wind sports


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I’m currently down in Seward doing boat work in preperation to go seining in the sound this summer. Lucikly the drudgery of pulling an uncooperative cutlass bearing, crimping hydraulic fittings and generally annoying boat work was broken up on saturday by a fantastic three race series at the William H. Seward Yacht Club. Site legend Gary was in town for the races, but opted not to race his own boat but rather to sail Commodore Sam’s Nordic 34 Creola. The racing went well, we sailed conservatively in Race 1 and got beaten, but through races two and three we got progressively faster, and took a pair of victories.

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After a summer away from the Seward sailing scene it was fantastic to get back, see some old familiar faces, and get a couple races in. The day was made all the better by the fact that after listening all week to non stop mocho fisherman talk in the boat yard a couple of quick tacks and a bungled spinakeer hoist made me remember that sailing works me harder then commercial fishing ever has.

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We should be out floating around the sound catching fish and catching up on sleep real soon. I’ll try and keep these pages updated with pictures of fish and boats. Till then….

Ripping on the Dongshow board!

Learning how to windsurf in Alaska has been a challenge. Finding equipment, cold weather, isolation, and instruction are the main hurdles but this weekend I was very fortunate to meet up with Paul. My wife met Paul while setnetting in Kenai Last year, while I was just getting started windsurfing. Turns out Paul was a windsurf instructor in Oregon and was itching at the chance to hook up and windsurf in the cold Alaskan waters. Since the Kenai setnetting season has been a total bust thanks to a dismal king salmon return Paul called me up to see if we could meet up and go windsurfing. Sunday was my only day last week so we had planned on going to the Homer Spit but winds were unusually calm there and everywhere else along the pennisula except for Kenai Lake. We arrived at the Quartz Creek campground around noon to light spotty winds less than 10mph. I was itching to try the new gopro mast mount regardless of winds. Once we were all rigged and suited up the winds picked up a little more maybe 12mph. I was slogging around on the longboard with a 9.0 Severne sail and Paul was on the killing it on the donghshow board with an Ezzy 6.3 sail. 50lbs sure makes a difference! Paul was fully planning with his setup! We came back to the beach to drink a beer and put the big sail on the small board. The wind picked up and.. WOW! Paul was ripping across the lake about 25-30mph. He was stoked on my custom board and so was I seeing it in action! Some of the highlights of the day can be seen HERE but I ran out of card space as we were on the water for 6 hours. Also, while we only had one harness Paul made crafty use of a back pack waist strap and ratchet strap to come up with a sketchy hook in setup to save his arms!  Monday I was totally exhausted. I figured  we probably sailed close to 20 miles and my body is still recovering.

Sorry for the lengthy delay getting this post up.  The week long cruise followed by moving to Cordova caused some lengthy delays in rendering the race video. So anyway, the 2nd White Sails Series (which i missed) has already taken place by the time I got the video of race one up.  Anyway, after last year’s Alaska Cup victory and a nice day of practice on friday, I was going into the first two races feeling pretty confident in our abilities.  Unfortunately as you’ll see in the video our first race was a series of mistakes.  We understood our first layline, and even after a quick set of tacks we managed to run over the mark.  Then despite our penalty turn leaving us buried in last place, our spinnaker run (which would have been better if i’d attached the pole downhaul) had us up in 2nd place before we botched a last minute jibe (norm jibed the boat before Graham and I had a chance to build the pole) and allowed Linda to sneak in and beat us.  Video bellow.  Race 2 went a lot smoother and we finished in 2nd comfortably, but were still a long ways off Inua’s pace.  Kind of a humbling series of races.

I’ve gotten 5 good days on the water since moving here a week ago, both my days off were flat and windless.   The video above is from yesterday afternoon, and as you can see I was so tired that I was struggling to sheet my sail, but is pretty representative of the conditions thus far.  A sample of the lighter conditions can be seen here.  My knee is feeling a lot better, but is still pretty weak.  I’m noticeably more in control on starboard where I’m driving with my no bijanxed left leg.  Pretty thrilled on the winds around here thus far, when out of the east they seem to get channeled coming across the lake making for fantastic sailing about 100 yards from my house.  So far so good.

