US Olympic Windsurfers Prepare for Weymouth!

photo by Dale Thompson

Bob Willis and Farrah Hall have both qualified to represent the United States in windsurfing at the Olympic Games this summer

.  The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are based in London, but the sailing events will take place at the southern end of the UK in Weymouth.  This is typically a windy venue, so the windsurfing should be fantastic!  You can read all abouth Bob and Farrah’s preparation for the Olympics on their respective web blogs www.bobsails.com and www.farrahhall.com .  Congratulations to both of them!

Florida Racing for Everyone!

photo: Jane Thompson

The 2012 windsurfing racing season kicked off strong in Florida with the Sarasota Island Style Classic and the Calema Midwinters.  The Kona class had a nice turnout at both events, with a number of out of town sailors taking advantage of the ability to fly in, charter gear and race without the hassles of travelling with windsurfing equipment.  The participants in the Kona class ranged in age from early teens to over seventy and included first time racers and windsurfing legends Nevin Sayre and Bruce Matlack! 

The Formula class had its usual mix of local Floridians and out of town superstars.  Brazillian Wilhelm Schurmann came for both events, while Micah Buzianis, Taty Franz, Paulo Dos Reis and Gabriel Brown showing up just for Midwinters.  Racing was tight amongst the top pros with the top five all winning at least one race! 

Sovig Sayre took first place in the women's rs:x class, her dad Nevin took first overall in Kona and her brother Raz finished first in the Techno class at midwinters!

Also in attendance at Midwinters were youth RS:X sailors Margot Samson  and Lucas Gonzales who had previously qualified to represent the United States at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships (which will be held this summer in Ireland).  The RS:X fleet had more competitors this year with many of the younger windsurfers ramping up for their Olympic campaigns for 2016. 

Results from the Sarasota Island Style Classic can be found at http://www.mswindsurfing.com/results.php and pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/54980050@N06/sets/72157629106727954/with/6790967128/

Results and pictures from the Calema Midwinters can be found at http://calema.com/events/calema-midwinters-2012/

The Baja expereince- winter 2012

It was billed as the ultimate showdown between kiters and windsurfers with 3 events spanning 9 days on the sea of Cortez on southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. While the kiters showed up in numbers, the windsurfers still found ways to keep the bragging rights for another year. At the end of the day- we found we had more in common than what separates us and in hindsight, I’d say it was more a gathering of the tribes- where we all spoke the same language- wind!

After enduring what seemed like a windless (and snow less) fall and early winter in northern California- I made plans for my first trip to Baja. I hooked up with our local kiting crew who use the events as a testing ground to where they stand in the off season. The Heineken van made the trip down on Christmas eve packed with 6 sets of kiting gear & 4 people. Rock star siblings, Erika and Johnny almost made it only to be delayed on Christmas morning when their front differential fell out and their 4 wheel van quickly turned in a 2 wheel van.  In Mexico- anything is possible and after a 6 hour delay and trading some beer for labor they were quickly back on their way.

I arrived 2 weeks later for the first event skipping the road trip and flying directly into Cabo.

The Lord of the Winds Showdown in Los Barriles hooked up with the Travel Channel who was featuring the Sand Masters show at the same time. If you’ve never seen it, these guys create unbelievable works of art in the sand. Their final creation was a huge sand stage for the Lord of the Winds where Johnny ‘Pacifico’ Heineken was crowned Lord of the Winds after taking the long distance race. 

(Windsurfers 0: Kiters 1)

Johnny Pacifico Heineken- Lord of the Winds

To say there is a bigger emphasis on fun vs a normal regatta would be an understatement.

We came in from racing with the race staff handing us a Pacifico as our official check in.

The windsurfers won the pre-party with Josh Samperio crushing the kiting and SUP crowd in a 42 sec binge under the beer tap bookmarked by double shots of tequila vs a meek 20 secs performance by the kiters.

(Windsurfers 1: Kiters 1)


The first day of racing saw over 40 heats of slalom run on a 10 mark downwind course. It was super exciting to see the kiters try to figure this one out as there’s still a mix of sailors using course boards, twin tip boards and even surf boards.  The windsurfers looked the most graceful in the 16-22k breeze laying down their gybes and generally staying untangled compared to the kiters. It was Tyson Poor who dominated the slalom with a string of bullets followed by Bryan Perez and myself in 3rd.

