Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Return By Water

I had the good fortune to return by water only a week after that great SUP/windsurf weekend in Carolina Beach area by taking the family to Hatteras Island. The forecast was very light on wind but it was an absolutely gorgeous weekend with sun and high 70s/low 80s. I did luck into a short session at Canadian Hole in planable 15 mph winds for about 45 minutes (and missed Drew who was out there). It was apparently a lot windier at points north in Nags Head area.

But the best time on the water this past weekend were the three consecutive early mornings I went stand up paddle surfing in the waves...capped off on the last day joined by Andy and Anne. Its always more fun when joined on the water by like minded people. I'm continuing to progress little by little. I'm catching waves and getting some good rides down the line....now I just need to work on the cutbacks, bottom turns, etc.

Standing out however was spending time with the family, playing and relaxing on the beach with them (and our dog), and remembering our fallen soldiers who've made the ultimate sacrifice recently and in years past.

I stole the title of this post from a great book I read recently, Return by Water by Kimball Taylor, a well known surfing journalist. Its in paperback and is a great short story read when traveling.

No pics or video of the on the water action but here are a few pics from the weekend.

Kids + Beach = Fun (that was a big hole on the beach dug by someone else)

Never get tired of the ocean

Post sesh eats and a brew with a view...that Sierra Nevada Summerfest is pretty dang good

Sunset poses

A visit to the Wright Brothers Memorial on Memorial Day...a perfect compliment to my daughter's upcoming school presentation on the Wright Brothers

Saturday, May 23, 2009

excuse me Mr. Alligator, may I have this wave?

When looking up wave etiquette, there's no mention of who has right of way when sharing a wave with an alligator. Maybe this guy can rewrite the rules. I'm sure it would say something along the lines of "...and when you see an alligator, make sure you let him have the wave all to himself so you don't tick off the locals and/or get eaten". Click here for story, which happened not too far away in Georgia.

Monday, May 18, 2009

It Was A Stand Up Weekend...

...and a great waterman's weekend as well. Everything from Stand Up Paddle (SUP) racing, to SUP in the waves, to light wind SUP wavesailing, to flat water windsurf speed blasting.

Rob, Mark, and I went down to the Carolina/Wrightsville Beach area for the weekend. The weekend was centered around the 1st Annual Intracoastal SUP Cup race around Harbor Island in Wrightsville Beach.

This took place Saturday morning. 35 racers entered the event and it was a 3.5 mile race in flat water. It was a "sailing" start...ie. a 3 minute warning was given to the start and you could paddle all the way up to the starting line with momentum as they sounded the horn. I misread the start line and had a terrible start ending up in the back of everyone. I felt like such a slug with my 10'6" surf oriented board but after the first 1 mile leg, the course took a turn into the 10-15mph wind. My board suddenly had an advantage, I had a sudden burst of energy, and I took off passing 7 people on that 1 mile+ upwind leg. I passed a couple more folks after that and finished 23rd overall out of 35 people (21st in the 12.5ft & under Unlimited Class) with a time of 55 minutes. It was a great experience....fun and I certainly learned a lot after not really knowing what to expect. I learned that I need to have a much better start and I need to maintain focus on my stroke technique, which also needs improving. I look forward to doing it again and going to more races. Coastal Urge did a great job hosting the race and gave away a ton of cool stuff (I won a very cool North Face water resistant pack bag for my efforts) thanks to the many sponsors.

7:45am bright and early arriving at the race (photo by Mark)

Here is another blog post about the race and results.

After the race, we had the rest of the weekend to play in the water. We certainly took advantage of it. Early Saturday afternoon after the race, we decided to do some light wind wavesailing with 5.4 sails on our SUP boards. The wind was side-shore about 10mph. We opted not to go to the better wave spot at North End Carolina Beach because it looked very crowded with lots of cars and fishermen on the beach. So we stayed closer and upwind of the pier. The only problem was we underestimated the bad shorebreak and the sketchy launch that had large rocks blocking good beach access at high tide. I had a heck of a time getting out through the shorebreak. Once out, I caught one decent wave back in and got caught in the shorebreak again. It ripped the webbing that held one of my battens in place making my sail almost useless. So I gave it up and Rob came in too after having similar difficulty in the shorebreak. Oh well...live and learn.

After chilling out for a couple of hours back at our room, we trekked back out around 5pm to the North End Carolina Beach for some SUP surfing since the crowd there had thinned out. The wind had backed down a bit making it easier to paddle in the waves. We surfed for a couple of hours and caught some good wave rides (but still fell a lot too). We're still learning but certainly progressed since the last time out in the waves back in January.

Me & Rob paddling into position (photo by Mark)

Can you see our smiles? (photo by Mark)

After a good nights sleep, we were back at North End Carolina Beach at 8am the next morning for more SUP surfing. This time, the local SUP crew showed up and we all hit the water. The local crew consisted of Brian M, Dwight & Jacky, Brian A, Brad (C4 rep), and others. We had a light southwest wind making for side-off conditions. It was a lot of fun being on the water with 6 other paddle surfers. Big thanks again to them for sharing their spot with us. I think we progressed that much more that morning as we caught some good wave rides once again. It was certainly our best SUP wave session so far.

