Friday, July 31, 2009

New Set of Wheels + Windsurf Stuff for Sale

My 1995 Ford Escort wagon finally died for good yesterday, after two failed resuscitations earlier in the week. Now it's rusting on the side of US-1, where its last bit of rolling inertia delivered it to a random resting place in front of the Manatee Mobile Home and Trailer Park. (So Florida.) The outside has been stripped of my boards, and the roof-rack has been removed, leaving two sticky-but-clean spots outlined in dust. The inside has been emptied of my sails and booms, and of countless little tools and toys in their sandy bags and boxes.

And now, after a long, long day, I have procured a replacement vehicle from Bill Schultz Chevrolet, to the tune of $2150. Here's what $2150 gets you...


2000 Plymouth Voyager Minivan

1) Works.
2) Paid for.
3) Holds all windsurf gear except longboard.
4) Removable folding seats = living-room furniture
5) Tape deck.

1) Will need $500+ work next month; tires, brakes, etc.
2) Speedometer permanently stuck at "0".
3) One missing hubcap.
4) Not compatible with my old roof-rack.
5) No warranty.
6) 160,000 miles.
7) Previous owner attached headliner felt with 1000s of staples in dizzying pattern.
8) Retro-coolness of vans doesn't apply to minivans.

Since I'm going to be a little tight from now until the end of August, I figure this would be a good time to remind you readers of some of the wind sport stuff I have for sale. (Pick-up only in treasure coast area):

1) 2004 Ezzy Wave Sail, 5.2 msq, green, dime-sized tear in non-load-bearing part of luff sleeve. $70.00 obo
2) 1997 Ezzy Wave Sail, 4.7 msq, yellow-orange, finger-length tear in non-load-bearing part of luff sleeve. $25.00 obo
3) 1999 Neil Pryde Z1 Race Sail, 8.7 msq, orange, lots of tape. $5.00 or free if you buy one of the other sails.
4) Brand-new Neil-Pryde sail quiver bag, expandable to hold any size sails plus whatever else you want to put in it. $30.00
5) Trainer foil-kite, 4.0 msq. $50.00 with bar and lines.
6) 20" fixed harness lines (set of two). $6.00
7) Chinook mast base extension. 25 cm adjustable. $10.00

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Does Jesus want me to quit kiteboarding?

The last two times I went kiteboarding a bladder leaked. The first time it was just a detached valve on one of the small struts, and I was able to glue it back on with shoe goo. Most recently, though, it was the big leading-edge bladder, which I'm reluctant to remove and mess with myself. I wonder if I should pay to fix it or just f--- it and get rid of all my kite gear for a few hundred bucks. The fact that two bladders have leaked consecutively makes me think the other strut bladders could be about to go, as well, even though the kite has barely been used. Someone told me that bladders self-destruct if the kite is left in a hot car. That seems pretty hard to avoid, though. What if you have two kites, or kite and windsurf gear, both in your car, and you're not sure which you want to use until you get to the beach?

Also, my car broke again today, I need a new computer, and I have student loans to pay. Thank goodness I'm not wasting my money on anything frivolous like dating.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jog Itch

Not jock itch. JOG itch.


Does it ever happen to you? You haven't run in a while, then when you DO run you start to feel itchy after a few minutes. It tends to begin around the lower legs then moves up to the thighs, waist and torso. It is most aggravating where your body jiggles from pounding the pavement, and it is sometimes worse in cold weather when you're wearing sweats. Here's the best explanation I've found for the physical cause:

"Don't worry; you aren't alone on this problem. It usually occurs during exercise performed after a long period of inactivity. The itching is not on the skin, it is inside the skin.

You see, there are millions of tiny capillaries and arteries inside our muscles which expand rapidly due to the demand for more blood that is brought on by exercise. When our bodies are sufficiently fit, these capillaries remain open allowing maximum blood passage, but, when unfit and inactive, they tend to collapse, allowing only minimal blood passage (which is sufficient for a sedentary person, however). The rapid expansion of these vessels causes adjacent nerves to send impulses back to the brain which are interpreted as an itch.

The problem should go away once you have increased your fitness level.

I expected to get it bad when I ran this morning since I hadn't jogged in about two weeks, but surprisingly, I didn't. I think the hard exercise of four consecutive after-work formula windsurfing sessions must have re-opened my capillaries. Cool.

Trimming the Fat

I figured out how to edit helmet camera video last night, so here's the highlight reel from yesterday evening's "TGIF" session. My buddy Scott makes an appearance on a Bic Reggae longboard and 5.5 sail, and my other buddy Marc gives it a go with a 16 meter kite. The wind was good; I was powered on 9.8.

The only problems I'm still having with the freeware video editor I'm using, "Avidemux 2.4", are that it doesn't recognize the audio in the GoPro files, and that it fails when I try to add a secondary mp3 track. (The mediocre music in this video came from YouTube again.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Helmet Cam Experimentation

I took my helmet cam out again today, this time using a slightly different mount; more at the front of the helmet and angled down to see the water and the board. It worked ok, except that after shooting a few clips, I got mixed up and started turning the camera on when I thought I was turning it off, and vice versa. So I ended up getting mostly boring "candid" footage. In this video I'm just reaching, reaching, reaching, until I finally turn around at 3 minutes. After that you can see some reef and sand patches whiz by underwater, but that's as exciting as it gets. (PS- Sorry for the terrible music. The only way I've figured to add tunes so far is with YouTube's "Audio Swap", which forces you to choose from a list of third-rate bands no one has ever heard of, I guess to get around copyright issues.)

One thing that worked well, though, was the automatic repeat photo feature of the camera. I had it shoot every couple seconds for a couple minutes, and got some ok shots. I'll keep experimenting.



Monday, July 20, 2009

Windsurfing vs. Sailboarding

Have you ever noticed that the news is always announcing some new, appalling statistic about how dumb people are? Like, "only 59% of American adults know that dinosaurs and cavemen didn't live at the same time". Well, I'll bet if they did a survey of how many people know what windsurfing is, it would be even more appalling than that. I'm guessing this based on the kind of crazy questions I get from people of all ages whenever I show up on the beach with my windsurf. Some real examples...

"Cool, a surfboard!"
"That's a BIG boogie board!"
"What are you going to do with that?"
"Good day for para-gliding, huh?"
"Do you do kiteboarding lessons?"
"Betcha need big waves for that!"
"Wow, can I please please FLY it?"

Obviously, some of the confusion can be attributed to the fact that most people have rarely, if ever, seen windsurfing. Their scant mental images of it blur with images of other activities involving boards and / or wind-catching devices: surfing, sailing, boogie boarding, stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, paragliding, wakeboarding, snowboarding, skateboarding, skimboarding, hang-gliding, kiteboarding, etc.

The names become a blur, too. Would the average person be able to match the word "windsurfing" with the correct activity? "Wind-" doesn't narrow it down much, and "-surfing" sorta implies that the activity requires waves. People could also get off track thinking of it as "surfing the wind". I bet more often than not they would mis-attribute the name windsurfing to kiteboarding or hang-gliding or something.

"Sailboarding" might have a higher rate of correct image matching for newbies. You've got "Sail-", which should narrow it down to sailing or windsurfing, and "-boarding" which distinguishes it from big-boat sailing. Also, there's a precedent for naming boardsports with the -boarding suffix. Snow-, Kite-, Wake-, Skate, Skim-, etc., so I think people who knew one of those boardsports could figure out what sailboarding is pretty easily. "Boardsailing" would be another option, mixing the same two words but emphasizing sailing. That might help market windsurfing to people interested in cheap forms of recreational sailing.

Personally I would lean towards "sailboarding". It's descriptive and it establishes our sport's niche between sailing and boardsports. The old argument that it sounds dorkier than windsurfing doesn't carry much weight anymore, thanks to the efforts of talented skateboarders and snowboarders who have made things ending in "-boarding" as cool as things ending in "-surfing".

You can voice your own opinions in the sideboard poll and the comments section.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My first first-person windsurfing footage

I got a chance to try the GoPro camera on the water today. I was pretty pleased with the results. YouTube degrades the quality a bit, but they still look ok in full screen mode.

I haven't figured out how to cut and splice clips, or how to add soundtracks and credits, so for now I've just posted these as separate videos. In the ones where I'm talking to the camera you have to turn your computer volume up to hear it. Just remember to turn it down before the part where I jump in the water in the last video, because that's loud.

The wind was 10-12 knots from the SE when I first went out, but then it abruptly shut off and shifted around to the W, after trying a few other directions. While I was becalmed I took the camera underwater, but since I could only see a blur with my eyes I was hesitant to swim down all the way to the reef. Another time I'll bring a mask and go deeper.

Friday, July 17, 2009

GoPro Helmet Camera Test - Idiotic Stoke

My new camera works. I can't wait to try it on the water.

For those of you who have experience using these things, I have a couple questions:

1) Where's the cheapest place to get the Lithium or NiMH rechargeable batteries recommended for the camera?
2) Which kind of batteries are better / more economical?
3) What's some cheap / free, user-friendly video editing software that I could use? Bonus if it runs on a crappy old computer with Windows 2000.
4) Can I get in trouble for setting videos to copyrighted music?

The Week in Death and Destruction

It's been a slow week for watersports blogging. Things should pick up after this weekend because my new blog-accessory arrived. It's a waterproof helmet-mounted camera from GoPro that can take wide-angle, first-person perspective movies. All I need now are some AAA batteries and some wind.

In the meantime, here's some recent highlights of Florida life.

