Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Racing Takes Center Stage

The American Windsurfing Tour is helping focus a national spotlight on competitive windsurfing in North America. Their helping hands reached out and saved the annual US Windsurfing National Championship event which had been cancelled at the last minute. With broad industry support, the AWT has now truly defined itself as a show case for all the unique disciplines of windsurfing: wave sailing, racing and freestyle. I've always liked the the name of this organization and with the recent success of the Nationals in Hood River, their name makes even more sense. The umbrella has been opened. They are now a truly American Windsurfing Tour.

US Windsurfing National Championship Rewind · Event Site, Hood River, Oregon - Phil McGain won the 2012 US National Championship in Course Racing (Formula) and Slalom. Wyatt Miller won the Freestyle Title. Photos from every day are found here. Daily reports below include videos.

If you visit the AWT website wanting to catch up on a multiple day event, go to the RSS Feed to find what you're missing. Event reporting and ultimately its promotional impact for the sport and the Tour is what makes the AWT so outstanding as an organization. Just as the PWA has learned, reporting your event is massively important for nurturing the success of future events.

The Formula North American Championship was held in San Francisco with 23 competitors who finished the competition just the day before the US Nationals began. Brazilian Wilhelm Shurmann won the Championship. This event shared the stage with the Kite Racing North American Championship. For most of the reporting, including daily video summaries go to this page. And for more day by day detailed race reports, go to Steve Bodner's Blog here.

The Maui Race Series wrapped up for the year with the Neil Pryde Hawaii State Championship. Buzianis won the final contest of the 5 race series. And yes, Phil McGain, after winning the US Nationals, made the starting line on Saturday, July 28 at Kanaha Beach Park. Seems covering ground is a McGain speciality in more ways than one. Maui News reported: "McGain also was a little tired from a week of racing and airline travel. He won national titles in Formula racing and slalom at the U.S. Windsurfing National Championships in Hood River, Ore., that ended on Thursday. 'I was pretty pleased, I sailed well all week,' McGain said. 'I made very few mistakes.' In 12 races at the nationals, McGain didn't fall once. But he crashed in that third heat of the Pro A division. 'It was a lapse of concentration,' McGain said. 'My mind and body are a little bit tired. I was so focused on the nationals, it was hard to focus today. Micah sailed very well. But I like to think I gave him a run for his money.' " Harry Wiewel Photos ~ Jimmie Hepp Photos

With the US Nationals out of the way, the AWT is now down in Punta San Carlos, Baja at Solo Sports running the Quatro Desert Showdown.

Olympic Live Streaming is available from NBC. Yes, they are covering RS:X racing which starts on Tuesday, July 31, 7:00 am EDT (noon UK time - 5 hours earlier than the US east coast). I watched the first part of the Finn Class Race 1 Monday night. The quality of the broadcast is stunning, just as you'd expect if it was on TV. There is no commentary. Now the hard part. Go here http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/ and answer their questions about your account with your cable provider. If you want to watch the live broadcast or the replays, you will have to prove it is your account by submitting your account name and password. Yikes, kinda scary, huh?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SQ · Neil Pryde · Brian McDowell · Kai Lenny · CGWA Windfest

Sarah Quita Offringa is the reigning PWA Women's Freestyle and Slalom World Champion. She plans to compete in only 2 events this year which means there is no chance she can defend her World Titles. (However, if she wins the freestyle event at Fuerte and they can't consummate the event in Vietnam, she could win the World Freestyle Title because this year there are only 2 events left to determine the world champion.) SQ said, "I'm doing freestyle in Fuerte and slalom in Turkey. I needed to make a choice between studies and windsurfing. Next year will probably be the same story...I think studying was the right one to choose since I now have only one and a half years to go !!"

DaNews: Why only 2? Were your sponsors good with only 2 events?

SQ: These 2 are the only events that don’t collide with my studies. Besides that many events were cancelled as well. Yes my sponsors have been very supportive and I really am very grateful to Starboard and Maui Ultra Fins for understanding my situation and even encouraging me to pursue my studies.

Did you compete in the Aruba Hi Winds?

