Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Home at Treasure Island

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:

Untitled from Aaron Vieira on Vimeo.

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".

Friday, August 21, 2009

Extended Loop Attempt Video + Thoughts

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If I Can Do It

Then you can do it.

The video is funny because I had a serious "early celebration" situation. I was so excited to have landed in the straps that I biffed my waterstart. It's so me, it's ridiculous.

I've got a lot to say on the topic of looping, so stay tuned for me to gather my thoughts.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Do you wish you were here?

I know I do.

October can't get here fast enough.