As usual, the weather worked hard trying to scare us off. The ride down to Corpus was full of angry looking storms. We weren't fooled though. When Jason and I hit Laguna Madre, all the storms were behind us. The weather on the beach was slightly overcast, with wind averaging around 12 MPH.
After finishing our sandwiches, Jason and I practiced while Olivier finished teaching his beginner class. I rented a JP X-cite Ride 145 with a 6.2 sail and I think Jason was on a JP 160. Somewhere on the water, Saket, Jay, and Dana were cruising around.
After a half hour of practice, Jason and I met Olivier for our combined class. I was taking planing in the harness, Jason was taking his first harness class.
In my portion of the class, Olivier covered how to adjust your stance with the position of the sail so that the body always faces the direction of the sail's pull. I think this suggestion was key for me. As the wind started to pick up into the 20's. I found myself able to get on plane and actually stay there for the first time.
Olivier also helped tweak my beach start so I could more easily work my way into the water start. Previously, I had stepped on the board with my back foot as part of a continuous movement up and on to the board. With the new technique, I start with my back foot resting on the board. This forced me to rely more on the pull of the wind to lift my weight instead of pushing off the bottom with my back leg.
Olivier also gave me a quick tutorial about how to maneuver the sail while standing in the water. Mostly this consisted of how to flip the sail from one side of the board to the other. Flipping the sail across the wind is done by lifting the sail overhead as is done in a beach start. You orient the mast to the windward side of the sail and lift it over the head with the front hand. The back hand holds the boom. Then the tip of the mast is pulled to point into the wind. As the mast passes through the wind it can easily be flipped so that the sail is on the other side of the board with the mast again upwind.
Olivier also pointed out how to get into the foot straps by moving the back foot forward to compensate while lifting the front foot to get into the strap. I wasn't comfortable enough with planing to try this yet, but it's good to know.
After the class, Olivier had me upgrade my sail to a 7.0. This is the largest sail I've used so far. With the wind gusting in the 20's, getting on plane was cake. I was able to move my feet all the way to the back of the board with my feet almost standing on the straps. I did have some difficulty preventing myself from turning downwind on plane. It seemed to help a bit to tilt the the board down on the upwind side, but I think I still have a lot to learn in the steering department.
As I have previously noted, planing is nuts. Distances collapse as the board accelerates like a rocket. I'm sure I'm only moving 25 MPH or so, but on the water, exposed to the wind it feels much faster. The board also becomes much more responsive to shifts in weight and force. I think the largest challenge of all of this is fear. The additional speed is intimidating. Highly recommended!
After sailing, Jason and I checked into the hotel to desalinate. We then visited the Vietnam Restaurant on Water Street for some dinner. The others had eaten separately. The food was quite good, although expensive. Most entrees were more than $17, but the quality was high.
After dinner, Jason, Jay, Dana, and I met at the Executive Surf Club where we drank beer and played foosball. Matt later joined us after he arrived in Corpus. We past the time by burning quarters.