Tuesday, November 05, 2013


The word 'epic' gets used a lot these days, and what does it really mean?  In some instances, it means simply an experience that was incredible, or beyond the ordinary.  In other instances, it is used to talk about the conditions - conditions that were incredible, or beyond the ordinary.  I am guilty for calling sessions 'epic' regularly in the fall, when we typically have anywhere between 3 to 5 really good days.  If that is the case, Friday November 1, 2013 trumps them all as the most epic of the epics.  Time to stop using the word 'epic' and just call it what it was, just damn incredibly epic.  Oops.  Did it again. Nope, how about this:  


That's my new word!

Out in the middle.  Photo: Pierre Boily
The insanity of it all...  Photo by ILAN!.

At Sandbanks, it takes a lot of wind and a narrow directional wind-range to get the conditions we all want.  Basically, it takes anywhere from SW through WNW perhaps, to set up well at Mac's or West Point.  SW is a bit side-on even, making the riding really difficult.  Safe to say, West is best.  When we get strong westerlies, the riding is beautiful and there is usually enough wind to fill in the hole near shore from what amounts to mildly side-off conditions.  Fire up to upper Mac's and everything is even better.  What gives us the down-the-line conditions is not perpendicular wind and swell like Maui gets, but its the wrapping of the waves along the northern part of Athol Bay that generate 'psuedo side-shore' conditions, or down-the-line.

JF Lemay going big.  Photo by Ilan.

Funny how this seemed really high at the time...  Photo by Fathom

Friday was a different beast.  It was a bit weak on the westerly component, more WSW, but the wind strength more than made up for it.  The forecast was big and it delivered.  For most of the day, winds were overpowering for most people's small sails, me included.  The anemometer at Pt Petre suggested sustained average winds for much of the 9am to 6pm range of over 35 knots, peak around 2pm at 44 gusting to 53 knots.  Needless to say, small sails were not small enough.  Although the direction wasn't perfect, the size and wave wrapping were certainly working for us.  Longer period waves will interact with the lake bottom at greater depths, and hence start wrapping towards the shore (refraction).  So, the big winds created longer period waves (got to 8 seconds I believe), which created more wrapping.  The waves were damn fine.
(For my previous dissertations on wave dynamics at Sandbanks, check out my older blog posts:  Wave Theory and Principles Interpretted, Part1 and Part2).

Down the line.  Photo by Fathom.

Sailors were on 2.9's to 3.8's out there - whatever people had on hand.  Diapers, winter jackets, snot rags... whatever could be successfully rigged was used.

Fathom getting a beautiful hit.  Photo by me.

It was great to see such a keen core gang of windsurfers out there.  I know scary strong winds were forecast throughout southern Ontario and Quebec, so we didn't have as many people as on other good days, but the gang who was here was stoked and ready to sail whatever conditions actually came our way.  Great to see my mates JF, Ilan and Jacek from Montreal among others, the Durham gang Windchiro, Fathom and rINR, and the locals Joe and Old Whitey.  Met some new guys too!  Lots of short sessions with rests in between.

Another down-the-line.  Photo by Fathom.
Nice backside hit.  Photo by Fathom.

Some highlights:
  • JF Lemay sending huge on numerous jumps!
  • Ilan looking really in control with his 3.4 and getting some sweet hacks.
  • Pierre Boily, whom I think I have met before, hucking a huge ballsy endo forward right behind me (Got a great view!).
  • Fathom getting some great rides and linking some good turns.

JF getting flattened.  Photo by Fathom.

I had an incredible time.  Yes the 3.7 felt huge, especially in the gusts, but ya know, you just make the best of it and try to ride those beautiful waves as best you can.  I think over the course of sailing about 2-3 hours, I had maybe 2 to 3 wave rides that I considered really good - one with about 6-8 turns, and one in particular with a not-so-forced aerial.  After watching Pierre's Endo, I tried to man-up myself with a forward of my own off some near-shore whitewater but totally lost my back foot out the strap and crashed bad.

One-handed top turn.  Like most of 'em ;)  Photo:  Ilan.

One particularly memorable wave was really going well until about my third hit when the wind extracted my kit from my claws... and it was gone!  After the first wave, it came to rest about 50m downwind but then just kept on going.  Each wave seemed to take it further and further towards the beach, and each successive wave carried it further than any distance I covered.  I was not going to catch up - I was destined for Outlet Beach.  Thankfully Ilan saved the day and grabbed my stuff for me while I caught up.  We then shared a long reach out to the middle to regain the 600-800m downwind positioning.  The waves out there were nasty huge, with little waves on top of big waves.  Really gnarly stuff.

Smack by Ilan.  Photo by Fathom.

In the end, not a single person made the effort or successfully made an upwind attempt towards Upper Macs or West Point.  I can only imagine how incredible it must have been up there.  I guess the safety of proximity to the gang and the launch was enough to keep everyone close.  I know I certainly didn't want to take any long reaches way out in the bay - way too crazy out there, with liquid smoke everywhere and gusts that flattened you from time to time.

Aerial!  Photo by Ilan

With everyone's busy lives and long commutes, it often proves difficult to get together afterwards.  This time, many of us made the effort.  Old Whitey kindly booked us a big table at the Acoustic Grill in Picton and about 12 of us got together for tales of gusts, explosions and shit-in-the-pants.  What a great time - with delicious local brews and scrummy blue cheese burgers to boot.  Beer and burgers never tasted so fine!

Thanks to all those who made it such a legendary day!

Lots of photos were snapped.  I've put a few in the text here (with credit), but here are some other folders I am aware of.
Beautiful end of the day/carnage sunset.  Photo by Ilan.

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