Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oppose Bad Fertilizer Bills

Speaking of morons in the Florida State legislature...

There are THREE fertilizer management bills in the works now that would all allow MORE pollution from fertilizer use in urban and suburban areas. The bills are bad because they have ridiculously weak standards and outrageous loopholes, like an exemption for "Weed and Feed" products allowing unlimited use. (Think the weed-and-feed lobbyists might have had something to do with the proposed legislation? I'd bet on it!)

The murky waters and algal blooms in our lakes, canals, and lagoons, and the dying corals offshore have a lot to do with runoff of the fertilizer applied to lawns and landscaping. (Also, mowing or paving right down to the water's edge removes the natural vegetation buffer that could otherwise help sop up the excess fertilizer in runoff.)


With as dense a population as we have here, we have to be more stringent about controlling our chemical effluent...

You can register your opposition to the pollution-worsening bills with the online form here: http://action.sierraclub.org/protectFLwaters

PS- Pass it on.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jesus License Plates: Only in Florida

I'm getting the distinct impression that Florida's elected representatives are a bunch of morons. I mean, Jesus, haven't they ever heard of separation of church and state?


The article is here. The really sucky thing about this and the other proposed religious plates is that the money from their sales wouldn't even go into general Florida funds that could be used for the public good. It would go to sketchy private charities like "Faith in Teaching" that are attempting to stupify science education by teaching creationism instead of evolution.

IMHO the whole specialty plate thing is dumb. I think government programs should be funded by normal taxes, not weird stuff like lotteries and license plates. And private charities and lobby groups should solicit on their own, without the endorsement of the state. There should just be one, boring license plate per state. If you want your car's ass end to say you love Jesus, or manatees, or cops, or whatever, just use a bumper sticker.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My First Downwind Slalom Race!

Wow, two weekends in a row of windsurf racing! Last weekend was the Central Florida Windfest at Kelly Park, with formula class and kona class course racing in 10-15 knots. Yesterday was the Stuart Spring Fling at the Stuart Causeway, with downwind slalom racing in 15-20 knots.

I had never raced in a downwind slalom format before, but I loved it! The start was way upwind, barely visible from the beach, and there were two jibe marks positioned so that you sailed in a long zig-zag on the way to the finish by the beach. (One less jibe mark than in my diagram of a downwind slalom course that I made for a previous post.)


You could really go full speed because you never had to go upwind. My full speed wasn't that impressive since I was riding wave-oriented gear (a 6.6 Aerotech Charge with a skinny mast and 106 liter Exocet Cross with the stock fin), and because I'm not especially fast to begin with. Nevertheless, I managed to avoid finishing "DFL" in any of the four races by starting on time, staying planing, and making jibes. If racing becomes a regular event here I may invest in a faster board.

The leader in this picture is Don Wagner. He makes his own boards. I'm the guy with the very blue sail near the right.

Kudos to Rick Randall, aka Maui Malone, for organizing this race, and to Safina England, Sarah Taylor, and the others who helped out with score-keeping, etc.

There are reports, pictures and results of both races at Alex Morales' website, Miami Windsurfing and a good write-up of the Spring Fling at Dave Taylor's blog: Treasure Coast Windsurfers.

To get "in the know" about upcoming local races and stuff, you should join the East Central Florida Windsurfing yahoo group and check the box to sign up to receive emails.

Monday, April 20, 2009

FL Windfest Day 2 Report

Sunday was the second and final day of the 2009 Central Florida Windfest at Kelly Park. The wind was a little light, at least in the morning, but the weather was great.


Since the breeze was slow to kick in, we lazed around for a while and I took some pictures of the various gear oddities on the beach. The Exocet formula board, nicknamed "the black machine" by racers, was there, along with a prototype for the next edition of the b.m. Apparently three prototypes of the new edition were tested recently at Calema windsurfing. All were somewhat better than the b.m., but the particular one that Exocet left with Calema was the least better, if that makes any sense. The only difference I could see about it was a wider, thicker nose with sort-of a shovel-like bevel all around.


