Saturday, December 6, 2008
Two days ago I saw the Arthur Anderson, sister ship to the Edmond Fitzgerald way upriver on the Fox River being loaded up for another run. They always run as many loads late into the season as they can before the ice gets too thick to transit the Bay of Green Bay and the customer is forced to use rail to get their goods. This afternoon, I caught her headed up the channel (note : the Coast Guard pulled the channel markers out last week) and a few minutes behind her was another vessel that I don't know the name of, but looks like she might be older than the Anderson. I'd bet that the second ship had been waiting in port for the Anderson to head out to clear her a channel north. Its not an easy living aboard ships like these, especially this time of year.
I got these shots before each ship literally vanished into the snow squalls blowing in.
As they headed out, the winds were gusting into the 40's from the North West and as you can see, we have plenty of ice on the lower half of the bay.
The shots were difficult to get since all my long lenses are at the office in town. I shot these using the little Canon SD750 at 3X zoom through my 10x50 binoculars through the deck doors in the backyard. Less than desirable, but it worked.
UPDATE : Monday morning, 8:15 and the Anderson is headed back in with a load.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I'm a huge proponent of fins. I see so many people who are struggling with a board, or a their sailing in general and they're all focused on the rig or something else when the problem stems from their fin.
People spend thousands on a sail quiver and almost nothing on fins, which are equally important in terms of board control and handling.
I recently got to test out some fins from Maui Ultra Fins and while I'm still puzzled about their claim of "Advanced airfoil design" since we're using them in water and not in air, I'm pleased with their performance. (Hey guys, drop the "air" from the tagline)
One thing about these guys, they "get it" in terms of what matters. The number one most important part of the fin is its foil. If you get this wrong, it wont matter what the outline shape is, the fin is gonna suck. The foils these guys use are really good - almost supercritical in design terms for how the foil keeps the flow attached even at crazy angles of attack (the angle of attack is the angle of the fin against the direction of travel - too high of an angle and you get a stall and stalls are bad). When I'm buying fins, I'm always looking at their foil first, square area second, length third and lastly outline. Anyway, back to the foil...
The feature about the foil that you'll appreciate is this : No spinout.
Its true, really it is. No gimmicks, no hype. The foils keep the flow attached and also shed separated flow caused by a bad board/fin/air interface in wicked chop.
I tested their all around bump and jump fin at Kanaha, overpowered on a 5.3 on the Starboard Kode and I really put it through its paces with balls to the walls downwind runs, hard upwind drives, and broad reach sloppy sailing that would make any fin spinout.
While I could get the fin into a flow separation position, it immediately reconnected and continued sailing as if nothing happened. Mind you, this happens in less than a second and I really had to work hard to actually get it to happen in the first place.
Once I had a good idea as to how the fins reacted to spinout conditions, I took them through a few tests that I knew would also be interesting - stall testing. To do this, I would sail as high into the wind as I could, forcing the board's angle of attack higher and higher to get the fin to stall and stop "flying" as it were. Could I get the fin to stall? Yes. All fins will stall above the critical angle of attack, but what was really nice is how the fin handles under a stall and how easily it reconnects and resumes "flying" with good water flow. This testing shows how good a fin's outline works in terms of dealing with tip stall (stall that begins at the tip of the fin) and stalls caused by the interaction between the board/water and fin. The net result, the fins handles great even when you beat on it.
There are a lot of fins out there, and most people buy them based on outline (or planform) and length. What they need to know is foil and square area, then worry about length and outline for performance optimization.
Remember, a good fin can make a bad board good and a bad fin can make a good board suck. So, before you give a board low marks, play with the fin. Feel free to ask me about problems with your board, etc. I'd bet I can make you love your board again!
If I had to make a proper analogy, its like having traction control and anti-lock brakes for your board. They keep you out of trouble and make you a better driver.
Can't wait to test out Ultra's twins on my RRD WaveTwin. ;-)
Monday, December 1, 2008
Total epic swell and flights are cheap.... DAMN!
900 AM HST MON DEC 1 2008
Surf along north facing shores will lower to heights of 6 to 10 feet today then increase rapidly late tonight to heights of 25 to 30 feet by sunrise Tuesday.
Surf along west facing shores will diminish to heights of 3 to 6 feet today then increase rapidly tonight to heights of 18 to 25 feet by sunrise Tuesday.
Surf along east facing shores will be 1 to 3 feet today and 2 to 4 feet Tuesday.
Surf along south facing shores will be less than 3 feet through Tuesday.
