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)