Friday, December 18, 2009

Game On!!!!

Many of you have heard about the secret freestyle spot I've found. If not, I'll bring you up to speed. I had discovered the spot sailing at another local beach on the north shore. The problem was finding a launch to get to what looked like freestyle heaven. So when I got home I googled a bit and found a road that lead right to where I wanted to sail. The only problem was that this particular launch was in an incorporated village, and anyone residing outside the village could not park or use the beach there. Apparently satan himself guarded this little piece of heaven. The first 2 days we sailed until we couldn't sail anymore, but on the 3rd day at our little spot George and I got the boot. We were told we couldn't park there and to not come back or we would be ticketed. When George heard the news he said he knew it was too good to be true, hung his head low and de-rigged in disbelief of what had just happened. I was in even worse shape. This was the place I was going to learn all the newest moves faster than anywhere I had ever sailed before. Bonaire included!!!

So we drove home after our last spin through heaven. George called me and still couldn't believe we were no longer allowed to sail there. So many thoughts were going through my head as to how we could windsurf there without bringing the cars into the area. Maybe we could park down the road, or maybe park at another beach and sail there. Taking another look at our options I realized that there was really no safe way to reach the secret spot without actually launching there. Then I thought, maybe we could just pay for a pass. Even if I only sailed there one day a year, it would be worth it whatever it cost. So I went online and found the village website. There weren't any signs of a pass being sold to the public outside the village. I kept digging and digging and eventually came across some contact information for some of the town employees and members of government. Then there it was. The Mayor's e-mail. The only logical step from this point in my mind was to now e-mail the Mayor of the village in question. I stated my case and requested special permission to windsurf at the secret spot. I never in a million years thought that I would even get a response from one of the Mayor's assistants, so much as the Mayor herself, but I figured I couldn't be any worse off than I was already. And so the year's most important e-mail was sent. Much to my surprise the very next morning I opened up my e-mail to find a nice little note from the Mayor. She not only granted my request, but also wanted to meet me in person to give me the special pass.

So today I went to the Mayor's office at Village Hall and picked up a one of a kind special access pass to windsurf at my little secret spot. She even excused herself from a meeting to see me when I arrived at Village Hall. She introduced me to my new best friend Bob who made up the written pass on letterhead straight from the desk of the Mayor. So next time "the man" is holding you down, remember if you ask them nicely, you just might get what you want.

Now you know where I'll be every time it blows NE!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Not So Typical Week in Hatteras

Windy foreast. Check. Warm weather. Check. House full of friends. Check. Sounds like a your typical trip to Cape Hatteras, NC right. Well that's how it started off. The ride down was great and we were meeting up with Some friends from Boston, CT, and NYC, and Long Island. We ended up pulling into Island Creek Friday night and couldn't wait for the winds to come. Chris Eldridge had managed to get there Friday morning and sailed all day mostly overpowered on his 4.2.

Saturday morning I woke up at 6:45 AM from the wind howling through the screens on the bedroom window. For the record, the sounds of the wind blowing will wake me up quicker than smelling salt. I dove into my wetsuit and rigged my favorite board/sail combo. The 2010 4.7 Ice and 99 ltr Joker. I was on the water by 7:00AM. I had the entire sound to myself. After 2 hours of slipping, sliding, jumping and spinning I began to wonder where everyone else was. When Chris finally made it out onto the water, I asked him what was taking so long. It turned out that I got on the water before anyone was even awake. The wind direction had me sailing just North of the house and blocked from the view out the back windows. They were all waiting for me to get up to go sail. By the time they all realized I was already out, and had been for hours, the wind started dying. We all ended up getting a nice session, but they definitely missed most of it.

The forecast for the rest of the week was pretty typical. Windy just about every day. The only thing standing out was one "gift from god" forecasted SE wind around 30. We strolled over to Ocean Air to chat with the guys about the SE forecast for the Cove. I mentioned it to Stuart with a huge smile on my face. "Don't get too excited, that only happens once a year no matter what the forecast says." so says Stuart. Well, I figured it's December, the cove day hadn't happened yet, so this has got to be it!

We had a couple more windy days, and some great sailing. As "Cove Wednesday" got closer the forecast remained the same. When Wednesday finally arrived we scrambled to check the meters. It was already in the low 20s and forecasted to increase. We all piled into my Expedition and headed down to the cove. We drove on the beach like we were racing in the Baja 1000. The truck was filled with anticipation, expectations, and memories of the last Cove day we had there 2 years ago. Then with a last heavenly thought we saw the water. Flat!!!!! Not just little waves flat, but as flat as behind the houses in the sound! The wind was there, but where was the logo high, down the line beauties from the last time. Disappointing would be the understatement of the year. There were only 2 kiters on the water as I looked again in denial of what of was seeing. I was so depressed I didn't even feel like sailing. We drove back up the beach at a snails pace not believing what we had just seen. We pulled back out over the cut in the dune and back onto the pavement to tell the guys with 2 wheel drive waiting for a ride the bad news. As I shifted back into 2 wheel drive and got ready to go home, I caught a glimpse of Mark Skelton. He's airing down and getting ready to go down to the Cove. Well, if he's going, I guess I'm going too.

As we pulled back in at the launch, much to my surprise there were some little waves beginning to break. "What's this?" I thought to myself. "Wait a minute. The wind has picked up too." I stepped out of the car, and knew the 4.2 was the call. Just as I finished rigging, Andy showed up with Doug in tow and told me to be patient. "Waves just start out of nowhwhere at the Cove and it'll be head high before you know it. " Andy said with a big smile on his face while watching Stuart rotate through the first forward of the day.

