Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tahoe is Awesome

I'm not much of one for snow sports, but I made it out to Lake Tahoe last weekend for some snowboarding and ... Wow! That place is awesome. I've probably snowboarded less than 10 times, all but once on crappy hills on the east coast. Now I'm feeling pretty hooked on getting after it out here in the snow. I hope the rest of youse guys are having fun somehow!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Tough Decisions in Life

My company is requiring everyone to take a week vacation in the near future which has me in a bit of a pickle. I've got money budgeted for a windsurfing trip, but the question is: Where to?

Here are the best January options I can see:

1. La Ventana, Baja

+ 75% chance of wind
+ Less expensive than the other options
+ Nice conditions from what I've seen and read... sunny!
- Wind might be more like "kiting wind" 15-20, not the 20+ I've grown to love.
- Camping is cheap, but rooms are expensive... do I want to camp on vacation?
- No night life

2. Costa Rica

+ 100% chance of gorge-like wind
+ It's the jungle in freakin' Costa Rica -- how cool!
- overcast weather usually at the windsurfing area
- 0 night life
- Maybe chillier than the other options

3. Maui

+ It's Maui! Windsurfing heaven, etc etc
+ I already know some really cool people down there
- 50% chance of wind, plus the potential for swell that I couldn't handle
- Getting skunked on a windsurfing trip would be unfun. I know, I know other stuff to do, but I really want to grab a boom on this trip.
- I was there a few months ago

So, my dear readers. What would you choose?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Board

Probably best to start this one about the 4:30 mark.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Perfect Day

7:00 AM -- Drive to Pacifica and play in the surf

10:30 AM-- Realize it's blowing 25 at Crissy and GO GO GO

11:00 AM-- Arrive at Crissy, get some 5.3/86L Sailing in...

1:00 PM -- Watch the Gators win another SEC Title and get another shot at a National Championship.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Catapult Gives Thanks for his Stuff

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to take stock in the intangible things that make your life good. The health of your family members, the happiness that the people in your life are bringing to you,the successes of your job. I'm not going to go into all that. I'm going to give thanks for my new windsurfing toy. A cargo van I bought last week. It's flippin' sweet!

The guy who had it before me was also a windsurfer and had spent a lot of time and money making it a near perfect windsurf-bum van. It has an elevated platform with enough room for a queen-sized inflatable mattress, a bunch of gear compartments below. It has special places to put sails, a well thought-out board rack, insulated walls, dark tinted windows, a boom rack. It has a bunch of nifty compartments above the driver's seat for various knick-knacks. This van is completely ready for me to some day slip off the map and spend a couple months someplace windy, just bumming around and sailing.

People who know me are aware that I'm not a very detail-oriented person. I don't particularly care to undertake large projects. I'm not terribly handy. Getting a windsurfing van where someone already thought through all the little details is HUGE. I probably would have bought a van, never installed racks and just shoved boards and gear in there forever.

So this Thanksgiving, I hope all of you get time with your families and eat a lot of food. I hope you take a moment to feel grateful for all the important things in life. But this year, maybe give thanks for all your cool toys too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fort Point Surfing Video

This is the first time I've ever filmed anything, so I apologize for any and all problems associated with motion sickness, or general nausea induced by a poorly edited video.

This is a break that works on a NW swell that's in a pretty amazing location right next to the Golden Gate Bridge. The views there are incredible, the surf is pretty nice, and the weather on this particular day was amazing. I've heard this spot is particularly "locals only" ish. Makes sense since there were like 30 surfers out there competing for not-that-many waves.>

Beautiful, but not windy weather here in the city this weekend. Hope everyone has a good one!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Last Sunday -- 5 days too late

Work has been hectic out here, which is good since the wind isn't great this time of year. So I can focus on making money when the wind is bad -- pretty ideal.

Last Sunday was like Christmas in November in the bay area. In the morning I got a nice hour sail in at Coyote Point with my 5.7 and 104L board. I was the only one on the water, and it was perfect ebbing conditions. I guess all the windsurfers out here are religious folk who were at church or alcoholics who couldn't recover from their hangovers fast enough. It was an awesome morning session that felt like a summer afternoon (albeit slightly colder).

I went home and took a short nap and woke up to find the wind meters up again! I drove down to 3rd avenue this time to find sweet 5.0/86L conditions on another nice ebb. Every time I've sailed here, I've been a little disappointed because normally the windline is a mile slog away, or I'm just not powered up enough. This was not the case on Sunday. I got a nice 2 hours sail in some chest-high swell with lots of backside chop rides and jumping ramps abound.

So a fun 2-session day in November (aka take-what-you-can-get-month). Where as multi-session days seem to be common on the east coast, they aren't as common in the bay area. Usually during windy season, you get one session a day in the afternoon. The exception to this rule is obviously the Sherman Island area that is about 1.5 hours away.

I hear mumbling about the cold, but I've been warm to hot in my 5/3 wetsuit with no gloves or booties.

Stay tuned... I think I'm buying a new toy to brag about here this weekend. :-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Storm Sailing

Monday brought my first chance to sail a storm in the bay area. Actually, the Half Moon Bay Area to be exact. A southerly wind was coming, so this spot was the call. It's about 30 minutes south of San Francisco and the sailing area is protected by a jetty (the outside looked super super ugly, but I've heard people sail it). The wind was really gusty. One of those days when you know it's going to be good and bad, so you just rig your favorite sail. I went with my 4.4. It wasn't quite 3.8 weather, but a 4.0 or 4.2 would have been ideal.

