Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2010 Florida Wave Challenge a wave sailing contest, a one day event, held on the first windy Saturday or Sunday of a 3 week contest window. The November contest's weekend date will be:  6 or 7 / 13 or 14 / 20 or 21. Detailed event information is found on the Florida Wave Challenge  website.  Event organizer, Bruce Thomas, started the Windsurfing Forecast. This page houses the daily windsurf forecast, on the scene video reports, the offshore buoy forecasts and Tweets during the event. Also new this year is FWC Facebook. Check out the Event Tab at the top of the FB page.

As a judge who has watched every heat of every event, I'd like to share a few of the best tips from this Boardseeker article by Ben Proffitt:
  • Take bigger kit than you would when freesailing. You need to be able to get upwind, plane and get height in your jumps so you don’t want to be underpowered!
  • Position yourself in front of the judges. It’s amazing how much better things look to a judge when it’s closer up!
  • Fill your score-sheet quickly and then build up from there. It’s no good doing ride after ride if you’re lacking a jump.
Ben offers 11 tips in all. Read the entire article, Checklist of Champions

These are the judges' scoring guidelines which show the point range for wave rides and the different moves (click image to enlarge).

Monday, October 18, 2010

A fortnight of highlights from DaNews

There's a lot to digest in 120 + entries from DaNews. This week's blog highlights some of the reporting from the first 2 weeks of October.

Luderitz may sound like the name of some Balkan rapper but it's not. It's the place in Namibia, just north of South Africa, where kiting regained the World's Fastest Sailing Speed over 500 meters record, again.  Paul Larsen of the Sailrocket syndicate wrote, "So how do these speeds affect us? Well they vindicate our decision to park the old boat and build a new one. I'm pretty sure that the speeds are also out of practical reach of all the other boats we have seen to date. Part of the reason I say this is because I think that the kites still have a few knots up their belt. They are not subject to the same issues of ventilation and cavitation that windsurfers and boats are, well not to the same degree anyway, and with a few readily available tools they can make an ideal course. That's a big part of the equation..." Windsurfers who have gone to this event usually come back less than thrilled with the course. BIG Congratulations to Alex Caizergues and his new record of 54.1 knots. That's over 100 kph and 62.25 mph. The video below shows Anders Bringdal being chased on the Luderitz course. More here: Speed Challenge website  

Epic Sessions TV did the video first. The Beach Telegraph interviewed Mark Angulo a week or so later. Mark said, " First things first. I would be remiss to not state the obvious, most of the maneuvers all of us are doing should be considered 360s. Goiters and Takas being counterclockwise [at Ho’okipa] and carving 360s, aerial 360s and Mutants being clockwise. As we progress into landing tail first, or taking off tail first for that matter, than we enter into the realm of 540s and then 720s...Many get confused with the many different names we have for them all, but in reality these descriptions do serve a practical purpose..." The rest here: Mutant Definition. The Jimmie Hepp photo (above) of Mark Angulo's latest ride only punctuates that he's a different kind of windsurfer.

On Maui, the first swell of the season is expected by mid September. The video below records that first, true swell of the season.  Hookipa by Happy Surfer is another video from the same day.

Tropical systems, especially hurricanes, are a fact of life on the U.S. eastern seaboard and September is usually the most active month. Hurricane Earl brought his winds to Lake Erie.

Maybe the most unusual crossover story in awhile: EFX sports bands are being worn by the entire North Sails Windsurfing Team. I'm not going to get into what these bands do but they seem to be the latest rage everywhere. Gollito's wearing one...must improve his balance...OK, that's why he's Freestyle World Champion ??? North Sails | EPX

Longtime iWindsurf Forum heavy hitter, Warren Thomas aka Wardog,  is still in the windsurfing business. Zane Schweitzer writes "Yesterday I met up with Warren the number one Starboard SUP distributor for the US..." While in California, looks like Zane ran into someone from back home. Zane's World | Ledbetters ands Jalama

The new website, Flow, is an acronym: for ladies of windsurfing. The tutorial, The Waterstart, takes advice from a bunch of name brand windsurfers to help you get better at one of windsurfing's most important skills.  The Waterstart 

Do you remember Burkard Vierth, the New Zealand fin maker, who was all the rage in the early days of the light wind Formula revolution?  He was so back ordered for his fins, that he stopped taking new orders...Overwhelmed by the demand and the endless hours of production, he disappeared for a couple of years to Europe on an educational sabbatical. He resurfaced doing prototype work for Maui Sails and helped create arguably the best carbon boom in the industry. Now, re established as a fin maker...he made the New Futura Fin  for Starboard. We all know him as Boogie.

The beauty of windsurfing in far off exotic locales is too compelling to ignore. While DaNews does focus on North America (hey we're beautiful too), almost everyday there is a new video of some dreamy I wanna go there place.  Here's a perfect example.