By the time I hit the water there were a few nice chest high sets coming in, and from there they just grew. As the waves grew in size, so did the height of the jumps. I hit some really nice high stalled forwards, and got some nice little wave rides on the way in. Then on one tack out, I saw it. The perfect ramp to chuck a huge forward. For a fraction of a second I thought about going for a normal big floaty jump but then my little voice kicked in and said "Just go huge." So huge I go. I went up, then up some more. Then set up for the forward, then stalled it out cause I was still too high. Then looked around, then stalled it out some more. Then I started coming down, but I looked down and was still too high so I stalled it out some more. I didn't want to throw it too early and over-rotate so I stalled some more. Then finally I sheet in and round we go. About 3/4 way around I realize I should have waited just a bit longer. I tried my best to slow the rotation, but ended up over-rotating and landing as flat as flat can be. My front leg took most of the impact and I felt the pain shoot right up my leg. I knew something was wrong right away. Long story short, I sprained my ankle pretty bad and had trouble sailing back in. While I was sailing in, I thought it was broken. Hopping in on one foot through the break was interesting to say the least. I sat on the beach watching the perfect day just pass right by. After a while I was able to put pressure on the ankle again. It looked like someone stuck and egg in the side of my ankle, but my windsurfer instinct took aver and I headed back out for another session. Jumping was obviously out of the question. All I was hoping for was a few one-footed wave rides.

My first run in I picked a nice small wave to give it a try. I got into the wave. Not much pain, so I went for the bottom turn. It hurt like hell, but it was worth it. Then it was time for the top turn. The sprain was on my back foot, so as I slashed the turn it felt like my foot was going to be ripped off. I jumped off the board and was me cursing up a storm both from pain caused by the injury and disgust that I couldn't take advantage of the now incredible conditions. I sat on the beach for a little wile longer before I decided to give it yet a third try. "Right foot." I kept telling myself. "Only use your right foot. The left one will hurt." So I continued on without giving in to the need to "go huge" again. I ended up perfecting the one footed top turn and sailed for another half hour or so before the pain was too great.

Then it was off to get an x-ray. the whole time I was sailing I just kept praying it was only a sprain and not broken. In the end it was only a sprain, but I had to stay beached for the rest of the trip, and the next 2 great days days of sailing. A week later, I'm off the crutches and cast free. I still can't walk straight, but it's getting better every day, so hopefully I'll be on the water again very soon.

All in all, it was another great trip to Hatteras. We had a photographer there that got some great shots of the action at the Cove that day. As soon as I get the pictures I 'll have them online.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Secret Spot Found and Lost

Tuesday November 23rd marks a sad day in windsurfing. Our newly discovered secret spot is secret no longer. George Pav and I were super stoked to go sailing and work on all the latest tricks in the perfect freestyle spot we've dubbed "The Training Grounds". We rigged our 5.9s and were powered perfectly. George managed to hit 6 vulcans (3 of them being back to back) before "The Man" discovered our spot.

As we made our last run across our short and perfect stretch of water the officer from hell pulled in. And I'm not calling him the officer from hell because of the way he conducted himself, nor because of what he did. We were in the wrong and knew it. I'm calling him the officer from hell because to ruin such a good thing that came straight from heaven, Satan himself must have sent out one of his demons to ruin it for us. The officer was polite and didn't give us a ticket, but he informed us that since we were not residents of the village, we couldn't launch there. This was a very big disappointment especially since the other 4 officers I spoke to before this one came along had no problem with us sailing there as long as we kept things to a minimum, hence the need for secrecy.

So in the past few weeks, I went from saying "enough is enough with this NE wind crap", to "George, I can't believe it's going to be NE so we can get to sail the training grounds again" , to "Mother Fu*(&$^(* &(*&&*^#$$@%^& &#^#%$@$%, God DA&*#(!^^#((&#&@^** North East wind again!!!???? F##############*&!!!!!!"

Maybe I'll figure something out to sail there some time in the future. I literally wrote the mayor of the Village in question begging our case. Her response should be interesting to say the least.

Now it's off to Hatteras for some cheering up. Woohoo!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ida hits Hatteras

A picture says 1,000 words.......The Storm surge in Hatteras

For more info check Bill's Beach Life

And some some more shots of storm damage

I hope the road is open for thanksgiving when we head down.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Ida day 3: The Training Grounds

This is at dead low tide. As the tide comes in, you can sail in clean wind right in between these grassy islands for some butter smooth water for some perfect freestyle training.

I personally couldn't get out today. I had my hands full with my 2 and 3 year olds. If you think a forward is hard, try running around after 2 screaming kids having epic battles over a Sponge Bob sticker. Anyway, we all needed to get out of the house. George Pav gave me a buzz in the morning and told me he didn't even come close to having enough of our secret spot dubbed The Training Grounds and that he was heading back again today. So I decided if I couldn't sail, I might as well take the kids for a ride to the beach. When I pulled in, the wind was cranking. Way stronger than yesterday. I would have rigged my 3.7, but George was holding down his 4.2. And sailing really good. I decided to break out the camera. I wish I had my good camera with me with the longer lens, but these shots came out nice anyway. Today was much choppier than the nice 4.7 conditions we had yesterday, but hey, when it's blowing 30 knots, you can't expect much in the way of flat water.

George Pav nails a picture perfect vulcan.

Why buy a carbon boom?

Simply because an aluminum boom feels broken right out of the box. I found a great little video that demonstrates what I mean. It's no wonder why those things don't last like a carbon one. Thanks to Brian S. for putting it up on Vimeo.

Windsurfing with an Aluminum Boom from Brian S on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Serious Freestyle Training with the former storm, formerly known as the former Hurricane Ida

So the entire East Coast of the U.S. has been drooling over the predictions for up to 4 days of solid wind in a row from former hurricane Ida. Wednesday was the first day of good wind being predicted here on LI. Out east was looking like the best bet for good winds all day. I haven't had nearly enough flat water sessions to keep on top of my freestyle this year, so keeping up with my latest bag of tricks was my plan for Ida. Napeague would obviously be the call for Wed. As I pulled away form the house in my windsurf mobile I realized that almost everyone else that would normally make the 2 hour trip to Napeague to get some flat water action decided to make a 10 hour trip to get some flat water action in Hatteras. Kurt was still around and he loves Napeague, so he was my first call. He was in, and so was Steve with the "Caboose" from Shirley. There was barely any traffic on the way out and the truck kept swaying in the strong breeze on the highway. When I arrived at Napeague Kurt and Steve were already there and rigging. It looked like 4.7 was the call. I was powered to overpowered most of the time with the occasional lull but never fell of a plane.

