Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Special Session Report: Anniversary Day

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.


Tom T said...

Its great to see you still remember the east coast conditions!! I know and understand the same grumbling and cursing you speak of... but when it is me, typically I am on a 7.5 and 130L board...

5.5 and 104 is my high wind kit.

Planing 75% of the time??? EPIC!!

Keeping staying positive and Enjoy!

Mo said...

It was the best 6.4 session I've had this month.
;-) E P I C

Waterturtle said...

welcome back!

Thip said...

Hi Aaron,
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Mark & I were rescused by Mo today. :)

cammar said...

Good one Aaron. It's definitely all relative... that's why I'm going to Oahu for a couple of months! ;)

PeconicPuffin said...

Yes, the Bay is great in the summer! Too bad you miss the rest of the year, though.

catman said...

back in the late 90's, i remember the days working in manhattan and checking the wind pager for 15mph + readings. once it hit that mark it was the long slog to Plumb Beach out near Bar Ridge Brooklyn for sailing. First I had to get the subway back to Brooklyn then get in my car and drive. Was a pretty sweet place to sail my 5.7 and Fanatic Boa circa 1990.

I also sailed a few times in Duck North Carolina, also on the Outer Banks. Some sweet storms would roll through and create great sailing conditions. But my formative sailing was on the Long Island sound at Greenwich Point. It blew there too, particularly in stormy weather. Old school.

It's good to be on the Bay.

Sierra said...

yay =)
I like this post.

Catapulting Aaron said...

funny comment by the Puffin.

I would say that I windsurf more in the winter here than I did on the east coast by a long shot. If I was willing to sail a 7.0, I would probably be able to sail 12-15 days a month during the "winter".

Also, the "off season" is from November to february here.

I do believe the Bay has the longest season out of any spot in the continental US. Quote me on that.

It's ok, you can be bitter. ;-)

PeconicPuffin said...

"the "off season" is from November to february here.

I do believe the Bay has the longest season out of any spot in the continental US. Quote me on that."

We don't have an "off season" on Long Island. And while I have sails up to 7.0 (my standard is "if I can duck jibe it easily, it's not too big" most of the guys I sail with year round cut their quivers off at 5.8.

Catapulting Aaron said...

It's fine dude. Have pride in your spot. I've lived on the east coast. The bay is windier. I'm positive of that.

For the record, I did sail about 3-10 times a month during our "off season", so I guess I shouldn't call it an offseason? Should I claim year 'round wind as well?

Our winter basically turns into an east-coast type frontal system. When the fronts come through, some folks sail. Most probably head up to Tahoe for the fresh powder on world-class mountains, though.