Outlook through Sunday Dec 7: a pair of storm systems passing northwest of the islands is generating a series of well above normal open ocean swells aimed at the main Hawaiian islands.
As one northwest swell departs the island scene, two additional swells are on their way here. One will be reaching the north and west facing shores of Oahu tonight with surf reaching warning levels. A reinforcing northwest swell of equal size and with a more west component is slated to arrive Wednesday night. It will finally peak Friday before a gradual decline through the weekend.
Surf heights are forecast heights of the face or front of waves. The surf forecast is based on the significant wave height in the zone of maximum refraction. Some waves may be more than twice as high as the significant wave height. Expect to encounter rip currents in or near any surf zone.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Imagine my surprise as I'm checking out some of the competitor shots from the Florida Wave Challenge and I see the above shot.
"Hey!" I thought, "That's my board! Well, its my old board! Sweet!"
Good to see Mark tearing it up on the 109. Miss that board. Sure was nice to meet him this summer in the Gorge and I'm glad to see him rockin' it on the 109 RRD.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
This actually looks a lot like the springtime melt sunsets, except that the sun is setting way further to the south than it would in the spring.
I have to admit I was entertaining the thought of going SUP'ing today with the mirror smooth water and still winds. Launching was going to be an obstacle until I walked down and saw that the ice actually helped matters since the water depth there was over a foot deep - plenty to get a SUP going.
Perhaps tomorrow if I can find the time. I know I could use the workout. ;-)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
So, I'm sitting in an English pub minding my own business when a bunch with Swiss sit down around me and we strike up a good conversation.... Next thing you know, I'm chin to chin with a swiss guy who rips in the North Sea!
No matter where you go, you run into people who are not only like minded, but seemed to have been crafted from the same mold.
I've always wanted to sail Klitmoler, and now I'm gonna. After all, I've got a good friend who'll show me his home turf.
Pray for wind, my friend! ;-)
Friday, November 14, 2008
As the north winds usher in winter, I might be conspiring to jet away somewhere warm and windy but I'm also keeping an eye on where winter delivers some freshies. Now you can track snow reports in realtime with this handy little app if you have an iPhone.
If you don't have one ... what are you waiting for??
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Dude, its been too long. Waaay too long. I can only go for so long without before I start getting all pent up, antsy and quite intolerable by those around me. Its been almost a month with no action. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Nyet. Sure there was that quickie on the west side, but that didn't cut it. Didn't even come close to satisfying the need.
Its not that I want it. I NEED IT.
If it was a drug, then call me an addict.
Desire doesn't describe it either. There's nothing sensual about the raw power I'm ready to unleash.
Honestly, I think I can go without sex longer than I can go without wavesailing. Shocking, I know, but really its true. Oh, wait... are we talking about the same thing here? I'm talking sailing ... you were thinking... WHAT?
Get your mind out of the gutter! ;-)
Seriously, nothing clears my mind better than sailing in waves. I can't explain it and the more insane the conditions, the more relaxed I am on the water. Weird, but true. Its a mental state that I slide into thats more comfortable than my favorite pair of flip flops. I'd say its a "zen" thing, but I have no idea what "zen" is like, but it sounds about right.
On the plus side, there's some wind in the forecast here for Thursday with south winds 25-30 knots, but rain and temps in the mid 40's. That said, I've sailed in colder weather, and in my state of mind, I think I'll end up in Sheboygan chasing swell while clad in my "super suit" with my hands in mitts and head in rubber so thick the only sound I can hear is the blood surging through my arteries.
Obstacles really don't deter me at this point. Like an addict looking to score anything he can get his hands on, I'm jonesin' for a sesh. Even a crappy one. I'll make the best of it. Trust me.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Nothing is better than guaranteed wind, and every sailor, kiter and windswell surfer in the midwest can thank me for guaranteeing wind this week.
Why? Cause I'm headed out of town tomorrow for the whole week with NO chance of coming home early and catching any action (on the water or otherwise).
And since I'm gone, the wind gods are gonna make it a heck of a week with winds and very mild (dare I say WARM?) temps.
.TUESDAY...SOUTH WINDS 15 TO 25 KNOTS. WAVES 3 TO 5 FEET.You are welcome! Enjoy!
.WEDNESDAY...SOUTH WINDS INCREASING TO 30 KNOTS.
WAVES BUILDING TO 5 TO 7 FEET.
.THURSDAY...SOUTH WINDS 15 TO 25 KNOTS BECOMING
SOUTHEAST 10 TO 20 KNOTS. CHANCE OF SHOWERS. WAVES SUBSIDING
TO 3 TO 5 FEET.
