Friday, November 27, 2009

Dr. Masters vs. the Manufactured Doubt Industry

Industries that harm people and the environment are threatened when science reveals their harmful effects, because it puts public and political pressure on them to change, potentially endangering profits. Sadly, the laws that govern corporations require them to do whatever it takes to maximize short-term profits, but make no provisions for protecting people and the environment or refraining from misleading the public. So rather than changing in response to scientific findings, industry will hire creepy PR firms and lobbyists to dispute and suppress the science. The creeps take advantage of the fact that science is complicated to cast doubt on the good science, inject their own phony science, and create a false sense of uncertainty about whether their industrial activity is actually bad.

It's scary how successful the lobbyists have been. For example, even as the scientific evidence connecting humans to global warming has gotten stronger and stronger, more and more people are skeptical or confused about climate change because of misleading PR campaigns by the "Manufactured Doubt" industry.

One of the bloggers who I most admire, weather scientist Dr. Jeff Masters, just did an excellent job of calling out the Manufactured Doubt scam. I was going to put in some snippets of his post here, but it's so good you should really just read the whole thing. Please check out Dr. Masters' Post and spread it around to all your friends.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Strings Attached

Kiteboarding is pretty fun, and once you get the basic feel it's almost stupidly easy compared to windsurfing. But using a large, complex kite to power a small, sinky board is much less reliable than using a modest sized sail to power a floaty windsurf board. One little thing goes wrong, and all of a sudden your high-tech, wing-shaped kite turns into a useless tangle of tent fabric and string, dead in the water. That's what happened to me at the end of an otherwise delightful kiteboarding session on Friday.

This is the whole video, which starts with the good part. The bad part at the end has a swear word. If you don't want to hear it, turn off the sound when Elvis Costello stops singing.

Awesome / Awful Kiteboarding Session from James Douglass on Vimeo.

This is a shorter video of just the bad part.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kite Size Calculator / Weight Translator

**Note: This is old now. I have an updated version of the calculator, which incorporates wind ranges and board sizes and a graphical chart, at this link.**

**Note #2: My famous WINDSURFING CALCULATOR is available at this link.**

Most kite manufacturers make wind range recommendations for their kites based on a "typical" kiter who weighs about 170 lbs (77 kg). I made this table so people of different weights can translate those recommendations for themselves, or figure out proportional kite sizes relative to what their lighter or heavier friends are using. E.g., if 110 lb Tina is perfectly powered on her 8 msq kite, then 230 lb Lars should use his 16 msq kite.

I also included approximate wind speeds in the right hand columns that you can match to your weight and kite size. BUT the particular relationship between kite size and wind speed depends on the style of the kite, the quality and direction of the wind, the type of board, length of lines, etc. So take the wind speed versus kite size recommendations with a grain of salt, and be careful.

4.7 Onshore Wind Session

The wind here in Florida has been relentless for a week, every day around 20 mph. Yesterday was probably the windiest yet, with 20 - 30 mph. I used a 4.7 msq Ezzy wave sail that I got last year from a guy who had switched to kiting. The waves weren't huge where I launched near Fort Pierce's South Jetty, but I still had some trouble getting out due to the onshore wind direction. Once out, however, it was great. There were some nice waves on the North side of Fort Pierce Inlet, and some very challenging voodoo swells in the inlet itself, where the incoming waves met the outgoing tide.

4.7 Windsurfing in Fort Pierce, FL from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Today is even windier, but I really really really need to catch up on work since I'm leaving for a conference in California tomorrow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ocean Sailing with Workin' Dave

"Working" Dave Zaijcek is a stoked windsurfer from Stuart, Florida, who maintains a windsurfing blog called "Treasure Coast Windsurfers" and a local windsurfing forum called "Treasure Coast Windsurfing". Dave usually sails the flat water of the Indian River Lagoon, launching with a good group of mellow, mostly older windsurfers at the Stuart Causeway. But Saturday he got motivated to try the ocean, and braved some challenging conditions with me at the Fort Pierce South Jetty. We experimented with swapping different fins, sails, and boards and figured out that Dave's new Mistral Syncro 92 l board didn't work well with his 6.0 cambered race sail, but worked great with my 5.5 and 6.6 wave sails. So I think Dave is going to get a 5.8 wave sail and come to sail with me more often. Woo hoo! It's always cool to have other windsurfers on the water instead of being the only one among the kiters.

Unbeknownst to me, Dave took some cool pictures when I was sailing in the outflow of Fort Pierce inlet, where nice waves and swells form. I'm reposting some here. The full set is on Dave's blog.

Also, I've been trying something new on the water...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Clew Mount Camera Glory

I was inspired by the awesome videos on Andy McKinney's "Lost in Hatteras" blog to try mounting my GoPro camera on the clew end of my boom instead of just wearing it on my head. I did it exactly like Andy showed, and it seemed to work. Conviently, yesterday evening provided 15-20 knots of breeze and some nice lighting for testing it out. I used a 5.5 msq Aerotech Charge and 106 liter Exocet Cross.