No I didn’t. I decided to stay in Europe this year. My semester ended on the 29th of June. I would’ve been able to make it on time, it's just that I wouldn’t be able to spend more than 10 days in Aruba as I would have to leave for competition soon after. So I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it long enough.

When does the school year end and how long is summer vacation? When do classes start in the Fall? 

My last semester ended on the 29th of June. And I think I start again around the 9th of September. So a bit more than 2 months. Nice time to recover from the studies and go into my third year fully motivated again.

What university are you attending?  What are you studying? When will you graduate? 

I study science and innovation management at the University of Utrecht. I just completed my 2nd year of my bachelor and technically have one more year to go. But last year I decided to skip my last semester so I could compete on tour so automatically I failed my classes. This means I need at least 6 months extra to finish. If all goes well then I’ll be done by January 2014. I am planning to pursue a master’s degree after that though.

Have you added any new linguistic skills to your impressive list of languages?

Hahaha no I haven’t…. I’m getting more and more fluent in Spanish and French though so I’m happy about that. It’s definitely my goal to become fluent in these two languages besides Dutch, English and Papiamento. After that I want to pursue Portuguese and Italian and German eventually.

You chose studies over windsurfing. Was that hard to do and was it a good decision?

It wasn’t hard to make the decision. I already knew that windsurfing isn’t everything for me in the sense that I get bored really fast if I only do one thing. So by doing studies on the side I stay motivated to get on the water and because of windsurfing I can get things off my mind and relax so that afterwards I am motivated to study again.

Sticking to the decision is harder. I really enjoy what I’m studying at the moment… What’s hard is that I moved to Holland to pursue my studies. So the change of environment and having to adapt to it accordingly is the biggest challenge. No matter what I think it was a good decision as I have learned so much already which I can use in everyday life. Windsurfing has been put a little bit on a hold because of it though and to be honest… That sucks. But it’s temporary and as soon as I finish I can get on the water again!

Did you go home to Aruba after the school year ended? When will you arrive in Fuerte? 

No I stayed in Europe because I wouldn’t be able to stay long enough. If I’m going back home I want to stay at least a month !! I’m currently in Fuerte. I love sailing here but every year I forget how hard the conditions actually are so the first day always requires you to get used to the strong winds in super choppy water. Once you get the hang of it, you have a lot of fun :)

As a college student in a cold country, do you get much time to windsurf?

No I don’t. I’ve tried to come to an agreement with my university where I’d be able to combine windsurfing and studies but I haven’t succeeded..So I don’t get any extra time off to pursue my windsurfing career on the side which was a tough pill to swallow. So far this year I’ve sailed twice in Holland.

After every semester I usually have a 10 day break and I have used those breaks to go to Tenerife in January and Dahab in April for a week. Those were very windy trips and I’m still excited I was able to make it to those spots.

What's it like being away from the tropical paradise of Aruba?

It’s definitely hard since I just picked up and left everything behind there. My family, the beach, the relaxed lifestyle etc. But if you hold on to all of that you won’t succeed abroad. I’ve been in Holland for almost 2 years now and I miss my island everyday, but The Netherlands definitely has its upsides and has so much to offer that I definitely don’t regret going there.

Have you done any interviews for any windsurf magazines this year? Were many surprised you wouldn't defend your world titles?

No I haven’t done any interviews I think… I never really announced I wasn’t going to defend my titles since I was convinced I could still compete and study like I did last year, but it wasn’t until February that I realized that it just was not possible. If I keep on skipping classes I would fail them and be even more delayed and right now I just want to get my studies over with as soon as possible. Besides that they’ve introduced a new rule in Holland. Every student gets one more year than needed to finish their studies. In my case I would have 4 years to finish a 3 year bachelor. As soon as it takes longer than this you get a 3000 euro fine. Sooo for the people wondering why I haven’t competed in any competitions this is why…

Anything you want to share about life and things you've learned since starting University?

Oeeff…I’ve learned so much. Don’t even know where to start. The most important thing I’ve learned is to appreciate everything I have or had, so much more. My friends and family around me who I can always count on. In February I was the happiest person on earth when the temperature went from -5 to +5 degrees Celsius. Guys like Thijs and Hugo who take me windsurfing since I don’t have a car and otherwise wouldn’t be able to get on the water. I’ve learned to be more organized (still need to be way more organized but I’m getting there!!). The list goes on and on. Really.

Also that there was no right or wrong when I decided to go to Holland. It really feels like I’m on an adventure wherein I have so many possibilities and options and I get to decide how it turns out. I have good and bad days, but it isn’t until after some time when I look back that I realize how my decisions and the people I’ve met along the way have had their influence on how my life is turning out. I don’t know how to explain it! but I am truly excited for what the future holds. :-) 

Thank you, Sarah Quita for taking the time. The last 3 photos in the interview were from Texel Island, Holland. And yes that's SQ wavesailing...she said it was a lot of fun.

Catch her live from Sotavento, Fuerteventura | July 20 - 30. In fact, the PWA is planning to Live Webcast all of the remaining World Tour events.

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Go Yachting's July 2012 Episode 10 featured the Olympic sailing kerfuffle: Windsurfs vs. Kiteboards. The narrative from the Neil Pryde interview:

"As the London 2012 Olympics draw near, Go Yachting sits down with Neil Pryde to talk about the recent sailing decisions made for the 2016 Olympics, and the ramifications. Sailing as an Olympic sport is undergoing change. Recent decisions within ISAF have caused both concern and debate. As sports around the world compete for limited medal slots, what does the future hold for sailing in the Olympics?

Neil Pryde have been supporting and investing in the Olympics for many years, providing windsurfing equipment for Barcelona 1992, Beijing 2008 and also for the current edition, London 2012, as well as supporting youth windsurfing through the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships. Producing windsurfing equipment under the NeilPryde brand and Kitesurfing equipment under the Cabrinha brand, Neil Pryde is in a unique position to comment on the recent 'Windsurfs are out and Kiteboards are in' Olympic decision by ISAF.

For Rio 2016 Windsurfs will be replaced by Kiteboards, which will be making their Olympic debut. The decision has proven to be contentious.With a strong youth development programme, windsurfing has been responsible for bringing many developing countries into the sport of sailing. The decision to replace them in the Olympics has surprised many. Since the decision was made, a number of stories have surfaced of representatives voting against national association orders, and some even saying they were confused by the voting system. With so much on the line, how can such an important decision be made this way? What happens next? What is the future for sailing as an Olympic sport?"

Some excerpted quotes from the interview by Neil Pryde:

"Windsurfing was sacrificed to maintain the traditional yachting classes in the Olympics. That is not a very good way to make important decisions, particularly when windsurfing has done so much to bring developing countries into international yachting".

"I am not against kitesurfing - it is my most important business - but I don't think it yet belongs in the Olympics. It's premature".

"It's a tragic decision for developing countries that have started international sailing through windsurfing. China, the biggest Olympic country, came to sailing through windsurfing and this is a slap in the face."

"It was a politically engineered decision".

The 7 minute Neil Pryde interview is the first segment of the following video report.

US Windsurfing's website, Save Olympic Windsurfing, in their first week of operation, had 4,000+ views from 51 countries. The site grabbed the attention of the German based International Kiteboarding Association. Their detailed 13 page reply countered the US Windsurfing's assertions about why the ISAF decision was wrong. I thought the most interesting and funniest (obviously, something was lost in translation) counterpoint of the kite rebuttal: 7. Fiction: There is no youth pathway to kiteboarding
  • Would you breed your kids in a AC 45 or even in a skiff ? No, you wouldn’t…
  • Kite Raceboards are probably the most high performance vessels out there, and surely not something you learn to sail on. Therefore, the pathway is learning to sail and to windsurf.

If you're shaking your head with disbelief, yes, the IKA plan for introducing young, future Kite Racers is to teach them windsurfing first and then when they're older...

A reminder: The Petition  continues to collect names for the protest to return windsurfing to the Olympics. If you haven't signed, please consider doing so.