I went from slightly-powered to butt-over-powered to oh-my-God-I-am-heartly-sorry-for-having-offended-thee-powered. It was a lot of fun, I got some good work in on practicing overpowered jibes. Also, the rain squalls were like needles on your face. Sailing with one eye is super difficult since you lose your depth perception, so I was forcing my front-hand-eye to open up every 3 seconds. It's a lot like sailing blind, you just have to trust your feel for the gusts rather than seeing them coming. The water was pretty choppy despite the jetty. Sometimes when the rain was really coming down, the water would flatten out because the rain would batter all the chop down. Really crazy.

The spot itself is kinda spooky to me. You sail through a mooring area full of sailboats that look like they're 50 years old and likely have crazy old fishermen living aboard. There's an old beat up dock with a building painted a color that could only be achieved through with the chemical properties of lead.

Oh and the drive between Half-Moon-Bay and Pacifica is probably the most beautiful I've ever been on... plus the rain had subsided and the sun was setting --a truly spectacular way to end the day.

I know, no pictures again. I suck.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Eff Crissy

There. I said it.

After once again driving to a few promising spots where the wind died, I end up at Crissy just to check things out. The meter was reading 18, but it can be much windier than the sensor reports. People were rigging pretty big, so I put together my big kit: a 5.7 and a 104L board. It started to look pretty windy on the outside, but it was hard to tell for sure, since there was a pretty healthy 4 knot ebb going.

I went out and had a few reaches perfectly powered up. Didn't miss a jibe or a tack. I was really feeling it.  At one moment I remember thinking "Best. Crissy. Day. Ever!!!" On one of my reaches heading toward the beach, I felt myself cross the wind line so I jibed to head back out to find wind. This was my first mistake. About 200 yards ahead I saw a couple guys slogging in the spot that had the most wind. It took me a few minutes, but I realized that we weren't in a lull. The wind was done. kaput. sayonara. hasta la vista. I tacked and started slogging back toward shore.

When I started my long slog home, I was probably half way across the bridge. The wind was about 8. The swelly stuff was challenging, but I was doing fine because there was some power in the sail to counterbalance. Then the wind dropped down to 0-4 knots. The bumps all the sudden became a lot more challenging. A big tour boat cruised right past a few of us struggling, full of tourists, excited to see us get completely beat up by it's wake. We went down like 1 - 2 - 3  as the boat passed, it must have been pretty comical.

The next 45 minutes or so, I was in uphaul hell. It really was a throwback to those first 10 windsurfing sessions.  Every time I was able to get the sail up, I had no power to move forward or even balance. The ebb was bringing me toward the Golden Gate Bridge with pretty good speed. I started feeling pretty unconfident about getting home, and jumping in to swim didn't seem like a great idea since I didn't think I was going to be able to beat the current. So I continued to slog/fall/uphaul. I was getting pretty tired, and I had forgotten to bring my thick wetsuit, so I was getting a little worried since it was a chilly day. After a few moments on the verge of panic I rested, turned around and saw the bay littered with kites. Ok, if I have to get rescued, a bunch of others will as well.

So I made it in eventually, about 200 yards upwind of where I launched. The guys who got picked up by the coast guard got to the parking lot at the same time, but I was happy to get home mostly under sail power.  The scariest thing that happened was a couple of huge sea lions popping up 10 feet from my board when I was teetering along. I don't know much about these creatures, but I found out that they have pretty big teeth right then. Toward the end my calf muscles started to cramp up and I was falling in all over the place. One of these days I'm going to get on a stretching routine before I sail. It really would have helped out today. I swam the last 100 yards or so, when I got to the no-wind-zone behind the bridge.

And so there you have it. Another shitty day at Crissy. Why do people love this place again?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lesson #2934 -- Don't sail Haskins on a Low Tide

This time of year, you take what you can get with the wind. You chase it, you scrape for it, you slog much more than you would typically be willing to slog. Yesterday the wind came up for the first time in a week. First I checked out Crissy -- the wind was light and there was a huge Laser regatta right next to the beach. I then looked at the local wind meters -- TI looked good, but you can never be sure if people are going to show up this late in the season and it's a sketchy launch, especially for solo sailing. Candlestick looked good so I drove down that way. As I drove by, the conditions looked ideal for the Stick, but unfortunately I couldn't park because the 49'ers were playing a home game.

So I drove down to Haskins. It was full of whitecaps, which is an excellent sign there. The tide was going out, but it looked like there was enough water to launch. Another windsurfer showed up and we rigged up. I was on a 4.4 and my big board -- probably should have gone with the 5.0. When we got ready to launch, there was even less water, I walked about 50 feet into the knee deep mud and decided that this was probably a bad idea. The other guy coaxed me into giving it a shot. We ended up hiking about 50 yards to get to deep enough water through the thick mud. The wind was actually pretty nice. I could plane the whole time, but not very much upwind. I hit a couple of my best jibes ever, but ended up way downwind.

