Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Kinesiology of Cross Training

While Hatteras is arguably one of the windiest places around, we do have our dry spells... I'm the kind of person who can't really lay dormant for much more than, well, about 12 minutes before I start to go stir crazy. So, if the wind dies, and the ocean is flat, I cross train. Stand up paddling has come to the forefront lately, as has bicycling. Yoga, in varying levels, has been a part of my routine for years now. Can't forget about skate sailing! And finally, I've been on a bit of a tennis kick, too. I don't play as much as I'd like, but there are a few things that I really enjoy about tennis:
  1. Jim K once said: "There's something satisfying about the act of hitting a ball really really hard." I agree with him.
  2. It improves your hand/eye coordination, and improves your ability to react quickly.
  3. A lot of the body movements are very similar to surfing. Just check the pictures below for evidence:
Maria Sharapova Forehand HitAlana Blanchard Frontside Lip Smack
Ummmm... what was I just talking about?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Road Trip Budgeting

Here's the basic scenario:  I'm in Avon, NC at 6 PM.  I need to be in Albany, NY at 8 AM the next morning.  I've done this drive a hundred times, it takes 12 hours with light traffic, and costs ~$26 in tolls (going North, coming South is $4 more).  So, I figure I'm good to go- I've got 2 hours to spare on the timeline.  My wallet is a bit light, but that's what ATM and credit cards are for.

The start of the drive is great, heading up through Pea Island and over the Bonner Bridge.  Anytime I make it over that bridge, I breathe a sigh of relief...  (read why here).  No problem going through Nag's Head, and I decide to stop and hit up a drive thru ATM for toll cash.  Business as usual.   Until no money comes out, and the machine flashes a message saying "card retained."  2 seconds later, the welcome screen comes back on, like nothing ever happened.

"but..."   

Bank's closed for the evening.  A quick check of my wallet reveals substantially less cash than is necessary to make it to Albany.  Ahhhh- my credit card has a cash advance program!  then a sinking feeling as I remember conscientiously not memorizing the pin number, and ripping up the associated papers due to the 24.998756 percent interest on such transactions...

Due to my limited time budget, I start driving again, rationalizing a course of action while underway.  A lot of the toll roads are easy to circumnavigate, but I'm not familiar with the other roads, and how much time it'll add to my trip.  I test the waters on 158 in Currituck, ducking off the highway right before the toll booths.  It takes what I assume to be about 7 extra minutes to take the business route for a few miles before hopping onto 64 in Norfolk.  Not bad, and I saved $2!  I'm well on my way!

Anne's got my back, I call her for computer support, and she advises me of alternate routes, and the time and dough involved.   None of them pass the requirements.  Then she alerts me to the fact that the Bay Bridge Tunnel accepts credit cards for toll payment!  Again, I test out the theory, and find that it's true, but that it took an extra 15 minutes...  At this point I've got about an hour and a half of my original 2 spare hours left.  And there are an awful lot of toll booths left in front of me!

So I plod on, theorizing different solutions.  About 1 am, while talking to Ace, and reluctantly handing over one of my last dollars to a Toll Booth Attendant, Ace says "Oh, dude!  Buy an EZ Pass!"  

Ding ding ding ding ding!  Ace, you're the MAN!  

Filling out the paperwork and getting the EZ Pass activated by the sleepy and uninterested toll booth office guy    
-30 Minutes.  1 hour of spare time left.

One time activation fee   
 -$25, on the credit card.

Blowing by the next toll booth without stopping and opening my empty wallet    
 -Priceless!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Forbidden Fruit" The Tropical Storm Cristobal Story

Today, Guest Blogger Keith writes about his experience sailing Tropical Storm Cristobal! Enjoy!

"Forbidden Fruit" By Keith M.

The first Tropical system of 2008 to directly affect Hatteras Island was on Sunday July 20th. "Cristobal" was just under hurricane strength and just to the south west sending in south east wind at 20 to 30 and surprisingly few rain bands with the sky changing from dark clouds to spotty sunshine from one moment to the next. With the storm in this position every wave sailor around here knows what this means (and even a few kiteboarders:-)) The best organized, peeling, longest wave on the east coast that rivals some of the best breaks in the world. The only problem we have is that it only happens a few times a year if we are lucky. So you could imagine my frustration knowing that access to "the cove" of any kind, walking or driving has been shut down by the Audubon and the DOW. The nearest point to which you can drive a car is a spot we call "the old lifeguard beach" which is the parking lot at the end of the road just as you pass the closed ramp 44 (which takes you to the point if it was open) I've sailed around the point through the shoals before, this certainly is an option to get to the beautiful wave that the cove has to offer, but today...The forecast had me fooled.. they were calling for 3 to 5 inches of rain, thunderstorms and gust to 60 possible later in the day.. not exactly what I'd like to be sailing around in once I get out there.

