Sunday, September 13, 2009

Epic Bowl Wave Sailing

EPIC conditions at the Bowl, down-the-line frontside wave sailing, jumping off of 12' waves fully juiced on 4.2, riding logo to mast high waves with the crew and even getting treated to a Graham Ezzy backloop just 50 feet away! It all came together on September 10th & 11th, 2009 when a weak low off of Hatteras ran up against a Maine/Nova Scotia high and sent us several days of side-off Northeasterlies. For a complete rundown, check out the Peconic Puffin's excellent reporting: Land of the Giants at the Bowl and From The Bowl: More Waves, More Wind.

I know the word "epic" can get overused after an inspirational session. This session blew away all previous contenders by far, and was definitely epic for me, but I've only been wave sailing for 3 years. When I heard the 10-20 year veterans, however, raving in disbelief with looks of euphoria on their face, I knew it was indeed a rare, special event.

Video footage shot from the beach, Days 1 & 2:

Photos from Day 1:

Photos from Day 2:

I got the idea for the following video from Andy McKinney's Lost in Hatteras: Lighthouse Video. He found the best spot to mount a boom cam - the clew! I gave it a go on the second day about 20 minutes before the thunderstorms hit (missing the big stuff), and caught a couple interesting moments. One thing is for sure - wide-angle is the way to go - I may get one of those GoPro's after all....

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ponquogue Summer Waves

Picture perfect side-shore, warm day, nice waves, big air, but most incredibly, an East wind and sunshine? Score!

Video via Youtube in case the Flickr video doesn't work. I'm trying to figure which looks/works better.

For more in-depth reporting, check out the Peconic Puffin's recap of this spectacular day: "There's Still Sand On My Boom"

Plus, it looks like more potential wave-sailing action later this week, but bigger, meaner and wetter: NOAA Marine Forecast - stay tuned!

Monday, September 07, 2009

LI Summer SUP Part 3 - Clark Bar Bonanza

Shoulder to head-high+ came out of nowhere to make for a delicious day of standup paddle surfing and kayaking at the Clark Bar. Joining the Wolf and myself on SUP and Scott on his 'yak was Michael riding a demo Naish SUP from Windsurfing Hamptons. This was Michael's second time standup paddling in the surf, and first time in surf greater than knee-high, and wouldn't you know he was catching long and big waves right from the start!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

LI Summer SUP Part 2 - Danny's Waves

Our next round came one weekend later from another offshore storm- Tropical Storm Danny. Danny petered out and threw its energy into a frontal storm off of Hatteras, though he still managed to send meaty 6' to 9'+ waves into the Bowl. I somehow grabbed a couple of these giant waves amidst a crowd of 25 surfers on my 11'2" Starboard SUP, an utterly thrilling and exhausting experience (I think I experienced endorphin fatigue!).

Going Up

The next morning we took refuge and long rides on the bay side of the inlet. This session was a total blast and excellent workout. A mix of surfers, kayakers and SUP'ers shared in the wave bounty, often in "party waves".

Party Wave

The next day, winds went off-shore and cleaned up long-period left-overs. I joined Jon Ford and John van der Wolf at the Cut for some beautiful glassy waves in the chest to shoulder-high range.

Jon Ford at the Cut

Check out the full photoset (with 2 videos) in this slideshow (can be made to fit full-screen):

Friday, September 04, 2009

LI Summer SUP Part 1 - Hurricane Bill

Hurricane Bill passed 275 miles off our coast August 22/23, sending big waves to our southern shores. Erosion was bad in spots, but in some cases sandbars improved for surf and SUP. The first couple days we hid from Bill's fury on the inside of Moriches Inlet, catching mellow 1-3 ft waves that would run for 100-200 yards. Here's one of those rides:

Later in the week we were scoring shoulder to overhead-plus at Dune Road ocean beaches in Southampton. I shared one of my favorite sessions at K Road with the Wolf and C.D., where we found waist to head-high waves, a warm, peaceful sunset, frosty beers and good company:

John & C.D.

This post also marks the introduction of my new waterproof camera, the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000. The photo quality is sadly subpar (see above), but it should make up for that in durability -- I'll post a full review later this fall. For now, enjoy these pics from LI Summer SUP Part 1:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ponquogue Best

Amazing day yesterday, easily one of the top 5 Ponquogue best for me, perhaps even the best. First, a round of applause to the meteorologists at

Noon Update Forecast is on track so far, but the low looks to be strengthening further today. The late day winds could push much stronger then originally forecasted, with gusts pushing into the 30s. Watch trends.

And the result?

When I arrived after 3pm and found the Wolf & C.D. heading out on 5.8/6.2, I knew they'd be back soon. I went straight to 5.2 / 93L, and with the recent low tide, shorebreak was gentle and wind aplenty. Waves were 3' and building, and I went at them full-steam, jumping high, crashing backloops and devouring big air after such a long drought. This led to gluttonous over-consumption and eventual intoxication as I hung on to the 5.2 for far too long. Re-rigged to 4.7 and spent some time playing on the clean 3-6'+ waves, but was already too spent to really enjoy it. The waves were more on-shore than usual, coming in SSE to the E-ENE wind, and they served up a playground (more like amusement park, or even NASA training facility) for jumping and riding.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wave sailing at Democrat Point

My "full report from a Demo newbie" as posted to the LongIslandWindsurfer Yahoo Group, describing my first wave sailing session at Democrat Point:

Well it wasn't classic Demo as per the regulars, nor did world-class wave described by Graham Ezzy show, but I'm more than glad I finally showed up to scope out the scene and see what all the fuss is all about. It took me just under an hour to make the drive from Hampton Bays, where the trees and wind chimes were going off next to Peconic Bay, but very little action on the ocean. I tried convincing the Peconic crew to join me in the pilgrimage: Scott Kielt was at Cupsogue beach with his family, on the other side of Moriches Inlet from Fire Island, and he reported "12mph at best". Michael Alex opting for time with his wife at Mecox bay was stuck searching for a plane on his 7.0. The Wolf also hung with his family, and when I spoke to him this morning, he said "so you got to Demo and the wind died, right?"

Not at all. Driving along the Robert Moses Causeway across the Great South Bay, I could see the wind was cranking 6.0 or better. I almost felt blinded by all the water as I sped across the long bridge, even though the sun wasn't out - or maybe it was just my wind-starved senses getting overloaded. I got to Cedar Beach just after 5pm, and within 10 minutes the crew had assembled, choosing sails from 5.6(?) to 5.9. It was good to see Brook, Joe, Steve, Pete and George, all of whom I either knew or met once previously. Brook and Pete started schooling me on the Demo do's and don'ts ("stay upwind of the channel" was the tip that sunk in), when jolly George Marr came over to say "bah, don't listen to those guys, just go have fun!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

North Boom Goes Bust

On rolling up to Sebonac Inlet early Sunday morning and hearing the 4.2 sail call, I knew I'd be entering risky waters. My small sail boom, an aluminum North Sails Red Series, was oozing a salty pus from the pins near the head. The next catapult could take it out - a feat I managed within only 5 minutes of sailing:

Broken Boom

It was the first run out, where I usually make sure everything is balanced. While struggling with harness line positioning on the return tack, I hit a classically sweet Sebonac ramp and landed too far downwind and off-balance. Scott caught a good view of my slow-motion catapult seconds later. As he swung around to shout something at me (probably "Hahahhaha -- are you okay? -- Hahahaaa!"), I began to waterstart in the waist-deep water and suddenly heard the boom pop apart in its final corrosive gasp. Ugh! I wasn't too far from shore, but definitely a long way from the launch. Scott yelled something like "[blah blah whoosh blah] walk to the beach", which without the wind whistling through my helmet apparently translated to "flip the boom and sail back or you'll have to walk to the beach". Not hearing him, and forgetting this useful tip taught by ABK Boardsports and highlighted in the Puffin's account of my previous aluminum cracking catapult, I ended up walking the whole way back. I payed my dues, complete with self-created suffering and sacrifice (though the later reward was well worth it!).

As for my North Sails boom? Well, I had purchased it brand new at the Fall '07 swap meet at Windsurfing Hamptons, and one year later at the Fall '08 swap, Jon Ford noticed the oozing pus. I asked about the warranty, since the boom had malfunctioned barely after a year. Jon said he'd ask North Sails, but the answer came back negative. Jon suggested I might get one more season out of it, which I did. Sunday's boom busting session marked the end of the cold, high-wind season, and also the end for my use of aluminum booms. From now on, it's Maui Sails carbon (just gotta start saving)!

Sebonac Joy

Nothing like a sunny and warm, full-blast Sebonac session to spark the blog back to life! I've had a busy period the past month or so, which included a fun and blustery trip to Hatteras, a breakdown and untimely death of my aging windsurfing van in Delaware, a trip to Vegas for a surprise birthday party, and a presentation to 150 Miller Place HS students. Fortunately, the wind arrived on a weekend (Mother's Day no less!), and I was able to grab 4 fully lit hours on 4.7 / 77L, often reaching moments of nirvana after getting dialed in.

Jan at Sebonac
9 more photos from the day: Sebonac - May 10, 2009

Also see the Peconic Puffin's report: Who WASN’T Tearing It Up at Sebonac?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Windsurfing at it's Finest, and Funniest

I aspire to make windsurfing videos with this kind of spirit and talent

click HQ for high-quality and enjoy the ride (my favorite moment comes at 3:27).

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Gliding, Sliding and Crashing across Bellport Ice

Woohoo! Had my first icesurfing session since February 2007 this past weekend in Bellport, NY. On Saturday, Jan 31st, windsurfers rigged 3.7 sq. m sails and sped around on Freeskates, Icesurfers (aka the "Shopping Cart"), and various custom made boards. NW winds were gusty and well into the 20's. The next day saw warmer and lighter SW winds, which allowed for some freestyle and lessons for beginners.

Kevin O glides away back to front

I had the most fun trying out one of Jeff Schlecter's beautifully engineered custom boards, pictured above with Kevin. Leaning into high speed jibes, enjoying the zen moment when the sail goes light and quiet, and exiting backwinded still at high speed -- total rush! Unfortunately, on one speed run I got blindsided by a single-person iceboat! I was just cranking along in a gust when an explosion happened, just off the port bow. His front blade struck the front upwind blade of my board with such force that it bent the front half of the blade a good 45 degrees. The crash sent me head over heels onto the ice, but fortunately I walked away (actually ran away, chasing my helmet that had popped off and caught wind). Jeff was graciously understandable, and said it should be an easy repair. But I learned an important lesson: always look all the way around while on the ice, esp. upwind and behind you!

Before the cold killed the battery on Saturday, I grabbed a couple minutes of video made from boardcam, boomcam, and free hand shots:

Direct link to high-quality youtube

Photos from both days are posted in this Flickr photoset: Bellport Ice Sailing, which can also be viewed in full-screen via the slideshow link. Other photos include historic wooden iceboats and more custom iceboards.

Scott getting underway

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More boom cam fun!

After the first successful run using the Gorrillapod as a boom mount, I've since hit up four other East End windsurfing spots, draining the battery each time!

First up, Honkadelica: The Last Session of the Year at Sebonac Inlet in Southampton, Dec 30, 2008 (see also accompying Flickr photoset). This day was off the hook, with 30-40+ mph winds (some gusts over 50-60!), sunny & 37 deg, survival sailing 3.2 to 3.7 sq m with liquid smoke on the water!!:

Our first session of the New Year was underpowered winter wave sailing at Ponquogue, Jan 2, 2009, which I subtitled "How far would you schlog and walk for a wave? the middle of winter?" Unfortunately, the camera was pointed a bit high, and missed most of the wave ride:

After 4.7 in the morning the next day at Iron Pier Beach in Northville, Riverhead, NY, the wind back off at noon, which led some to stray: Some Days Somebody Has To Be The Wind Sacrifice...

Finally, some Northfork Windsurfing, starting 4.7 off the jetty rocks at Mattituck Inlet, and ending with some high-powered 4.2 blasting back at Iron Pier Beach, Jan 8, 2009. I got a couple half-backloop crashes out of it too!

What a blast! Battery is recharged, and ready for the next session (let it be waves!)....
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