We followed the next 2 days with course racing and a long distance race where the wind never really materialized above 15k so the kiters had a huge advantage making it look easy with the course gear and 15m kites compared the windsurfers who were on slalom gear and 7-8m rigs. In one race, we had a humpback whale emerge from the water just at the windward mark as we were rounding it.

I’m pretty envious of what the sport of kite racing is doing with the gear evolution and the amount of sailors they are attracting. It’s almost as though history is repeating itself after windsurfing’s peak in the early 90’s. Several of the world’s top ranked kite course racers hail from the SF Bay and for the past years they’ve progressed as a group- training together & sharing info freely. As a result, the group has raised the benchmark much more than any sailor could do on their own.  Next year, I vowed to either come back with a kite or a formula equipment to be better matched.

Next up, we packed the van up for a short trip up the coast to La Ventana and set up camp in the arroyo. They say the Mexicans don’t enter the water from march to October and its only it’s the crazy wind starved gringos who travel from the northern US that endure the fierce ‘el norde’ winds. It was amazing to see how many wind junkies make the trip down from the northern US and Canada for several weeks or months in the winter. There are literally hundreds of sailors camping on the beach living off the grid in their RV’s or tents and enjoying the sea and the wind in southern Baja. All you really need is some protection from the wind and the sun and you’re set.  The food is cheap and the liquor even cheaper. I never once worried about my safety while in Baja. There are several camps where sailors have built elaborate structures for cooking and showing outdoors and most importantly- keeping your sails rigged up and ready and out of the UV.

It takes the meaning of beach bum to a whole new level!

This grasshopper still has a thing or two to learn as I realized a Baja fog beats the SF fog any day of the week.

We started off the racing by joining the weekly slalom series at Playa Central in La Ventana run by the legendary Alex Aguera. It was a no BS event with several rounds of slalom for amateur and professional kiters and windsurfers. I again managed a 3rd behind Tyson and Bryan getting schooled by my lack of time on the water the past few months. Nonetheless it a great tune up for the La Ventana Classic to follow.

The next day we started the La Ventana Classic. This is the first lucha libre Mexican wrestling themed windsurfing Ive ever been to in my 25 years in the sport. On Saturday evening we all gathered in the city’s main square for a classic lucha libre wresting showdown. It was way better than any B rated movie you’ve ever seen and kept us entertained the whole evening. A greased pig catching contest followed with the windsurfers edging out the kiters again.(Windsurfers 2: Kiters 1 if you’re keeping still keeping count)

Bring out the gimp…(it must be a kiter thing)

The rivalry continued throughout the event as the big match up was the long distance race which pitted the kiters vs the windsurfers in an 11 mile reach from the island of Ceralvo back to La Ventana. 99 sailors packed our gear on the local fleet of fishing boats for a 8 am transfer to the island and waited for the wind to build around 2pm. I never realized how good a beach fire could feel at 11 am!

It was probably 15-20k at the start but 20 min later at the La Ventana finish it was a much lighter 12-16k.

Tyson Poor on a JP 112l slalom board and 7.8m rig had a good lead built up at the first mark with Johnny Heineken on his 13m kite in hot pursuit. Next was a 1.5 mile downwind leg and small reach to the finish. This is where the kiters made huge gains. I rounded in 5th at mark 1 and slipped to 11th at the finish as 6 kiters looped straight downwind in the finish while we had several underpowered downwind reaches eating lots of ground. Tyson and Johnny rounded the last mark overlapped with a final 10 second reach to the finish just in front of the beach. It was Nascar type racing at its finest with Tyson not allowing Johnny to pass him with several aggressive moves to keep him in front and take the bullet by a mere 3 feet.

(Windsurfers 3:Kiters 1.)

Tyson Poor – making sure the windsurfers are still at the top of the podium

The windsurfers held on this year but its obvious the sport is changing with kiters outnumbering the windsurfers almost 10:1. We still won the party, the greased pig contest, and the Classic so to say the sport is dying is simply wrong.

We completed 3 more days of course racing where I managed to finally get the top spot at the end of the regatta in the windsurfing course racing. My prize was a huge lucho libre belt emblazed with all the classic mexican mojo you could imagine.

Im not sure I could have had a better time with a better group of people. Except for Montezuma’s revenge, the Baja experience is something Im hoping to repeat next winter.


Additional photos and trip details @ www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Steve Bodner

USA-4

2011 by the numbers- a windsurfing junkies recap of useless data

By Steve Bodner, USA-4
www.stevebodner.blogspot.com


I’ve had better years with close to 200 days on the water but this year was good in all respects.
84 formula and 47 slalom session this season at 4 locations using 7 sails & 4 boards at 14 regattas.

I recorded all my windsurfing sessions this season via twitter @usa4 and then at the end of the season organized all the data via daytum
In some respects, it’s a lot of useless data, but depending on how you look at it, interesting patterns seem to emerge.

Out of 131 total sessions, I sailed formula 84 times and slalom 47 times despite spending even more money on slalom equipment than formula gear.

The best value seems to be with Formula with 64% of my total sessions. Granted, I try to sail year round but looking at the numbers a bit closer you can see Spring and Summer being the months with the most number of sessions recorded.

April & May had the most sessions with 38 for 2 months- averaging a session every 1.5 days.
In contrast, when looking at the 1st 2 months and last 2 months of the year- I only got 19 days out of a possible 120- averaging 1 session every 6.3 days. Bummer man!

When I break down the sail usage, I see I use my 9.5 in almost 38% off all sessions and giving the best value per $ spent.

Throughout the season, I used a total of 7 sails and 4 boards.
While I didn’t track what slalom board I was riding each slalom session, I  rode 5 boards in total this season:
ML10 Formula- 82 out of a possible 84 formula sessions or 97% of all formula sessions;
JP 101 slalom; ML slalom; & ML freeride
.

Racing took up only 18% of the total time I spend sailing this season with 24 total days spend on the water with 3 or more races per day.

All in all, I competed in 14 regattas this year in 3 different locations- keeping traveling to minimum and racing 64% of all my races at the St. Francis Yacht Club. My performance peaked early in the season, party due keeping fit in the off seaon but almost came to abrupt stall after a period of racing 2 intense back to back regattas mid season. Note to self- pace yourself next season!


Despite seeming like its been an awfully windless fall,  there were 4 periods of time where there were 10 or more days between sessions with the longest being between 8/31 to 9/18 with 17 consecutive days off the water.


It’s It’s not how much data you have, but what you do with the data!

Until next season….
Steve Bodner
USA 4
www.stevebodner.blogspot.com

Windsurfers Gain Water Access in Jacksonville

Jacksonville windsurfing enthusiast and US Windsurfing member Tom Ingram has been working with the Jacksonville Waterways Commission to improve water access for windsurfers, stand-up-paddlers and kayakers at riverfront parks.  Just last week Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown announced his innitative to open up more access to kayaks and other non-motorized craft (including windsurfers)!  You can read the full article from the Jacksonville paper at http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2011-12-20/story/jacksonville-opens-access-water-riverfront-parks.

US Olympic Windsurfing Team Announced!

Congratulations to Farrah Hall and Bob Willis!

The recent ISAF  World Sailing Championships in Perth, Australia was the final event of the US Olympic trials for windsurfing.  After many days of racing in a variety of conditions, Farrah Hall and Bob Willis were named to the 2012 US Olympic Team for windsurfing.  Bob had a fantastic event and in addition to being the top US finisher, he also finished well enough to qualify the United States for a spot to compete in the Olympics for men’s RS:X.  Farrah was the top US finsher among the women, and just missed qualifying the US for a spot in the women’s RS:X event at the Olympics.  She will have another chance to qualify the country at the 2012 RS:X World Championships in Cadiz, Spain in March. 

You can read more about their adventures on their Olympic quests at www.farrahhall.com and www.bobsails.com.

How I almost got ran over by a trian while windsurfing

I made the trek to the north bay against my better judgement, leaving a good wind at crissy field for an unknown wind 45 min away and breaking cardinal rule of windsurfing- never leave wind for wind!

The wind was dying. 20k+ on the outside but a shlog to get there.
I hedged my bets and made the trek in with 4 kiters to Zaijeck beach.
The sign at the trail head should have been the first warning but went right on by.

