Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Odd Twist of Fate

Just when you've got it all figured out, things change.

It turns out that I've been offered a job within my current company that will be a huge career advancement. It's one of those moments when I really have to do the right thing to keep growing now, or else I could be stuck doing the same thing (that I'm not totally stoked on) for many more years.

The new job has me relocating to the NY Metropolitan area. My home base office will be on Manhattan, but I'll be able to work from home at least a few days a week. On one hand it's sad to leave San Francisco, since it's been so good to me. But otherwise, I'm pretty excited for the change and the big city life. The wind and people have been great out here and I'll forever cherish those memories and relationships, but I'm super excited to see what Long Island has to offer in terms of windsurfing. I can't wait to sail all those -auks and -amptons with the Peconic Puffin crew.

The move is at the end of April. Excited!

Any suggestions for where I should settle that's close to work and windsurfing?

(photo of Ray Armas, NY City Windsurfer catching the subway)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mount My Mast

Those of you who know me personally would probably agree that I have a pretty crass sense of humor. Something that I got a kick out of that I heard on a television show was:

"Listening to someone's dreams is like flipping through a stack of photos. If you're not in them and no one is naked ... what's the point?"

I sort of have that feeling about windsurfing videos of normal folks. They're coolest to the person who went for the ride so they can relive the moment. There are some good ones out there, particularly if they have decent action and good music.

Nevertheless, I bought a GoPro HD in the hope of making some videos of me and my friends this year. At least they'll be fun to us. Dave from epicsessions gave me a good tip about the mast mount and I tried it out on a gusty day at Haskins this week. My recommendation is to start the video then start multi-tasking on your computer. At least the music kicks ass.

As the season pushes on and gets more consistent, I'll get some better sailing and more angles on these videos.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Madness

It's blowing 30 out there, but my team is still in the tournament playing at a time that I know will kibosh any windsurfing I could do.

I'm choosing to watch basketball over windsurfing.

(go gators)

Friday, March 18, 2011

What would have happened...

I woke up around my customary time of 5am this morning to hop on a couple conference calls with folks from the east coast. Of course, before I did that, I checked the wind. By 9AM my calls were over and there was a window of opportunity for me to go windsurfing. I decided to be a good boy and continuing to work, crossing my fingers for the storm to last into the afternoon. Otherwise my morning would have went like this:

9:00 AM - Stop in donut shop to refuel, begin the drive down to Half Moon Bay in terrible stormy conditions.

10:00 AM - Arrive at Half Moon Bay, change into wetsuit.

10:05 AM - Decide to rig 4.7 and 97L board.

10:10 AM - Wind ramps up to 30 average. It's gonna be a big day! Rig down to 3.7/75.

10:15 AM - Derig bigger gear so it doesn't blow away.

10:20 AM - Get to water. Immediately begin slogging but expect that it's just a lull. Denial Stage.

10:25 AM - Continue slogging, commence four-letter dialect use. Anger stage.

10:30 AM - Slog a bit more, consider rigging larger. Bargaining stage.

10:35 AM - Lay in the water waiting for a water start after a failed pivot jibe. Spit up mouthfuls of storm water. Depression Stage.

10:40 AM - Begin swimming back to the beach. Fire copious snot rockets into the sand and hack up chunky bits of runoff for the next 15 minutes. Acceptance Stage.

10:55 AM - Long, slow drive home on wet roads after an unproductive morning. Grief complete.

So I missed this morning, but at least my wetsuit is dry and ready for the next chance.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aguadilla, Spanish for Waterdilla

The second part of my winter-Caribbean vacation was in Northwest Puerto Rico. We flew into San Juan and drove the 2 hours to get to the surfy town of Aguadilla. The drive along the north coast of Puerto Rico was just as adrenaline filled as driving on Tortola. Traffic laws aren't taken too seriously in our Spanish speaking territory.

Again, this trip was going to hopefully be a chance to surf more while it was still winter and the wind was light, but it blew 20-25 almost the whole time we were there. Unfortunately there is no place to rent windsurfing gear in all of Puerto Rico. Even if I was forward thinking enough to get some gear in San Juan, the shop that rents gear there says on their web page that they "no longer offer advanced rentals". I'd be lying if I said it wasn't excruciating at times, sitting at Shacks beach watching the wind whip across waist to head high waves.

Shacks beach itself seemed like an outstanding spot for windsurfing. The guy in the picture below has a house there, but is originally from Long Island. He said it's a tricky place due to shallow reefs, but in general it works pretty well. It reminded me an awful lot of Uppers at Kanaha, except the waves were breaking 30 yards not 300 yards from shore. Note to self, pack gear next time you go to PR. I may have been there during a particularly windy few days, but I sure wouldn't mind spending a few months there to see.

He did get some good down the line rides, but by the time I got the camera out, he was going backside. Probably underpowered and trying to get upwind to an apparently small gap in the reef to launch and land.

Even though it was windy, the surf was pretty fun. It seems like the forecasting is pretty inaccurate. My last day was forecast at 1-2 feet and had waves that were 3 feet overhead. (Of course some Hawaiian dude would tell you those were 6 inch waves, but we'll get into machismo and wave height description for a whole different conversation). In any case many of the locals were surprised by how big the waves were.

