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.