Not having any flat water sessions in the past month or so was really showing with my switch stance tricks, or rather lack of switch stance tricks. But as the day went on, I pushed on and started making progress towards the end. I sailed until I couldn't sail any more. In the end I sailed about 5 hours straight in perfect 4.7 conditions doing at least 2 or 3 tricks on every run. Man I was shot while I was driving home but it was soooooo worth it.

So how can you beat a perfect 4.7 flat water session at Napeague? Well, I found a secret spot close to my house last winter. The only problem is that there are 3 no parking signs, 1 no trespassing sign, and one sign with all the town rules and regulations clearly stating that this secret spot is not only secret, but should it be found, it should only be used by those permanently residing within about 5 feet from the launch. It makes sense because there's only room for 2 or 3 cars to park. So I called George Pav, told him about the spot and we both decided it was worth the risk.

I arrived first. It was low tide and I was worried that it wouldn't be deep enough, but as soon as I took my third step into the water, I went right in over my head. "Wow, that's a drop!", I thought to myself. Then as I sailed across the small canal I thought, "That's great because I won't have to worry about running aground." With that thought I went splat! I nailed a sand/muck bar about 4 inches deep. I made a mental note on how far I could come to the other side and sailed back to where I launched. I was fully powered coming in for my first trick on starboard. I was flying! Just as I start to switch my feet to set up for a funnel the water smooths out to the point where the board starts making a hissing sound. I nailed a perfect air funnel on my first run! It happened to be the only one I hit all day, but man that water on the inside is soooo smooth it's not even fair. Then I spotted a sand bar upwind for port tack. It ended up being the identical setup that you have in Bonaire, where you come in on port tack, and then have all the time in the world to set up for anything you want to throw with the wind blowing right into the little bowl downwind of the sandbar.

When George pulled in I saw the smile on his face. He knew what was to come. Then I pointed out the sandbar upwind and his eyes lit up like he hadn't sen the water in 6 months. "4.7?, 4.7 is good? you're on 4.7 right?" "Yes George, I'm on 4.7 and it's perfect." After George's first run and his first vulcan, we decided to dub our secret spot "The Training Grounds" we continued sailing and exploring different secret runs in "The Training Grounds." As the tide came in, our super flat spots, weren't super flat anymore, and that was ok. We found some more super smooth flat spots to practice in. We sailed 4.7 all afternoon, slipping, sliding and spinning all over the place. George said that "The Training Grounds is to Freestyle, what the Canal in France is to Speed sailing." I had to agree. It was like our little secret spot was designed for freestyle windsurfing. I used to hate hearing the forecast for NE winds. It meant either traveling 2 hours for a good session, or giving in and sailing some typical mushy sound conditions. Now I can't wait for the next Nor' Easter at The Training Grounds!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2010 Northsails Ice Review

To put it short, it's hands down the best sail I've ever used. I weigh 170 lbs (77 kilos) and use the 2010 Ices for 5.3 and smaller. The 2010 Ice carries over the power and then some from last years sails. The major change is the double clew grommet. The Ices have always been extremely sensitive to outhaul adjustments. By pulling the outhaul another 3cm you would go from full power to no power. For 2010 they took it even further. The outer clew grommet gives the sail a similar feel to the 2009 sails with lots of power and direct handling. The inner grommet setting is a very new feeling. The sail just twists off so far making it very soft and have a huge top end. I've had a chance now to sail 3.7, 4.2, 4.7, and 5.3 Ices along with my 5.9 Duke and across the board the double clew grommet works just as well with all the sizes. When I was getting too overpowered to try tricks, I simply changed the outhaul to the inner grommet and I've got total control again. It really is amazing! It's not like going from a 5.3 to a 4.7 but it's like changing the 5.3 to a 5.0 with a quick adjustment.

Another great thing about all these different settings is that you can really get any sail you want in just one sail. If you like the soft feel, use the inner setting, if you like a very reactive sail, use the outer setting. On top of all these adjustments, north now offers an "HD" Full X-Ply version for maximum durability. Can't ask for more than that! I took the HD Ice in the 3.7 and it was really nice too.

The Ice works just as well for freestyle as it does for waves. When the sail has wind in it, it gets a very deep pocket in it giving it all the power. What is unique is that when you try to make the sail go neutral, it goes perfectly flat. So whether you're trying an air funnel, or just a regular tack, the Ice will help you out with it's amazing handling. Going into a jibe or going down the line on a wave the Ice also goes totally neutral. It just feels so light.

If there ever was a time to buy a new sail, the 2010 Northsails Ice would be it. I really can't say enough good things about the 2010 Ice.

Pictures really don't do the new colors justice, but here are a few of my 2010 4.7 Ice.

Double clew grommets

Oversized pulleys make down-hauling simple

Boom length settings on the mast sleeve. As the boom goes up, the distance gets longer so check here for your outhaul setting. I find it best to leave it at the minimum outhaul settings. I actually use mine at 161cm or 162cm where I have the boom mounted here.

Always thinking about durability North puts plastic coating on wearable spots like on the mast tip, batten ends, and here on the foot stitching to prevent abrasion from the nonskid on the boards.

Admiring my 2010 4.7 Ice. Oh when can I use you again......

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two More!

