Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Inlet to Inlet Race Report

**Note: Since I originally posted this, Ron has put a great summary of the race up on his website, including official results, stories, and a photo album- http://www.i-to-i.org/**

Woo hoo! I finished Ron Kern's annual "Inlet to Inlet" windsurfing race in Fort Lauderdale.

Ron explains the race to some of the windsurfing and kiteboarding competitors.

This is my GPS track. It was a 24.5 mile round trip. The second picture is a close-up of the southern part of the course. 

The wind was 15-20 knots side-onshore from the East-Northeast, which made for rough water and intimidating shorebreak. (See what happened when a catamaran tried to launch.) Fortunately, all the windsurfers who showed up made it out successfully.


I rode my Starboard Formula 135 with a 58 cm fin, and I played it safe with the sail choice, rigging a "small" 8.0 sail- an Aerotech Freespeed. The previous day I had tried my 9.5 Ezzy Cheetah in similar conditions at the race site and found it doable, but more tiring. Since my goal was to finish the race without crashing or running out of stamina, 8.0 was the right choice. The only thing awkward about it was that my boom was too long, leaving some bare line between the clew grommet and the clew. Oh, well.

My setup-

Compared to 2008 I improved one notch in the standings, getting 3rd place. My 1:35 time was a lot better than my previous 2:43, thanks to a favorable wind direction requiring just one tack, and thanks to riding a Formula board instead of the Kona ONE. (There were four Kona ONE competitors in the race this year, and I think they all finished. Their course was a little shorter than ours. The Port Everglades Buoy was the downwind mark for everyone, but the Kona boards had an upwind mark a few miles closer than the Hillsborough Inlet Buoy.)

Though I was satisfied with my own time, I was way behind Ron Kern and kite racer Zack, who finished in 1:10 and 1:13, respectively. Ron was on his 9.5 Neil Pryde sail and Mike's Lab formula board with a 64 cm Ifju fin. Zack was riding a custom 70 cm wide tri-fin directional kite-race board with 42 cm side fins and 38 cm back fin. Initially I thought Zack had won the race, because he was leading on the way to the Port Everglades Buoy. But Zack said Ron passed him on the upwind leg and was untouchable after that. Both the leaders were real gentlemen who were good sports about the competition.

My video for the event didn't turn out as great as I was hoping because the !@#$ camera fogged up. If you want to see the schools of soaring flying fishes, the deep blue water, and the giant sea turtles that I saw out there you'll just have to do the race yourself next year.

Inlet to Inlet Windsurf Race, 2012 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

After the race, Ron and Sue Kern hosted a nice "debriefing"  at their beautiful house. There were tons of prizes and beverages donated by the race sponsors:

Adventure Sports / Neil Pryde / JP

Liquid Surf and Sail

Sandy Point Progressive Sports / Aerotech / Exocet


I left with a purple ladies waist harness for Rhonda, plus a downhaul tool, uphaul, and rashguard for myself. Thanks! :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hobie Cat Crash

I'm working on a doozy of a blog post describing my adventures at the Inlet to Inlet windsurfing race in Fort Lauderdale today. In the meantime, check out this video of a catamaran mishap that I filmed at the race site:

Hobie Cat Crash in Surf in Fort Lauderdale from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Ought to Know Better Than to Do this Race Again

The wisdom of "quit while you're ahead" is apparently lost on me, because I've signed up to do Ron Kern's "Inlet to Inlet" windsurfing Death Race in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow. I'm "ahead" only because when I did the race in 2008 I actually finished the whole 23+ mile course from Port Everglades Inlet to Hillsboro Inlet and back. About 20 people entered the race that year, but several were destroyed by the shorebreak before reached the starting line, and most succumbed to cramps and fatigue while zig-zagging upwind through big ocean swells and chop for hours. I was the fourth and last finisher on my Kona Longboard with a 7.8 sail- far behind the top three hotshots on their formula boards and >9 msq sails.

This is a picture of race organizer Ron Kern's GPS track from 2006. This year the wind is supposed to be about 15 knots from the East-Northeast. The amount of East in the wind could have a strong effect on how many tacks it takes to get to the upwind mark. If it's more East we might be able to make the mark in one tack, but if we're on the same tack for 11.5 miles straight our legs are going to die, so I almost hope the wind is more North. 

This year, since I have an old formula board and a 9.5 msq sail, I think I'm going to try that. If it's real windy I might use an 8.0 msq sail instead. I'm going to put my GPS and cell phone in waterproof bags in a "Camelback" pack with freshwater and some candy bars and stuff. If I have to drop out of the race I'll limp to the nearest shore and call for rescue.

Wish me luck.