We started to realize that even way out we were running out of water, so I turned back to go in. After getting upwind, I ended up walking through about 300 yards of knee to waste deep mud. A couple of times I had to belly crawl out of holes that my feet were stuck in. It took a lot of effort, and my heart was pounding. There was one moment when I doubted my ability to get through the goop. If I stopped to rest, I would just sink deeper and deeper into the sludge. Eventually I made it back, and thanked my lucky stars.

Was it worth it? Almost getting swallowed up by the bay just for a couple hours of windsurfing? You're damn right it was.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Not-Windy Week

Those bastards on the east coast are stealing our wind!!!!

hah -- but seriously I had about 10 minutes of planing on Monday on a 4.4 and 97 liter board on the superflat water at Haskins (my spellchecker doesn't know crap either because everyone knows superflat is a real word). It was actually mildly fun. It was really nice beach weather though... in the 70s and 80s. 

I need to buck up and buy a surf board already -- I work 15 minutes from an excellent spot to learn. The problem now is that I will only be able to travel with 1 surfboard and 1 windsurf board. Do I choose to bring the 86 or the 104? I really want to avoid getting a cargo van -- I really do, but life just keeps pushing me in that direction...

Glad to see my summer-windstarved buddies feasting these days! Keep the content up -- I'm getting set up to deliver more multi-media next season!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Much Love for Florida

A fellow native Floridian in my office emailed this to me -- I bet a few people will get it:


For those of you who grew up in or spent any significant amount of time in Fl, you will know all of this to be true. For those of you who haven't, here is what it's like in the 'Sunshine State'! This is about as close as you can get to understanding what it's like to be a Floridian!!

1. Socks are only for bowling.
2. You never use an umbrella because you know the rain will be over in five minutes.
3. A good parking place has nothing to do with distance from the store, but everything to do with shade.
4. Your winter coat is made of denim.
5. You can tell the difference between fire ant bites and mosquito bites.
6 . You're younger than thirty but some of your friends are over 65.
7. Anything under 70 is chilly.
8. You've driven through Yeehaw Junction.
9. You could swim before you could read.
10. You have to drive north to get to The South.
11. You know that no other grocery store can compare to Publix.
12. Every other house in your neighborhood had blue roofs in 2004-2005.
13. You've gotten out of school early on Halloween to trick or treat before it got dark.
14. You know that anything under a Category 3 just isn't worth waking up for.
15. You are on a first name basis with the Hurricane list. They aren't Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances...but Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.
16. You know what a snowbird is and when they'll leave.
17. You think a six-foot alligator is actually pretty average.
18. You were twelve before you ever saw snow, or you still haven't.
19. 'Down South' means Key West
20. You think New York driver's licenses should only be valid in New York.
21. Flip-flops are everyday wear.
22. Shoes are for business meetings and church,
23. but you HAVE worn flip flops to church before.
24. Sweet tea can be served at any meal
25. An alligator once walked through your neighborhood.
26. You smirk when a game show's 'Grand Prize' is a trip or cruise to Florida.
27. You measure distance in minutes.
28. You have a drawer full of bathing suits, and one sweatshirt
29. You get annoyed at the tourists who feed seagulls.
30. A mountain is any hill 100 feet above sea level.
32. You think everyone from a bigger city has a northern accent.
33. You know the four seasons really are: hurricane season, love bug season, tourist season and summer.
34. It's not soda, cola, or pop. it's coke, regardless of brand or flavor, 'What kinda coke you want?'
35. Anything under 95 is just warm.
36. You've hosted a hurricane party.
37. You go to a theme park for an afternoon, and know when to get on the best rides. (Space Mountain during the Electric Light Parade!)
38. You understand the futility of exterminating cockroaches.
39. You can pronounce Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Ichnatucknee and Withlacoochee
40. You understand why it's better to have a friend with a boat, than owning a boat yourself.
41. Bumper stickers on the pickup in front of you include: various fish, NRA, NASCAR, Go Gators, and a confederate flag.
42. You were 5 before you realized they made houses without pools.
43. You were 25 when you first met someone who couldn't swim.
44. You've worn shorts and used the A/C on Christmas.
45. You recognize Miami-Dade as 'Northern Cuba'.
46. You dread love bug season.
47. You not only forward this but you understand it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Know What? SF is Pretty Badass, too!

In order to combat my PMD (Post-Maui Depression), I've been hanging around the city appreciating it's awesomeness even though there hasn't been any breeze. This is not a difficult thing to do. As some of you know, I work a shift from 5am to 2:00pm. This affords me the opportunity to sail virtually every day. Yesterday on my way out the door, I was amazed to see the full moon shining over the Pacific. Just a slight hint of fog on this beautiful October morning.

After work, I drove over to the ocean on my way home to see what it looked like. This is south of the city in a town called Daly City. It looked so nice and peaceful in this particular spot, and the waves looked like they were 2 miles long.

I drove up to the break in the Sunset District on Sloat to see if anyone was out surfing. It was a pretty crowded scene, but there were many more people watching than surfing. It was much bigger and crunchier than the day before when I went "surfing". The guys who were out there seemed like they knew what they were doing. Even getting through the shorepound looked like it took serious effort, even for the experienced guys.

I took some video of guys getting rides on the bigger sets, but alas, I have no way to put them together. It's all good, I just ordered a MacBook Pro.

One of the other things I love about this city is people sort of live-and-let-live. You want a burnt-mango colored house with a light aqua garage? Go for it! Outside-the-box is the inside-the-box in SF. People from all over the world living- literally - however they please. Creativity is encouraged, weirdness is the status quo. My kind of place.

