Lord of the Winds- Los Barriles, Baja

Eventually we all end up chasing the wind.
How far- depends on our level of addiction and our sense of adventure.

This year again, I made the migration south on highway 1.
1500 miles later I reached the end of the road- Baja California Sur where
the pacific ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Its a wind lovers paradise with
gringos from across the US & Canada making the annual winter pilgrimage
in search of wind and swell.

The el norte breeze blows down the Sea of Cortez producing rolling swell
and a solid, wrap yourself up in a winter jacket kind of breeze even when
the sun is at its mid day peak.

After a few days of kiteboarding lessons in La Ventana, (see painful learning experience) We packed up and headed down to Los Barriles where I met the rest of our crew who were flying in from SF for the Lord of the Winds event in a few days time.

What started off as a 10 buoy slalom course on day 1 of the event ended up as a 4 buoy fiascle by the end of day 3.
6 marks drifted away and there wasn’t much the RC or the 58 registered competitors could do about it. We just kind of went with the flow- but that meant only two – 15 min course races; two 3 min slalom races & one 25 min long distance race over the course of 3 days.
The free-stylers got their chance to show off their skills in the shore break and the kiters battled it out for the hang time competition over the course of the next 2 days.

Day 1 began with course races.
I immediately went out with the only board and rig I had- my ml 70cm wide slalom board & 7.7 avanti slalom sail. I was a bit off the pace upwind riding the 48cm fin but made some big gains off the wind in the 10 board windsurfing fleet. With the wind 15-22k, and the whole fleet on slalom boards, you just had to make do with what you had. Tyson Poor was killing it with great board speed around the course taking the only 2 bullets while Casey Hauser and I fought t it out for 2nd and 3rd.

Race 2- I switched down to the 44cm fin and had better speed. Tyson went down on a gybe and I jumped into the lead but over stood the top mark on the 2nd upwind while Tyson and Casey called the perfect layline and jumped back into the lead.
With the gybe mark adrift, the RC called the racing for the day and we packed it up mid day after the last kite race.

Slalom was on the agenda for day 2 of Lord of the Winds.
The forecast called for a building breeze and the shore break was building into a pounding 4-8′ whitewater pounding at the 2nd & 4th inside buoys.

The windsurfers were killing it- displaying great form as the mark roundings were several sailors deep and the passing opportunities plentiful around the 6 buoy slalom course. Tyson, again was displaying great form leading almost every mark with Bryan Metcaf Perez in the hunt as well.
Wyatt had some unbelievable luck breaking his 2nd mast over the the 1st 2 days of the competition and not being able to complete 1 race. I had some good starts and was in the hunt for the most of the game but wasnt able to grab any bullets despite being in the lead a few times.
On the 3rd race, Tyson and I went into the 4th gybe mark overlapped but there was no next mark. The buoy had drifted away and the racing was again called for the day just as things were heating up.

The RC switched to freestyle and the windsurfers again put on the best show with 5-6 boards showing an array of new and old school tricks from back loops in the 4-6′ shore break, to sliding goiters, spocks and wylee skippers.
The crew from Pro Windsurfing Ventana really took it up a notch this year turning the heads of most of the kiters on the beach.

We woke up to day 3 with just 4 bouys left on the course so the RC decided to run the long distance lord of the winds showdown. It wasnt much of a match between the course kite boards and the slalom windsurfing boards over the windward leeward race track. The windward mark was near Punta Pescadero a few miles upwind and by the time we got there it was blowing 25-30k.
The kites dominated but I held my own just behind the top pack of kites while the rest of the windsurfers took a long flier and ove rstood the top mark, I had a huge lead going downwind and baring any disaster, had the race wrapped up in the windsurfing division.

But Ive learned never to count yourself out or take anything for granted. with the wind at 20-25k and the shore break pounding, I fell at the gybe mark and had a slow water start out and Bryan Metcaf- Perez was there to jump into the lead. With just another 500m left to the downwind finish line. Bryan and I went went into the last gybe 5 secs apart. Bryan slipped on his gybe as I went below him to try to gain some additional speed and better angle to the finish but he recovered and sailed right over me as we went across the finish line.
That’s racing- as close as it gets with every little factor counting for something!
Bryan Lake won the long distance race in the closing seconds just in front of Johnny Heineken and was crowned Lord of the Winds- a fitting title if there ever was one.

Overall- an awesome event with tons of volunteers helping on the beach & great camaraderie between competitors.
For a full report with photos check out www.stevebodner.blogspot.com