We just got another 2 Easterlies at Hekcscher. heckscher State Park closes to windurfing Oct. 31st, so I was stoked to get 2 more days there, and with my favorite Easterly direction. This time I was craving some super smooth water to work on some switch stance tricks. When I pulled into the parking lot, much to my surprise there was no one else there. I knew John Markwalter was on the way along with Big Rich. It was blowing a perfect 5.3 and I really wanted to head to the flats. For those who don't know about the flats, it's an area of 2 foot deep water that might be the smoothest water found on long Island. It's about 1/2 mile out from the Fire Island side and stretches for about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. Plenty of room to throw trick after spinny trick. The only problem is that it's about 2 1/2 miles from our side of the bay where we launch at Heckscher. It's only really doable in a due East or Due west wind. It takes about 10 minutes planing on one tack to get there. Anyway, I rigged up my new 5.3 2010 NorthSails Ice. By the way, if there was ever a year to buy a new sail, the 2010 Ices and Dukes are it. I'll be doing a review of the new gear shortly.

So I headed out with my magical new sail and was in heaven, well almost heaven. Heaven was 2 1/2 miles across the bay. I really wanted to wait for the other guys to head over there, but I just couldn't wait. Off to the flats it was. I just hoped that none of the people parked in their cars watching were going to call the coast guard when I didn't return. When I got to the flats, it was full power on the 5.3. I was definitely a little rusty, but the new 5.3 handled even better than last years. I was banging out tricks left and right. There was definitely some issues with seaweed, so after about an hour of spinning my brains out all by myself, I decided to go se if John or Rich arrived yet and go grab a weedfin. I sailed back across the bay to the parking lot and as I was approaching I saw John pull in. It always takes a little arm twisting to get john to go over to the flats. (It dies EVERY SINGLE TIME John goes over there) I couldn't wait to get over there, so I told him I would meet him. He showed up about 5 minutes later and we were blasting around doing all sorts of tricks. John figured out the "pop" thing to initiate freestyle tricks without chop. I saw him practice that and then kick around a willie skipper. He didn't sail away but it was great to see him catching air without chop.

Then what John knew would happen, happened. The wind started dying and we were 2 1/2 mile from shore. Just as we decided to head back, Big Rich was finishing his shlog across the bay to meet us in the flats. Triumphant of his shlog he jumped off in the shallow water to prove he made it, then got back up and followed us home. And it was a looooong slooowwww trip home. As we got 1/2 way across the bay the wind started shifting to the north (offshore). So the 3 of us were now pinching upwind in the still dying breeze. As we approached the shore pointing as high into the wind as we could, the 2 Joes and Alison were hooting and hollering. Apparently they had taken bets on who would get back first. During the cheering, Big Rich went down. Luckily no one bet on Big Rich. John ended up setting foot on shore first as I did a tack or two to get back upwind a bit more. Big Rich ended up not being able to get back on the board in the now 2 or 3 mile per hour northerly winds. After we were all back in safely we were laughing and John and I agreed that it was well worth the shlog home to be able to sail those conditions. We just wished it had lasted longer.

Our wish was granted, because the following day it was blowing even harder straight out of the East. I couldn't get there until the afternoon. When I pulled in, George Pav just finished rigging his 4.7. He was planing really well, so 4.7 it was for me too. We stayed in the choppier Heckscher side of the bay to work on some bigger aerial moves. George was floating shuvits everywhere and coming so close on so many vulcans. The ramps for Shakas were incredible. It's been a while since I was able to get the amount of air I was getting for the shuvits and shakas. Our session only lasted about an hour before it totally crapped out, but it was good while it lasted. I still want more!!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Easterlies Antics

Friday was yet another easterly forecast for Heckscher. The wind forecast was good for the entire weekend for that matter. However it was looking like Friday would be my only chance at a session. The only fly in the ointment was actually a fellow sailor and good friend of mine named Joe who had come over to build a gate for me. I called him before he got to my house hinting, "maybe it would be a good day to call in sick. It's a steady 25 at Heckscher." "No, no, that's alright, we've got to build the gate sometime." he replied. I watched all the updated windgraphs on Iwindsurf as the gate was being constructed. Hours were ticking by and the gate was being put together piece by agonizing piece. Joe is in by no means slow to construct anything, but when it's blowing, time is counted in passing leaves, clanking windchimes, and howling breezes instead of minutes and hours. Finally around 3 o'clock, the gate was finished. I already had my drysuit on and was helping my favorite handyman pack up his van. "Just let me vacuum up the saw dust" he said. "Dude, screw the sawdust, and lets get our asses to the beach!" With that we were off.

I had lost joe at a light somewhere along the way. When I got to the beach, I had never rigged so fast in my life. It was perfect 4.7 easterly at Heckscher. I had already landed a few shakas, ponches and funnels by the time Joe pulled in to the parking lot. The rest of the day was perfect. 4.7 until dark. And what made it even better was seeing the other guys really going for it. John Markwalter was on a mission to make a shuv-it. The ramps were perfect AND everywhere. I saw him try at least one on each tack in both directions. He also hit some of his regular tricks super smooth. That brand new 99 liter Mistral Joker had John loving life. Kurt was also throwing some forwards, perfect duck tacks and all sorts of other carving moves.

We ended up sailing right to dark and wanting more. It looks like we'll get our wish this week as there are more Easterlies in the forecast.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chachi brings back a little piece of the Gorge

The forecast was looking good for another classic West Meadow day. It would be my fourth great West Meadow day of the year. Considering last year I only got to sail my favorite spot about 5 times total, I'm in heaven. Not only were they calling for good wind, but Chachi, Aka. Jon Sasson, was back from Cali for a few days. Even more than I was looking forward to a great sesh at the meadow, I was looking forward to sailing with a good friend I haven't seen in months. I was eager to see how much spending 6 months in the Gorge had improved Chachi's sailing. He's also the newest member of the Northsails / Mistral team so I couldn't wait to see one of my teammates ripping it up on his new gear of choice.

