Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2010 Kit

I managed to convince my financial advisor that I absolutely NEED some new gear since the old stuff, quite frankly, didn't work anymore...


Fedex is due to arrive any day now, with some brand spanky new stuff. It's going to be a long four months til Hatteras.

Update: It's here!
I love the green beast. Can't wait to try it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Basically being a hack, I'm pretty stoked if and when I get any kind of media coverage whatsoever. This time, a little article showed up in PlancheMag... That's me in the tiny photo in the bottom left corner. Kudo's to Pierre Morneau from Montreal who also got the two photos next to mine... and Nic Chapleau for taking the shots!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Big Swell

Holy Crap! Not being located anywhere near a coastline, I don't pay much attention to this stuff, but couldn't resist posting this link:

StormSurf North Pacific Wave Model

Especially pertinent today and for the next few days, as it would appear that the Hawaiian Islands are about to get a right hammering.
Can't wait to check out some of the footage!! Bring it on! [says the arm-chair athlete]

(thanks for the heads up Beach Telegraph!).

... and for those kooks who are out of the loop, or just don't procrastinate enough, check out the most recent addition of the Windsurfer International.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last kick at the can...

It's getting cold out there, real cold.

Actually, believe it or not, its not that bad yet, but I think the weather is finally supposed to go 'seasonal' by the end of the week, with the first smathering of snowfall on Thursday.

But, we did score one more decent one at Sandbanks last Friday. I took half the day off and drove myself out to Picton to meet up with Ilan, Pierre and JF Lemay. I extracted them from the allure of the beach and dragged them off to Mac's, despite what appeared to be pretty tiny little waves. Sure enough though, the wind ramped up to a reasonable 30-35kts for the afternoon and we feasted on 3-5ft waves. Not epic in the sense of true epicity (is that a word?), but a blast none the less, and well worth the trip. Mostly head-high rides, but once again, the wave wrapping that happens there just gives it enough twist to get to reasonable side-shore conditions. I think the best wave I saw was Pierre getting about 6-8 nice turns all the way into the wind doldrums near shore. Ilan's wave riding is improving all the time. Ilan is on a solid no-skunk-yet record for Sandbanks, so if he is going to make the trip all the way from Montreal, chalk it down for a guaranteed quality session.

A few photos, care of Ilan...

But alas, it is time to dry out the equipment, pull out the parka's and snow shovels, cuz here comes winter!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Clear Out!

Equipment for sale / a vendre (Kingston, ON)

• 2008 Goya W3D 5.3 - Good Condition (red, rigs on a 430). $350

• 2008 Goya W3D 4.1 – Excellent Condition (black, rigs on a 370/400). $350

Masts / mât:
• 2008 Goya RDM 430 – Good Condition, with bag. $300

• 2009 211 Components (Goya proto) 140-190 Alloy boom – Very Good Condition. $100

Photos available on request. Packages or complete rigs are a possibility. Make an offer and I'll consider.
Contact Mike/Fish at fishinator@hotmail.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Wow! I have never seen blue on the windguru maps before, probably a testament to where I live.

Check this out: http://lostinhatteras.blogspot.com/

Andy McKinney from SailWorld Hatteras is reporting a very nutty week coming right up in Cape Hatteras!

Definitely a great blog from the Cape that we Canadians all like to invade every spring. Take a look.

Here's a direct link to the insane windguru forecast

That's gonna shake them vacation homes real good.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SessionLogs - Check it out...

Ever want to show off your best epic sessions?
Check out this application, developed by one of my old kiwi mates back in New Zealand. It has recently gone global! Well done Chris!
Consider signing up and logging your sessions! It's not only for windsurfing either - pick a sport and show off your photos and videos.

Monday, November 02, 2009

3 nukes this year.

We've had 3 occasions this year to own a 3.0! Impressive. I usually consider myself lucky if I can use my 3.7 once or twice a year. I love the high wind stuff, so this has been a treat for sure!

