Monday, October 29, 2012

Angulo Paddleboard Stolen - Waaaaaah!

Dang! Some worthless creep sneaked into my driveway in Bonita Springs last night, cut the roof rack straps on my van, and stole the expensive Angulo Surfa 10'4" paddleboard that Josh Angulo and I had painstaking upgraded with a removable center fin for flat water windsurfing.

Have you seen this board? Call the Bonita Springs Sheriff's office 239-477-1840. On the underside is has a "Thruster" triple fin setup, and it also has an extra finbox installed in the middle of the board. The bottom says, "Jesus Loves You" so whoever stole it is going to hell unless they return it to my front yard and repent.

They left the WindSUP 11'8" still sitting on top of the rack (maybe they couldn't lift it) but I can't use that until I get some new tie-down straps. I'm also going to get some of those "Docks Locks" to secure it on the roof rack.

Best Gulf Coast Windsurfing So Far

Wow, I am riding high on stoke after two weekend days of epic 4.7 sail + 83 liter board wavesailing at Wiggins Pass in Naples, Florida. The strong, side-onshore, NW winds were related to the "pinch" of Hurricane Sandy's low pressure and the high pressure cold front over the mainland US.

Saturday I was overpowered with the 4.7- really should have been on a 4.2 or smaller. A German tourist was blasting around on an old 3.5! Tweaking the downhaul, outhaul, and harness lines on the 4.7 helped keep it controllable, and there was enough current pushing me downwind that I didn't have much of a problem getting stuck upwind, as sometimes happens when overpowered.

Sunday the 4.7 was juuuust right and I felt a lot more dialed into the onshore wave conditions. Wiggins has a long area of breaking waves with a smooth transition from smaller ones on the inside to bigger ones on the outside. In contrast with Nahant Massachusetts the waves are a bit more "lumpy," so it's easier to weave around the bumps on the way out without having to go right through a pitching face. An extra bonus of Wiggins was that the outgoing tide from the pass would give you a boost back out to sea at the end of your wave-ride. It was super fun doing that perpetual motion circuit again and again. 

The wind are supposed to be more mellow today, but I think the waves will be up for a while, so I'll try to get a session after work. I haven't been able to give the WindSUP 11'8" a fair shake in the waves yet, so this may be the day. (I did give the WindSUP an unfair shake in the waves around sunset on Friday, right as the wind switched from side-onshore 20 mph to mostly-offshore 3 mph. Doh! I was not impressed with the board in those limping-along conditions. Hard to catch a wave unless you were right on the peak, and then it was hard not to pearl the nose. A little more wind and/or a little better angle should help.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Got a new tractor - Wheeeooo doggies!

Actually, it's a new windsurfing sail, but it PULLS like a tractor. It's a 9.5 Ezzy Cheetah (camless freeride sail) and I got it Ace Performer in Fort Myers. Here's what I like about the sail:

1. It's big and powerful.
2. It's light for its size.
3. It's made to rig on a 490 mast, so I didn't have to buy a new mast for it.
4. It's made in 100% grid construction with lots of reinforcements, so it should last a while.
5. It's easy to rig because the luff sleeve is wide and there are no camber inducers.
6. It can be tuned for "grunty" power, pairing well with my Exocet WindSUP 11'8" longboard.
7. It can also be tuned for high wind speed and control.
8. It has a distinctive visual flair.

Friday evening I took it out for a spin at Wiggins Pass. The wind was offshore, blowing about 5 mph at the beach but 15+ mph once you got out a ways. It was a WONDERFUL session. The WindSUP is a smooth and balanced board that handles well for its size, and the Cheetah is a smooth and balanced sail that handles well for ITS size. The two together are a killer combo. Song #1 in the video is "Mariposa" by Al Petteway and Amy White off their album Acoustic Journey. Song #2 in the video is "Shake a Leg"by ACDC off their album Back in Black.

12 Oct 2012 WindSUP 9-5 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

The next test for the WindSUP 11'8" is going to be getting it in some waves or swells. Pshhhh. By the curse of West Florida's unexposed-to-waves geography I could be waiting a long time for that.


I'll have to plan a weekend trip back to my Fort Pierce stomping grounds on the proper side of the state.   (Note how the smallest waves in Fort Pierce this week are bigger than the biggest waves in Naples.)