Windsurfer International Done · Brian McDowell announced Thursday, July 12: Windsurfer International will cease production and that he will join Windsurf Magazine to become Editor and lead a new digital project for the largest English language title in the sport. Brian wrote: "We'd like to say a special and huge thanks to all the readers, advertising supporters and awesome contributors to the magazine and Beach Telegraph over the past 4 years. Without your backing there would've been no progress to this point. There will now be a wider range of content and upcoming digital formats available under the Windsurf masthead from a much bigger team - you're all in for a massive treat!"

Highlights from the Windsurf Press Release:

Windsurf, the UK’s Number 1 Windsurfing Magazine and highest-circulation English language title in the sport is pleased to announce that Brian McDowell will become Editor, kicking-off with the August 2012 Edition.

As of now Windsurfer International will cease to publish and, once complete, the world’s most exciting digital resource for windsurfers will appear at Windsurf.co.uk

According to McDowell, who brings an audience of over 180,000 Absolute Unique Readers from 185+countries making more than 2.5 Million page views annually, the partnership will bring significant benefits to readers and advertisers alike.

Windsurf is published 10-times annually (Monthly March–October, Nov/Dec and Jan/Feb).

Kai Lenny · After a failed first attempt 2 years ago, watersport master Kai Lenny attempts to windsurf 56 miles across Lake Michigan. Better equipment, a better forecast, and a different location set the stage for his second attempt, and it all falls onto Kai to power through hours of constant focus and bitter cold to pull it off. After 2 hours and 50 minutes of windsurfing through endless choppy waves, Kai emerges triumphant on the other side of the lake. Connect with Kai on Facebook.

CGWA Windfest Video Reports by Adam Wojtkowiak (thanks Windsport for posting these videos). Windfest Photos by Gorge Windsurfing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Appeal · Tenerife · Mast Bases

MNA (Member National Authority) is the fancy
 name for a country in ISAF vernacular.
Save Olympic Windsurfing · With only weeks before the start of the 2012 Olympics, US Windsurfing's President, Karen Marriott, sent US Sailing a letter which said, in part: "As you know, the windsurfing community here in the United States (and around the world) has been quite upset by the May ISAF vote that replaced windsurfing with kiteboard racing in the 2016 Olympic Games...We feel this vote was taken with faulty information and, in fact, the vote itself is invalid and a new vote should be taken at the November ISAF meeting, if not before...We look forward to answering any further questions at our upcoming (still to be scheduled) conference call. On behalf of all windsurfers in the United States, the US Windsurfing Association would like to thank you for the opportunity to provide you with this information and for your thoughtful consideration of this very important issue."

In the letter, US Windsurfing urges US Sailing to look at their new website: Save Olympic Windsurfing. The website is a tour de force, rebutting the rationale for replacing windsurfing with kite racing at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Contributors to the site include Jerome Samson, Nevin Sayre, Platt Johnson, Doug Waldo and Karen Marriott. Adding to the urgency of the protest is this assertion from the website: "We believe that this decision was misguided, and respectfully appeal to US Sailing to examine the facts and reconsider its position. If a formal request can be assembled and submitted by August 1, 2012, the ISAF Council will revisit the issue at its Annual Meeting in Dún Laoghaire in November 2012."

Tenerife · In the waning minutes of the live webcast from Pozo, Ben Proffitt confirmed that the live video coverage would continue at the next PWA event set to run July 12 - 18. Lively commentary and interviews give these webcasts the same feel we expect from mainstream TV sports coverage. My favorite interview moments: I learned that 34 year old multiple World Champion Iballa Moreno started windsurfing at 17 and turned pro three years later. And, Phillip Koster has a secret for his super fast and amazingly consistent double forwards: with your back hand reach all the way back and grip the boom's adjustable tail piece. He warned that he does sometimes cut his hand on the adjustment holes of the tail piece. Congratulations to Ben and the PWA for their outstanding work in bringing the World Tour to all of us diehard fans.

The embedded video player will activate when the broadcast goes live from the Wave Contest in Tenerife. In the meantime you can watch last week's daily video summaries from Pozo by clicking: Newest.