.FRIDAY...SOUTH WINDS 15 TO 25 KNOTS. CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
WAVES 5 TO 7 FEET.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
I got an email with these three shots that Herb took while I was rigging last Sunday. Hats off to Herb for hanging with me for hours while the winds didn't produce what we were looking for. What more can you ask for in a good friend!?!
I owe you buddy!
In the shot below, you can see the channel behind me on the left. I wanna try some runs in there sometime and see how well it would work. ;-)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Typically fall brings us a decent cycle of winds that start in the last week of September and continue through mid November. This fall has been somewhat inconsistent in terms of patterns, except for now.
Today saw south winds gusting to 40 knots. Overnight the winds will clock west and eventually north as the system passes. Then they're swing back to the south and blow again for a few days - only to turn west then north and repeat.
You'd think that the strongest south winds would be in the spring when summer is beating back old man winter, but that's not the case. Our strongest and best southerly winds are in the fall when summer is trying in vain to defend her turf from the onset of winter.
Starting Sunday, south winds will build into the 20-25 knot range and blow for a few days turning the wind driven wave fetch on the lake into an amazing spectacle of surf that only the most determined watermen will enjoy.
While I'll only get a few sessions out of the next system before I fly back to the west coast, I look forward to them like I would seeing an old friend again. When the southerly gales blow on Lake Michigan, there's really nothing like it anywhere in the world. One minute its sunny and inviting with the suns warming rays almost, but not quite, enticing me to pull my hoodie off of my head. But the lights turn out as the low scud snuffs out the warmth, and on cue, the lake turns into a dark, dangerous beast that you can't turn your back on.
Of all the places I've sailed in my 30 plus years on the water, Lake Michigan in the fall is some of the most technical yet rewarding sailing I've ever done.
I look forward to it for its recognized character, but I relish in the chaos that it dishes up.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Herb and I loaded up and headed to Oconto this morning with the prospect of blasting winds and blazing speeds. However, Mother Nature had something else in mind for us. Area showers put a damper on the winds and only gave us bursts of winds, and even then, nowhere near the forecasted 45 knots.
I was thankful I put the 6.6 and the 98 RRD in the truck, as those ended up being the tools of choice. While I didn't crack my personal best - and came nowhere near the 45 I was after, once I got tuned up after the first run I was hovering at 38mph ... cruising comfortably in the flats looking for any sort of gust that would propel me towards and over 40mph. But that didn't happen.
On the plus side, I am totally psyched about the possibilities of the Oconto waters for some high speed runs. South of the jetty is amazingly flat water with nothing ashore for 300-500 yards, so the wind is super clean. It continues this way for at least 2 miles .... plenty of time to put the hammer down when that gust arrives.
I'm also intrigued about the idea of blazing some runs INSIDE the jetty on a north or south wind. Essentially the track would be in the boat channel and aside from the possible no wake rule, this could also give way to serious speeds. But, not a lot of room for error if things go bad.
After 4.5 hours of time, about 40 minutes of it was spent actually sailing and no outstanding speeds, I'm still smiling.
Next time.... next time. ;-)
Did you know that Lake Michigan's surface is roughly 577 feet above sea level, but it is 923 feet deep such that in its deepest parts it extends below sea level?
The largest recorded wave on Lake Michigan was 50 feet in 1947. (it was recorded as a 100 foot wave face)
(picture is from the Superior Surf Club website gallery "Lake Michigan, Sept 7")
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Chris and I had a quick call after his Thursday sesh at his home break in Tynemouth England in which he really didn't have a good time. He was overpowered, but regardless, he was having balance issues with the board in terms of trim to the water and was spinning out all the time. For his weight, the footstraps were too far forward, the fin was too far back. It was an easy problem to diagnose and solve from 4,000 miles away and today I just got word that he tore it up on a 5.3 in epic conditions while bigger guys were on smaller sails and the board handled perfectly for him. Sweet!
I was outside rigging and trimming my KA Koncept 5.8 - a sail which I have yet to sail. Being fresh out of the bag, it needed a lot of work, and it was WAY easier to do it in the yard today with no wind than doing it next to the water tomorrow in 45+ knots of wind.
I also spent a good deal of time working the fins I plan to use in the 75 liter RRD X-Fire - again a board which I have yet to sail. The Tectonics fin(s) were SUPER tight in the box, and in addition to the sanding needed to get them to fit properly, the screws I have are too long and the short ones I have are metric threads. Doh! Again, time well spent today so I can run around and get all the necessary parts now instead of tomorrow.
