Saturday, November 29, 2008

A day of thanks...

Thanksgiving came and passed like any other day here in Holland this fall with the temperature being a bit too low to tempt me on the water but nonetheless we enjoyed a terrific homemade feast in our tiny Amsterdam apartment. For the non- American readers out there, Thanksgiving is a day of thanks in the US where we gather with our families, stuff ourselves with turkey (or tofurkey); dressing; mashed potatoes, cranberries, yams, sweet potatoes, apple pie, pumpkin pie and ice cream and finally settle down to some good old American football on TV.
This year I have plenty to be thankful for including health, family and friends,
but since this is a windsurfing blog- ill keep it on topic:
The wind- although not always cooperative, I cant live with out it. My life is scheduled around it: vacations, jobs, and even the afternoon trip shopping with my wife. This year the dutch winds have been less than stellar but I'm thankful for the light air technique I am finally beginning to master. (...and even when its blowing the dogs off the chains and I dont have my small gear, I am thankful someone will be able to enjoy it!)
The water- with so many new places to sail this year, I am tremendously thankful for the all the time on the water I have spent training and racing this past year in and around Europe, the US and Brazil. From the small dutch inland lakes to the Baltic Sea, North Sea and both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans , it has been a great year to explore new lakes, bays and ocean swells on my windsurfing board. Thank you so much!
The other boardheads like me -without them, windsurfing would be pretty boring. To all the new friends I have made this year and the old friends I have grown closer with- thank you. You pushed me harder, made me sail faster and made me realized how great it is to have you around and how great this sport is that all all enjoy!
For all the small impromptu sailing sessions where you led me get ahead to leeward but still destroyed me with angle and speed- thank you!
For the sportsmanship you demonstrated at major Championships- thank you!
For the post session beers on the beach offering friendly advice and the promise to meet up again next week- thank you!
To the sail-makers, the board-shapers and the fin makers- thank for making this year better and faster than last year!
To the race organizers, mark set boats and volunteers that made every regatta a real treat!
Thank you!
And finally to the readers of this blog. Thank you for reading and leaving your valuable comments. I hope its been as good for you as its been for me.
Enjoy the photo compilation from the last years' windsurfing adventures:

Sunday Update: Meanwhile the finals of the Formula Windsurfing Grand Prix are happening in Fortaleza, Brazil: enjoy the vid:

And back in SF the early NW swell is already kicking in Ft Point:

Glad to see everyone is having a great autumn!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

last race of the year

Its been a painful month for windsurfing here in Holland but finally after nearly 3 weekends of trying, we got off a decent slalom series last weekend in Tjeukermeer. In typical Dutch style, the weather was cold, rainy and just plain awful. Well it could have been worse as the previous w-end we got of 1 race and sat in our cars for the rest of the afternoon waiting for the rain to stop and the breeze to fill. It never did!
At attempts at staying warm were futile despite a 5/4 steamer, booties and a wool cap!

Despite the lack of feeling in most sailors' fingers, we did manage to race nearly 9 heats of full on dutch slalom. The course was a bit of a drag race but once I got things tuned up I was near the front again. I didnt quite have the top speed as the leaders but alot has to do with what gear you have. I was switching back and forth between the large and medium F2 slalom boards- always seeming to make the wrong choice as the wind went opposite accordingly to what I chose. But for the most part, the 7.3 north warp was the ticket. Local Frisian sailor- Klaas Sybrand Jissin was tearing it up around the course with unstoppable speed off the line pulling away from Adriaan van Rijsselberg and Teade de Jong.
Unlike Formula racing where the race may last 20-30 minutes, the slalom race is almost over before it begins. Getting a good start is the only option for success. There are no alternative options to bail out and bang the right corner if you get stuffed off the line. With that said, its sometimes easier to forget about the count down and rather keep close to your opponents in the pre start- never letting them get more than a few meters away!
Mark rounding are another big way to gain or loose positions if you are rounding in a tight pack. Coming out with speed is the key- so that means being aggressive in your carve so you exit with plenty of power in the sail. I find it helpful to get my center of effort low and when I pop the sail around I can really give it a good pump to get going again. Of course, any mark rounding is usually a lesson in obstacle avoidance as there is usually 1 or 2 sailors struggling to find their way around the mark.
At the end f the day, it was all good fun- despite never having had picked the right equipment but thats all part of the game.
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you loose but always gybe like it was your gybe last ever!