Sunday, December 27, 2020

2020- best year yet

I love statistics- keeping track of things and analyzing the data to see what I can learn. For the past few years, I've tracked all my kiting, windsurfing and winging sessions via twitter to see how many times I get on the water, what gear I use most, and where and when I sailed. 

Sometimes I got skunked. 

Oftentimes, it becomes the best session ever.

2020, despite it all, was one of the best years yet. I got on the water an amazing 202 times or 54% of all possible days. At its peak in July, I sailed 27 out of 31 possible days. At the trough, in January, it was only 5 out of 31 days. 

Compared to previous years, I'm up almost 30% in terms of time on the water, breaking 200+ days on the water this year.  

Previous years saw a switch from windsurfing to kiting, planing boards to foiling boards and now the trend from kiting to winging.

It was the first year for the wing, but the new endeavor took up nearly 60% of all my time on the water with 124 sessions compared to 78 sessions on the kite. 

Foiling dominated the year with 86% or 174 sessions on the kite and wing foils. The remaining 14% of the time was devoted to kiting with the surfboard or winging with the land board.

My quiver has changed over the years from one design sails, formula rigs, slalom rigs, foil kites, carbon race foils, pocket foil boards, no strut kites and most recently to wings. This year I used 7 foils, 5 boards, 5 kites and 4 wings. 

The 2 5m wings were the most used in the quiver with 104 sessions or 50% of all time on the water. It was my 'go to' wing from 10-22 knots of breeze.   

While I haven't given up kiting completely, all 78 kite sessions came in the first 7 months of the year before winging completely took over. The 6m single strut kite and pocket board still remain the most used combination in the kite quiver while the remaining foil kites get used a few times throughout the lighter winter months. This season I switched up the kite foils from the Moses 550 & 590 to the Moses 683S. Despite not having the overall top end speed, it's way easier in the transitions as it gives you time to shuffle your feet around. 

Windsurfing never stood a chance this year. It was the first year in 35 years that I missed out.
But on the flip side, I gained so much more.

I let go of that which defined me and welcomed in a whole new world.    

It was also the first year of no racing in more than 30 years competing on the water.

In a weird sort of way, it took a pandemic year to make me realize I had already had everything I needed. No competition to compare myself against others. No podium. No ego.  Just pure stoke.

I started off the season with the wing, the land board and an empty parking lot. The Crissy Field parking was restricted so that meant endless asphalt runs learning how to handle the new wing and making transitions on the land board. 

The first few sessions on the water were character building to say the least. If I fell 100 times, I got back up 101. The extra large Moses 1100 (2200 cm2) front foil wing was key to getting up early with a slow stall speed and lots of pumping glide in lighter winds. Having a big board also helped. I started with a 29" wide x 6'-0"/120l Camet board. 
But after a few sessions, I was starting to make foiling gybes and could see how this might be really additive just like windsurfing and kiting had been before this. The learning curve was steep and fast and I was hooked. 
By June, most of my sessions were on the wing with even kiting beginning to take a back seat. As I got more comfortable on the wing foil in, especially in the breeze, I switched up to the Moses 790 (1500 cm2) front foil with far more responsive & tighter turns compared to the bigger 1100 foil. 

By July, we did a road trip up to the Columbia River Gorge- the mecca of wind sports in North America. It had been several years since my last visit and the first with the wing. I managed 18 sessions over 12 days buried deep in river swell making big dreamy foiling turns with the wing. There were moments I was just suspended between the swell and the wind, carving big S's into the water surface.   
If I wasn't hooked already, this was it.
To top it off, I got some amazing kite sessions with the surfboard and foilboard in the swell with the big breeze. 

I added a 4m wing to the quiver at the end of July when it became apparent kiting was cancelled and winging had taken over completely. 

August and September were spent chasing container ship wake under the golden gate with the foil board and wing. The huge inbound freighters made the perfect setup for getting into the flow. Once you're hooked in and riding off the side of these 10-story giants, you no longer need the power from the wind or the wing. Everything you need is generated from the foil and the wave as you coast along effortlessly down the bay.  

Pure stoke from the golden gate bridge all the way down to Alcatraz. At the peak, I managed to get 4 incoming freighters in one afternoon.

By September, I had upgraded my board from a 6'-0"/120l giant to a smaller 5'-4"/90l nimble whip. The swing weight was noticeable but the OMFG moment came when I plugged in a Mikes Lab foil into the wing board.  It was like going from a Ford 150 to a Maserati. The ML fat 90+ foil has an increased chord which gives it more pumping range without giving up the top end speed you'd expect from a carbon race foil. 

The fall of the year saw the swell come alive with several epic sessions at Fort Point in the ebb tide and big breeze with what seemed like endless Pacific sleigh rides under the golden gate.  After having windsurf foiled, kite foiled and now wing foiled, I can say, the latter is the most well matched for the swell. The wing is the easiest to turn on and off and not outrun yourself like that on a kite. Once you get on the wave, you can simply flog the wing out and rely on the foil for power. 

Some of the final sessions of the year came on the flip side of the king’s tide with the negative tide - opening up a big playground on the hard packed beach for the wing and the land board. We did runs from Kelly's cove down to the Zoo carving in and out of the foam that washed up along the waters edge. 

2020 bought some of the bet sessions to date.

In hindsight, I don’t think I’d do it any other way.

Some of the years' highlights.

     Winging it on the land foiler.