Halloween was another very windy day. Unfortunately, I could not get my motivation up, sufficient to overcome the dismal morning rains to drive out to Sandbanks... which is where I should have been sailing. Alas, I had Bob the Builder and Wendy waiting for me to go trick-or-treating, so no way I was going to miss that for anything.

Sailed here in town with the locals:
1 hour on 4.1 in strong southerlies at Everitt, and rain...
1 hour on 4.1 in strong, but dropping southwesterlies at Patterson Park...
1 hour on 3.7 maxed, in very strong westerlies at Emily St.

I'd say it's been a reasonable fall - but definitely hoping for more!!

Sorry, no photos...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Igloos and PFD's forever... eh?!

If there is ever any doubt why windsurfers still need to wear PFD's in Canada, here is a quote from recent correspondence with Transport Canada:

"The issue of PFDs for sailboards was discussed during the regulatory consultation periods of 2002 and 2005. At that time, there was a great deal of discussion surrounding the matter. The sailboarding community itself is split on the subject. The Canadian Yachting Association, the governing body for windsurfing competitions in Canada, and other boating organizations have declared their position that all vessels should indeed carry flotation devices. As a result Transport Canada has decided not to repeal the requirements for PFDs to be carried on sailboards."

One of the first things that may pop into your head is the simple question - why are windsurfers regulated by Transport Canada in the first place? I guess they are worried about all those windsurfers who cart contraband cigarettes back and forth across the Great Lakes. MMmmm, soggy wet cigarettes. Who needs those when you can get a $10 bag'o'smokes in Tyendinaga, right on the way to Sandbanks?.

Another question: Is the Canadian Yachting Association (CYA) really the governing body for windsurfing competitions in Canada? I don't know the answer to this. Racing maybe? Freestyle, wave sailing? Not that I know of - there ARE no competitions for that in this country. From my perspective, the CYA obviously doesn't know shit about windsurfing. How much of the windsurf population actually races? Secondly, aside from MAYBE running an odd race, does the CYA even recognize that there is a difference between a sailboard and a yacht? Let's see, a quick comparison: You can be inebriated, dressed in a T-shirt in winter and a non-swimmer on one, and on the other you cannot.

Note that the most recent (2009) revisions to the Small Vessel Regulations, have left essentially the same requirements in place. In summary: PFD's are still mandatory... and you better wear it, otherwise you need that paddle, 15m of rope and a sack of flares. Sure, no problem, I'll just stow those items in the trunk. I've been asking Quatro to make me a custom Canadian board, complete with trunk and built in cooler, but no dice.

I definitely look forward to the $255 opportunity to get hauled up on an OPP boat. I certainly know what I am going to do. The minute an OPP boat sneaks up and instructs me to hop on board their boat to collect the ticket: "Officer, I am sorry, but I can't swim."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gnarly Launches

I scored a nice, but cold little dawn patrol session at Everitt Park in Kingston on Saturday. The air was warm, but we've had a couple weeks of abnormally cold temps for October and the lake is now on the cusp of foot numbness, which experience tells me is about 10 or 11C. I reckon one more week and I will have to succumb to booties. Yech... But a small price to pay to keep sailing the often stronger winds we get in the late fall.

This brings me to a topic of the day. Gnarly launches. Kingston has its fair share of nasty launches. I mean, I guess they aren't THAT bad, but they are definitely hard on the feet. Being very anti-booty, the launches here can really take their toll on one's feet.

- Emily St - the old-school primary Kingston launch is bad. For Emily St, it is the rock size that kills you. Too small to step on, but too big to feel nice, all topped off with a generous helping of algae. Walking the gear out at Emily St is a royal pain in the ass, with definite trip potential and even twist-your-ankle potential, not to mention slice potential by the damn zebra mussels. Good thing it is not a very long walk - about 5m or so and your off and going.

