Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Outer Banks Ocean & Sound Action

There has been ocean waves and blasting in the sound. I'm getting way more comfortable in the ocean but by no means a wave surfer yet.

It has been such a fantastic trip so far. The crew is from Georgia, Charlotte & Greensboro. It is a treat sailing with people better than yourself since you pick up tricks and progress much faster. Donald, Rob & Mac certainly are getting there. I'm still working on handling the shore break and staying up wind- but this my second trip being in the ocean shows marked improvement. Check out George's & Bill's blog for the best photo coverage of Wave Jam. Andy just posted a vid showing how fun wave are with full power in the sail.

Mark, Mac, Rob, Bill & George- Deciding between 6.5 & 4.5

I have had 2 epic sessions in the sound so far. Canadian Hole was so sweet Saturday after being in the ocean. Mark and I road that east wind until sunset- this after my second day straight in the ocean. I hit the sound again Monday. Started the morning blasting on a 9.5 / 158L. Then suddenly, shortly thereafter, rigged a 5.8 / 106, 4.7 / 106, 4.2 / 85! Most of the crew hit the ocean again for some off shore wave sailing but I stayed in the sound since it was rocking! It is much deeper north of C' hole so there were some monster swell out there! I was wave sailing on that swell and chop hopping like never before. Wind was super punchy- at no point did I just get to relax and free ride. It was always switching between hanging on for dear life and pointing down wind to counter a lull. This is awesome practice for off shore wave sailing. I countered the lulls by mainly staying with the 4.2 / 106L combo. In the gusts it was like riding a bucking bronco but in the lulls the volume keeps you coasting. I even almost did an unintentional forward loop on one monster jump. I decided to back the throttle down a a bit after that 8)

The crew back in the sound for a sunset sesh.

And then there is stand up paddling (SUP). I rented a Starboard Drive from Andy at Sailworld for an ocean session with the crew yesterday. The wind was west but dropping through the afternoon. Mark and I paddled out past the shore break and I caught my first wave! I was actually still on my knees but that counts! I spent some more time trying the paddling and catching the waves standing- not impressive to the casual observer but I did catch a few outer breaks. The wind was just enough to make paddling a workout so after watching Mac and Rob on their SUPs with sails I had to rig a 4.7 and try. WOW! With a 4.7 that 10' 5" board was awesome. I spent probably half an hour just getting used to the circuit going out and coming in. I kept getting further in and riding the bigger breaks. By the end of the session I finally worked up to really riding the breaking wave. It felt spectacular and was one of the most fun things I've ever been a part of.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Big Rig Comes Through

Leah and I had a fantastic evening at Belews with Andy and Diane. The NW wind picked up after lunch and I even got a little time in the straps. Not much though. The real highlight of the day was Leah using the big 7.5 for the first time and LOVING it. This was her first time being well powered in flat water and actually trusting the sail to hold as she leaned out over the rail. Pretty soon she was in the foot straps AND using the harness! Since she was on the verge of planing in some of the gusts it was a good taste of how it feels once you are planing. Point down wind while hanging on the boom, after the lift put the front foot in, then the back, then the hook... now you can point back up wind and proceed to simultaneous relaxing/adrenaline pumping times.
Towards sunset we did a little paddling. There was just enough NW left to keep the bugs away and a sweet sunset to boot. The water is still toasty but Fall is definitely here. Better get a spring suite if you don't have one- that will give you at least 2 additional Fall months in the water. Better still I've got an Oneill zen zip full suite if you need it. I'm 5'10" and 150 lbs- if you are close to this it will work for you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Summer Light Wind / Tropical Mis-fires

I didn't get in the straps on Belews the entire month of August. My only planing session was in Lake Waccamaw on a 158L / 9.5 combo on a fun SE wind. I hit Belews last week for a couple sessions of NE and got some good planing runs on the 166L / 9.5 combo. Yesterday I was back at lake Waccamaw on the 158L / 9.5 and way overpowered in a N wind! This was one of those days I'll never forget.

Cruising in sub-planning conditions is fun. Mostly relaxing, especially if you are using a harness. As you get more comfortable you tend to push for more speed and begin to grab the larger sails. Here is the bottom line- even if you are still happy cruising on an old long board you should consider getting your own larger rig. You would be amazed what a 6.5 would do for your summer light wind days- and when the 6.5 seems to not be so powerful the 7.5 to 9.0 doesn't seem so bad! I put my old 9.5 on my very old mistral superlight in about 4-8 mph and had a blast. Just hook in with the harness, lean back and proceed to cruise 'till sunset.

I've learned quite a bit about planing/sub-planing in light air this summer. AND when the wind is 0 mph or less paddling a board or kayak. We do have some fun boards in the container at Belews but if you really want to start having fun have a look around for some second hand larger rigs. Heck if anyone is interested we could start talking formula type stuff for light air planing. I can promise you being locked in and planing without a white cap or swell in sight is tons of fun- and that certainly is the case quite frequently on Belews. I love my 9.5