1. There were some ants dragging a dead lizard through the hallway at the Smithsonian Marine Laboratory.


2. Monday I tried to get to my seagrass research site, but it was closed off because of the scheduled shuttle launch. When the launch was rescheduled for Wednesday I knew Tuesday was my only chance to get the seagrass sampled. So my intern and I rallied and did it all in one long day. Another guy I know who works in the area once caught his truck engine on fire on a grassy dike road like this. The fire wouldn't go out until the entire truck had been disintegrated down to the hubcaps. This provided endless fodder for heckling by co-workers. I drive very slowly and only go a short distance down the road so I won't burn up the Smithsonian's F150.


3. This morning I saw a guilty looking construction crew standing stupidly around an exploded water main. The fountain of water was drenching a nearby realty place.



Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bladder Blues

Sunday we had 8-14 knots from the SSE, which is great wind for summer in Florida. Since my formula windsurfing boom is out of commission, and the wind strength and direction were ideal for my 12 m kite, I decided to go kiteboarding for the first time since early May.


I was nervous after the hiatus, but everything came back ok...


...for the most part.


I got comfortable on the water and even tried some crappy jumps, but I still need to learn how to turn properly. At one point my buddy Scott was semi-planing on my Kona longboard with a 6.6 sail and we were going about the same speed. He probably coulda passed me if he'd known how to use the harness and his "third leg".


My neighbor Bill brought his jetski, which was entertaining for our cute German visiting scientists, who also went windsurfing some more.


The lower wind threshold for good riding on the 12 m kite and big twintip board seems to be within 1 knot of the threshold for the 9.8 windsurfing sail on my formula board. The difference is that below the threshold on the formula board I can still stay upwind, whereas below the threshold on the kite I can't stay upwind and have to get back to the beach by figure-8 flying the kite.

The only bummer was that one of my wingtip strut bladders leaked. It didn't make a noticeable difference in how the kite flew, but it made that wingtip flutter a bit and I think I should get it fixed before I go out again. There definitely seems to be a price to pay for upkeep of light wind planing gear, whether it's a windsurf or a kite.

Rocket Science vs. Marine Biology

This is a picture from my seagrass predator-exclusion experiment in the upper Banana River Lagoon. It's pretty low-tech research compared to what's going on in the background!


Anyway, I'm trying to figure out if large predatory fish, which are very abundant in Kennedy Space Center because nobody is allowed to fish there, affect the smaller animals and plants in the lagoon's shallow seagrass beds. I'm hoping that by fencing out the big fish from my experimental plots, the inside of the plots will undergo the same ecosystem changes that would occur from overfishing. Those "ecosystem changes" would be a ripple effect down the food chain- an increase in the abundance of small fish, a decrease in the abundance of algae-eating shrimp, and an increase in the slimy algae that is harmful to seagrass. That type of ripple-effect is called a "trophic cascade".

I should know in another month or so if it's happening.

Boom Blues

**UPDATE - 8 July 09 - Got a replacement; a secondhand Fiberspar all-carbon boom**

**Begin original post**

My second honeymoon with formula windsurfing hit a speed bump yesterday when one of my aluminum boom arms broke.

boom blues

I think it happened when I pumped the sail hard coming out of a jibe to pop the cams. Thankfully the boom didn't separate on the water - it just started to feel wobbly and "spongy" and I wasn't able to pump onto a plane. At first I thought maybe the tail piece was slipping, which has happened before when I didn't lock it in tight, but that wasn't the case. Back in my driveway when I got a chance to look at the broken spot I was surprised how thin the aluminum was there. You'd think they would reinforce that spot more, since there's so much stress where the boom arms meet the boom head.

I've had the boom for about two years so I think it's out of warranty. It's a shame that the whole rest of the boom will have to be tossed just because of that one break. Unless anyone has repair ideas?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pink Sail

I bought a used 9.8 msq sail yesterday from Sandy Point Progressive Sports in Daytona Beach. SPPS posts their inventory online, so I was able to pick out the sail, a 2004 Aerotech VMG, before I went up there. It was exactly what I was looking for in terms of size, construction, vintage, and price. It wasn't until I got to the shop, though, that I realized the sail was PINK and yellow. When I mumbled some doubts about the girly colors, the salesclerk said, "Don't worry, it's not really pink, it's fuschia". That didn't make me feel much better. But then I remembered that my windsurfing hero, Robby Naish, uses pink sails, and he's cool...

So anyway, I went ahead and bought the sail, and I'm pretty stoked about it. Took it for a little morning sesh in 5-12 knots and appreciated its lightness, power, and smooth feel. My planing threshold is now around 10 knots.


I also really like the construction. As far as I know, Aerotech is the only sail company that doesn't use fragile "monofilm" plastic for the body of their race sails. Instead they use grid type materials that are less prone to cracking and tearing when they wrinkle. Also, the company is based right out of Daytona and the sail designer is the SPPS shop owner, which is cool.


PS- If anyone wants the beater 8.7 sail that the new one is replacing, they can have it for eight dollars and seventy cents.