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Big Wonderful Things, Little Annoying Things

Big Wonderful Things:

1. Getting my new windsurf board up to planing speed for the first time in the gorgeous light of a Gulf of Mexico sunset.

2. Returning home to have nice dinner and relaxation with my beautiful sweetheart.

Little Annoying Things: 

1. Having the "twist-lock" mechanism on my fiberspar boom slip repeatedly during the windsurfing session, indicating that it's time once again to order replacement cuffs. And indicating that I'll likely miss a weekend of good windsurfing waiting for the cuffs to ship.

2. Getting bitten by ten zillion mosquitos in the parking lot de-rigging after the beautiful sunset.

3. Agonizing over the one Achilles' heel of my new board; the chintzy Allgaier daggerboard gasket, whose loose lips create drag in the water (or at least create drag in my mind) hindering my high performance potential. Putting an Allgaier daggerboard gasket on a high performance windsurf is like putting wooden cart wheels on an Indy 500 car.


I'm thinking I might be able to soup up my ride a little, though, if I put a piece of gorilla tape over the leading edge of the gasket. Hmm...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Got a New Board- Exocet WindSUP 11'8"

Oh. Yeah. Baby.

I just got the new board that I've been lusting after for a year. It's the Exocet WindSUP 11'8", AST construction, purple color, 360 x 79 cm, 220 liters volume, 56 cm Allgaier daggerboard, 44 cm powerbox fin.

Mowing the lawn can wait.

I've got the footstraps in the outboard positions for flatwater blasting. There's also a centered footstrap orientation for wavesailing, but there are rarely any waves around here so I'm tuning for flatwater. Of course, some people say they don't even use the footstraps when they wavesail this board, so maybe when I wavesail it I can just step around the straps.

This underside view shows the "step-tail" design, which combines a flat "swallow tail" planing surface with a longer "pin tail" for smooth gliding and catching waves. The 44 cm powerbox stock fin should be good for early planing with my 8.0 sail, but I'll use a much smaller fin for waveriding and SUP- either my 32 cm MauiUltraFin or my 25 cm WeedWave fin. The Allgaier daggerboard system is apparently the WindSUP's one Achilles heel. It's fine at low speed, but at planing speed the loose lips peel partly open, allowing water to shoot through the center of the board and adding drag that limits your maximum speed.

Hibuscus flower motif with flying fish, fitting for Florida. "Exocet" means flying fish in French, and Exocoetidae is the scientific name for the flying fishes family.


I bought the board at "Ace Performer," a nice local windsurf / sup / kite / kayak shop located near the Sanibel Causeway in Fort Myers. (Warning: The Ace Performer website has an incredibly annoying "magical sparkling" sound effect that repeats. Turn off your sound before you click the link.) Notwithstanding his website sound effect choices, the shop owner, Roy Massey, seems like a very cool guy. I'm looking forward to sailing with him and meeting the rest of the local crew at their regular launch sites on the causeway (for flatwater) and on Captiva Island (for the best waves in SW Florida).

Roy gave me some free rack pads to help advertise the shop.

Naturally, I'm desperate to get the thing in the water. The SW Florida weekend forecast looks typically devoid of planing-strength winds or rideable waves, but I should still be good to go for a paddle in the Imperial River or a non-planing cruise with an 8.0 sail at Wiggins Pass. Naturally I'll post a review once I have some data.

PS- Last week I found out that a tidal creek one block from my house links up with the scenic Imperial River. I can carry my SUP board down there without even having to put it on the car! I figured it out by doing the route in reverse, paddling from the kayak dock at Riverside Park in Olde Bonita Springs. Stoke!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beginner Windsurfing: How to Reorient After Falling

The other day a beginner windsurfer (at the uphauling stage) told me he preferred shallow water because he spent a lot of time standing in the water positioning the sail. There are certainly some good reasons to prefer shallow water, like being able to walk back to the beach if you can't sail back, but I don't think positioning the sail in the water is one of the good reasons. That prompted me to write this instructional blog post. The gist of it is this: Getting off the board to position the sail is an unnecessary waste of time, and there's a way you can avoid ever having to do it. (Or at least until you start learning waterstarting, but that's an advanced skill for another day.) Even in shallow water, it's usually a lot more efficient to get ON the board before worrying about positioning the sail. Here's my pictorial tutorial: