Sunday, April 20, 2008

Life in the Wind (and Sun) - Another great OBX trip

Another great trip to Hatteras Island last week. We stayed in a soundfront house about 2 miles north of Frisco Woods, site of the annual Windfest. Here's the general water action summary:

Wed 4/16 - 4.6 late in the day through sunset (gotta love the sunset cruise) in strong 25-30+ N/NE winds. I missed the previous two days where Mark, Donald, and Tommy windsurfed in 30-35mph winds on 3.7s.
Thurs 4/17 - 5.4 and 6.5 before the wind faded in the afternoon (N/NW 20-25 mph winds).
Fri 4/18 - no wind - went stand up paddle surfing in the ocean. Absolutely beautiful day...sunny and high 70s.
Sat 4/19 - 8.0 mid afternoon until almost sunset at Canadian Hole in S/SE 15 mph wind. Another sunny and beautiful 70s day.
Sun 4/20 - Left early but looks like it could have been another 8.0 15 mph day in SE winds.

- Our buddy Mark turned 50! We celebrated the momentus occasion with the old man over birthday candles at Cafe 12, with flat tops, the "volcano" dessert, and his new AARP card. Everyone in the restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to was hilarious.

- Coincidentally ran into Chris (from Charlotte) out on the water at Canadian Hole on Saturday and he joined us for dinner and late night poker.

- Cafe 12 used to be the Pickled Steamer and it changed ownership last year. They kept the now famous flat tops and they are still very good (although the price has gone up). Mad Crabber was still good for dinner (the surfing videos have returned after a long absence), as was the breakfast burrito and apple uglies at the Orange Blossom.

- Windfest - very light attendance by the board & sail manufacturers/reps this year. I heard different theories on this from different folks including some of the shop people. Big props go to Roger Jackson & Ellen Faller who are consistently there every year with the Starboard/Sailworks gear, plus out there teaching people to windsurf. Real Wind and Hobie were also there.

- Met a couple of fellow windsurfing bloggers in person at Windfest, James and Catapulting Aaron. It was cool to put faces with the....well...their web sites...even though I already knew James' face from his site (thats how I recognized him and introduced myself). It turns out that Catapulting Aaron and I work for the same company...too funny and somehow very strange at the same time!

- Ran into Jim Drake again...this seems to be an annual pattern now of seeing him in the Outer Banks in the spring. Always a super nice guy and very approachable. Look here on this blog in the not-too-distant future about how I first met unusual story.

- My buddy Rob was finally nailing his duck gybes on a fairly consistent basis and I have video evidence (in video below). Now I really have to buckle down and learn to do the same dammit!

- One of our sailing buddies and housemates, Donald, ventured out into the waves with the local OBX crew at the north end of Ocracoke Island. OBX Bill has a good recap of that day here.

- No weeds! I can't remember the last time I sailed without weed fins in the Outer Banks.

- Rob, Donald, and Tommy paddled out into some heavy surf on Friday in north Avon to catch some big A frame waves well over head high. Donald caught a couple of huge ones and ripped them up.

- Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Surfing - I had been SUP'ing on the lake for close to a year now. I learned to surf in Costa Rica. I knew that applying the two together in the ocean would be hard and I would spend time in the water, not on it. Only when you get out there do you realize this for sure...and more. I felt like I was learning to windsurf again! Its very humbling. Rob and I finally got the hang of the board and the not so flat ocean. Once out past the breaking waves, we were paddling pretty good out in the open ocean in the swells. Coming back in and catching the waves is going to take a lot more practice. Getting a much bigger board to do what I wanted on a wave was MUCH different than the 9'4 longboard I was surfing in Costa Rica. We should have been in smaller waves for our first time but I think these were going to be the smallest we would get anywhere that day (Friday) since there was decent size surf everywhere on the island still left over from the previous 3 day north wind extravaganza. I also learned that wide is good. We rented 2 was a 12'2 board with 27 inch width. We also had a 11'8 board with 29 inch width and I did much better on that one. I look forward to SUP'ing in the ocean more and even trying it with a small sail in light winds.

- A couple of poker late nights - an OBX tradition with this motley crew.

- Aggravated my wrist/forearm which I apparently first hurt 2 weekends ago when my harness line snapped out on the lake. Now it's gotten worse after windsurfing and SUP'ing last week. I can't bend my wrist or barely use my right hand. Maybe it's tendonitis? It must get better soon. Of course, it didn't hurt on the water while windsurfing (nothing hurts when you're windsurfing) but it hurts like a mother off the water. I know...I must suck it up.

- I got to try out the improved modified helmetcam I mentioned in an earlier post. The results were pretty good. It was much more comfortable and worked great. Here are pictures of the new set-up. Note the much shorter boom length.

Rob made a great video with his own helmetcam here. We both looked like space aliens out there on the water sailing around with cameras attached to our noggins. From now on, they'll be known as noggin-cams.

The Windsurfing Crew rides again! Here is a 13 minute video from our trip that includes some helmetcam footage (with the new set-up shown above) from the 5.4/6.5 day in 20-25 mph winds. There is some fun helmetcam footage of Rob and I chasing each other around. Rob really knows how to find the camera :-) I wanted to make a shorter video but I couldn't bring myself to take out a bunch of good footage that I think really captures a windsurfer's journey in the Outer Banks. Also, listen to the quote at the you recognize it? Tell me if you know who the mystery quoter is and where it first appeared and you will win...nothing....hmmm...ok, you get bragging rights, how's that?

Please comment on the video. Do you like the helmetcam footage or is it a tired act? Do you think the video is too long? Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

More pictures -

Lets go SUP'ing! (photo by Mark Pace)

Stand up paddling out through the waves (Photo by Mark Pace)

Happy Birthday Mark! (l to r: Todd, Rob, and Mark)

Donald shredding it up on a 3.7 in nukin' winds (top and bottom, photos by Mark Pace)

l to r: Jim, Rob (with noggin-cam), and Mark

Donald and Rob venturing out into the big waves

Aren't these a "Beaut"?


Windmobiles lined up at Canadian Hole're windsurfing!

Rob passing a kiter - Canadian Hole

I never get tired of this - enjoying a brew at sunset after a great day on the water

Friday, April 18, 2008

OBX report

I'll post more after I get back home, but here's a couple of pics. I didn't realize until now that I didn't have any good still pics of windsurfing from this week, only video (which I'll put together later and post, includes new helmetcam footage with my improved modified helmetcam). Had great wind on Wed & Thurs and it was blowing even harder earlier in the week. Sailed 4.6 on Wed and 5.4/6.5 on Thurs. Went stand up paddle surfing in the ocean today since there was no wind....more on that later was great fun yet humbling. Here with Rob, Mark, Todd, Donald, Tommy & Eliza....good times. Always a beautiful sunset here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

We Give Thanks for the Outer Banks

I'm Hatteras bound later this week. Forecast is mixed with big wind, some sun, light wind, then more wind...classic OBX. Here's something to hold us over until we get there...

I found this little gem while reading about the beach access issue at Island Free Press.

Donnie Bowers is a windsurfing and board shaping icon on Hatteras Island and apparently is also a talented photographer. This is a great pictorial he put together of everything we love about the Outer Banks.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Everybody got some!

Alan, Donald, and Tommy made the road trip down to Kure Beach on Saturday and got some killer wind on 4.x sails, along with a few others. Donald posted some great shots at the IBSSC Forum.

The rest of us got some wind on Lake Norman - big group of folks made it out on Saturday at Ramsey Creek Park....Rob, Chuck, Dimitri, and several others who I didn't know. One of them, Chris, I met for the first time. Dave and Jeff were kiting. I showed up late and missed the better wind which had apparently been blowing around 20mph. It was more like 15mph when I got there. I still got some until one of my harness lines snapped, which must have been a sign because by that time, I had to go anyway. I did get off a few shots.


Rob (left), Jeff (middle, kiting) and Dave (kiting, in mid-air)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Modified Helmetcam Footage

The latest issue of WindSport Magazine had a short piece on the Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1 Waterproof video camera and also had an adjoining piece on a modified helmetcam setup using this camera. Before that came out, I had found a different set up from someone on a SUP forum using the above pictured modification.

Rob and I hit the lake today in 10-15mph wind on our 9.6 sails. Hey, no snickering you windsnobs...we get what we can get on our lake...the stoke's the same! It was a good time to try out the modified helmetcam Sanyo Xacti camera. I had been using the Oregon Scientific ATC-2K helmetcam in the past. The Sanyo has better video quality (still not great video quality but better). The way I attached it to my helmet allowed me to be able to see the camera controls. The Sanyo Xacti records only when the viewing window is open so I can also see the window now. The picture is also more stable and not nearly as bouncy. I couldn't do any of this with the ATC-2K.

The test run allowed me to see that I still need to make some improvements. The PVC pipe is too long and makes the camera weight down the helmet so that it scrunches down my forehead making it uncomfortable. I need to cut it down some more. The fact that the pipe was too long also made it difficult to tack or jibe without the video camera hitting up against the sail or boom. I also need to turn the screws in the helmet inside out so the ends are facing outside the helmet, as they were rubbing my skin. I hope these improvements will also make it usable in higher winds. Notice the blue keychain floaties in the pictures above. I attach them to the camera in case it somehow falls into the water. It will float and I won't lose it to the bottom.

Here's some of the footage from our session today, a 3 minute video: