been living in France on a work/live vacation of sorts. He's written about all the windsurfing launches he sailed, the people he's met and his other experiences living in France. His most recent posts have been fantastic stories of making his first Vulcan and sailing Defi Wind, a race of 1000 windsurfers.
I congratulate him for his vulcan accomplishment. I think it is one of the most difficult things to learn in windsurfing, and he did it in an ASTOUNDING 155 attempts. It took me more than twice as many and it takes many people 10 times as many to get that bugger-of-a-maneuver. He said he studied the move quite a bit, which I believe. A lot of people can think really hard and visualize a move then accomplish it, particularly if they have a background in some sort of athletics (I believe Carl played volleyball at a high collegiate level, so I think of him as a superior athlete).
I don't consider myself an athletic person per se, at least not gifted in a coordination way, so everything I've learned has been from repetition and frequent practice. Now I can make most vulcans I attempt and I'm still only making one or a few spocks per session, but it took me over a year to get here. If I was limited to sailing less, I definitely wouldn't be close to any of these achievements. Hats off to Carl and all others who sail locations that aren't frequently windy!
My advice to Carl is to keep on practicing them until perfect, and even start planning for the spock sooner rather than later (meaning try them further off the wind with more speed and on flatter water than your initial attempts). It took me 17 days after my first 4 vulcans to make another, so don't be discouraged. I'm saying that, but thinking you're the type of guy who might get a couple the next session out. Don't put too much pressure on yourself though. Freestyle moves are not a destination! Pat yourself on the back now then try to figure out how to make them consistently -- that's the real test!
One of my good buddies Sergey is a badass tinkerer. I, on the other hand, can't tie a bowline.
He's been making a ton of videos on his site videojibe for years using multitudes of mounting mechanisms, optical options and compression codecs.
His latest iteration is a super simple mast mount for the GOPRO camera that is lightweight and easy to set up. I'll give it a test in the next couple weeks to share with you all. The coolest thing is that this is a mount that you can buy. Check it out here!
April and May are two of the most dependably windy months in the San Francisco bay for strong wind. I calculated my average sail size and it was 4.520929459. We get a lot of 3.7 and 4.2 days to offset our more typical 5.0 to 5.5 days. I sailed 20 days in April and 22 days in May. I only pulled out my big sail (5.6) three times.
I was looking through the blog and realizing I had been posting a lot about wavesailing. I guess those sessions are more memorable or I feel like they're more worthy of posting than freestyle sessions. I don't really consider myself much of a wavesailor, I actually prefer freestyle, but I guess wavesailing sessions feel like more of an event.
Anyway these are some pictures from a recent FREESTYLE session a large group of us shared at Candlestick. It was super fun, I even sailed away from a couple body drags for the first time. Always wanted to do that one (it took something like 20-40 attempts, I wasn't really counting or really focused on it).
Top Caption: Mike Z from New York turns hard -- he tells people this blog motivated him to move to the bay area. Seems like it's working out well for him.
Leonard Nimoy, doin' his thang.
Jacob getting serious about coming full circle on the spock.
Asma and Sofy on Mauisails? They must read the blog.
Can you name this crash? (all who sail with me are disqualified)
I'm off to Florida for a wedding this weekend and I'm bringing gear. Looking forward to light wind freestyle in boardshorts!