Another awesome place to visit in NW Puerto Rico is the Camuy Caverns, which is one of the largest known cave systems in the world. The tour group was massive, but it is definitely a pretty amazing place.

The main spot I surfed is called Wilderness. It was freaking awesome, waist to overhead peelers the whole time I was there. There was some wind so you had to paddle a lot to stay on the peak, but that kept the crowd from sticking around for hours. Above is one of the many very good local surfers hitting the lip on a small inside wave.

And now, another laugh track moment:
Gif Created on Make A Gif

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Two nights on Tortola

This February I was lucky enough to escape the chilly SF winter to check out Tortola and Puerto Rico. My intentions around this trip were mainly relax and practice surfing. I haven't been posting about it much, but I've been trying to surf as much as possible this winter. My original hope was for surfing to help me with my wavesailing, but as it turns out I've been catching the surfing bug in a bigger way than I imagined (primarily because the first year you surf, it's a full-on exercise in futility [unless you have, ya know, talent or athleticism {which I wouldn't know anything about}]).

These last couple months have involved a lot of cold water and cold humble pie, which is a dish actually best served warm. Enter, trip to the warm Caribbean.

Traveling to a minor island like Tortola from the west coast is one heck of a journey. One whole day of traveling, an overnight layover in San Juan, then a puddle jumping prop plane to hilly BVI's. The trip was originally set for Puerto Rico only, but I figured I may as well check out another island while we're making the trip. My research indicated that Tortola was a good choice for a two night trip to score some beach time and potentially a little bit of surfing time.

As it turned out the surfing was only marginally good, mainly because there was too much wind!

My next obvious course of action was to scour the island for windsurfing gear. I went to a tourist info center (which had previously rented me a surfboard with a huge crack in the nose) to try to figure out the windsurfing situation. They were somewhat puzzled by the idea windsurfing on the island which was a bad omen. There were some outdated looking brochures sitting around hinting that there were some places that offered windsurfing on the windward side of the island and one spot on the south side which apparently would only rent gear by the week.

We made the journey back toward the Northeast part of the island, first to a town called East End. I say "journey" because even though the island is only 15 miles long, getting up and down huge, steep switchbacks on sketchy roads surrounded by anarchy style driving etiquette on the left dadgummed side of the road... well let's just say the adrenaline was flowing.

We found no sign of windsurfing in East End, so we ventured on to the final hope -- Beef Island -- where one finds the Tortola Airport. Passing by the airport into what seemed like no-man's land we discovered a parking area and a couple of shops visible from the road. One was clearly marked "HIHO", which is the name of the inter-island race held in the Virgin Islands, so I immediately knew I was in the right place.

What I discovered was a spot called "Trellis Bay" which has a large protected mooring area and some very friendly beaches with a nice outdoor seating area for eating and having a drink. Some cool little artsy stores where local artists are working on their craft right in front of you sit next to a full service internet Cafe. The Cafe's specialties include the "Awesomest Fish Sandwich" and a wide selection of cold beverages. It's the perfect kind of spot where a guy-water-enthusiest and a girl-who-wants-to-hang-out-on-the-beach combo can go to each be fully satisfied.

The host of this joint is a guy by the name of Jeremy. Turns out that Jeremy runs a blog about the goings-on of his joint and Trellis bay. Full moon parties, live music, he's got a good gig going. Jeremy also has tons of great stories if you get him away from work for a moment: sailing from SF to Indonesia, teaching Finian Maynard how to windsurf, getting on a windsurfer himself and just going places. He's one of those guys you meet who seems so inspired that you doubt he ages a day.

I windsurfed two days at Trellis Bay. The first day I rode an 8.5 and a 120L board. I admittedly was pretty nervous to use this kind of gear. I haven't sailed anything bigger than a 6.0 in literally years. I wasn't sure if I could even do it. The 120 felt absolutely ginormous. I can't remember the feeling of carving through a jibe on a board that large. Come to think of it, I don't think I had really started making a lot of jibes until I moved to the bay area a few years ago. The sailing was fun but exhausting. It's almost like you're using a whole different set of muscles with that kind of rig. I could ride it, but every transition felt really draining. It was incredibly fun cruising over the bright blue water but it's definitely something to which I'm not acclimated.

The second day was 5.4, same board, smaller fin. I was enjoying some speedy short reaches inside the jetty, blazing through jibes. It was super fun. If I had my freestyle board, it would have been perfect conditions to work on all those little spinny things the rust has been building upon.

I could definitely see the draw of the HIHO that everyone has been raving about for years. I don't think I'm ready to go for it because honestly I'm just not a long-distance (or racing) guy. For me, I'd like to hop around the islands with big wave or freestyle gear, exploring rarely-sailed reefs and protected freestyle lagoons.


I have forgotten the art of turning a board this wide.

Nature Boy's Wilderness Bar

The ever-famous Bomba Shack with photos of actual topless women.

Carib is a very nice beer.

Clean, steady 8.5 wind in the channel.

Trellis Bay is a funky and fun place to hang out.

Local Artists built all kinds of cool sculptures. They light these things on fire for the full moons.

Cane Garden Bay hides a very well known point break. We stayed down there too... a very nice family beach.

(insert laugh track)
Another sunset session surfing alone.