- Everitt - Oh man, this place is sometimes easy, sometimes hard. Either way, you definitely think twice about coming to shore to make that wee tweak to your outhaul. The problem? Very flat, slick Kingston limestone, mostly big coherent slab, but with cracks that are often filled with those pesky razor-sharp zebra mussels and also coated with that nice slime layer that makes it slicker than ice. Argh!! It would not be so bad, if it were not for the current and 5-6 second period waves that hit you over and over, and slowly drag you down-wind into the bay. Basically, coming in post-session entails sliding along the slippery slab until your feet can grip on those zebra-mussel filled cracks. Joy!

OK, I bet there are lots of stories of gnarly launches way worse than here. Got any? Despite the fact Kingston has some not-so-comfy entries, I think in my experience, what takes the cake by miles is Pungarehu in Taranaki, New Zealand, home of the Taranaki Wave Classic. It just so happens to be going off right now!! Best of luck to my old Welly mates Gary and James!

First off, Punga's is a port tack spot. While about 50% of people out there are pleased with that, unfortunately for me, I lack any experience on that tack and really struggled with the waves there. Note to self - travel more!!

To be honest, I only sailed Pungarehu once in fact, during my NZ stay, and holy shit, what a brutal spot to launch. The wave is one of the best in the world, but the launch is one of the worst. I think I launched at low-tide, probably making matters worse. The walk is about ~50m or so, across gritty volcanic rocks ranging from 0.5 to 2 feet in diameter. So, it was a mix of stepping on, and stepping between the sharp rocks to make progress - and progress was VERY slow. Stepping in between was troublesome, since it is hard to move the gear through without dragging the sail tip or boom on the sharp rocks. I've never been so battered in my life.

I distinctly remember one particularly ingenious local. He end his session at the same time as me and we were walking out together His trick? Keep an old pair of steel-toed construction boots handy, for the walk out, and the walk back. Brilliant!

Oh yeah, Lanes in Maui is a good one. After launching there once, my buddy who had lived there for a while gave me some solid advice: "You're an idiot," he said "Only Art launches there..." If you like the crunch of urchins beneath your feet, give it a shot!

Got any gnarly launch stories?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some big NorEasters?

Models are all over the map at the moment: NAM12 suggesting southerly/westerly while GFS and others showing big NE. I think the NorEaster's will win this one...

So, were does a Kingstonite, stuck in a big N/NE wind shadow, go to score some good conditions? It's getting far too late in the season to just sit on the bench!

Maybe Quebec City - that place apparently gets real fun on big NE, but a very looong 6hr drive.

Windy. Funny how we wind slaves comb the internet for all these weather models in hopes for the next blast. More funny perhaps how we seem to neglect all the other weather components: Frigid and rainy, i.e. nasty. Should be fun!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Damn, that was fun!

Holy crap... Just had one of the best wave-riding sessions of my life.

Sandbanks again, surprise surprise. This place is THE best wave sailing spot in mainland Ontario/Quebec no doubt.

I did a real early shift and was there by 7:30. The waves looked pretty disappointing to start, but there was potential. Mac's looked lame, so I went to Outlet Beach. It was also pretty marginal, but all of a sudden, ramped up to nuclear. Rigged 3.7 and played around, or should I say, got spanked around, in building waves and winds 30 gusting 40. It sapped a lot of my strength, and was not the best call, since it was practically on-shore. A few others were out too, and eventually it was the 3.0's and 3.2's that dominated the spot. Everyone else was getting spit out.

One knob tried to launch a kite in that, and was swiftly rejected. I reckon he was pretty lucky to get out of that idiocy unscathed... but what do I know about kiting...

Ilan, Jack and I popped up to Mac's, and lots of the Quebec gang was already there! At MY spot!! I don't even know why I bother going to the beach anymore. Mac's is the best spot at Sandbanks, no doubt about it... hence i like to call it my spot.