Saturday night after work, I was bound and determined to get some time on water. The tides were not in my favor at the inlet but i did see a few windsurfers down by portage just pulling out as the tide was getting to low. Headed to portage lake with the wind showing 16 I was getting pumped to impress some tourists! Finally made it into the harness by necessity to save my arms. Cant wait for more wind and it looks like its coming…

Since arriving I’ve gone from being drunk, to being embarrassingly drunk and ranting, to crashing my bike, to mistakenly sleeping on my floor, to hungover, to scratchy, to drunk, to sleepy and back to feeling fine all within a stressful 36 hours or so.  Anyway, today (first day of work) it was completely still all day, then as I was cooking dinner the leaves started rustling, so I walked over to the lake and it was blowing.  Quick run back to the house to grab the van and within 15 minutes of finishing dinner I was enjoying some of the best conditions of my life. Long 10-12 minute planed runs with a super consistent breeze all a 2 minute walk from home. A wonderful evening in the new town.

This is the only video I have thus far, computer is rendering very slowly for some reason, more to come.

Spent the last week sailing with Gary and Norm on Norm’s Catalina 28 down around Nuka Island and back to Seward.  Incredible weather, nothing but warm sunshine, with the bonus of nice breezes in near shore.  I’ll have videos of our disastrous racing a week back and some wildlife footage sooner or later, but I’m still feeling too sleepy and lazy to put much together.

A little video from sailing in Seward last week.

Just back from 4 days of sailing down in Seward, I was getting sick of seeing the picture of the new traveller so I figured I’d put this up as a place holder till I get around to posting some stories or video. Weather and winds were variable, but I had a great couple of days.

I went down to Seward early this week to help Gary instal a new traveler on Maniac and do some work to get ready for the upcoming sailing season.  The new traveler (pictures above) was actually quite easy to install and should help us avoid the extended periods of sloppy sails that plagued our races last season.  For an example check out the video at this link.   After the ease of installing the traveler I guess we were due for some drama, which manifested itself as a leaky mechanical seal (pictured bellow) that let about 25 gallons of water into the cabin before being caught and fixed.  All in all a brief trip to Seward that served to build excitement for getting out on the water in a couple of weeks.

sailing in seward on ressurection bayI spent the weekend sailing aboard Gary’s boat Maniac down in Seward for the Alaska Cup Regatta this weekend.  We had trouble finding crew as the weather on Saturday was nasty (don’t be fooled, the picture above is from Sunday) and people had work, girlfriend or school commitments that kept them elsewhere.  We sailed all weekend slightly under manned, which kept us from flying our spinnaker the first day, and forced us to sail a race (which we won) with a somewhat improvised reef.   We also sailed on saturday with a Columbian crew member who didn’t speak a word of English.  On our second downwind leg our somewhat novice helmsman accidentally jibed the boat (minute 3:50 in the video bellow) while he was on the boom, pitching him into the life lines, how he avoided being tossed overboard still amazes me.

Despite the challenges we got some incredibly lucky weather, and were able to play the tide to our advantage on a few occasions allowing us to eek out a victory.  We took 2nd in the last race to clinch the win by less then half a boat length.  Coming in to the windward finish on starboard we were completely overpowered, and Norm (our rookie helmsman) had the tiller in his chest trying to keep the boat from rounding up.  Our closest rival barged in on port and fouled us just as we were crossing the line, making for a great finish to the regatta.  All in all a fantastic weekend in Seward.  The WHSYC is an amazing place, and through a fantastic party Saturday night, our crew ended up drinking for a little over 8 hours post race, and were all struggling with hangovers pre-race on Sunday.   The only setback was my GoPro having no end of problems on Sunday, so I have next to no footage of any racing in the sunshine.  That said, enjoy the cold gray racing in the rain from Sunday.  Also, if your looking for any more sailing videos I highly suggest Gary’s Kite-cam footage of sailing around outside of Seward.

 

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