When I pulled into the parking lot, Chachi was standing there with a big smile. It was almost as big as mine because I was looking past him at the small wavelets breaking over the nearly exposed sand bars. I got out of my truck and figured 4.7 should do it. Since Chachi was also using my gear, we had to share. I would be taking the smaller sail with the big board and he'd take the bigger sail with the smaller board. So it was 4.7 and the Joker for me, and the 5.3 and the 85 ltr Style for him. As soon as we finished rigging we looked at each other feeling the same gust. We both thought the same thing, should have rigged something smaller. We went for it on the already rigged gear anyway. Chachi made it to the water before me and boy was that 5.3 twisted open. It was quite obvious that he was lit out of his mind. I followed on my 4.7 with bigger board. I could barely keep it in the water. We stayed on the gear for a few runs thinking it would probably back off the second we went to rig down. It didn't. So after a few runs more I gave him my 4.7 for the smaller board he was using. Then I went down to the 4.2 on my Joker.

We were both a bit overpowered, but much better than before. We were going loop for loop. I had some sick ponches and shakas. Chachi threw a pretty nice Kono and an almost burner. Later on I saw him make a couple of ponches also and some massive shuv-its. So did 6 months in the Gorge improve his sailing? Lets just say calling his sailing improved is an understatement. Not only has he learned so many new tricks, but he's also doing the old moves so much more stylish. At one point the ramps were big enough and steep enough to go for some backloop action. Neither of us made any, but if we knew what we were doing with those we definitely could have landed a few.

All in all it was everything we love about sailing West Meadow. Low tide for flat water freestyle, high tide for some wave action, and lots of friends to share the wind with. I can't wait for the next sesh at the meadow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Always good for a laugh.

A few of us got together for dinner last night and this video came up in conversation. Pretty funny.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Big Wednesday at West Meadow

I was watching the forecast for Wednesday for almost a week. It never changed. Windy as hell all day long! High tide was right in the middle of the day, which means outgoing tide for the better part of the afternoon. My hopes were very high for the big winds, huge ramps, and great waves at West Meadow. My wife works as a nurse overnight, so I was letting her sleep in. Every gust that howled through the trees out the back window of our house was killing me. Forget about how much the constant stream of phone calls were. "Where are you?", "Don't you know it's windy?" Then the worst call came in from Rob Biaggi around 1:00pm, "I just got out of the water overpowered on my 4.2. The waves are HUGE! There are about 20 guys at the beach right now." All right already, I'll get there as soon as I can guys!!

As soon as I heard Chrissy crack the bedroom door, I was already on the road. 15 of the longest minutes I've ever experienced later I pulled into the parking lot at West Meadow. There's no freakin parking!!!!! After 2 circles through the parking lot and a good peak of the conditions I deemed the spot next to Pete doable. The first time around I didn't think I could squeeze in with my Expedition with trailer in tow since he was taking up 1/3 of what would be my spot as well. Brewster was parked on the other side of me. I slowly pulled in being careful not to scrape my mirror on Pete's van and Brewster's sexy little Audi. (Sorry Brew for only leaving you about 3 inches to open your door)

A quick walk down to the beach and it was obvious what sail I would be rigging. 3.7 all the way! I heard multiple stories of people getting denied in the dead onshore wind with constant shorebreak. It wasn't that the break was incredibly huge, it was that you can't touch bottom (at least I can't touch bottom) unless I'm in the impact zone. That means you've got to wait for the perfect opportunity, then run your gear past that next wave and give it an extra push past the breakers to water I can't stand in. Then get your ass in gear because there's only about a 3 or 4 second duration between waves. I ended up getting the board knocked out from under me, but quickly waterstarted up and I was off. I was powered up to say the least. I really wanted to go back in and give it some more outhaul, but more than I wanted less wind in the sail, I wanted to not have to go in through that shorebreak.

After a run to get my harness lines set on my brand new 2010 Northsails Ice, I was good to go for some big airs. I hadn't jumped that high since that 3.7 Easterly we had at Heckscher a while back. The waves were incredible! A little overhead in the NE corner and I was really able to work the waves. West meadow doesn't get you're typical North shore roller style wave. these things actually stand straight up and break. That was sooooo much fun. George Marr was ripping it up as usual even though he was overpowered on his 4.2. (Hey Jill, get George a 3.7 for x-mas) George Pav was getting some huge airs and ripping up the waves way better than anyone else I saw. Nice George! I can tell you've been training at Ponquogue. I saw Pete hit the jump of the day when I was walking my board down to the water. He went all out off the 8 footer that jacked up right in front of him. He went up 15 feet easy. I had one forward that I can still picture dong in my head. I went way up, tilted the sail forward , looked down at the guys headcap that sailed past the other way, then sheeted in to go and bam. Stomped it! Big forwards are big fun!

Here are some shots from later in the day after the tide and waves went down. Thanks to Bill Doutney for the great shots!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

West Meadow is Back!!!!!

Well, many people know about the killer sessions to be had at West Meadow Beach on LI. West Meadow is a very special place. It has something for everyone, whether it be a speed freak, freestyle pro, or wave jumping machine. Yesterday, Monday October 5th, was my first taste of the version of West Meadow that I have come to love more than any other place I've ever sailed. Dead Low tide at Da'Meadow is perfect for freestyle. The silkiest smooth water you've ever sailed is there for the sliding in between each set of the sandbars.

When I left to head to the beach I wasn't very hopefull. The trees by my house were loosing some leaves from what seemed to be a nice breeze, but the iwindsurf meters weren't showing much. Then I saw Sasha's post on the LI windsurf groups. "Rigging 5.7 at West Meadow" That was all it took to get me out the door. 20 minutes and a couple of phone calls later I was at the beach. George Pav and Ryan were also in route.