On my way out to dinner, I looked out my apartment window and saw this. Minus the suspended wire, this is a pretty incredible view. (Even with the wire, it's not too shabby). I just snapped a quick one because I was running late. I can just walk down 3 minutes to the beach to enjoy one of these in all their glory.

For dinner, we went to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant which makes the best damn bowl of pho on this side of Ho Chi Minh. We ordered the 7-course beef, which is vietnamese beef served in 7 different styles. All were super delicious, I'm drooling just thinking about it tonight. If for no other reason, I couldn't leave the city for fear of missing the food. World class sushi and shabu, Vietnamese, Dim Sum, Mexican, South American, and all the French fusion duck and frogs you can shake a fork at.

Maui may be the best place to windsurf, but I'm pretty convinced this is the best place to windsurf -- and live-- in the US.

Getting Better the Easy Way

I'm told I have quite the imagination, but even I couldn't make something up like this. A recent search of gave me this as a result. It's only $.99 for the mp3 download, so it couldn't hurt right? That's a lot less than a jibing lesson.

The track is 10 minutes long... I'm dying to hear it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rubbing Elbows with the Stars

On my last night in Maui, we went to a party hosted by the folks over at Quatro/Goya/FWD. They have a kick-ass store that has been well-documented in Dave's blog (note to self -- don't hang out with Dave if you want original content in your blog, he's gonna post everything before you can ;-)).

Anyway, there were some really good windsurfers there, and I had actual conversations with some of them. Some of the folks that were there were Levi Siver, Kai Katchadorian, Keith Taboul, Francisco Goya, and Jake Miller. Sure they put their boardshorts on one leg at a time, but after that, they throw big back loops in double-mast-high waves.

Nevertheless, they were all super friendly and none of them kicked my ass for ogling their girlfriends, so I guess it was a success.

Yesterday, I tried surfing at Ocean Beach. This is the main beach on the west side of San Francisco, and it's pretty well known for being unfriendly. Still, I gave it a paddle and got out through the break. The tide was coming in and the sets were getting bigger and the waves more powerful. I saw one coming that looked like it was going to break somewhere in my vicinity so I decided to try to catch it. Just before the wave got to me, I looked over at Kevin and he had eyes the size of saucers. He was waving his arms with futility to encourage me not to try to catch this shoulder-high close-out. Even if I had wanted to pull out at this point, I don't think I had the choice. The next 20 seconds of my life was pretty much like a pair of underwear in the washing machine. -- Hey atleast the water was warm...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Goodbye Maui :-(

I feel like I'm in a middle school dance again :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Maui is Part of the "Real World"

Maui hasn't been all that windy these last few days. We took two days off because of lack of wind, and finally got back out late yesterday for some very average 18-22 conditions. It was an awful lot like Hatteras sound-side. I was grabbing a bunch of boards in that few hour session because it felt like I could learn the most about the boards in the marginal conditions. I sail 18-22 on a 5.0 a whole heck of a lot in the bay area, and I'm thinking I'm not alone on that one. It was pretty amazing how varied Kanaha can be.

During the time off the water, I've been stand-up-paddle surfing, snorkeling, helping Windsurfing Magazine measure boards, helping to set up photo shoots. Yeah, it's been a pretty rad week, despite the lack of windsurfing conditions. It's also been pretty flat, which has been actually just right for me (but much to the chagrin of my fellow testers), considering when the ground swell goes off it can be over-mast-high waves.

I'll go into more detail on this topic later, but testing a bunch of boards really opens me up to a whole new appreciation of all the work that goes into the design of these foam water-toys. Every single one is so different and you can definitely tell how some are better for some styles of sailing than others. I've always been pretty skeptical about boards being all that different or affecting rider performance, now I'm a believer. There is a closed-mouth policy about the boards through the test, but at the end we're doing a round-table discussion. I'm willing to bet almost everyone ended up having a different favorite board and came away with completely different opinions about the same boards.

Sorry to my reader (hi mom!) for not updating this as much as I should be while I've been out here. If you want to find tons of content from this trip, check out Dave's blog. He's had the cameras rolling the whole time, and I only ask for his mercy in not posting things that could compromise my professional, social, and un-incarcerated life.

Here's a phew fotos I've shot these last couple days:

Hanging out on the boat that was used for the Board photoshoot. The crew that has been involved in the board test has been a lot of fun. Many different skills and abilities, lots of personality.

A few of the testers caught a sunset SUP session. I haven't seen many sunsets because I've been on the wrong side of the island, but this was a pretty amazing one.

This gorgeous couple is comprised of Chris and Heather from Newcastle, England. Super nice folks, but I have a suspicion they work for Her Majesty's Secret Service since they are expert skydivers.

The south shore of the island was littered with fun little friendly waves that were perfect for a SUPing rookie. I got out there and was immediately catching waves no problem.

Ray, from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico: Where the beautiful people live. He's a long time board tester and it's obvious why.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

You down with OGG? (YEAH YOU KNOW ME!)

So this place is without a doubt awesome. And by awesome I mean totally sweet! I'm here with Windsurfing Magazine helping them test the 2009 boards from various manufacturers. Apparently, it's good for them to have not-so-great sailors participate because lets face it: Most windsurfers are not-so-great. And there's nothing wrong with that.