The PWA World Tour usually finishes at Sylt, Germany in early October. This mega event puts more eyes on windsurfing than any other single event in our sport. Now that reporting is coupled with live web casting, the viewership for windsurfing is definitely amped and forever changed. If you're gaga for windsurfing, then celebrate 2010, truly a breakthrough year. Live web casting, hopefully, is here to stay. The PWA still takes great photos (John Carter) and videos. Get a sample of the live web casting on their website.

A Solo Sports vacation cost real money. The volumes of reporting about this Baja landmark indicate one thing: it's worth the money. OK, I've never been but I'm getting a better picture of when to go. This year, starting in late August going through October, there was a steady stream of week long wave sailing clinics by windsurfing's best instructors. They must know something. This Clive Boden video, whose famously humorous learning to loop video is one of my all time favorites, once again showcases the mighty splendor of Baja.

 DaNews  | A daily windsurfing news digest

Sunday, October 10, 2010

David Wells launched his new website early this year. He writes, "Waterhound is a Global Water Sports information and entertainment website dedicated to preserving and enhancing the waterman lifestyle." His multi watersports approach is different and unique for the U.S. This website explores new synergys of community, promotion and cross pollination.
DaNews thanks David for taking the time to do this interview.

Let's start with some traditional background questions: Married? Family? How long have you lived in San Francisco? Schooling? How old? Etc.?

I was born and raised in the Bay Area mostly on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, in Marin County, but have called San Francisco proper my home for the last twenty years; always living within a mile or so away from Crissy Field’s east beach. Since I have a rule of never driving away from wind, and Crissy is almost always windy, that’s where you find me most often. Tomorrow is my birthday (Oct 10) and I am 41 years old on the outside but 14 on the inside. I have an awesome wife of 10 years and am blessed with a 5 ½ year old little girl who is the light of my life!

You've started a website about water sports. I'm pretty sure you windsurf and race Formula. Tell us about your windsurfing passion, how you came to the sport, when and where. Are you fluent in any other water sports?

I started windsurfing in 1979. My dad used to run a Sun Tan Lotion company that sponsored a Pan Am Windsurfing Racing Team. At the end of one season we got the teams old boards. What I wouldn’t give to still have them. They were absolute works of art with airbrushed naked Hawaiian ladies on the bottom. We took the boards down to the local shop and traded them for two complete windsurfing set ups. We used to take family vacations in the delta every year and it was there I experienced my first sensation of popping on to a plane. I will never forget the exhilaration of this massive board flying across the water I was hooked.  Although I love windsurfing I consider myself first a sailor. Windsurfing and Kiteboarding to me are just derivations of sailing. I started sailing dinghy’s as part of a yacht club run junior sailing program and some day hope to have the cash flow to own a sailboat – Cal 40 to be exact. Doing the Trans Pac on my own Cal 40 is high on my bucket list right behind the HiHo. As for other water sports I have been surfing for just as long as I have been windsurfing but always found windsurfing to just be more fun – more continuous action – and loved the jumping aspect of it. 

I started SUPing about 3 years ago and have become completely addicted. I like both flat-water paddling and SUP surfing and now will only prone surf if it’s barreling 8-10 ft or bigger. Kiteboarding is on my list of things to do. But my garage and van are completely overflowing with toys and I am pushing my wife’s tolerance and until she gets a new car it’s not gonna happen. It’s only a matter of time though. My philosophy for water sports is what I call the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ approach. The conditions dictate which blade (sport) to pull out.
How would you describe your website, Waterhound? Walk us through how the idea came about, all the way to your first day of operation. It's got a great name. Where did that come from?

Waterhound is purely a result of my solving a personal problem and trying to help grow event participation. I was finding myself subscribed to 10 newsletters and following umpteen blogs and it was just a hassle. I thought “wouldn’t it be nice if there was just one place for me to go?” Since I love all the sports, and I was already going to all these places, it was just one more step to put them all in one place. On the second front I felt it was really a shame how poor the information flow was surrounding local events. Out here in the Bay Area we have some of the World’s top Kiteboarders and Windsurfers but the event coverage was literally nil. I thought to myself that it would really help grow participation if we really covered these events like the local papers cover the pro games. So that’s what I try to do. One of my biggest compliments of all time came in an iWindsurf thread from some guys in SoCal who, after reading my Windsurfing race reports, told me it had reignited their stoke and they were going to start racing again! I blushed at my monitor. I’ll touch on why I think events and/or racing/competition are so important in a later question. The name actually came from an iterative brain storm and a few beers. It actually started out as Rover Water Sports. The whole idea came from a chance reading of the incredible maritime history of the Newfoundland dog. I was blown away by this literal waterman’s dog and how it embodied all the good things about the waterman in a symbolic and very cute animal. Essentially what the St Bernard is to snow the Newf is to water.  Back to the beers and some godaddy domain searching and Waterhound was born. 

Is Waterhound a full time job? Do you make money doing Waterhound?

By trade I am a web developer so Waterhound serves a second purpose beyond giving me my water sports fix. It also serves as a showcase for all the various elements that a website can operate. That’s why it’s so big and chock full of so many things. Video, Photos, Calendars, Social networking etc. The site does make money in that my hosting fees are paid and all the hard dollar expenses are recovered but it’s not real money. It does however generate quite a few leads for my website development business so I guess in that respect it does.

You live in a water sports rich area, San Francisco. Does your locale factor in the focus of your reporting?

Yes and no. Given my focus on the local events it’s a definite yes but I try to give the site what I call a global coverage with a North American focus. What I really love is seeing a local Cal Cup Windsurfing story right next to a PWA story on my front page! That’s what it’s all about for me on the local level. Elevating the local events with the goal of growing participation in them.

Did you build your website? Nerd us up a little with some website building talk and how you were capable of doing such a thing.

I built the whole thing all by my lonesome. About 3 years ago I was blown away by what I saw as a major revolution in the way websites are built. Historically individual HTML pages were built and linked together but the advent of the Content Management System (CMS) in my opinion was going to completely turn that in to an antiquated past time and I saw the opportunity to be a part of it. After a deep review of all the CMS options (Drupal, Wordpress, etc) I settled on Joomla and am glad I did. It’s an amazing tool with an incredibly rich community behind it. My clients are blown away but I am delivering to them in look and functionality for a fraction of what they think it would cost. Joomla also gives the clients the ability to run a lot of the site without the need for a developer. While at first glance that might not seem like the best business model for me it generates a lot of referrals.
Reporting on almost every water sport seems ambitious. Do you give equal time to them all or do you favor some more than others?

Basically, Surfing and Sailing are pretty well covered so on Waterhound they are a bit of the red headed step children. In those areas I am pretty much just a content aggregator as the industry is already pretty well served. I really focus my energy on Windsurfing, Kitesurfing, and Paddling where I see a big gap in the coverage. In the paddling space I emphasize SUP, Paddleboard, Outrigger and Surfski paddling. Occasionally Kayaking, Canoeing and white water makes it in there when it’s warranted. The focus across all the sports is on the People and the Events. While I have a gear section for all it’s definitely a second, ok a third tier effort. Because it’s so much content my 3 times a week newsletter is something I am really quite proud of. It’s like getting the water sports world summarized to your inbox in a digestible format. 

What music would be playing in your head, on the water, when you're in the zone?

Lately it’s the Fresh Beat Band. That’s my daughter’s favorite and she has it on continuous repeat in every audio device we own. I wish I could shake it but it’s like a cranial audio tattoo! Left to my own devices my favorite bands are Midnight Oil, Bob Marley, Steel Pulse, and lately The Killers.

Favorite post sesh food?   Hops and Barley.

Top 3 water sports you most admire.

Small Boat Dinghy Sailors, Windsurfers, Kiteboarders.

How important is news reporting to water sports?

Mainly it’s just entertainment. However with respect to racing and events it’s pretty important. For every racer you build it’s my opinion you influence 10 people in their circle to consider the sport recreationally. In other words it’s a growth multiplier. To me racing and competing does two things that are important. It progresses the level of ability in the sport and it results in significant improvements in the equipment. Both of which benefit the sport as a whole at least that’s my 2 cents.

Your favorite windsurfing media outlet?

It’s the French site the Windsurf Journal. These guys just seem to be on the same page as me. While they have a different level of focus it’s just a great site.  

Your favorite blog, other than this one?

I get to choose two – First its Beej over at the Beach Telegraph for his great news, industry, event coverage in a quick easy to read format. And then it’s Maui Surf Report. Giampaolo’s killer photos, nice write ups, and more people focused coverage help give me my Island fix even though I can’t be there. Ok the girl pictures are nice too.

David Wells right before the 2010 U. S. Nationals

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sailing blind

Demographics | First look | My Poli-Sci studies at FSU, 40 years ago, introduced me to the topic of demographics. For the most part, this kind of stuff is major boring unless the subject is something you can personally connect with. We all know windsurfing has declined from its heyday but has it leveled off; is it growing again? To answer this, it would be helpful to do a survey of all the assets. Assets? We are the assets: our businesses, organizations, clubs, websites and blogs. Such a survey would help a Windsurfing Czar, in charge of further developing the sport. He/She would know where to send resources to strengthen the under performing areas...Seriously, no one is in charge. We're just like an organic garden flourishing wherever we are, as best we can. Ask the question: Are we growing or are we slowing? Next year or the year after, there might be an answer.