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Practice Safe Windsurfing · Equipment failure is rarely anticipated. Spontaneous mast breakage, when it happens on land, is a weird blessing. When your mast breaks offshore, no matter how far off, it's a freak out. That ol' sage advice, don't sail any further offshore than you're willing to swim back, is worth taking to heart. Booms break too. When that happens, you hope the arm that broke is not the one you need to get back to shore. And that's right, you can sail with only one boom arm. You also might hit something in the water and lose a fin. Or worse, while sailing at max speed, run aground. The resulting sudden stop can cause the rider to be violently catapulted which may completely disintegrate the board and some or all of the rig above it. Equipment fails. Booms and masts are hard to survey for imminent trouble. Sometimes you're just going to be unlucky, and no amount of prior, proper planning is going to help.

Just a week ago, 3 of my mast bases failed in a period of 45 minutes. The first one broke about a half mile from shore; I got back without incident. Changed out the broken base with another one, repeated the run a half mile from shore and it also failed mid jibe. Again, I returned to shore without incident, replaced the broken mast base with yet another one and it too broke. What failed?  It was the flexible urethane tendon in the mast base assembly. All 3 broke where the tendons had been drilled. 

The mast base must be disassembled and the tendon inspected periodically. How often? At least once a year. Chinook's team riders replace their tendons once every year. Why do tendons fail? In short, the tendon loses its ability to flex properly. Sometimes they begin to show fine cracks in the area which you can see, but more commonly, cracks propagate from the drilled holes in the tendon. When you disassemble to inspect and see a crack running away from the drilled hole, replace the tendon. All 3 of the mast base companies (Chinook, Epic Gear, Streamlined ) I contacted talked about reasons that might effect the longevity of a tendon. All 3 mentioned heat and humidity as possible culprits for shortening the life span of your tendon. Humidity, we can't do anything about as windsurfing mostly occurs in water environments. Heat might be something to think about. I store all my gear in a SUV all the time. In Florida and anywhere there is decent solar radiation, temperatures inside a vehicle get pretty dang hot even when outside air temps are modestly cool.

Every mast base manufacturer uses a different formula for their urethane tendon that balances strength, flexibility and UV inhibition (color). They all, as expected, tout their unique product. And most likely, all will work well if you follow some simple regular inspection or replacement on a timed interval of your mast base tendon.

What about rubber hourglass mast bases? They offer a softer feel than the tendon. Chinook suggested that perhaps rubber may last longer than urethane. While they are easier to inspect, they may be too difficult for some to replace worn parts. And over time they may cost more to use since full replacement might be required.  On the other hand,  tendons are relatively straight forward to replace and cost between $15-20.

Postcript ·  Had to do a double take when my Caller ID said NY Times. Must be a subscription robo call I thought and almost didn't answer, but what the hell..."This is Daniel Slotnick from the New York Times, do you have a few minutes for an interview about Jim Drake...I saw your blog." Daniel didn't know much about windsurfing or Jim Drake. We talked for about 40 minutes. I later learned that US Windsurfing Prez, Karen Marriott, had given the reporter my name and number. Thanks to Daniel for doing such a good job on the Jim Drake news obit and for spelling my name correctly. It was also a thrill to have DaNewsBlog linked in an article from The Grey LadyJim Drake, Creator of the Windsurfer, Dies at 83

Monday, July 2, 2012

Windsurfing's Sizzlin' Month

July scores some of the most important events of the windsurfing calendar especially in North America and on the PWA World Tour...

The PWA has cancelled 4 scheduled Tour events this year, but they are back on track with 3 events set for their busiest month of the year. Like in years past, the wave event in Pozo was confirmed only weeks ago. And just in the nick of time, the live webcast returns to Pozo, perhaps the Tour's most dramatic venue. The Broadcast is planned for all week, Monday through Saturday June 2 - 7. Just  last week, Tenerife was confirmed and is good to go for July 12 - 17. When they're finished with the wave contest there, the last stop will be a slalom and freestlyle competition in Fuerteventura set for July 20 -30.

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The Aruba Hi-Winds, originally partnered as an event with the PWA, who cancelled their participation, continues as an annual event. Dates are from Tuesday July 3 until Monday July 9. They have slightly modified the schedule for this year: Tuesday will be registration day, Wednesday will be the first day of competition and Monday, July 9, will be the last day of windsurfing competition. Aruba Hi-Winds.

The Gorge Windfest marks the beginning of the high season for the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association. This July 7 - 8 event is a big fund raiser for the association.

Windfest Highlights: Unlimited Gear Demos • Free Clinics Local Pros • Free Beginner Lessons Provided by Big Winds • Live Outdoor Music on Saturday • Raffles and Prizes • Tasty Food, Beer & Wine for Sale • Sunday Morning Swap Meet • Volunteers Eat Free ~ Contact them for more information or if you’d like to get involved: cgwa@gorge.net • 1-541-386-9225

Cabarete, Dominican Republic will be hosting the 7th Annual Pablito Guzman’s Cabarete Classic. This years event is scheduled for July 12th to the 15th, 2012. One can compete in Kiteboarding or Windsurfing or just go and enjoy watching this colorful event. The competitions will include long distance races for all ages plus formula, slalom and free-style competitions. 

Pablito Guzman founded the event and brought it to life. He is a Cabarete native and world competitor for the past twenty years holding several national titles. Pablito is dedicated to improving the community through helping disadvantaged children to be able to learn and participate in the great sport of windsurfing. Under his direction, Pablito Guzman’s Watersports Team was formed to offer local students the opportunity to build self-confidence and learn a new sport. Cabarete Classic

Steve Bodner reported: Registration is open for next months North American Course Racing Championship for the Formula Windsurfer & Kite boarding fleets hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club: Notice of Race.  5  days of races are planned with the starting line just off Crissy Field on the San Francisco city front from July 18 - 22. Bring you "A game" because this ain't your normal dog & pony show. Each fleet will be racing with their own start and a combined 'Round the rock' race will be held at the conclusion of racing on Sunday where kites & boards will attempt to navigate around San Francisco Bay's most famous rock.

Karen Marriott said: US Windsurfing is thrilled to announce that Sam Bittner (organizer of the AWT), the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association, Big Winds and Sailworks have banded together to rescue the 2012 US Windsurfing National Championships in Hood River this summer. The Slalom, Formula and Freestyle Nationals will take place at the Event Site in Hood River from July 23-26.  Registration is open now. Everyone involved is working hard to make sure that the event will be fantastic and we hope to see you all there! Head AWT judge Matt Pritchard says, "The US Nationals are the backbone of racing in the USA! We need to keep the flame alive and do everything we can to save the Nationals for 2012!"  Get there early and you can race in the Gorge Cup Series, Race # 4 on July 21. And a sold out ABK rolls into Hood River on July 28.

The AWT will be in Baja to start their event on July 28. SoloSports reports: "We offer a special $1,500.00 price for the week of the contest including all food and beverages (we eat like kings). Drinks include beer, wine, spirits, cocktails and our world famous Baja Fogs. Use of all the toys like surfboards, stand up paddle boards, kayaks, mountain bikes and more will be included. Each guest get’s a deluxe mini cabin tent fully loaded with pads, pillows and freshly laundered sleeping bags. Daily hot showers, internet, and use of the game room, with TV/DVD, pool table, darts, foosball and library are also available. You can add flight from San Diego to camp for $650.00 to those that want the upgrade." Keith Taboul said, "So for me the event in Baja is close to my heart because it is where I learned to wavesail." AWT

Officially, the Olympics, aka the London Games, begin July 27 and end August 12. RS:X racing runs from July 31 - August 7. Sailing will happen at Weymouth and Portland.
Please survey the abundant number of events for July and August on the DaNewsBlog Calendar.

Maui Race Series has 2 events remaining: The Quicksilver Cup - July 16 and The Neil Pryde Hawaii State Championship - July 28.

The Maui News reported,  Hot Sails Maui Grand Prix (June 30), "Micah Buzianis defeated his training partner Phil McGain in six of seven races to win titles in the pro A fleet and 40-49 age division..." Photos of the event by Harry Wiewel

Below is Harry Wiewel's Facebook video report of the Maui Race Series second event: The DaKine Classic - June 16. Harry does good work as a videographer and is also an excellent photographer.  And just in case you missed it, go to  Maui News for the event report. Dakine Classic photo report.