Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Trip Report 1-3 May 2009

Jason and I rode down to Corpus Christi in the Orange Toaster, my tangerine-colored Honda Element. For the first time, we stacked boards two high on the roof rack.

On the bottom, we strapped Jason's 160 liter board directly to the rack. On top of that, we used another set of nylon straps to secure my 145 Liter board to the car. Between them we stuffed Jason's rack pads and then cranked down on the top straps. As a failsafe, we tied the excess strapping to the two board's footstraps.

The stack of boards worked, but had a noticeable impact on the Toaster's fuel economy. We probably used 1/3 more fuel to get from Austin to Corpus that Friday. The car also stood a bit tall with a pile of surf boards on top. No low bridges for us.

At Worldwinds, the anemometer spun like a helicopter blade. The winds were blasting in the 20 to 30MPH range. I quickly decided that my 6.5 meter sail would be unmanageable. Since I only own one sail, I rented a 5.3 meter sail from Worldwinds. I kept my 145 liter x-cite ride. Jason opted to stick with his personal rig, the 160 liter x-cite ride and a 6.3 meter from Maui Sail.

Needless to say, neither Jason nor I had any issues with water starts. Not unless you count getting flipped to the other side of the board. But playing human catapult is half the fun, right?

My first sailing session was fun, but I realized that I was sailing too cautiously. Instead of rocketing with the gusts, I sailed like a big wuss. I tended to over-sheet and aim upwind to the point of stalling.

For my second session, I was determined to get over it. I hooked in, strapped in, and let 'er rip. The second session was much faster, more fun, and surprisingly relaxing. Speed isn't scary unless you try to fight it.

After windsurfing, Jason and I desalinated and grabbed dinner at Waterstreet Restaurant.

Jason RacesSaturday's beach weather was crazy. The highest recorded gust hit and insane 42 MPH. Otherwise the winds bounced in the high 20's and mid 30's. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see my 145 Liter board and 6.5 meter sail wouldn't be much fun. I rented a Fanatic Hawk 123 Liter board and a 4.5 meter Ezzy sail from Worldwinds. Jason rented a similar rig.

Like Friday, waterstarts were easy. My tacks, however, were a different story. I might have completed one tack successfully that day. Maybe not. Otherwise the wind and choppy water always dumped me off the board.

Necessity is the abusive parent of invention. I invented the following Windsurfing trick:
  1. Achieve an overpowered plane on a too-large board
  2. When you've gone as far as you like, turn upwind and begin a tack
  3. As you nose upwind, let the chop flop you off the board
  4. Finish turning the board from the water -- extra points for using the sail
  5. Water start and sail away in your new direction
I call this the "Falling Tack". Be sure to give me credit.

For dinner, Jason and I feasted at Aka Sushi.

On Sunday, the wind calmed down to the 18-25 MPH range. This meant that I was finally able to use my own 6.5 Meter sail and board. It also meant that I was able to tack and waterstart with ease, although I do admit that I missed the 123 Liter Fanatic a bit. It was a fun little board!

The more relaxed weather was the perfect conclusion for our three-day weekend. After a few hours of sailing, Jason and I made the long drive back to Austin.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Trip Report 27-29 March 2009

Tug BoatJennie and I spent Friday morning stuffing an unbelievable quantity of dog and windsurfing equipment into my bright orange Element. This feat was followed by actually stuffing two dogs and two humans into the same tiny vehicle, and then driving for three and one half hours down to Corpus Christi.

We arrived at the beach a few minutes late for Jennie's beginner class appointment, but luckily 30 minutes earlier than the rest of her class. While waiting for them to arrive, Jennie played with Basil (tiny dog) and Mouse (giant dog) in the water.

Beginner ClassThe windsurfing lessons appeared to go well until the wind moved from gentle to dead. Then the windsufring lessons became balancing-floppy-sails-on-tippy-platforms lessons.

The weak winds didn't last long though. After an hour or two, the wind jumped to planing speeds. That was my cue to rig up and remember how to windsurf.

Freddy and Pamela arrived later in the day, and opted to take their tiny dogs on a Kayak tour of the choppy laguna madre.

As the sun started to set, we all got off the water and checked into the usual hotel: the Marina Grand.

For dinner, Freddy and I advocated U & I Restaurant. We spoke of the great steaks we ate there, which was no lie. Unfortunately, we forgot how mediocre the rest of the food was.

As we were ordering our food, we learned of a salad dressing called "Green Goddess". With a name like that, of course we all had to order it. In windsurfing parlance, this was a mistake.

Green Goddess turned out to be a flavorless green gel with the consistency of mayonnaise. If you felt generous you might call it salad lubricant, but probably not dressing. I enjoyed my steak and shrimp quite a lot, but the rest of the meal only tasted good when compared to the Green Goddess. At least it was good for a laugh.

Saturday morning, Jennie and I walked along the Corpus Christi sea wall with the dogs before returning to the beach. The wind was already starting to pick up, even in the morning.

At the beach Freddy and I windsurfed, but Jennie and Pamela opted out. The wind made for tricky conditions on the Laguna Madre, at least for beginners.

For dinner, Freddy and I chose Havana. Unfortunately, this wasn't their finest hour either. Although "El Infidel" didn't fail to impress, the rest of the meal wasn't quite as tasty as Freddy and I promised. I guess we're slow to learn. Pamela and Jennie are now certain that Freddy and I have no taste.

Sunday morning, conditions were perfect for Pamela to take the windsurfing beginner class. Jennie also was able to join her on the water to enjoy the more moderate wind. It was a great way to end the trip.

Overall, the trip was a success. Everyone got to surf, and Worldwinds successfully taught two new beginners how to windsurf. The only challenge left was stuffing the dogs, humans, and luggage back into the car and returning to Austin.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Memorial Day 2009 Windsurfing Adventure

Wind Addicts, the third excursion to Corpus Christi starts Saturday 23 May, and ends Monday 25 May. You can see photos from previous windsurfing trips here.

We'll be surfing near Worldwinds at the Padre Island National Seashore. We love those guys (and gal). If you need lessons or to rent gear, they'll take care of you. Beginners should sign up for intro class on the first day, everyone should reserve a rig for the days they want to sail (see the 5 simple steps link below).

As usual, we're staying in hotels located in downtown Corpus. This allows us to walk to some of the best restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in the city. Nothing beats a stroll along the city sea wall before sipping your morning coffee at Agua Java. I suggest booking sooner rather than later.

If you'd like to come, just follow...

...The five simple steps.

I hope to surf with you! Feel free to invite your friends. Call or email me if you have questions.