So I'm here trying to give that regular joe feedback on these boards. Without getting too specific, some are more technically demanding to sail than others. And if there's anyone who would realize that, it would be a sucky windsurfer like me.

We've been sailing at Kanaha every day. This spot is neat. On the inside the water can be pretty flat with small chop. There is swell that lines up directly across your reach that can be like 20-50 yards apart, so you have room to find a ramp, line up and accelerate straight at it. On the outside, there are huge moundy swells that don't really break.

If you take a few reaches upwind you end up in a place called "uppers" which are these nice gentle waves that break over reefs. It's the perfect place to start catching waves because even if you fall, the wave doesn't really crush you... well at least when there is very little ground swell like there is now.

In general: Warm water. Warm air. Beautiful views. Azure water. Smiles all over the water. Oh yeah, it's pretty windy here too.

Here are some pictures that I took. I'll definitely take some time later in the week to take more...

Jake Miller: awesome windsurfer and all around nice guy. Here is his "Blue Steel" face.

Jake on the water. Pretty eh? He threw a huge loop a few moments after this photo.

A shout out to Giampaolo ;-)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Maui Trip Day One: An open letter to Lucas

(Lucas was my best windsurfing buddy on the east coast.)

Dear Lucas,

I just finished my first day in Maui and I felt the urge to write this to you. No, I don't want to brag about how awesome it is or go on and on about the warm blue water and incredible conditions. I want to tell you that every vacation that you take between now and your first trip to Maui is a huge mistake.

Don't get me wrong: I can appreciate you going on snowboarding trips, whitewater kayaking trips, summer cape cod trips. I've done fun stuff like this too! Being well rounded is great and all, but honestly, windsurfing is the funnest and you know it.

Let's face it, vacation time is precious. We both know that. That's why I'm writing this to you. Want to go skiing? Great. Want to surf in Costa Rica? You can surf in Maui. Want to visit a big city? Don't bother.

I implore you to go to Maui.

Yours in Robby,


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Travel Gods Hate Me

So I'm back in SFO waiting for my flight to Maui... again...

Woke up at 4:00 this morning to give plenty of time to catch my 7:40 flight to Portland. Get on the plane, approach the runway, then the captain says we have to add more fuel because the fog in Portland may cause them to have to circle the airport (so they didn't have enough fuel for this contingency before... great). The refueling process of course took about an hour and a half. I didn't get to Portland until 11 and my flight to OGG (maui) was at 10:15. So instead they give me the wonderful option: Fly back to SFO, then to HOnolulu, then to OGG. I should be arriving in Maui at 9:30 Hawaii time, or 12:30 San Francisco time. Ugh.

I'm pretty sure it will all be worth it in the end...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Out of Office

So I'm going to be traveling through the Southeast, mostly for work, a little pleasure for a week. I don't expect any windsurfing to happen, unfortunately. It's a shame because during my last session on Tuesday, I was starting to feel like my old self. This injury thing has been a real bear. It's been good to be back on the water, but it took me a while to regain confidence in my sailing. Finally on Tuesday, I felt comfortable at speed. I wasn't afraid to jump or crash. I was going for it with no remorse, just as it should be.

Things I'm looking forward to:

- Seeing pictures of Josh's epic great lakes weekend with Dave
- Maui
- Seeing pictures from my Team Dawg and other bay area buddies who are heading to San Carlos this weekend
- Maui
- Seeing old buddies and going to watch the Gators (hopefully) stomp the Volunteers
- Did I mention I'm going to Maui?

Hope everyone gets some! (wind)

Monday, September 15, 2008

15-20 is pretty darn fun, too

I've been sailing Coyote Point these last few days and it's actually been really great. I spent my first few months in SF driving around to where ever I could get the MOST wind, but I'm finding out that sometimes it can be fun just to go some place you like and sail pretty darn good wind. The water conditions have been far from "victory-at-sea-forced-air-insanity", but sailing in less-epic conditions is helping me figure out my jibe timing in swelly stuff.

Looks like my friends on the east coast having been getting some tropical action. Good stuff! Glad to see you made it through the crappy summer!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Self-Woo Factor

A non-windsurfer would never know how much "wooing" goes on out there on the water. I'm guilty of being a frequent woo-er, possibly an over-wooer. Some windsurfers are never-woo'ers, choosing to grimace and stare straight ahead as they pass sailors on the opposite tack. When I'm wound up, having a great time, and the water conditions are good you're damn right I'm going to woo at my fellow windsurfers. It's an odd form of communication but it universally translate into "I'm stoked!" and occasionally "nice crash, dude!".

The self-woo is a woo of a higher level. If you're alone out there, 50 yards away from anything but the sharks and seals and you woo, then your level of stoke is normal woo times a factor of four. I had a self-woo yesterday at Coyote Point that just kinda snuck up on me. I was planing along on my 5.7 and 104L board, the swell was small and really organized. It was actually the best and most smooth cruising I've ever done in the bay. There was no one around for hundreds of yards and I let out a "Woo!" that only I knew about. It's the equivalent of playing the air guitar in your underpants when you're home alone. It's the normal-woo's better looking sister.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Da Stick

Sailed at Candlestick (aka Candleshit) for about an hour yesterday in a tune up session. I was on 5.0 and 104L, which was a little underpowered, but it was still fun to get wet. The winds were gusty and shifty, probably 10-27 or so.

Amazingly, I made my first few jibes. Muscle memory blows my mind. I've always had a theory that a lot of the progress you make is due to sleeping on things; your mind sorts out your technique errors at night. Anyone else find that they make progress "off the water" frequently?

Everything feels pretty good... my right shoulder is a little stiff, but what better way to loosen up than windsurfing?

Also, I had dinner with another famous windsurfing blogger, Dave. He has a blog called Epic Sessions that he recentle seceded from his other blog, Cheeseheadtech. His blog is a lot like mine, other than the fact that he's a good windsurfer who has a good sense of humor, 15 years more experience, a better job, waterfront property, vendors who send him free stuff, and a family who loves him. Other than that, we're basically the same windsurfer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'm Baaaaaack!

Yesterday I went to a physical therapist to find out if there was anything I could do to get back on the water soon. She dug around my ribs a bit and seemed to think that they were healing pretty well. She told me I ought get back into cardio so that it won't heal too stiff. I also was prescribed some exercises that will help me get my range of motion back (mainly lost due to me holding my arm like a broken wing these last few weeks). I also have been cleared to do some "light" windsurfing (whatever that means). But seriously I'm going to stick to the flat spots for a week or so in order to avoid stressing the injured area. Of course-- we're at the end of the season and the wind seems to be slowly going the way of the Dodo out here.

Maui is just a few short weeks away! I need to max it out at work now so I can relax a little more in the Pacific. I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm beyond stoked about this trip.

My buddy Mac just came back from a sweet trip in the Baja peninsula.
I was going to go this year, but his write up was so good it made me feel like I made it anyway :-D. My buddies from the bay are going to San Carlos these next couple weeks. I hope they scored like the rest did!

I'm running downstairs right now to make my car battle ready! Yee!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Prognosis: Negative

So it looks like I damaged my costochondral ligament in that fall at Sherman Island. Basically this is the cartilage that attaches the rib to the sternum. It normally heals by itself, but if it got detached, they'll have to sew it all back together. My doc told me that it looks like I hurt my shoulder pretty good too and wants to send me to physical therapy. I asked him how long it would take to be back on the water and he looked at me like I was an idiot.

"Do you compete in windsurfing or something?"

"Um... no."

It was cool, he used to windsurf back in the day, so he could appreciate what a catapult actually is. Anyway he wants me off the water for 30 days. I'm starting to feel a lot better, so I'm kinda doubting I'll make it that long...

So that was the bad news. The good news? I'M GOING TO MAUI IN OCTOBER!!! WOO!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

His "ouch" is worse

I'm sure by now, most of my fellow windsurfing internet geeks have seen this video. I hope this guy is ok, it seems like this could have been a pretty devastating accident.

I can identify with this individual's desire to push himself in hairy conditions. We've all done it. We're all trying to push ourselves, we're all trying to find our limits. But the nice thing about windsurfing is that the consequences are rarely this bad. From my experience, the more wind you're dealing with, the more up and down it will be. When it blows 30, it's usually blowing 20-40+. These conditions are far more ideal for windsurfing. If a huge gust comes along and begins to sustain you can hang out in the water until the tough stuff is over. Kiting doesn't come with that luxury, unfortunately.

I hope this guy makes a full recovery, and I hope that everyone who watches the video, kiter or not, learns something from the video. Think with your head, not your balls, kids.


I'm going to be off the water for a few days. Saturday morning I drove out to Rio Vista where it was sustaining around 25. I rigged my 4.4 and went out to play for a couple hours in a choppy ebb at around 9 am. I earned my namesake once again with a vicious catapult, but this was probably the most painful of all time. I held on to the boom, compressed my wrist backward and my knuckles implacted my upper chest with an odd "crunch" sound. It was the first time I ever had a feeling that I was not going to be able to make it back to shore unassisted.

I sat there in the water for a minute, testing my appendages. Hands seemed to still have grip, forearm wasn't flopping around, I was still breathing ok. I waterstarted and headed back to the launch, still overpowered. I went back to my car, cracked a beer and took a nap. More of my buddies showed up in the afternoon, so I ignored the pain and went for a sail. Oh, it was blowing 30 too, which helped me with the "mind-over-matter" bit. I sailed my 3.8 comfortably powered for a couple hours. This was the first time I think I've ever felt "comfortable" with this sail... it was probably because the water was flooding which kept it pretty flat.

I sailed a 3rd time that day, doing a downwinder on my 4.4 from a launch called "the access" to another launch known as "powerlines". It was probably only a couple miles, but it was definitely worth doing. I started to get cold as the sun set, and if it wasn't for the beers I drank that day, I probably would have been in a lot of pain.

The next morning, I woke up in my car to the wind blowing 25 again, with a really nice ebb going. I was hurting, but decided to go for a sail anyway. Once the adrenaline kicked in I was fine, and I completed one of my best planing jibes yet. I carved down onto a wave face and the wave pushed me along on a plane all the way through. Such a cool feeling.

When it was time to pack up and the windsurfing high was over, I realized that I was in some serious pain. I drove home wincing and when I got home, I had fully assessed that I had injured my upper rib cage pretty badly on Saturday. It hurts to cough and laugh and even take deep breaths. I took yesterday off work and considered driving to the hospital, but wasn't really feeling up for it. I think most rib injuries basically require rest either way, so I think I'm just going to wait and see what happens.

I guess that's what I get for teasing Dave and Josh with my last post. Maybe I should reconsider next time I'm going to make fun of another sailor?

Nah. :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

A quick how-to-windsurf refresher for Josh and Dave

Josh and Dave, just in case there was any confusion...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Non-Windsurfing Post

Something has gone terribly wrong with my PC, so I'm going to have some trouble posting these next couple weeks. Over the weekend, I backpacked in the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. We reached the summit of Mount Tallac at 9735 feet. That's not very high in comparison to most mountaineering being done in the world, but it was a bear of a climb for my perpetually-sea-level-living self. The hike was over 20 miles and I was carrying about 45lbs. It was a hell of a work out. There were definitely moments where I didn't think I was going to make it.

This area is really beautiful, with lots of mountain lakes with extremely clear water. I would recommend anyone make a trip if they have they opportunity.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thanks Mo!!!

Mo of was nice enough to make the banner for my blog. I've always loved her work with charactures and comics, so I'm totally stoked about the new look.

I'm trying out a new template to see if I can get the banner to work. The old template was screwy because it was very dependant on your monitor size/resolution, so hopefully this will make the blog more readable in the long run (even though it's going to make all my old posts have even worse formatting).

Random Pictures before a weekend off...

I haven't had any real significant sessions lately. I've been sailing Coyote Point quite a bit trying to cash in to how close it is to my office. It's a neat spot, the slightest change in wind direction changes the experience quite a bit. Today was 18-21 or so on a light flood. I mistakenly rigged my 5.0 and fought and fought the whole time to stay upwind. Yesterday was solid 5.0 on my 85L board and my ankles were taking a beating. Sometimes you go straight into the chop there, sometimes it comes from the side, it's so variable and dynamic... but it's usually pretty exciting while not feeling dangerous. It's really growing on me.

I'm off to Tahoe this weekend for some camping and hiking with my uncle. I know I'm going to be missing windsurfing and dreading the altitude headaches... but it will be nice to have a little break. I hope everybody gets some (wind) this weekend.

This is a photograph taken from near my house in the Presidio of an event called "Sail Fest". It was a huge regatta with hundreds of sailboats, and they got perfect serene sailing conditions with beautiful sunny skies that day.

This was the day I walked at Crissy. I think once I pony up for a marine radio, I'll start sailing here a lot more. The scenery is flat out amazing.

Another shot from that day at Crissy. It was pretty cold. Low 60s in the middle of the afternoon.

This is a picture taken from inside my apartment. It's a foggier and chillier part of town, but the view on a clear day like this can't be beat. They are old military style apartments, but the rent is low and the places are really nice on the inside. I fall to sleep every night to the sound of crashing waves... it rocks.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Weekend at Coyote

I sailed Coyote Point on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each day was great, but I think Sunday took the cake. The wind was steady NW 20-25 with lots of port ramps, which I FINALLY have figured out how to jump. (Previously, I had been trying to use my starboard programming to do port jumps, ha!) I'm glad I got that rewired. Now I just need to figure out how to go higher.

It was really crowded, I couldn't even find a parking spot. There were CalCup formula races going on as well as a couple non-windsurfing related parties. A lot of windsurfers avoid crowded places and keep spots they like secret. I completely disagree with this philosophy. I'm all about windsurfing around lots of windsurfers in places where windsurfing can be exposed. It's an individual sport, but everyone brings a different perspective and passion... I really dig that.

Here's a few pics:

The marine layer has a lot to do with how the wind works out here. Essentially it's a big mass of fog that develops over the Pacific and the west side of the peninsula. It's a chilly, low flying system that gets pretty cold when there's high pressure. The hot eastern land mass warms up throughout the day and the layer gets sucked across the peninsula and the bay. I know I've said about 20 things wrong in this paragraph, but I'm still working on my west coast meteorology merit badge.

Holy crap, it's Matt Pritchard! He was there doing some clinics and helping with a Tabou board demo. He's definitely one of those guys who defines class and good attitude, it was cool getting to chat with him for just a few minutes. Oh, I followed him out once to the middle of the bay and he was lofting HUGE air. There's a difference between pros and mortals.

Sorry, I just couldn't resist making an LOLmatt!

If you think I'm stoked...

Check this dude out!

This weekend was awesome... sailed sunny Coyote Point all weekend... Plus a celebrity sighting!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The First Rule of Windsurfing Club

You do not talk about Windsurfing Club!

Fight Club is probably one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. When I come come back to work the morning after an awesome session and I feel like I've beat up and bruised but at the same time completely stoked, I'm often reminded of the scene in this movie where he's at work, his coworkers are yelling in his face but it only comes through as a silent hum in the background. Even if you tried to explain how you achieved this state of temporary nirvana, they probably wouldn't understand.

I had another awesome session at Point Isabel/Marina Bay. 86L and 5.0, fully powered 20-25 goodness for about 2 hours. Starboard and port jumping ramps along with super flat water behind Brooks' Island. Big rolling swell about a half mile upwind. Right now this is my favorite spot, and it's not even close.

July Wrap-Up

days of sailing, with planing on 5.7 or below
2 days using the 5.7 "big sail"
14 days on my trusty 5.0 Boxer
13 different spots

The days I missed were mostly due to things like going to the DMV, getting boards repaired, traveling or being sick. Truly, there were probably only 3-4 days that were unsailable (and by unsailable, I mean unplanable, with my gear). If you were willing to drive, had a 7.5, and a little bit of local knowledge I'm confident you could plane every day.

I know my buddies on the east coast are having a rough go-of-it this summer. I'll say a prayer for you all!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Feel Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeat!

I know this is way off topic but it makes me laugh, so I though I would share. Sorta the way you feel after a great session -- sharing the stoke.

Today I sailed 5.7 WAY overpowered at Pt. Isabel. The meter was reading 17, but there is no doubt in my mind that I should have been on a 5.0. My ankles were killing me, I wish I had my straps more outboard for super powered days like that. I know I passed a couple of jets. (Not really, I'm always the slowest guy on the water... ha!) I sorta love that spot, but I'm not really sure why. One of these days I'll write it up.

Oh and BTW, 5.7's feel HUGE now. A year ago, I was thought my 6.0 felt tiny and twitchy, now I'm the complete opposite. So strange...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Two Shame Walks for the Price of One!

The walk of shame is not something foreign to me. You might even call it the Aaron-walk. In the last couple weeks I've had two very memorable walks-of-shame.

The first was at the wall (pictured) in the Gorge. I was getting toward the end of a session and decided to go in, but I couldn't really identify where the launch I used was from a distance. I pointed up, under the assumption that getting downwind is normally easier than getting upwind. I ended up getting stuck in a really big wind shadow. The current definitely wasn't taking me downwind -- quite the opposite. I realized that I had sailed about half way between the wind line to shore. I was already tired so instead of swimming back to the windline to waterstart, I decided to swim to shore and do the walk, which seemed pretty short at that moment. I got to the beach and decided just to carry my assembled gear, since it was a downwind walk anyway (my first ever DOWNWIND walk of shame, is that some kind of record?). As I'm carrying my stuff through the small footpaths, I'm stepping on a lot of little sharp rocks, which is pretty normal so things were going fine. Finally when our camp was in view, I was walking along a sandy footpath. I stepped on a sandspur, whinced, brushed my foot off and took a few more steps. Each one of these steps included more sandspurs. I decided not to brush off and just keep going... Every step involved about 10 more spurs and eventually the pain took me off my feet. Fortunately, Ray Armas must have heard a four-letter word from the distance, and sent someone to bring me some sandals. I'm not really sure how I would have made it back without those sandals. I think the conscientious Cuban is going to do real well in the US. Thanks Ray, for saving me from my most painful AND first ever REVERSE walk of shame.

Yesterday was looking to be a good day at Crissy. The wind was up and the tide was ebbing until 4:30pm, so I knew I could get an hour or so in before the flood started. Unfortunately, all I had was my 104 liter board, because my 86 is at the doctor. I decided to stay on the inside since the big board was not going to be fun to sail in the voodoo chop. Other people there were rigging 4.5's and 5.0's, so I decided to rig my 4.4 since I was going to be using a big board. I sailed this setup for about an hour without incident on the inside. I wasn't making much progress upwind, but I figured that was because of the inside eddy-effect (when it ebbs on the bay, it can flood on the inside), plus I was a little underpowered. I came back in and warmed up in my car and decided to go out when the flood had started. I figured the eddy would have reversed and I would probably be in better shape to get upwind. It didn't work out so well for me. I was underpowered, tacked a few times and realized that I wasn't going to get back to the beach at all. I had never really discussed where to take out if I couldn't get back to the beach, but saw a bunch of skiffs docked by a seawall and gave it a shot. Fortunately there was a sand bar there and some steps that made it pretty easy to get back to the main Crissy launch. Only one other windsurfer noticed me doing the walk and he was sympathetic, so that was nice.

Lessons learned?

1. Look closely at the place where you launch from before you launch.

2. Never sail underpowered at Crissy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Finally some pictures

Before I go into more details about the trip, let me just throw some pictures up, because I know that's really all you guys care about ;-).

This one is Doug's Beach just as we arrived. As mentioned it was offshore breeze, so there was a bit of a swim out to the wind line...

I don't know who most of the sailors are below, but if one of them is you, I'm happy to provide a high res picture for you. I also took a bit of video, but I'm even more video-retarded than photo-retarded, so cut me some slack, I'll try to figure out what to do with it... (no offense to the real mentally disabled -- my readers).

Another shot of Doug's. The scenery was stunning.

There were a lot of awesome jibes at the hatchery

Your classic example of a "bad photo", but I kinda like it.

Bruce Peterson jumping. Came out fuzzy, but you get the idea.

Can you believe I sailed in that crap?

Josh from Windsurfingmag gets air!

Kevin getting ready to initiate a forward.
Many of us were thinking what you are thinking... "WTF?!"

Mind you, I don't think I caught any of these jumps at their apex.

This photo illustrates the conditions a bit.

Rider disappears in the spray from his own jibe.

He shoved-it

Josh jibe.

Lots of sails on the water... one measly kite.
The wall. If you look close you can see Mt. Hood on the right side of the picture.
Having a post session brew with the guys. Pretty spectacular views in every direction.

That's all for now. I just started a picasa acct, and I may just make it publicly accessible to save myself time :) Hope everyone gets some this weekend! Er, I mean... wind.