Board trim is mega important. Footstrap position, fin position and mast track position can turn a good board bad, or make a dull board spring to life. Same for sails - I can't tell you how many people I saw on Maui with improperly rigged sails. Many of them didn't have enough (or any!) batten tension. You also need to be mindful that the manufacturer numbers don't always work best for the sail, and rarely do mast extensions give you the indicated amount of length.
When in doubt - ask someone to take a look at your sail. Play with the settings and go sail and see how the changes effect handling, power and balance. Make notes. Make notations on your booms/bases. (or on your sail bags)
There's nothing more annoying than an unbalanced and funky handling rig to ruin your sesh.
(pictured here is my "light air" speed gear - 6.6 Koncept and 98 liter RRD X-Fire. This setup is good up to about 41mph on the GPS and then it hits the wall.)
I got an email asking about lake temps. Here's the latest satellite data for the great lakes. (above) And below is another, higher resolution image for the north half of Lake Michigan.
The black areas indicate cloud cover and no surface temp data.
Surface water temps are lower on the western side of Lake Michigan due to the prevailing west winds that push the wamer surface water to the east and cause the deeper, colder water to upwell just offshore. (in the top color image, you can see the green line of cold water along the shorline of Wisconsin on the west side of Lake Michigan)
This can happen even in the middle of summer and many a sailor has been surprised to launch in a shorty with air temps in the 80's and shoreline water temps in the upper 60's/low 70's only to find that a few hundred yards offshore, they are in 34 degree water and could get into a serious hypothermia situation.
This time of year demands a drysuit, booties, hood and mitts. When the conditions are really nasty, I prefer my GoreTex "super suit" with integrated footies where only my head and hands are exposed.
Its soooo comfy - almost like being in the womb again. ;-)
A few days ago, as the weekend closed in, I've been silently wishing for more wind.
I asked for it. I got it. (crap?!)
.SUNDAY...WEST STORM FORCE WINDS TO 50 KNOTS.My most reliable computer models show 34 knots gusting to 48 knots at a slight WNW, which is good in terms of direction for nailing a proper angle for maximum speed.
The storm force winds should lower the water level in the bay by as much as 1 foot, possibly as much as two feet, and that will really diminish any wind chop that I'll be dealing with. On the downside, there is a sand bar that now could now pose a real problem as its located right in my desired track.
Anyway, both GPS's are charged up, and I'm pretty charged up as well. ;-)
Friday, October 24, 2008
Josh put up some shots from the Maui trip that Erik took of me. Ok, its true - I'm slightly animated when I'm sailing.
At least Josh doesn't have any video/audio of me singing when I sail. And no, I don't do karaoke. ;-)
Thursday, October 23, 2008
This coming weekend the forecast is for West Gale force winds to 40 knots. While I'd love to hammer around on a 4.7 and my little RRD, I've got an itch to scratch, and that itch is speed. Since I didn't get to do runs on Lake Okabena and crack out some of the new go fast toys, I'm inclined to head up to Oconto and spend some time burning lanes offshore.
Here's the google map link.
Oconto has a great setup for this weekends west gales. The breakwater has parking at the end of it, so when you launch from the end, you are right into the wind. No shlogging - and since I'll be on a 75 liter board, this is a good thing.
Secondly, runs to the north of the breakwall are in fairly flat water just offshore. Shallow enough that no real chop will develop and offshore enough for the wind to be unobstructed and steady. Port tack looks to be favored off of the launch with the 110-120 degree optimal heading.
Also - with the low air temps, being able to stage off of the nice, warm truck is also very inviting. ;-)
So, I'll be headed out to Oconto on Sunday provided the forecast holds and I think it will. iWindsurf has an average 32 knots and NWA has 28-37 knots for the location.
If you are interested in hooking up for this, drop me an email!
UPDATE : The forecast has been upgraded to gales to 45 knots. Sweet!
.SUNDAY...WEST GALES TO 45 KNOTS. CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
WAVES 6 TO 10 FEET BUILDING TO 12 TO 16 FEET.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sure I've been on the road for most of the fall sailing season, but what real sailing opportunities were there? Seems that we went straight from summer to winter and skipped fall altogether.
Oh, we're getting wind this weekend, but now it comes at a price. Perhaps I'll make some snowballs while I'm rigging...
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
After 12 days on Maui sailing in shorts in 85 degree sunshine and warm Pacific waters, you'd think I wouldn't be stoked about sailing back here in Lake Michigan where the morning temperature today was 35 degrees.