Clew-Mount Camera Windsurfing in Florida from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another Round of Wind

Now that the "season" has started, Florida has become a darn good place for windsurfing again. Tuesday had about 20 knots sideshore at the Fort Pierce South Jetty, perfect for a 5.5 msq sail and my 83 liter waveboard. As usual, I was the only windsurfer amongst a bunch of kiters. I really don't feel the need to kite in strong winds like this, because I think windsurfing on small gear is plenty fun and challenging. I need to learn some new moves, though, to spice up the GoPro videos, if nothing else.

Windsurfing Ft. Pierce, FL on 3 Nov 2009 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Doug the kiter gloats about his great session while Tim and Marc fuss with Tim's 8 meter kite.

A Kona longboard atop my minivan marks me as the only windsurfer at the jetty.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Furry in the puffs- understanding windsurfing slang

The other day someone requested that I do a post on windsurfing lingo. So, here it is. For the sake of brevity I'm leaving out most of the gear terminology and focusing more on words describing windsurfing conditions, action, and enthusiasm. If you're a non-windsurfer or a beginner, maybe this will help you figure out what people are talking about on the beach.

It - The wind and water conditions. "How is it?" "It's windy!"

Launch - Noun; a beach from which you can windsurf. Verb; to put your windsurf in the water.

Walk of Shame - When you are unable to return the to spot on the beach you launched from, and you have to walk back carrying your gear.

Skunked- When you go to the beach to try to windsurf but are thwarted for some reason, usually because there's not enough wind.

Skunk-proof- When you are insured against getting skunked by having equipment that works well in light wind or no wind conditions. E.g., "I always bring my longboard and a paddle so I'm totally skunk-proof."

Yard Sale - A dramatic crash that ends with you and your gear scattered in disarray.

Downwind - The direction the wind is flowing towards. "Larry drifted downwind and had to do the walk of shame."

Upwind - The direction the wind is coming from. "I had to tack and point to get upwind away from the pier."

Point / Pinch - Windsurfing as close to upwind as possible. "Dave beat me to the upwind buoy because he was able to point higher."

Tack - 1: When you change directions by turning the board upwind and switching sides. 2: Your direction of travel; to the right side with your right foot forward is called starboard tack and to the left side with your left foot forward is called port tack.

Carve - When you tilt the board to do a sharp turn. "Sally carved so hard she threw spray, like, 10 feet in the air."

Jibe / Gybe - Carving a turn in the downwind direction while switching sides of the board to change tacks. "I'm having a hard time planing through my jibes."

Planing / On a plane - The high-speed mode of windsurfing where your board is skimming on top of the water, rather than merely floating in it. "I'll never forget my first time planing."

Onshore - Wind that is blowing straight at the beach. "It was hard to get out past the waves because of the onshore wind."

Sideshore - Wind that is blowing parallel to the beach, which is what windsurfers usually prefer.

Offshore - Wind that is blowing from the beach towards the open water. "Ed got blown out to sea when the wind turned from sideshore to offshore."

Light - Not particularly windy. "It's light."

Teaser breeze - Wind that looks decent, but proves disappointing. "It was a teaser day."

Cranking / Honking / Howling / Raging - Wind blowing hard.

Blasting / Trucking / Booking - Windsurfing fast.

Ripping / Jamming - Windsurfing with skill and aggressive style.

Dialed / Dialed In - In tune with the wind and water conditions and windsurfing well. "Glenn is always totally dialed."

Gust - A short-term increase in wind speed affecting a small area.

Gusty - Wind characterized by frequent and severe gusts.

Puff - Another word for gust; sometimes a bigger or longer lasting gust. "It's really getting furry in the puffs!"

Furry - Ragged water texture with some blowing spray, associated with very high wind.

Liquid smoke - Beyond furry, when there's lots of blowing spray.

Nukin' - Extreme high wind. "Look at the liquid smoke, it's nukin'!"

Epic - Exceptionally good or strong / scary conditions. "Remember that epic Nor'easter we caught at Buckroe Beach last year?"

Powered / Juiced / Lit - When there's lots of wind in your sail and you're enjoying it. "How was it on your six-five?" "I was f'ing LIT!"

Overpowered - When there's too much wind in your sail, and you're struggling to stay in control.

Flattened / Spanked / Nuked - When you're overpowered to the point that you actually can't sail.

Survival Sailing / Victory at Sea - When conditions are so challenging that you don't bother trying to do any cool moves or anything; just being able to avoid disaster is a good accomplishment.

Tailwalking - When you're going fast in strong wind and the nose of the board flies up in the air unexpectedly.

Spin-out - When you're going fast and the fin loses its grip in the water, causing the board to skid sideways. "I was blasting along great until I caught some seaweed on my fin and spun-out."

Shift - A change in wind direction.

Shifty - Wind that is changing direction a lot.

Header - A wind shift that forces you to veer away from your destination.

Lift - A wind shift that helps you reach your destination.

Lull - A short-term decrease in wind speed.

Hole - A serious lull affecting a certain area. "I was leading the race until I got stuck in a hole and everyone passed me."

Holey - Wind characterized by frequent and severe holes.