It really surprised me. Again, out on 3.7, maxed, but with much less shorebreak and infinitely more rideable waves... coming in in sweet sets, up to mast high I'm guessing. First run out was probably the best waveride of my life. Nothing fancy, just down-the-line bomb with about 6 or 7 solid gouges on the waveface... I've never had a wave that good in all my life, Maui, Hatteras, Oz, NZ, you name it. Best wave ever. I think it was just luck, but those types of waves kept rolling in, and it was the best session I can remember in a long time. Lots of powered bottom turns followed by slashy and carvey top-turns.

Props again to the Quebec and Ottawa gangs for some great times. With luck, there might be some video and maybe some photos.

I'll be dreaming about this one for a while.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sandbanks is yummy.

It has been a long time coming, but everything lined up for an epic near-classic Sandbanks day. The directions were not all that perfect, but it just goes to show that Sandbanks has a good lot of variety to it and just being so exposed to the big part of the lake, can deliver challenging conditions and nice waves - you just gotta go to the right spot!

Well, Mac's was the right spot. Could have had a bit more West in it, but that is splitting hairs. It was awesome. The wind ramped up around 2pm to a juicy 30-40kts from the Southwest. It was a mad rig-down frenzy as people rigged smaller and smaller. In the end, I was maxed out on the 3.7, while others were around the same size and smaller, down to 3.2. The waves on the outside got pretty damn large. It was an interesting mixture of messy choppy, interspersed regularly with big meaty mast-high sets coming through, enough to produce beautiful flat jibing areas on the wave faces and between. On the inside, it got interesting. As I said, a bit more angle to it and it would have been a touch more smackable, but it was still awesome. If you were in the right spot, you could get a handful of turns, perhaps sometimes even more. A smaller-than-average Ottawa and Quebec contingent made the trip this time, but all these guys are fun, and solid solid sailors. It was a pleasure to sail the spot with such a good gang, and there was a great vibe all around.

Needless to say, the lack of sailing lately is definitely showing up in my abilities, control and confidence. It was a battle to sail that long (I think I must have sailed at least 4-5 solid hours in the end), but I was dead tired by the end and slept like a log (after barely making a dark, rainy & ugly drive home). To top that off, being juiced on a 3.7 is not exactly my best scenario for trying tricks. I tried a few back loops, a couple pushies and forwards, but I don't think I landed anything but a few out of control shove-its. Near the end in fact, I was so tired I was barely able to make any top-turns without losing grip on the sail.

Amazing. Epic. You name it. Days like this make you realize why we windsurfers endure those long windless spells, just waiting for these amazing days to come along. Epic Sandbanks, strong winds and warm weather: More please!!

... and a great video done by Nic Chapleau!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not the vacation I was hoping for...

Well, that wraps up 2 weeks of the worst vacation ever, by vacation standards. We were off to Montreal and the Quebec City areas for one week just to do some camping with our family, relax and get outdoors for a while. Well, three days in and Bradley has an awkward fall in a play park and busts his little femur. Poor little guy. Anyway, we spend the next 10 days confined to a hospital in the west end of Quebec City while Bradley enjoys the pleasures of traction. He was casted last Thursday, but unfortunately, things are not set right and he will need to endure some more traction, probably, and get recasted. Thankfully, at least we are back home in Kingston now.

Hatteras in the spring for 2 weeks - hopefully that one will be better. Stoked to get the boys on board.

UPDATE: The doc here in Ktown says the situation ain't so bad. Apparently, about 20% of most femur cast jobs need resetting after a couple of weeks. Next week, they will do another X-ray, and then likely redo the cast at a better angle. Anyway, good news is that there is no delay to his healing and no need for more traction. Time for a case of beer... Parenting is frickin' stressful.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

SUP or Big-Fatty?

Just looking for a few opinions. I've got these wee twin boys you see, who are nearing 3yrs old and I'm keen to get them out on the front of a board with me, here and there when the conditions suit (i.e. light, flat & shallow).

At the moment, I would never invest in a SUP just for myself, BUT, I certainly wouldn't mind playing around with one. The main purpose though is for family sailing. So, is the big wide 200L-ish beginner board the better bet, or a padded SUP? I would think that the beginner wide-style board would offer a lot better ease of introduction of the kids, and anyone else for that matter, to the sport, but the SUP would have that bit of extra bonus for me, and I bet my wife too would take an interest. Both is not an option.