The weekend forecast looks pretty good with 15-25 Saturday afternoon and 30 knots on Sunday. Sure I'll be in a drysuit - most likely my "supersuit", but I'm certain to have the island spirit in my sailing.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
No, this isn't a post about my jeans, its the use of a British expression used by Heather which is roughly equal to American english, "crap!", or "shoot!".
So, given that, I say, "Pants! My freakin' feet hurt!"
First day back home and my bruised and cut feet are NOT happy about their enclosure in shoes/boots after 12 days of flip flops.
Truth be told, its a painful reminder every time I take a step about just how bloody amazing this year's Maui trip was. (pardon the pun)
And so every time I take a step, I both wince and smile at the same time. ;-)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Good swell plus no wind equals afternoon SUP session. The first killer ride was Heather - I was further out and didn't see it, but I HEARD it. I think she was screaming in delight all the way. I got worked a few times - once with Chris and once with Josh with an overhead set that really threw us around.
Then I caught a nice wave - not the biggest, but a really nice high high wave that turned east as it edged the channel and really gave a nice ride.
The ride of the day goes to Josh. Check out his post on his blog. I think he's gonna smile about that drop for days.
I headed out Monday night on the 7pm flight back to the mainland with a quick stop in Kona where I think we picked up about 40 of the competitors for the Ironman competition.
Another amazing Maui trip in the can.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Windsurfers are like moths to a flame when it comes to checking out the shops on the island. This trip there were two standouts. The first was the expanded Neil Pryde Maui shop. Kevin and the crew blew out a wall and the shop, which was already a large one, is now at least 40% larger. Hella selection of gear - and lots of bikinis for the women. So, its all good. ;-)
On the top of my list, the Goya/Quatro shop is a little bit off the beaten path, but well worth the trip. Easily one of the coolest shops I've even been in, only made better by the guys working the biz. Keith has a new shaping room with a glass wall into the shop so you can watch him in action.
Head into the loft and you'll catch Jason working on some new engines.
Or play some foosball.
As a bonus, the Dakine factory store is next door, so bring your plastic 'cause there's a ton of stuff you'll suddenly decide you NEED to have.
And if they're throwing a party - its a must attend event. No excuses.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Day 10 dawned with high expectations and a little sadness as the team is starting to head back to home territories. Aaron pulled out late morning for the quick flight back to SFO and Dave and Jenny caught the mid afternoon flight back to PDX.
That left Ray, Chris, Josh and myself to sail with the afternoon expectation of the incoming swell. The NW buoy was 9 foot at 15 seconds this morning, and around 3:30pm, Uppers was starting to get some consistent action. It was Chris's and Josh's first Maui swell, and they had a killer sesh and are still all smiles from the day. I scored a few logo high sets, and caught one massive set that actually broke on the outside reef and it made my entire trip. Seriously, that one wave was all I needed.
I spent the day on the Wavetwin and while the larger sets were a little big for the board in terms of down the line turns, again this board delivered with killer slashes and float through the notorious dead wind in the impact zone. The Goya 5.3 3D wave sail I was using today not only looks amazing, it IS amazing. amazing range, amazing power... sorry, I'm gushing. Really, I'd like to find something bad about these sails, but I can't. They really suit my style.
We're finishing up some little things with the test, and other than that, we're going to celebrate the swell with some Ahi Poke at Jaques. (and perhaps a little ... er, a lot of sake)
But before we can enjoy Henry's sushi, Chris, Ray and I are soaking our wounds with Epsom salt, and if you could hear the language, I think we'd make sailors blush.
I'm headed back tomorrow evening and I plan to pull it all out tomorrow and board the plane completely used up.
As it should be.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Aaron (Catapult) and Ray. They've become really close on this trip. Almost too close for comfort. You can't take a picture, shoot a video, etc. without these two doing something either funny, shocking or illegal.
Jenny ready for a sesh on the Naish. Yup, she started to head into the water without a harness, much to everyone's humor. This girl is STOKED about sailing and she rips!
Chris "Spider monkey" Peacock working diligently on his test form while Myla hangs out.
Smiles in the family - Jake and his dad.
Windsurfing Magazine publisher and the hardest working guy on Maui when he's here, Dave Combe about to go out on a 5.0 - except he doesn't realize its a 5.0 and later was even more impressed with the wind once he realized what he was on. Dave's a cool guy even though he sails with a kite harness. ;-)
Ray working on another test result.