The Community section in the Learners guide defines the following windsurfing entities (or assets) : retailers, professional instructors forums, email groups, associations, clubs blogs, websites all of which are integral parts of our real community. Taking information from the guide to see where we live and what we do is a study in demographics. For me, the Community directory serves a more basic function: helping everyone find everyone else. Let's breakdown some of the U.S.

Florida | California | Gorge | Hatteras | Maui | NY | Texas
  • How many windsurfing business entities15 | 17 | 21 | 6 | 26 | 2 | 5
  • How many non business groups ?   6 | 7 | 5 | 0 | 0 | 4 | 8
  • How many websites/blogs?  6 | 14 6 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 1
  • How many places to rent gear and or get lessons?  10 | 8 | 9 | 4111 | 4
Are there any conclusions?  The most concentrated areas of windsurfing businesses are the Gorge and Maui. Duh. Hatteras, the Mid-Atlantic dream destination is not as robust compared to the aforementioned areas. My state, Florida, hangs pretty well against California, the most populated state in the U.S.. Take a look at the Learners guide and visit some of the windsurfing communities...See how much we love this sport !!

Bloggersville | Google's mega blogging empire has spiced up its page layouts with new templates which turn the traditional blog into a mini website. The Speedsurfing Blog demonstrates the new look. If you're a little intimidated by the responsibility of keeping your blog fresh with new material, then share the writing with your friends like this blog does: Miami Windsurfer - Addiction Support Group (also using a new options). Graham Ezzy has one more year to go at Princeton. He has a new blog: surf-matic waves, culture, aphorisms.

Sailing blind | Xavier Mandico, 42, lost his sight many years ago because of a genetic disease and exposure to high altitude solar radiation. Unafraid of sports, he's relatively new to windsurfing. Hector Garcia with the Surf Center, Arte Vida in Tarifa, Spain said, "I thought, how will I teach and navigate this man? Gradually, I became convinced and confident that this was not a frivolous whim." He worked together with Mandico to develop a program so other blind windsurfers could experience the thrill of speed, wind and salt water. Using a radio in a waterproof bag strapped to his chest, Mandico was able to receive verbal instruction while on the water. Absent the radio, a sighted windsurfer would sail close enough to yell instructions, which does not work as well because of the noise of the wind and waves.

Blind windsurfers must have knowledge of the environment, weather conditions and of course, a good communication system. Teaching is basically the same as with a sighted person. The blind athlete must create in his mind a map of his immediate environment. Trusting your navigator/instructor is vital. Finally, using a  slightly floatier board helps immensely. The only one who has reservations about this endeavor is Maka, Mandico's Detroit trained guide dog, who must be restrained every time his master leaves the beach. Photos

Facebook | Events | Need an internet address to share the details of an upcoming event? Utilize the power of FB to post up all the info. Invite all your non FB friends to view. How to set up an Event

The origins of windsurfing | Alexandria, Minnesota | Al Seltz, 79, remembers the summers of 1960 and '61 when out on the L’Homme Dieu Bay he started doing something just like windsurfers: standing up while you sail. It would be almost a decade before windsurfers would emulate what Seltz had done in Minnesota. He sailed a Sail King, designed by local builder, Lou Whinnery. In order to change direction while standing on the sailing surfboard, he had to hold the main sheet line in his teeth while switching hands on the tiller. Standing while sailing took skill, but the boat design allowed it to heel with no loss of steerage or stability.  “It was simply more fun to sail that way. It was a challenge, but also more of a thrill. There was a sense of speed way beyond what you were really going, and a sensation of being close to your source of power.” Does his new sailing stance for single handed sailboats rise to the level of originator of windsurfing? Probably not. He can certainly claim early pioneer status for his spirit of experimentation. During the last 40 years, windsurfing has been a developmental enterprise whose hallmarks of experimentation, innovation and trial and error will most likely continue for the next 40 years. I'm not sure if Al Seltz ever took up windsurfing, but if he did, he'd surely have fit right in.

Postcript | Seltz, recently wrote for the Echo Press about his research on the early days of windsurfing.

PWA | Sylt, Germany | The 2nd PWA event in the new Age of Live Video Coverage improved on all the bells and whistles we expect from mainstream sports coverage. Color commentator, Ben Proffitt's constant descriptive chatter kept the audience engaged even though the far offshore race course was hard to see. The race course had to follow the wind, and the distance from the camera was disappointing. The GPS Live Tracking needs work. With racers entering the competition area for their next race, it was hard to keep track of who was racing and who was not. Plus, the on screen IDs are too large. The Freestyle coverage also suffered from less than ideal camera distance. Dealing with the lack of wind drove the announcers into interview overdrive which, for the ones I saw, were worthwhile and interesting. In one, Robby Swift said to choose more volume for your quad. The live commentary introduced the Sheep, Poodle and Flying Camel. Do you know who they are?  Having Robby Naish and Kai Lenny at the event to entertain with some no wind SUPing was pretty cool.