So there I was looking at the sky, called Andy for the radar report... you could see easily head high long peeling waves in the cove over 1.5 miles away by standing on the dune. My main concern was lightning, some of the bands coming in were pretty dark and sketchy looking. Its much easier to do something stupid when you've got a buddy to do it with.. so Caleb came down and we rigged 4.7's. Launching from Lifeguard Beach, there was a surprising amount of south still in the wind which made the trip to the point full of tacks.. slow going at first.. lots of current on the inside and you had to deal with sloppy head high waves on the way out while under powered.. but with each tack the wind seemed to crank to the east a little more and the next thing I knew I was shooting around the point. The trick here is to come in high and hot and bare off and come right into the point itself where the water is about 16" deep to avoid massive chaotic crashing waves on the shoals and incredible rip currents. I planed through it without incident.. Caleb came in a little too close and caught his fin, got chucked, and restarted.. perfectly acceptable technique when "rounding the horn".

Minutes upon entering the realm of the cove I knew we were in for a treat. I was looking straight down a head high wave peeling for 200 yards, perfectly formed and not a ripple of water on its face. By this time the wind was coming from the perfect direction for wave sailing. One bottom turn after another, I was a kid in a candy store.. lightning? What lightning? This was unreal. With each top turn I grew more confident... you forget how gentle the cove wave is. The sets were clear and easy to pick out... mast high on the outside sets of 4 or 5.. just grab the best looking one.. no need to worry about getting caught on the inside because you are about to ride the longest wave of your life. On one wave I sailed out of the harness so long my arms and legs started to turn to rubber.. there was more wave to go.. but I just kicked out to get into the harness again for a break! Caleb was scoring some nice rides as well. The scale out there is soo huge.. I wish I had a way to dump the images out of my brain for everyone to see. We sailed for about an hour.. heck the sun even came out and started to burn my head!.. The sure way to guarantee that the sun will come out is to NOT put sun screen on. I couldn't believe it, the water was incredibly clear and bluish green.

As low tide approached the current on the inside bar started to increase and at the same time the wind started to slack off a little.. both Caleb and I ended up down in the cove quite a ways from riding a few long waves to the very end.. way too tempting to keep going... and now we couldn't get across the bar... so time for a break.. we waded in waist deep water working our way back up to the point. We had our fun.. and the wind didn't act like it was coming back so we decided to bail. Now that the wind was a little more east, it made getting back fairly easy..not much tacking..just got to round the point and it was a straight shot.. Caleb made it around without incident.. I however got to go on one last ride... this time I got chucked over the bars just on the north side of the point.. and within seconds... I mean seconds.. I was in the rip current of my life.. easily jogging speed and my sail felt like lead, no way could I get it out of the water and thats not the bad part.. the current was and did pull me through 5 or 6 barreling sand sucking head high waves that were breaking into 2 feet of water.. I thought I was done for sure. The wave was actually sand colored since it was sucking up so much sand! What a sight as I got dragged through this ride from hell in quick succession, doing what I could to protect my gear. Through 5 waves in seconds I was losing my breath, gear still intact which I couldn't believe.. through no action of my own I was spit out into a safe zone with no breaking waves, got to catch my breath and water start and get the heck out of there! Due to my disappearance Caleb was already hitting on my wife in the parking lot when I returned. (they don't call him the snake for nothing) claiming I didn't make it. Whew.. was it worth it? would I do it again? I think you know the answer to that:-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cristobal Delivers The Goods...

...and Judge Boyle, the National Audubon Society, and Defenders of Wildlife takes them away!

Here's the scenario: TS Cristobal, approaching from the southwest, brings us overhead waves, and variable, but generally cranking SE winds, and lots of scattered thunderstorms and rain squalls. Basically, an ideal wind and wave setup for the Cove, which doesn't really work anywhere else on the island. Vehicle support, in my opinion, was crucial to provide the tiniest bit of shelter from the quick little lightning storms sliding through.

Most of you are probably familiar with the beach access regulations imposed by the aforementioned groups. Basically, they've forced oversized beach closures through the court systems to protect a few endangered species who nest on our beaches. I have no problem giving wildlife some space, but as it stands right now, they get a lot of space... In fact, the little fledglings at The Point get a kilometer radius of beach all to themselves. That's 1000 meters in all directions, which effectively closes off all human access to The Point and Cove. For comparison's sake, here in NC, sex offenders can live 1000 feet (less than 1/3 the distance) away from schools and daycare centers... Does that make any sense? I understand that the birds are skittish and all, but come on!

So I sat this epic day out, not willing to risk a lightning storm without some form of shelter close at hand. I then got skunked on my Isabel's attempt later in the evening when the wind crapped out. Keith and Caleb did end up sailing to the Cove from the Old Lifeguard Beach, dodging rain squalls and shooting the shoals to score 200 yard long lefts, reportedly about logo high in the sets! Those guys are Bad Ass! (and possibly a little wind starved and reckless to risk their lives for a sesh)

Friday, July 18, 2008

If only my brain...

...had a video recorder, you could all be basking in the same happy glow that I am at the moment! Picture, if you can, a cloudless sky, crystal clear blue water, and an overhead swell hitting the outside bars... Ahhhh.... It feels so good to get back in the water!!

Drew, Kevin and I have been trading off shifts at the shop(s) today. If I head out for another surf, I'll bring my camera and try to snap off a few shots for y'all! I hope you have a great afternoon!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More fun waves from TS Bertha!

Bertha has left us a fun little swell to play with the last few days! There's been a bit of wind, too, a few days of moderate South, and a day or two of slightly more juicy NE. The last four days would have been just perfect SUP sailing... Just 2 more days till my stitches come out, and I'll be back out there! I bet the lighthouse was pretty fun today, but there would have been an awful lot of dodging and weaving around surfers and swimmers...

I grabbed a few pictures of Drew SUPing Monday afternoon. There was a killer sunset, along with an almost full moon. Very cool evening light. I bet Drew had a better view from the water than I had from the beach! Anyway, check out the pics and this short video I shot!

video

PurrrtyFind the surfer!Again, find the surfer!PurrrtierPurrrtiest!!

Carina just put up a bunch of great surf shots from over the weekend! Check them out here!

The tropics are coming alive right now! I'm getting pretty excited to get some waves and wind. I feel like everyone here has been pushing themselves lately. It'll be really fun to see what happens when we get some real conditions! I think we'll see some gnarly wave riding and jumping this season, everyone's been super amped to go huge! I wonder how much gear we'll destroy in the process?!

The PWA Pozo event just finished up, as well. They saw some huge winds (as usual) with Pro Men on 3.0-3.5 meter sails! These guys (and gals) are throwing insane moves, planing out of double forwards, huge tweaked push loops, etc. And the big news, of course, is Ricardo Campello's Triple Forward Loop attempt! Holy $###! Check out some great video of the action on windsurfjournal's WJTV page. Day 10's super session is ridiculous!! (and it's got a few different vantage points of Ricardo's insanity)... Well worth the download time!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Never be without a SUP. Never.

**Update, 7/16/08: Yikes! I just re-read this post and realized what a Negative Nancy I sound like! Please note- Not having the perfect board for the conditions is absolutely not what kept me out of the water! In my opinion, surfing chopped up blown out waves is still way more fun than sitting on the beach complaining... I've got three more days on "dry dock" until I get some stitches out, and then I'll be good to go, regardless of whether I have the right stick or not!

Original post as follows:

Aaagh... I sold my SUP a few weeks ago and haven't gotten a replacement yet. Stupid stupid stupid... Last night would have been the raddest SUP sailing session of the year, hands down. Dead side shore winds at 8-20, and an overhead long period swell courtesy Tropical Storm Bertha provided a few fun rides for Anne, Drew, and Kevin on their surfboards. They definitely had a good time, but the tool of choice, if the whole world of toys were available, would have been a SUP and a 5.0. Check out Drew's perspective of the evening here!

Anne negotiates the shorebreak
Kevin drops in as Drew gets closed out!
Drew takes a left
Every aspect of this picture is cool, except for the fact that no single part of it is in focus...
Kev dropping in to a nice peak

Yup, I should've kept my SUP...