Honestly, I had more on my mind- with the excitement of a brand new lightweight slalom board!

A 10 min hike in down an access trail, down a dirt trail, through a locked gate, across the railroad tracks, back up the hill & finally down the bluff to the beach.
At least I had my flip flops!
My gear fit nicely in a board bag that I carried over my shoulder.
Its all about the journey I thought to myself.

The  shlog out to the wind line was like a graph of diminishing returns.
The further I got from shore, the further the wind line receded.

The kiters on their race boards and 11m kites were wizzing past me and I could hardy break onto a plane in 8-10k.
If there was any way to covert me to kiting, this was probably it.

I decided to pack it up and head back before loosing any further ground as the wind was switch more east. I knew I would be downwind of the launch but there was no real good exit from water.
The low tide exposed some nasty rip rap with exposed rebar, razor sharp shells and oh, I forgot the 10 min minute walk up to the beach in the calf deep mud- sinking with every step
All I could think of was climbing out of a power deep day at Tahoe but this was no powder- just mud and I had no epic runs, Just a shlog.

It looked to be about a 1/4 mike walk back along the train tracks.
Did I mention my feet were already cut up from the climb up and down the rocks?
I looked around- a path of thorny bushes and poison oak to the right or the train tracks.
I opted for the latter and was actually enjoying the trek getting a nice soft massage on my feet with every step on the wooden planks of the rail track.
That was until I head the train whistle from behind  and looked back to see an Amtrak train coming around the bend at full speed.
My first reaction was to drop the gear and jump out of the way.

A split second went by and I imagined my new board, carbon mast and boom all getting run over my the train.
I hobbled down the bank with about 10 seconds to spare- rig and board balancing between my arms.
The rush of wind in front of the train nearly knocked me over.
I could see the conductors face looking down at my nearly 2 stories above on the double decker train wondering who in the world is walking on the train tacks in a wetsuit carrying what looks like a surf board and a rolled up sail.
The again, This was Pinole. Stranger things have happened.
As I waited for the rest of our group to derig and drink an few beers on the deserted beach, I thought – it probably could have gone a whole lot worse.
Cut up and bruised feet sure beat a pile of carbon and styrofoam splinters along the edge of the train tracks.

Steve Bodner
USA-4

Full story at http://stevebodner.blogspot.com






College Windsurfing Nationals

For the first time in years college kids had the chance to race against each other and represent their schools at an inter-collegiate windsurfing race!  The event took place in St Petersburg, Florida and was hosted by the University of South Florida, St Pete and was raced on Kona’s.  The event was small, with only four schools represented, but the hope is that this will become an annual event and participation will grow.  Chris Gardiner from University of Florida took first place, with Solvig Sayre from Eckerd College in second place and Justin Ahearn from University of South Florida, St Pete in third.  The windsurfing team from St Mary’s College also made a strong showing. 

If you are interested in competing next year, or would like more information on how to start a windsurfing program at your school, contact us at info@brokenonpurpose.org.

Wave Sailing!

Junko Nagoshi

Maui Makani Classic women’s winner, Junko Nagoshi

The Maui Makani Classic, held at Ho’okipa Beach Park was the last event of the 2011 American Windsurfing Tour.  You can see the final results and daily reports at http://americanwindsurfingtour.com .  This was the last of the four event tour (five were planned, but hurricane Irene kept the stop in Hatteras from taking place) and planning for the 2012 Tour is well under way.  So work on your moves this winter – you can be part of the tour next year!

The Florida Wave Challenge is planned to take place on one of the next few weekends in November in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  Conditions are looking promising for November 5 & 6 – so get all the details at www.floridawavechallenge.com and head on down to participate in this grass roots wave contest!

World Ice & Snow Sailing Championships come to the US!

wissa 2012With winter on its way in many parts of the United States…..it’s time to start thinking about ice sailing!  And in February of 2012 (just 4 months from now) the World Ice & Snow Sailing Championships will be held in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan in the town of  St Ignace.  There will be classes for windsurfing rig powered, kite powered and hand held wing powered ice craft.  For more information check out http://www.wissa2012.com/  Get your friends together and make your plans – let’s have a big turn out from folks from the US!