Any thoughts?

The heavy-weight contenders:
In this corner, weighing in at a girthy 13.5kg and standing at a height of 280cm tall and spanning a massive width of 85cm: the big, the bloated, the incredibly stable... "Goya Surf".

AND, in the opposing corner, wearing the stark grey paint job and cushy EVA padding, weighing in at a wee 11.3kg, but dwarfing all who dare oppose him at whopping 345cm in height: the long, the slim, the cruisy... Quatro 11'4" SUP!

Ding ding ding!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Four Dimensions

Check out the Four Dimensions Trailer. Looks like some neat angles and cinematography a la Matrix.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Lightwind Kit

Well, I finally bit the bullet and have invested in a sweet light-wind setup.
Check out this beast.

5.5" of bliss...

PFD's for Windsurfers in Canada?

Transport Canada legislates lifejacket/Personal Floatation Device (PFD) use for windsurfers in Canada via it's Small Vessel Regulations. It IS the law, punishable by $255 in fines if caught without a PFD... and this has happened before, in a number of places in Canada. The marine police units know the laws and are enforcing them.

We've debated this with Transport Canada for eons. Once again, the SVR is up for review and this is yet another opportunity to let TC know what we think about mandatory PFD use.

- current Small Vessel Regulations
- Safe Boating Guide
- proposed Small Vessel Regulations

Included in these regulations of course, are the following usual general provisions (summarized) for windsurfers:
- Clause 204(1): Sailboards need to carry PFDs, life saving appliances, vessel safety equipment and fire protection equipment.
- Clause 204(2): Sailboarders cannot use auto-inflating lifejackets.
- Clause 219: As long as sailboarders are WEARING their PFD, as opposed to just strapping it around the mast or boom, sailboards are exempt from the silly unreasonable stuff - life saving appliances (15m of bouyannt rope, flashlight and flares), vessel safety equipment (a paddle or anchor) and fire protection equipment (fire extinguisher).

During 2003, Windsurfing Canada (WC) took a fairly aggressive approach to dealing with the previous revisions and made considerable effort to have sailboards essentially de-legislated, with the primary intent to allow choice for boardsailors with respect to PFD use. At one point in time, we were even successful, a subsequent draft of the SVR had sailboards essentially removed from the regulations. However, near the last minute (2005), upon recommendations from the Ontario Recreational Boating Advisory Council (ORBAC), legislation was returned to its former glory and the result: continued legislated PFD use.

2003 Windsurfing Canada report on PFD's

You may also be interested in what others think. Probably the most significant supporting document is that prepared by the US Windsurfing Association (USWA)

1991 Updated USWA Report on PFD's

If you are as passionate about this issue as I am, or even halfway so, please consider writing to the gentleman in charge of the revisions and acting as liaison with the public and various organizations with respect to alterations to the proposed SVR:

Kevin Monahan
Project Manager
Regulatory Services and Quality Assurance (AMSX)
Transport Canada, Marine Safety
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N8
Telephone: 613-998-8207
Fax: 613-991-5670
Email: kevin.monahan@tc.gc.ca

In any correspondence to TC, be sure to quote Canada Gazette, Part I, revisions dated Ottawa, April 2, 2009, published on April 25th, 2009.
Comments are due in writing by May 25, 2009.

If there are any other sailors out there who feel that PFD use should be their own personal choice, I highly recommend writing a letter or email to TC to support alterations to the proposed changes to the Small Vessel Regulations.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An Amateur Freestyler's Take on Stubby Fins

I experimented quite a bit last year with a chopped-down stubby freestyle fin. I took a pretty big old MFC Freestyle fin and chopped it down to 18cm, then ground back the material so it wasn't quite so thick and stiff. I sailed this quite a bit with my 105L Goya X1 and sail size from 4.7 to 5.3, mostly over a two week stay in Cape Hatteras in spring 2008. Here is my verdict.