When I pulled into the parking lot I saw some whitecaps, but Sasha was just standing around, along with Jeff. They didn't look to hopeful. "But I swear I could plane on my 5.9," I thought. With that thought George Pav pulled in and after checking out the conditions decided it wasn't good enough to call the baby sitter. He told me he could see the channel from his house, so if I was good on the 5.9 I should go sail over there as a signal for him to make the call to the baby siter and get some West Meadow action. He left and I finished rigging the 5.9. I hit the water, then I was off. As I got away from the beach, I was very powered. I think I saw George's house before he did. About a 1/2 hour later he was back in the parking lot. Now the sandbars were starting to pop out, and I was pretty overpowered on the 5.9. I changed the outhaul setting on my brand new 2010 Northsails Duke and with the glassy smooth water, I was able to hold it down easily. A few minutes later and George was on the water. A few minutes after that he hit his fist vulcan of the day. A few minutes after that , he hit his second. A few minutes after that, he almost hit his first Duck Tack. Soon enough Ryan showed up and was banging out Vulcans left and right. I told him to go for some spocks. He was a little hesitant with the outgoing tide and not being totally familiar with where the sandbars are. After I told him I'd buy him a case of beer, he shifted gears and was ready to go for his first spock. I followed him in shouting, "Think of those Icy Blue mountains" (Coors Light of course being his beer of choice) As soon as he got inside the first sandbar, he made the perfect vulcan, slid it 360 degrees and flipped the sail, but face planted. I thought to myself, "Holy Shit! I'm going to owe him a case of beer." He had many more very close attempts, but just couldn't stay on the board. He's definitely going to be hitting one in the next session or two.

I was in my own zone. I was hitting tricks I hadn't hit since Bonaire. It's amazing what a difference conditions make in your sailing. I had the best freestyle session of the year for me yesterday, and I'm sure West meadow will deliver many more this fall. Tomorrow, Wednesday, looks to be at the total opposite end of what West Meadow has to offer. High tide is around 2 PM so the afternoon shift should deal up some incredible 40 knot, 3.7, 20 foot jump, balls to the wall sailing. Hopefully I'll get some video.

See you in heaven (West Meadow that is)


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bonaire boys cleaning up in Sylt

It could actually happen. The 1st double elimination round is over and Tati, Kiri and Tonky stand 1,2,3 respectively. If they finish the event off this way and keep Gollito down far enough in the rankings, the next PWA Champion could come from my favorite winter get-away, Boniare. Here's more info on the final freestyle event of the year:

Back to Back

Gotta love Heckscher and all it has to offer. Yesterday, the 28th, was a funky day at Heckscher. It was probably the worst day of the year there that had strong wind. The chop was coming from every angle, and the wind would go from 15 to 30 almost every single run. But it was still a blast. Any day we can get to do what we love is a blessing. Even though the conditions on Monday were far from optimal I would have sailed those conditions dozens of times to get a day like we had today. The sun was out, the wind was up, and I mean way up. 4.2 was the call all around and I was even forced down to the 3.7 at one point. The funky chop from yesterday got itself together to make beautiful ramps on the outside for port or starboard jumping. The inside just begged me to throw down some sick tricks. Chrissy made it to the beach and managed to get a lot of really nice shots from the window of the car. Plenty for me to throw together a quick little video from today. And George, (no, not Starfish George, vulcan George) screw the vulcan and go for some spocks! That Mistral Joker you've got is already doing the full 360, you just don't realize it. Flip the sail baby!!!!!

Heckscher 29, 2009 from Mike Burns on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

PWA Sylt

The final freestyle event of the PWA Tour is going on right now. So far the wind has been too light for competition. Gollito is currently in first place on the tour with Tonky and Kiri tied for second. It's the final event of the year so everything will be decided this week. You can follow the event live by clicking on the new PWA Ticker.

Friday, September 25, 2009

ABK, and the First day with the new stick

So I've got my new Nolimits masts and Andy Brandt is in town for the weekend giving a freestyle ABK camp. The clinic is held at Napeague about a 2 hour drive from our house. The wind had been cranking out there all morning, and i was finally able to make it out there around 2pm. Just in time for the wind to die. When I pulled up Andy was giving a looping clinic. It was awesome to see 12 or 15 guys sitting in a semi-circle not just listening to a great instructor, but all willing to listen about the lesson Andy was giving. To learn to loop! They were all also keen on learning vulcans. The number of locals willing to push themselves to the next level is growing every year, and I'm so happy to see these guys willing to push themselves. Freestyle is what's going to save this sport and pass it on to the next generation.
As the class went back out to try some light wind trickery from the "sail chi" master I couldn't help but rig up and go for a sail. My 5.3 was the biggest sail I had with me so it would be that with the 99 ltr Mistral joker (my favorite board ever)

I went with the Sumo masts from NoLimitz this year for my whole quiver. It's a little stiffer than the original skinny and I've been sailing more powered up than I used to, so I was thinking it was the right call. After an hour or so of playing around in the light wind, the wind finally started filling back in close to sunset. I saw the first burst of wind coming across the water and as soon as it hit me, I was off. I was fully powered on the 5.3 and the mast was definitely stiffer. I'm glad I got a chance to try it on the same sail I've been using all year so I could really get a feel for the mast. It seemed to give a more direct feel to the sail. The feeling of full power in the sail came much quicker. Overall, I really liked the new Sumo and would recommend it to those who want the best from their sails. I should also mention that the NoLimitz masts are much cheaper than many sail company manufacturers masts and in some cases perform even better than the masts made by your sail company. So if your in the market for a new skinny mast, check'm out. I know a couple of guys that have switched to NoLimitz even though they had good masts from their sails manufacturer.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday Sept. 18th at Heckscher

Heckscher would be the call again for Friday. When we pulled into the parking lot there was already a pretty good crowd. I rigged the 4.7 and was good to go. I was VERY powered when I first went out. I had a couple of really nice ponches, shakas and air flakas. I'm loving heckscher for all the power moves when it's blowing from the west. You get a nice little section between the chop to carve for the moves. Speaking of carving, I saw John Markwalter on fire yesterday. He hit the cleanest, fully planing sail body 360 I've ever seen. Seth learned how to jump, and yesterday I think he was trying to jump off every little ripple in the water he could find. So of course he's already looking to go for the next level and try some shuvit's. I gave him a few quick little hints to get him started, and when I saw him later on he said he actually tried one. Way to take it to the next level Seth! Ryan was coming sooooo close to so many vulcans. I thought I sw him get at least one, but he doesn't claim it if it's not perfect. I even saw one he could have easily turned into a spock if he would have just tried for it.