There were some homegrown Florida innovations in the formula class, like the fins and booms designed by racer Peter Ifju. This very wide, angular boom is apparently more ergonomic and gives the rider more leverage to hike out. The fins are apparently competitive with the ones Dave Kashy makes and sells for well over $1000 each. I don't know if Peter will try to make a business of his fins, or just keep it a hobby. He's also a university professor, so he's probably pretty busy.


Here's Peter Ifju (left) and Loic Legallois (right) the Frenchie racer.


The wind came up around lunchtime, so the race committee set a course for long-distance racing. The winners were the same as during the previous day. The Kona class was won by a junior named Austin, and the formula was taken by Loic. Ron Kern wasn't that far behind Loic, though. I was third to last in the Kona class. I could have done a little better if I had made fewer tacks and planned the tacks I did make to align better with the wind shifts. Experienced racer Tom Ingram is almost exactly the same weight as me and he wasn't far behind the lightweight kids, so I know I can do better. I'm definitely looking forward to more Kona racing.

Here's a picture of my Kona rig setup with the 7.4 one-design "Zenith" sail.


Here's Calema Windsurfing owner Tinho Dornellas taking a stand-up paddleboard spin on John Ingebritsen's Kona 11'5" pro-edition board.


And here are some of the Fanatic brand boards that Tinho sells.


Don't forget next Saturday is another windsurfing event: the Stuart Spring Fling.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

FL Windfest Day 1 Report

There were way more people than I expected at the Florida Windfest today. I would estimate about a dozen in the Kona class, at least that many in the Formula class, and a bunch of non-racers sailing around and trying out the gear from Aerotech and Exocet.


The Konas sailed a triangle course and the Formulas sailed that course plus an extra upwind / downwind around a fourth mark.

I sailed inconsistently. Out of five races I had two horrible ones where I was stupidly late for the start, two ok ones where I finished mid-fleet, and one good one where I tacked into clean air at the start and finished second. All the Kona races were won by a fast kid whose name I forget. There was a whole gaggle of juniors in the Kona fleet, who were usually among the top finishers. The big Kona men >85 kg (187 lbs) used red 9.0 meter-squared Aerotech Zenith sails and everyone lighter than that used blue 7.4 msq Zeniths. People below 65 kg (143 lbs) are supposed to use 5.8s but none were available for charter, so smaller boys on 7.4s had a noticeable early-planing advantage. No one complained, though - the fleet was still closely spaced.

The Zenith sail was weird, but I kinda liked it. When you rig it, you have to use very little downhaul tension, relatively little outhaul tension, and lots of batten tension. The battens overlap the mast a lot when there's no wind in the sail, as you can see in this picture of Mike Rayl's well-worn Kona and 9.0 Zenith...


The way the foot of the Zenith is cut lets you put the mast base all the way at the front of the track and still be in a good position when planing in the footstraps. The wind was up and down between like 7 and 15 knots today, but the rig setup felt good. The only thing I didn't like was how much the belly of the sail overlapped the boom. Maybe a wider-tailed boom could avoid that.

The formula class races were dominated by #3-ranked French formula racer, Loic Legallois. It wasn't all smooth sailing for him, though, since the fin he was borrowing for the first two races was repossessed by the lender once proven effective. Then while Loic was testing another fin he hit a manatee, busted his board all to shit, and was lucky not to be seriously injured. No word on the fate of the manatee. :( Hopefully its blubber protected it. Anyway, Loic finagled an Exocet formula board to replace his busted Starboard formula board, but that made him late for a start and he only came in 6th that race. The final two he won, though.

Tomorrow I'm gonna try to do better by starting on time. I think the only race is going to be a long-distance race, though, so it might not matter, anyway.

Here's some more pictures I took after the races today...

This is "Mr. Demo" John Ingebritsen stoked about the Kona 10'5" board and Aerotech AirX sail. The 10'5" is different from the Kona we race because it's smaller, has no daggerboard, and is intended more for catching and riding waves.

Here's some of the other stuff that was being demoed. In the background is the Calema Windsurfing storage building, where Tinho Dornellas keeps his rental fleet.

The fella in the red hat is a PhD physicist, but not even his brains and the brawn of those he enlisted to help him could un-stick his 3-piece mast.

The black boards in this picture and in the picture at the top of the post are the Exocet Warp Slalom boards. They're black because there's no paint on the top of the carbon fiber to add extra weight. I tried the 66 cm wide one and the 78 cm wide one, and they were both super light and fast.

Some other people took action pictures of the racing. I'll try to post some of those or link to them later.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Florida Windfest, April 18-19 at Kelly Park

This will be the first year in a while that I've missed Frisco Woods Windfest, the awesome windsurfing festival in Cape Hatteras that has camping and free beer. Last year at Frisco Woods was epic.

All is not lost, however, because there is a FLORIDA WINDFEST the same weekend (April 18-19). It's just an hour up the road from me at Calema Windsurfing and Watersports.

(Picture is from the Midwest Organizers of Windsurfing Website)

The Florida Windfest doesn't have free beer, but the guys from Sandy Point Progressive Sports in Daytona Beach will be there with free gear to demo from Aerotech Sails and Exocet Boards. I don't know if Tinho Dornellas from Calema will be offering free demos of the brands he sells (Maui Sails and Fanatic Boards) or not. And I don't know if any other shops or vendors will be there. But I do know there will be some racing starting at 10 am on Saturday (probably longboard and formula) and that you can charter "Kona ONE" longboards.

There's more info on the Florida Windfest in this thread on the Aerotech Sails forum.

Also, the NEXT Saturday (April 25th) there will be the "Stuart Spring Fling", an informal race starting from the Stuart Causeway in Stuart, FL. The event is being organized by a man named Maui Malone, who has posted the NOR (notice of race) on his website here.

Kick Your Ass with Science

I saw this over on pharyngula and thought it was pretty funny.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Trainer Kite Horseplay + Windsurfing

For Easter I drove up to visit my parents and relatives in Edisto Island, South Carolina. It was a lot of fun.

Friday we visited Grandmama in the Summerville Presbyterian Home.

Saturday it was warm with 10-15 knot W winds and we had a windsurfing beach party with my folks' friends from the island. My dad took the maiden voyage on the modern gear I hooked him up with; a 7.8 msq Aerotech AirX sail and a Fanatic Viper 85 beginner board. He was planing and using the harness. I traded back and forth with him on that setup until the tide shifted and the wind picked up enough that I could ride my shortboard / 6.6 sail.

Easter Sunday it was 15-20 knots from the NE so I got to try the new 5.5 Aerotech Charge I had purchased at Sandy Point Progressive Sports in Daytona Beach on the way up. It's red. I liked the feel of it a lot. Stable, powerful, fast, light, manouverable, and "crisp" feeling. I actually got a duck jibe on port tack with it! Mostly I rode it on an Exocet Cross 106, but also for a while on my 87 liter F2 Maui Project. Weirdly enough, the ride seemed bumpier on the smaller board in the choppy onshore conditions.

Later in the afternoon my dad and I flew the 4 msq trainer kite that I've had for a while. It was windy enough that when you did a kiteloop, you would get dragged across the hard-packed sand.

Pretty soon I'm going to take some kiteboarding lessons, but I don't envision that sport ever taking over from my windsurfing. Steve Gottlieb, the Aerotech Sails designer who runs Sandy Point Progressive Sports, says he does both sports, but mainly kites in 10-15 knots, and windsurfs above or below that. Also, he said the dynamics of windsurfing in waves are more thrilling than kiting in waves, for him at least.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"You don't have an inbox...yet" - WTF!?