Patchy / Spotty - Wind with a mix of gusts and lulls.

Gassed - When someone passes you on the upwind side, temporarily blocking your wind and slowing you down. "I know John is a fast sailor, but it's annoying the way he keeps gassing me."

Marginal - Barely windy enough to do the desired kind of windsurfing. "It was marginal for my six-six, I had to pump to get planing."

Six-six, five-seven, four-oh, etc. - Sail sizes; 6.6, 5.7, and 4.0 meters squared, respectively. Sails go from 12.5 down to about 3.0. Smaller sails imply stronger wind. "How is it?" "Awesome, I started on five-five and I'm about to re-rig to four-seven!"

Pump - Flapping the sail to generate power, usually done to help initiate planing.

Slogging / Shlogging / Schlogging - The slow and awkward windsurfing you do when it's not windy enough to plane with the board and sail you're using. "It started out good, but then the wind died and I had to shlog back to the beach."

Session / Sesh - An outing on the water. "It was a good session, I was planing most of the time."

Rig - Noun; a windsurf sail. Verb; to assemble a windsurf sail. "What [size of sail] are you rigging?"

Re-rig - What you have to do if the sail you put together the first time proves inappropriate for the wind conditions. "I was underpowered on my six-oh, so I had to re-rig to seven-five."

What was he on? - What size and type of board and sail was he using?

T.O.W. - Time on the water invested in the practice of windsurfing. "Fred doesn't get much T.O.W. since he's such a wind snob."

Wind snob - Someone who only windsurfs when it's really windy. "I'm usually the only guy out on light wind days, because everyone else around here is a wind snob."

Smooth / Glassy - An undisturbed water surface, usually associated with very light wind, but sometimes found between rolling waves or in the lee of a sandbar or jetty.

Butter - Smooth water that is fun to carve though. "Between the swells it was total butter."

Chop / Choppy - Small or medium-sized, non-breaking waves like you'd find on a small lake or bay on a breezy day.

Chop-Hop - A small jump initiated in flat or choppy water.

Psycho-chop / Voodoo-chop - Steep, large, disorganized chop that is challenging to sail through. "I got catapulted going too fast through the voodoo-chop by the bridge."

Catapult / Slam / Over-the-handlebars - A crash where you get thrown forward into the water. "I accidentally hooked in before I was ready and I got catapulted."

Hooked in - When you have the hook on your harness belt resting in the harness loop on the boom, supporting your weight from the sail. "It's hard to stay hooked in when the wind is gusty like this."

Swell - Medium or large-sized, non-breaking waves that form when the wind blows over a long, uninterrupted area. "When the wind is steady from the North it builds up nice swells that you can carve on."

Wave - What a swell becomes when it hits shallow water and starts to get steep and break.

Shore Break / Shore Pound - Waves breaking right on the beach, which suck because they are impossible to ride and because they make launching difficult. "I got denied by the shore pound."

Denied - When you are trying to get out past the breaking waves but can't make it because the waves smack you down. "I got denied twice before I finally made it to the outside."

The Outside - Away from shore, beyond where most of the waves are breaking. "The swells were really big on the outside."

The Inside - Close to shore, within the area that the waves are breaking. "I stayed on the wave too long and got caught on the inside."

The Impact Zone - The specific area where the waves are breaking hardest. "It was a great session until I went down in the impact zone and broke a mast."

Closing Out - When a wave is breaking along it's entire length, making it difficult to avoid or escape the breaking part or the whitewater.

Whitewater - The white mess of foamy, roiling water after a wave has broken. "I was trying to get out, but I kept getting pushed back by the whitewater."

Mushy / Crumbling - When the waves are breaking gradually, as opposed to rearing up and curling over abruptly. "The waves were kind of mushy, but I still got some good rides."

Mast Munchers / Crunchers - Big waves that are breaking hard.

Head high / Logo high / Mast high - Descriptions of the height of breaking waves. Logo high is over your head, but not quite as tall as the sail.

Ramp - A steep chop, swell, or wave in a position where you can do a big jump off of it.

Baf / Back-and-forth / Flatwater blasting - The typical kind of windsurfing where you're just going back and forth perpendicular to the wind, enjoying yourself but boring your spectators.

Bump & Jump / B&J - Like baf, but with some jumps thrown in. Usually takes place at venues with some chop and swells, but is not true wavesailing.

Wavesailing / Waveriding - When you're sailing in and around breaking waves, specifically positioning yourself to ride waves as they break.

Backside [waveriding] - When you're on a wave with your back to the wave, which is typical for onshore winds.

Frontside [waveriding] - When you're on a wave with your body facing the wave and the sail between you and the wave. It's the most fun type of wavesailing, but it requires well-organized waves and sideshore or offshore winds.

Going down the line - Traveling sideways along a breaking wave, staying on the part that hasn't quite broken yet. "Dude, I did, like three frontside turns going down the line!"

Teabagger - Kiteboarder.

Stoke - Enthusiasm, happiness, and excitement. It comes from the word "stoked", describing a fire that is burning hot because it's getting blown on.