First off, some background: I am old and stiff. Being from Kingston, time on the water is limited and this only contributes to being stuck in the slow-lane on freestyle progression. I've been sticking vulcans for years and spocks & grubbies for several, but quite inconsistently. I am working on tricks like flakas and shakas, and continue to put in the hours on the spocks/540's and grubbies. So, while I am working hard on spinny flat-water freestyle tricks, I am not a pro and not going for extra rotations... never mind switch stance, clew-first or one-handed.

My diagnosis is this: First and foremost, getting and staying upwind becomes a challenge. Why is this a problem? Well, maybe it's just me, but as a freestyler, I find there is considerable benefit to being on the smallest sail possible, yet sufficient to get me planing. So - ultimately, this translates to being under- to moderately powered, but rarely overpowered. Hence, already the lower power available dictates that upwind sailing will not be straightforward. Throw on a stubby fin and there is significantly compromised ability to angle upwind during reaches. What I have noticed however is that because of these apparent limitations, it vastly changes ones stance and approach to getting upwind. The standard approach tends to be pressuring the fin to deliver and maintain that upwind angle. However, with the stubby fin, you tend to adapt your style to rely much more on the rail of the board to cut in and grab the water to help you keep your board angled up wind.

One might ask: Why do you need to go upwind? The answer for that is easy. Watch any pro video of almost any modern freestyle move and you will immediately notice that they are executed on a downwind reach, anywhere from subtle (spocks) to extreme (ponches). So, if you are doing relatively short reaches to maximize your transitions (when and where you get to try your tricks), then you spend an awful lot of time heading downwind in the transitions and aggressively upwind in the reaches. I suppose that is why freestylers might tend to upset the standard back-and-forthers (BAFs) out there - we are all over the frickin' place!

Secondly, did the fin help me with my moves? Short answer is no, it did not. While a massive slalom or freeride fin (25-30cm) in that same board would create significant spin-control issues, I typically run a 23cm MFC freestyle fin anyway. In the spectrum of fins, freestyle fins are generally on the small side already. So, the typical 23cm fin I use doesn't really discourage board spin like say a 28cm swept slalom fin does. Note that I have actually played on the odd board with a slalom fin since my spock days and you really, REALLY have to watch out for how fast those fins re-catch and want to spin the board once you are sliding backwards. This is actually quite dangerous, since if you don't spin your intial airborn part of the spock around enough, it is almost as likely that the fin will catch and the board will want to spin back the way you came!! This can result in 'rotini-body' and excrutiating back, leg and ankle twist. Even when you do spin enough and the rotation continues in the intended direction, the board spins very VERY fast. This is definitely a benefit of the relatively small and straight freestyle fins - a sailor has considerably more control over the direction and speed of the boards rotation, or at least, so it seems for me.

So, what is my opinion? Well, with regards to those stubbies - personally, I think they have considerable benefit for sailors at the pro-level, in particular, for those less challenged by the compromise in upwind performance and those needing to 'cut-out' or 'spin-out' the fin to accomplish a second rotation. Certainly, when you look back at the archives on "The Future" and "double-flakas", they are not actually doubles, to be precise - they are often a single spock/flaka with a second on-the-water rotation (not meaning any disrespect - incredible moves far beyond me!). In this situation, obviously a stubby fin is beneficial to make that fin release easy for the second rotation. Nowadays, when you see a triple flaka, like this one by Golitto, he actually gets airborn like a true flaka on two of those three rotations. Incredible really. Now it would seem, the benefit of the shortest fin possible is that it is easier to get it out of the water (as opposed to spinning it out).

Summary: Using a stubby follows a trend that pro's have demonstrated works for them. For the average aspiring freestyler, I don't believe the benefit is worth the trade-off (lack of upwind-ability: less opportunity to try tricks!). Saying that - it is certainly fun to experiment, recycle those old fins and figure out what works for you! Now I wonder what a purpose-built stubby would feel like, perhaps like this little gem in an 18...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dream Quiver

Yes, I am at work. That doesn't mean I don't day dream... Give me a break eh? It's Monday morning.

I often browse the Quatro and Goya sites and think, if money was no object, what would my dream quiver look like (within reason).

Well, I've figured it out.

First off, I don't race. I don't care about going fast, I just want to ride waves and do tricks. Is that so wrong? I don't think so.

Boards: Definitely need a floaty freestyle board. The 105 Goya X1 is perfect. Love it... Looking forward to updating from my '07 model. Next on the list - probably a mid-size FSW model - I'll take the 2009 Quatro FSW 85 please... Then, for the nice windy days, a Wave 72. That would be plenty - 3 boards to do it all. BUT, if $$ were truly no object, I'd have to get on the band wagon and pick up a 75L twin fin to try, just for that 1 day every year or so when I get to do some real wave sailing ;)

Sails: Easy... I'll take the W3D in 5.7 and down. But, maybe rather than go with the W3D in the tiny sizes, just to mix it up a bit, I'll give the Guru a shot in sub 4.5. Looks good to me.

OK, now that I've got that dream quiver all sorted out, I can go back to work and continue the futility of making $$ no object.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Big Blow... during a big drought.

Going through one of the longest recent-memory windsurfing droughts. Oh man, it's been over two months and will probably be another one before getting out there. Also, for the first year in a long time, this cat will be sailing no new toys... definitely feeling the $$$ crunch of 7wks in Costa Rica and daddyhood - two boys who appear to need food and shelter after all.

Saying that, it blew like shtink here yesterday and tore a good chunk of the solid ice sheet on the Kingston harbour out and away! Amazing, 100% solid just two days ago, now today, half of the ice is gone. Check out the iWind graph. It's a shame these storms don't come in over the summer months!! ARGH! 30-40kts all day, just WASTED!

Check out this shot of the yacht club near Richardson Beach - definitely some massive ice heave as the big southwesterlies push huge ice blocks up and over the KYC revetment. Impressive.

Just imagine what it would have done to the silly groyne that is proposed by the City for Richardson Beach "to improve water access". I suspect that thing would have been deposited on the yacht club's driveway if it had been built last year.

The bright side of this big blow is that the ice is out VERY early this year, which bodes well for some good spring sessions, albeit frickin' cold. Should be fun! Any takers?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lake Arenal report

Hola from Puerto Viejo. Just reporting on last week for those interested – Nic and Aaron.

Lake Arenal was pretty sweet. It was not the epicness that was expected of the place, but saying that, I still had a great time. I sailed every day, although, the first two days and the last were the strongest winds, the last day in particular being noteworthy.

I guess the one thing that you do not hear in the advertisements is that the winds, when not cranking, are actually quite gusty, particularly when clouds are coming overhead or rain showers are passing through, which was about 1/2 the time while I was there. But, in the end, I was told by some regulars that it was not the best week. Most said that, in their experience, it is by far the most reliable high wind destination you can find down south, and that is why there are lots of people who keep coming back (or move here part-time in the winter).

Here’s my run down:
Saturday – arrived at noon – sailed all afternoon, fairly solid on 4.2/74L.
Sunday – sailed all day, starting to waiver, but made the 4.2/84L combo work.
Monday – rainy, gusty – sailed 4.7/84 on/off for 15/20 min chunks throughout the day.
Tuesday – ditto, but less.
Wednesday – 5.4/101L, small chop, gusty, rainy. Short 1/2hr 4.7 session at the end of the day nicely powered.
Thursday – improving, but not all there – sailed 5.0 for bits and pieces.
Friday – had to leave by 1pm, but CRANKED all morning. Sailed 4.2 overpowered with 74L. This day was the main day for me that showed the places potential. In one 500m reach, I could typically hit a number of decent ramps for several shove-its, tabletops and backloop attempts. Lots to hit on port, nothing much on starboard on the way back in.

I reckon I would say this even if I was not sponsored, but my Quatro’s and Goya Sails put those Pryde’s and JP’s to shame. They are not terrible in any sense, and maybe it has a lot to do with just being familiar with my own stuff, but the bigger JP FSW’s did not enjoy planing too early and sometimes the rigs felt lifeless. Saying that, as soon as I was powered up on the small stuff in higher winds, I enjoyed the 4.2 and 74 RWW and 84 FSW. I’m sure my displeasure with the big stuff was also in part since it was really gusty. Next time, I will try to bring my own equipment, but travelling with the twins is enough to lug around.

Despite my lofty goals, I learned nothing. I made some slight progress on shaka’s, but I’d say it is probably a very subtle lesson I learned to take another small step towards getting them one of these millennia. It is a TOUGH place to learn flat-water freestyle type tricks, since there really is NO flat-water to speak of. It is a B&J destination, and if the wind is strong, there is certainly lots of potential to learned aerial moves, but don’t expect too much improvement on the slidey stuff. If you do progress on those sorts of tricks, hats off, you will be killing it when you head back to your local flat patch of water.

TicoWinds is very well run by Peter Hopley and gang. Good amount of gear there in a range of volumes and sail sizes. Great fulfilling lunches & drinks keep you hydrated and powered for the afternoon. About 1/2 windsurfing, 1/2 kiting during my stay, but I reckon kiting is taking over there.

Have either of you been before? Do you know where you will stay? I found that any info on-line, from TicoWinds or otherwise, was a bit lacking in giving the lay of the land in that area. Basically, TicoWinds is not affiliated or situated at any hotel/resort/restaurant (as I thought, for some reason). It is pretty much strictly a rental concession in a long jutting-out piece of nature reserve land in the west end of Lake Arenal. From the paved road, it is a nice 15min walk in on a dirt/mud road. This entrance is about 1km to the north/east from an intersection where there is a nice coffee shop/restaurant (decent latte's, depending on who is there ;). Up the hill, there is Mystica (accomodation, restaurant, yoga retreat), and then you get into Sabalito, about 2km up that hill (which is where a few people were staying).

In the other direction, about 1-2km away, is a small town called Rio Piedras where there are a couple small Pulperia’s (grocery stores), but not much else. I was told that up the road from there, is Rock River Lodge (open) and a number of other rentals.

In other words, the area is really sparse. Unless you are there with a buddy, or end up being at a place where other sailors are staying, there is NOTHING happening in the evenings - so make the most of the social atmosphere during the day at TicoWinds.

I stayed at a place called Equus BBQ, which is about 200m closer to TicoWinds from the coffee shop. I was in a small basic cabina without kitchen for $20/night. Decent enough place, but in the evening, I was bored silly - there is only so much fiendish Soduko one can do. Due to our kids and being with them previous to this in San Jose and elsewhere, I spent the first couple nights sleeping like a log - 8pm to 7am, but then I was caught up with rest – yet still, nothing to do in the evenings.

If you have a car, you can get around a bit, but without one, its not very safe to be walking or biking on the road for km’s on end to hook up with a buddy, unless they are very close-by. Internet is not easy to come by, especially if you don’t come equipped. Mystica has wireless for those with laptops, and presumably staying there or buying something to eat. There may be other such places around, but I did not know where they were. If you are not getting a rental car, definitely ask for the bus schedule when you are in Tilaran - get the schedules for Tilaran to La Fortuna, Tilaran to Arenal and vice versa. Tilaran is 12km away ($6000 colones cab ride) and Arenal is about the same I think, maybe a bit farther. La Fortuna is an hour away by car, or 2 if you take the bus.

Sorry, but not a single photo to share for you!

Enjoy!! I definitely did, despite the remoteness of the place and lack of the best conditions.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Off to Arenal...

We're chilling in San Jose today, but I am off tomorrow to Arenal. Hoping for a solid week of nuking winds before rejoining the familia in Puerto Viejo.