**Update - As of 9 am April 10th, my hotmail appears back to normal. Whew. I'm going to back it up somewhere, though, because I definitely don't trust microsoft not to screw me again.**

Original post-

Ever since email was invented I've had a hotmail account as my personal account. Like everything else on the internet, hotmail was bought by microsoft, and they f'd it up. Now you can't simply sign into hotmail; you type in your hotmail address and password and are taken into "windows live", which is a god-awful attempt by microsoft to snare you into their crappy immitation versions of facebook, photobucket, aim, etc. Annoying but ignorable... until today.

When I signed in as usual tonight I got this message:

"You don't have an inbox...yet

Sign up for Windows Live Hotmail and get a free, customizable inbox with lots of storage and great security.

Note: Whether you use Hotmail or not, you can always go to your contact list."

BULLSHIT! Yesterday I had thousands of emails going back to 2002, and today I "don't have an inbox...yet"!!!??? Apparently the idiot assholes "upgrading" windows live lost or erased the only part of my account that I actually used, liked, or cared about; my hotmail. I'm afraid to follow their prompts to "sign up" because that might start me over new, eliminating ANY chance I might have of recovering my years of correspondence. Goddamn you microsoft!!! First vista and now this. GRRRR!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Windsurfing Quiver Spacing and Color Coordination


In human nature there is a fascination with sleek, symmetrical shapes. The fascination is most powerful when an object's form embodies its function as a tool, a toy, or a living thing. It's why girls draw cats and horses, why men collect knives and guns, why fly-fishers pursue trout, and it's one of the reasons I love windsurfing.

There's an obsessive satisfaction for me in ordering and organizing my windsurfing gear; blending aesthetics and "utility". One of the juiciest problems to solve is quiver spacing. The object is to acquire an array of windsurfing equipment that will cover the range of wind and water conditions you sail in, with minimal gaps or overlap. Money, storage space, and sailing time set limits on how much stuff you can have and use, so spacing of sail, board, and fin sizes really is key to maximizing your stoke:stress ratio.

Today I had a nice quiver-zen episode, with a rising wind that started perfect for my 8.7 sail / 150 liter board, then got perfect for my 6.6 sail / 106 liter board. I'd never made that particular transition before, but it was awesome how well it worked. It made me feel good about having given my in-between-sized 7.8 to my dad, clearing up some space. (In the pictures, the blue combo is the 6.6 / 106 and the yellow combo is the 8.7 / 150.)


Below 6.6 I'm still working on my spacings. I want to have sails with optima separated by about 3 knots in wind speed. When I had a 5.8 and a 5.2 they were only separated by about 2 knots, so it was hard to decide which to use. Now that my 5.8 is kaput, the jump straight from 6.6 to 5.2 is doable, but a bit much. Since the 5.2 is aging, I'm planning to replace it with a 5.5. Then I'll have nice 3 knot spacings from 6.6, to 5.5, to 4.7. (The way I'm figuring out the spacings is with my automatic sail size calculator spreadsheet. It's a good tool for this sort of thing. ) Below 4.7 I have 4.25, which is only 2 knots from 4.7, and 3.5, which is 5 knots from 4.25. 4.0 would be better, but since I rarely use my really small sails, anyway, I'm not in a rush to fix the spacings there. Eventually when I get it all worked out it's gonna be like this:

8.7, < 15 knots
6.6, 15-18 knots
5.5, 18-21 knots
4.7, 21-24 knots
4.0, 24-28 knots
3.5, > 28 knots


Friday, April 3, 2009

Land Windsurf Board for Sale

**UPDATE- SOLD, to a Canadian.**

**If you came here looking for used windsurf gear, try the iwindsurf classifieds section instead**

Begin post...

Since I live in a warm place with a fair amount of wind and lots of soft, yielding water, I don't think I really need to bother with windsurfing on land. So I'm putting my land windsurfing board, the "TurfDog Freemove" up for sale. It works great on packed sand, almost-too-great on pavement, and ok on grass if you use a bigger sail. $230 obo.

At that price I'll also include an old but good-condition 3.5 sail that you can use with it. Here's the blog post where I describe the board: http://jimbodouglass.blogspot.com/2009/03/windsurfing-on-land.html