Friday, July 11, 2008

News Tidbits

#1: Mo' 5.0! Seems like it's windy everyday. Wednesday evening was my 100th windsurfing session of 2008! Frisco George and I sailed the Hole towards sunset. It was really gusty, and pretty weedy, but still a lot of fun. I put together a very short, admittedly odd movie from a few very brief and unimpressive video clips Anne took. Ahem... let me clarify, before I get in trouble- the action is the unimpressive part, not the amazing videography!! To make the movie longer than 8 seconds, I seamlessly joined it with another short clip I made from a sunset SUP tour a few weeks ago. Stuart and I braved the waters, right about feeding time. Don't get frightened!

video

#2: The Island Free Press has posted a nice online article that covers the Hatteras Loopfest 2008!! If you don't feel like reading, it is still worth scrolling down to the bottom of the page to check out lots of great pictures in the slideshow!

#3: There's a small but fun swell hitting the beaches today, a direct result of Hurricane Bertha! Anne and I are the undisputed sacrificial surfers, so everyone can thank us for leaving the island just as the swell started to hit.

#4: Wear your sunscreen, fellow sun worshippers! One of the reasons I'm off island right now is to get a few suspicious bumps chopped off, before they cause any real problems... beyond ruining my career as a model...

#5: The other reason we've left Hatteras is to join in some family fun, celebrating my cousin Jeanne's wedding! Yeeeeehaw! See y'all tomorrow!

#6: While I'm gone, feel free to call the shop and bug Drew or Kevin for any of your windsurfing needs. Make sure to relentlessly quiz them on things like fin screw thread and length!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

4th of July, May and June Wrap-ups

The Fourth of July was classic in 2008! Great SW wind, and a million people made for a really fun day. Anne and I nabbed a lit up 5.0 session at the Hole, dodging and weaving between splashing kids and attempted kayakers in the 25 knot winds. After a quick 45 minute sesh, we ran back to the shop, where we had a great evening of live music, barbecuing, and some beers. The Avon fireworks display gets shot off right across the street at the Pier, so we had a great place to hang out and watch the show. Somehow, a few of the bombs didn't launch, and they blew a big hole in the Pier and caught it on fire! Whoops! Carina's got a video of the carnage here!

Some of the Party Attendees
It's been pretty windy for the last few days, but I must be feeling sick or something, because I haven't felt like sailing... Instead, Anne, Drew and I have been doing these long downwinders on the stand up boards. I have to admit, they've been really fun. The waves haven't been that great, and the wind was pretty lame too, gusting from 10 to 20 some odd mph, so just being out in the ocean on SUPs has seemed like the best way to take advantage of the marginal conditions. It's pretty fun catching little nuggets of open ocean swell, getting some exercise, and its just plain old rejuvenating to be on the water. Can't complain about that!

Here's Anne, last night at the Hole. She and I took turns on my 5.7, and got a great view of the sunset!


Just realized that I forgot to do a May and a June end of month wrap-up... So here are the raw stats:

May:

15 Sessions Windsurfing (5.7 and up x3, 5.0 x6, 4.2 x6, 85 liter board x12, bigger x3)
only 2 Surf sessions ?!?!
14 in a 3/2
3 in trunks

June:

11 sessions windsurfing (5.7 x6, 5.0 x5, 85 liters x7, bigger x4)
again, only 2 surf sessions ?!?!
Every session was in trunks

Bear in mind, I broke my hand on May 16th, and was out of the water until June 15th... So the 1st half of May was insanely windy! And the same could be concluded pertaining to the last half of June!! I know I missed a few 4.2 days, lots of 5.0 days, and two really fun looking swells while I was all casted up... So it's been an awesome few months down here on Cape Hatteras! Come on down and join us for some more!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Non-Stop Fun!!

It never freaking ends in Cape Hatteras! I'm so tired. I really just need to take a day off from the water, but fun conditions won't stop taunting me... By the way- I've heard a lot of complaining by my Northeast windsurfing brethren about a lack of wind. Get your butts down here! As we speak, another Bermuda high is parking itself out there, so we're due to score massive amounts of SW wind, every afternoon for the next 6 days!! Moving on...

Find the Surfer!
The last few days have provided moderate SW winds every evening, and small but fun waves just about every morning. So, Dawn surf sessions in the light offshore breeze, and evening windsurf or kite sessions to round out your day! Gotta love the multi sport days!