Here are some pics from that morning (the lighting was bad for picture taking), plus here is another blog post with some video that shows the conditions we had.


Unidentified SUP'er

The Three Amigos - Mark, myself, and Rob (photo by Brian M)

The wind started to pick up which could only mean one thing - windsurfing. We were a bit worn out from all the SUP surfing so we decided to go flat water blasting at the south end of Carolina Beach (Fort Fisher) at The Basin to wrap up the weekend. This has to be one of the best and most easily accessible flat water sailing spots in the country. Way back in the "old days" of windsurfing, Ken Winner's Speed Series was held here and this spot also produced NC speed records at the time. The southwest wind started out around 15mph and then kicked up to around 20mph. We sailed for 2 solid hours, flat water speed blasting, and practicing our duck gybes. I nailed 3 of them but they weren't pretty (and I fell on many more than that)....I still need to work on my form. Rob is nailing his duck gybes...I saw him hit 4 in a row.

I surprised myself by the amount of energy I had all weekend and hitting the water for five different sessions over 2 days. However, I can tell I'm a landlubber because I'm very sore right now and my body is beat up...the downside of being a weekend warrior 4 hours away from the nearest waves.

They say that when you fall off the SUP board, you're supposed to fall AWAY from the board. I didn't do that very well.

I love the Outer Banks for all it has to offer but I was pleasantly reminded how diverse the conditions and spots are in the Carolina Beach area for all the great watersports (windsurfing, surfing, SUP for flat water and surfing, and kiting).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

NASCAR, Windsurfing, and Talladega Nights

Hey Andy, I wasn't kidding when I wanted to borrow your black & white checkered hooded sweatshirt to take to Talladega with me!

I went to the Talladega 500 NASCAR race 2 weekends ago. Although I do reserve the right to post non-windsurfing topics on this site, this post is actually related to windsurfing. Stay with me and read on...

Yes, this was the race that ended in a spectacular crash that sent #99 Carl Edwards' car into the catch fence at the finish line with flying parts that injured some fans, luckily none of them very serious. Fortunately, we weren't sitting close to where the crash happened. It is a very big track and we were sitting in a great spot in the stands watching the cars come off turn 4 into the tri-oval, just before the finish line.

Click here for a 3:30 minute video summary of the Talladega 500 race

Yes, I am a race fan. And Talladega is one of the most exciting tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series with the cars racing 3 or 4 wide on the race track nose to tail at 190mph most of the race. Get into an actual race car and either drive it around a race track or go as a passenger sometime and you'll gain a whole new appreciation for the sport. You'll then truly understand how amazing it is for those cars to race like they do at large tracks like Talladega and Daytona.

Some neighbors and I made a weekend of it by renting an RV, driving to Alabama, and camping in the infield of the 2.6 mile Talladega International Superspeedway. It was a fascinating and fun weekend. Fascinating from the standpoint that we were mere amateurs with our little rented 31 ft Cruise America RV compared to the real race fan pros in attendance with their giant bus RVs with extensions, giant grills, giant sound systems, recessed lighting, and every other nice amenity you could want on a fancy camping trip. Also a fascinating night life amongst the infield race fans. The best way to describe it is calling it a "redneck madris gras". I say that as a term of endearment since I am really an old redneck from Surry County myself. Also fascinating since we got to spend time in the garage and pit areas before the races on Saturday and Sunday. We were very close to many of the drivers, crews, and the cars. This was courtesy of pit passes provided to us from a friend of mine who works for one of the race teams. Pretty cool. It turned out to be the two most exciting races I've seen in a long time...both with very close and exciting finishes.

Our home away from home

The crew preparing the tires before the race in the pit area

Pit Row

The #48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Racing hauler in the garage area

NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Kurt Busch

2008 Daytona 500 Champion Ryan Newman

3 time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"Rowdy" Kyle Busch

2 time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart

Miss America - I had no idea who that was. I had to ask someone who was that girl surrounded by security going into Dale Jr's hauler. She later sang the National Anthem.

The classic fly over after the National Anthem

Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!...Lets Go Racin Boys!

Turn 4 and the infield front row spectators atop their giant RVs

This 10 second video clip is what 190mph looks like...

So I was trying to figure out how I could possibly tie this post to windsurfing. Not that I had to or needed to but I figured I would at least try. I was innocently and coincidentally perusing a few windsurfing web sites including Miami Windsurfing and look at what I came across...

I lifted these pictures from the Miami Windsurfing web site. Imagine my excitement when I saw this. I had no idea that a real NASCAR driver actually windsurfs. It turns out that #42 Juan Pablo Montoya lives and windsurfs in Miami in his free time in the off-season and in between race weekends and appearances. Montoya originally hails from Colombia and used to be an open wheel champion including winning the Indianapolis 500. He made the switch to NASCAR a couple of years ago. He actually had the pole position at Talladega. There are a couple of mentions of Montoya on the Miami Windsurfing web site and it promises to soon post an interview with him about windsurfing. Big thanks to Miami Windsurfing for posting this. Montoya's race team is based near where I live. I'm going to have to get him out on the lake windsurfing sometime when he's here.

So there...you learned something new and also found that NASCAR and windsurfing do in fact mix!