The word is also out that my 2010 gear should be here any day now, so people are calling dibs on it for next year already. If you might want something from my 2010 collection, let me know before someone beats you to it. As for my 2009 gear, I still have a 4.2, 3.7 and 85 ltr left unclaimed. My new sails should be coming in any day now, but no word on when the boards will be here yet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another Great Easterly at Heckscher

My hopes weren't too high when I was heading off to the beach. The forecast was for yet another East/NE wind to blow on LI. I had hoped to give Demo a try but the wind was looking a little flukey and I had heard the waves were only about waist high. Then, Ethan posted up that he's sailing at Heckscher on the LI windsurfing group. So Heckscher would be the call once again. When I pulled in Joe Rocco was rigging his 4.2. It looked a little light on the inside even though the outside was surely 4.2. So I rigged up the 4.7 because I wanted to try some tricks close to shore on starboard (my weaker tack.) Joe and I launched together, and then we were off. He was blasting along fine on his 4.2 and I was well powered to say the least on my 4.7. The wind was steady, strong and the ramps weren't too big but were straight up, so getting some good air was pretty easy.

On one tack out I saw a ferry coming way out of the usual route that the ferries take. I noticed it had a blue hull with a white top. That's Billy T's boat!!! I figured he was coming close to check out how we were doing. I jibed outside as the rather large boat passed between me and the beach. Billy had planned it out perfectly. He was going to throw up a huge wake for me to go big on. As I approached Billy popped out of the cabin and made a windmill motion with his arms signaling me to throw a big forward. What Billy didn't realize is that my starboard tack (the tack I was on) is my retarded side. I couldn't complete a forward on starboard tack if someone started me off already upside down. Then suddenly that perfect ramp for a backloop made it's appearance. It was amazing and was there for my taking. I can bang out backloops on starboard and I would surely give the guys on the ferry a great show. As I approached I could picture myself rotating cleanly through the loop. I could already spot my landing before I'm even in the air. Then as quickly as the ramp appeared, Billy's big ass wake knocked the ramp down and I just ended up sailing by. I did manage to jibe and head back out to catch a little forward action off his wake, but I figured he wasn't watching and trying to explain to the guy next to him "I don't know what went wrong. Normally that guy's pretty good." Well Billy, I truly thank you for bringing your ferry all the way over just so I could throw a loop, but next time remember I'm retarded on starboard tack. So if it's not too much trouble make sure I'm on port tack when I hit your wake and I promise I'll give you a show. Now if I had only gone to the ABK clinic last year, maybe my starboard loops would be just fine.

Check out some pics from today thanks to Bill Doutney:

Billy T's ferry. I must be behind the boat in the picture setting up for that perfect back loop.

Easterlies at heckscher set up great ramps for learning shuvits and shakas. I managed to pick a nice one for this shot.

Big Rich catches some air next to Seth

Nice switch chacho

and a nice one handed funnel

Some of the Heckscher regulars

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ABK Clinics coming up!!!

Just a reminder that Andy Brandt is in town spewing infinite windsurfing wisdom for the next 2 weekends. There are some spaces left, so grab them while you can get them. Go to to sign up.

Wipeouts at the Reunion Wave Classic

Well, we're all looking forward to the wind on Wed. here on LI. Here's a great wipeout video I came across from Open Ocean Media at the Reunion Wave Classic. It's pretty amusing. Now only if they had taken an ABK clinic........

Reunion Wave Classic 09_Worst Wipe Out - Powered by So├Âruz from Open Ocean Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Noreaster Day 2

I woke up this morning to a cool breeze making a whistling noise through the open bedroom window. It was time to get another great session out this strong Easterly breeze. I waited until about noon to head to the beach. Heckscher would be the call today as the meters were reading due east and gusting to 30. (which means it's well into the 30s for the average) I downed a couple of bottles of water before getting into the car. I was still dehydrated from yesterday's session at Napeague.

When I got to the beach, Joe was thinking about rigging down to his 3.1 and Ethan was lit on his 3.5. Well all's I got is my 3.7 so that's going to have to do. When I hit the water with the 3.7 and brand new 85 ltr Mistral Style it was soooo perfect. Big ramps and the the strong wind made for some big airs for everyone. That Style rocks! It jumps so easily and you can really dig in the rail and crank the turns very hard without even worrying about the rail catching.

The wind dropped off a bit a couple hours into it and some guys rigged up to their 4.2s. I was still just fine on my 3.7. At least now I could do some freestyle stuff too. On one run I ended up chasing Ryan way out into the middle of the bay, maybe 2 miles out and we were just having a blast taking turns cutting in front of each other on the chest high rollers. Luckily we only did a run or two of that and decided to stay a bit closer to shore. About 3 runs later i was following Ryan in on a run, we were both fully planing then suddenly it was like he ran into something and his board just stopped dead. Just as I was catching up to him the same thing happened to me. The wind had gone from 25 - 30 to about 6 in the matter of 2 seconds. I was still behind him and I found it hysterical to watch a 195 pounder try to sail a 4.2 and 85 ltr board while up to his waist in water. I was still able to stay knee to ankle deep with my 3.7. Finally when we were about 100 yards from shore Ryan went down. The wind just totally shut off. I could barely make out which way the wind was coming from. I was schlogging past Ryan who was still convinced that a puff would come through to get him to waterstart but there was just nothing. I made sure I laughed loud enough for him to here me as he replied ,"Shut up you light little bastard!" I made it about 10 feet past Ryan then I went in. We were both laughing our asses off, as we were swimming it in. It was a great day with great people. Can't wait until next time.

Bill Doughtney was at the beach snapping away photos for a while. Here are a few of the highlights:

Ethan catching air on his 3.5

Big Rich gets some

Ryan going big

Joe Rocco mid backloop

The usual suspects

A couple of yours truly

Look it's me again. Sharing some laughs with Ryan and Seth after the swim in.

Noreaster Day 1

I was questioning whether or not I would even be able to sail. I had the cable guy coming around 2:00 to fix the channels that magically disappeared. There was no wind on the meters anywhere except Napeague which is a good 1 1/2 - 2 hour ride for me to get to. Just as I was losing hope and starting to think about where I would sail the following day, the phone rang. It was 10:30 in the morning and it was the cable guy. The voice on the other end said, "Hi, this is Jason from Cablevision, do you mind if I stop by earlier to see what's going on with the cable?" Yes!!!! the stars have aligned and he would be here in 10 minutes. I quickly checked the wind again while waiting for my now favorite cable guy named Jason.
Still no wind in-island but Napeague remained 24 to 29 mph. The plan has been set into motion. Jason showed up around 11:00 and was gone by 11:15. A new cable was in place and a great session was about to begin. I made the long drive without any trouble. When I pulled up, Kurt was rigging his 5.4. The wind had backed a little but was supposed to get stronger as the day went on. I decided to just go ahead and rig my 5.3 and 4.7 so they would both be ready to go. While I was rigging, John Ford pulled in and mentioned something about Graham Ezzy being on his way to our little beach.
I headed out on the 5.3. It was perfect! right off the bat I was hitting great shakas and even a super smooth air funnel. Then the wind stared to pick up and it was time to grab a drink and the 4.7. As I was making the walk to the car I saw someone walking towards me sporting a "Princeton." T-shirt. There's only 1 guy I know that goes to Princeton and is also a windsurfer so it's got to be Graham. I introduced myself and he was very pleasant and eager to get on the water. he had forgotten his harness but we scrounged one up form John Markwalter. But first Graham had promised his buddy some windsurfing lessons. I could see his frustration as his eyes were just glued to the other sailors on the water while he was trying to keep his attention focussed on his buddy. Eventually his buddy got a run on the beginner gear. I guess that was Grahams signal that his buddy was good to go on his own and started rigging his own gear. (I would have been giving my buddy lessons as I was sailing past him.)
On the next run in Graham shouted from the beach, "Mike, my boards too small can I borrow this one" (pointing to my 85 ltr sitting on the beach) "Sure," I replied. He hooked his Ezzy sail up and was off. We we're having a blast and he was throwing some flakas and super clean forwards. I was glad to help him get some action.

We ended up sailing into the sunset and packed it in as the sun went down. It was solid 4.7 for most of the day. Today looks like it's got more East in it so I'll most likely be off to Heckscher. I can't wait to get on the water again today.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Great reading for no wind days

Well, checking the is one of the first things I do every morning, right after the of course, to find the latest news about the windsurfing world. You know they do their homework because they actually made a mention of my newly started ramblings of windsurfing thoughts called a blog. The Beach Telegraph is a great blog all by itself, however the editor, Brian McDowell has taken it to the next level with the launch of a paperless internet only magazine called Windsurfer International. It's a great read with great photos and definitely worth a look. Here's the link Happy reading.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Awaiting the arrival of the 2010 gear

Well, tis the season. It's the time of year when the air starts to cool off, the winds start shifting to the north, and it's time to hit up my favorite beach not only on long island, but that I've ever been to. West Meadow of course. And what makes getting to sail my favorite spot better? Well getting to sail new gear at my favorite spot of course.

I anticipate the arrival of the 2010 Mistral line the most. The entire range has been reworked and not only do they have one shaper but 2 just to make sure everything is up to par. And this year the boards are being made somewhere other than the infamous Cobra factory and promises have been made that the durability will be greatly improved. The only fly in the ointment will be to see what they done with my beloved 2009 Joker. Could they have actually made THE perfect board better? Could the earliest planing board I've ever sailed plane earlier? Could the most fun to ride board I've ever sailed be made more fun to ride? My only hope was to not have the 2010 joker be a let down from the 2009 model.

Then I got my first peek at the 2010 mistral line: and my faith was restored. Not only are the dimensions pretty much the same as the 2009 model with the 98 and 108 ltr, but they've also added another board to the lineup. The Joker Wave. it comes in an 85 and 95 ltr. I'll take the 85 ltr please! It will compliment the 98 ltr I'll be using as the bread and butter board. I'm so psyched for the 2010s!!! I haven't heard about an arrival date but I know it will be some time this fall. For now we'll keep waiting for wind.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tropical Storm Danny was found at Cedar Beach

It was Friday night before the storm and there was tons of chatter on where we would all sail on Saturday. E-mails, phone calls, posts to the groups. Would it be demo for epic side-off wave sailing, Napeague for the strongest wind, or somewhere else. Oh the dreams I had that night of the epic session to follow in the morning. Much to everyone's disgust, we awoke from our happy dream world to the no wind hell of August. Where was the storm?!!! Where was the 40 knots of wind forecast out east?!!! The realization of the lack of wind finally set in, and I headed off to my studio to finish up editing some wedding videos. Around 1:00 Rob called and said "are you watching the meters?" I told him I gave up about an hour ago. There was no wind and it was only supposed to get worse. "Well, it's gusting to 29 at Cedar!" I think I made it to the beach before Rob managed to hang up the phone. I pulled into the parking lot and thought to myself that these 4.7 conditions presented to only Rob and myself were surely a gift from the wind gods. I rigged the 4.7, Rob his 5.0, and chose my 85 ltr. It turned out to be a great session that lasted for about 2 hours. Somewhere in the middle I switched to my beloved 99 ltr Mistral Joker and I was sliding, spinning and looping up a storm. Then it started dying. I managed to get a few more runs on the 5.3 before it totally crapped out. Tons of fun though.