Drew Dropping InAnne, about to tuck into an Insta-Barrel!The view from out backAnne and I took out the Starboard Gemini the other night and blasted around Canadian Hole, dodging little kids swimming in the shorebreak. We felt like celebrities as the sun lowered and the colors came out in the sky. Flashes were popping off left and right from countless people hanging on the beach, grabbing a nice sunset picture for their family vacation photo albums.

Last night, the wind came up, but we decided to switch it up a bit. Instead of windsurfing, we did our first Stand Up Paddleboard downwinder! I'll tell you what, it was Really fun! We had the whole sound to ourselves, except for all the birds and fish trying to get one last snack before nightfall.

Cruising by the million dollar mansionsWe paddled the length of Avon, from Kinnakeet Shores to the little neighborhood back behind the DQ (the Colony). The sun was gone by the time we made it to the canals, so we had to pick our way around the maze to find a good place to land. We ended up finding a brand new dock on an undeveloped lot, about 75 yards from where we live! Perfect! I love living on a small island!

The GraveyardAnne, trying to find her way home
On our way past a couple watching the sunset from their dock, they asked us what the heck we were doing. I replied that I was taking my girlfriend out for a "poor man's sunset cruise." Anne noted that she was most certainly not just along for the ride, as the term cruise usually implies. And yes, she does have the calluses to prove my inadequecy at providing a catered and cushy evening experience!

One last thing: We got the latest edition of the New England Windsurfing Journal yesterday! Seems like many of the East Coast bloggers ditched the screen and keyboard for some good old fashioned paper and ink! George scored the cover shot and a great article inside about sailing Assateague, Michael reported on the Long Island Unofficial East Coast Windsurfing Festival, and I wrote a story about sailing in the Cove right here on Hatteras Island! And, I was happy to read an update from Dana Miller, a sailing buddy of mine who's been on the West coast for way too long!! Starting to really miss ya out here, man! Maybe the lure of Hurricane Swell will reel you back in to the Hatteras lifestyle?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bermuda High Day 3 (aka The Hatteras LoopOff), Day 4, and Day 5!!!

I don't know where to start........ It's been just perfect here on Hatteras Island. The Bermuda High parked itself for 5 days straight of 20+ warm SW wind. This is pure Hatteras Summer, as good as it gets. We've had a nice little swell the whole time, too, averaging waist to a bit overhead in the best sets.

A whole lot of this, for 5 days straight! (Photo: Janice Markoupolis)
The LoopOff was super fun! It took place Saturday afternoon at Ego Beach. The sandbar set up was far from ideal, with only an inside shorebreak bar, but there were enough bumps outside to toss a few good loops! Lots of people showed up at the beach to sail, kite, watch, cheer, etc... Great energy for an afternoon of fun! Many thanks go out to all the people involved- organizers, sponsors, participants, onlookers, photographers, videographers, and judges! You all made this event a great success!! We're still going through close to 1000 pictures (literally), so it'll be a while before much gets posted up...

In the meantime, dear readers, please visit the Loopfest Sponsors page, and "Support the Folks Who Support the Stoke!!!"

The Scene: Ken K goes for one, minus the board! (Photo: Janice Markoupolis)The Scene: Action and Photographers everywhere! (Photo: Anne Kennedy)After Event Party, from L to R: Me (Most Loops), Donny (Master's), Keith (The King), Bill (Best Crash), and Jeff (Best Loop) (Photo: Janice Markoupolis)
In the meantime, Lane put together a short video of some of the action, which you can watch here!! Also, be sure to check out Bill's coverage HERE! And finally, to see one million awesome pictures of the action, check out George's blog HERE!

Sunday provided much the same....

Unknown on a nice long line!Jay jibes into a sweet one!
Monday provided much the same... but a bit gustier. After a quick Ego session, I joined Anne, Drew, and Mark at the Hole. Anne was killing it, carving through some of her best lit up step jibes I've ever seen, and Drew finally put it all together and got LIT UP, reaching supersonic speeds with a moderate semblance of control! Nice!!

Mark, "Insta-Jibe" (Photo: Stuart)Drew (outgoing) at Mach 5 (Photo: Stuart)The sky was really cool last night, with lightning flashing inside that huge cloud bank every few minutes.