Commodore's Notes: What's
It's been a strange summer. Things have turned up
missing in the local scene. First Guy Racette fails to make it home after
a sailing session. Last week, Michael Johnson, was unable to complete his
epic, long distance, sail from his home to Palacios and had to be rescued
by the Coast Guard. Let's all give a great big Hurray for those dedicated
folks who went out and found Michael. I recall that on the night of Guy's
disappearance, I called the Coast Guard to make them aware of our concerns.
They were launching the search craft at the moment that Guy turned up at
the Yacht Club. The point is that they took our concern for his safety
seriously and were ready to mount the search. They came through again in
the case of Marathon Man's epic Seven Bay sail.
Both of these sailors are very experienced.
Between them they have won many events. The lesson for the rest of us is
that if it can happen to them, it can happen to us. Not all of us sail
so far out nor do we sail solo but equipment failure can happen anywhere.
I implore all of you to let someone know of your plans before you launch
so that the alarm may be sounded should you fail to make it home. Early
in my sailing career, while living in San Francisco, I failed to return
one night. My wife called the authorities. A search found my car in the
parking lot but no sign of me. OK, it wasn't equipment failure just a case
of the wind suddenly dying off. I was able to swim across the bay and made
my way back safely. I guess what we have in common is a caring, loving
spouse who really wants her husband home, safe from the sea.
There remain a couple of lost items that we
must all try to find. Number one on the list is a Race Director.
This post is vacant. Who can we convince to fill the job? The ideal candidate
is someone who will be able to devote their time to organizing the races,
promoting them, and lastly, running the event. Do I have any volunteers?
I have received numerous responses from our last newsletter and the responses
indicate that there is still support for the idea/dream of a continuing
race series on the waters of Corpus Christi Bay. However, for this to become
a reality, someone must step forward and assume the responsibilities the
post brings with it. The club will support your efforts but we need an
inspired individual to take the job. The biggest concern for the future
of racing is the format of the events. First hand experience dictates that
courses laid out to challenge the hard-core sailors prevent the weekend
warriors/casual sailors from participating. The success of future events
depends upon a format that draws participants from all facets of the sailing
Last spring we invited the kite boarders
to join our organization. To date, this offer has gone unappreciated. Peter
Nordby has worked hard to try and integrate the Kite boarders with the
sailors. I had hoped that the addition of the Kites would bring new blood
into the group. However, none have joined. I don't know if we can complete
our attempts to create an organization that represents both water sports.
The hurdles associated with promoting joint events may not be worth the
effort if the kiters don't participate.
One other item that has gone missing
is my F2 Axxis 267 wave board. A neighbor witnessed the board being stolen
from my house one evening last week. Can you believe it; someone actually
stole the board in the twilight hours. They jumped a fence, ran into my
garage, and stole the board. What worries me is that they took the best
board. It looks like an inside job, i.e. someone who knew what they were
after. We have a description of the vehicle, the perpetrators, and are
now looking for the felons.
So, we found the two missing sailors.
I believe we will find someone to fill the post of Race Director. Sooner
or later, I'm going to find my board.
Editor's Puffs: by
Another August in the books.... that reality use to really ruin my
mood when it also meant school was reopening and the focus of my Ďjobí
was shifting from playing to studying. Different times in a different
location and September to me is now little more than extended August.
Its a time when Iíve gotten use to taking the longboard off the garage
wall and putting it on the trailer. Long cruises are a great way
to enjoy not-enuf-wind hot late summer days. In Texas, that
requires carrying a hydration supply. While not as hard as two-a-day football
practices, a long cruise on a sunny day will leave you just as dehydrated.
After reading the sports page news of dehydration deaths, I began looking
for solutions. I even put in a stock of Gator Aid, now thereís
an improved product- the original version tasted like rubber bands.
That reminded me of my initial experiences with onboard hydration.
I tried a Camelbak when they first came out-
the hardly refreshing liquid that dribbled from the tube tasted like rubber
band tea (regardless what you filled it with!). That device quickly
found a niche in the basement into which all minor mistakes Ďstill like
newí were consigned. I next tried a bandoleer able to hold a 6-pack
of cans and ice. Ever had someone drip ice water onto the back of
your legs for an extended time? It found a home right on top of the CamelBak
in the basement. I could get away with hour-long nonstop cruises
without thirst using the preload strategy (this is not recommended in wet
suit weather). Double that using one of those little pump breath
sprays- they make you salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs. Things
improve in time, even Gatorade.
I figured it was time to revisit onboard hydration
and see if there was anything better than the 2 Bud can baseball cap available
now. Academy had a variety of bike backpacks with hydration
schemes but none built for water activity. They ranged in price from
$9.95 to $24.95 and liquid storage from 50 to 96 ml. These
were not genuine Camelbaks so my search continued. I found a Camelbak
dealer via their website; it is the Schwinn Bicycle shop on the 358 Airline
off ramp. Their 1.5 liter ĎHydrobakí model seemed just right.
Its insulated with closed cell foam which adds a bit to floatation and
keeps drink temperature well either hot or cold. The liquid container
has a full sized screw on cap making it easy to put ice cubes in with the
liquid. The only hassle was the Ďimprovedí bite valve which the instructions
failed to explain. Since I just purchased the nifty light weight
backpack today, Iíve yet to see what it will do to a liter of Gatorade.
It couldnít make the improved Gator Aid taste as bad as the original and
now it will be cold as well. You have to admit the prospect of a
gulp of hot coffee would sure be great while winter sailing. I wonder
how it would feel inside your wetsuit... There is even an adjustable
bungee chord webbing on the back to hold your other goodies you just canít
sail without (spare line, signal device, pager, all that stuff).
Iíll let you know how it works after rigorous testing is completed.
Trial Outcome in Boat-Board Collision
The trial for the San Antonio boater who collided
with CCWA member Don Cryer out at Bird last April was held in July.
The DUI Charge was dropped by the prosecutor because the evidence was insufficient.
The boater was found guilty of reckless operation of a water craft, fined
$130, given six months probation, and required to complete a USCG Auxiliary
safe boating course. The boaterís insurance company settled the claim
with Don for replacement of his destroyed Roberts board well before the
A lot of folks dodged a bullet in this incident.
Don wasnít hurt at least nothing that lasted more than a day or two.
That boater was probably closer to jail than he had ever been in his life.
The officials who could have been held liable for not providing a safer
environment on the water: all were lucky this time. Hopefully this
will be a wakeup call to all parties out there on the water. How
different this all could have been if that collision was a T-bone
job and resulted in severe injury.... or worse.
If anyone has a transition board (10 to 11.5
feet in length w/ small center board) thatís not seeing any use, I know
of someone who wants one badly enough to pay a small pittance for it.
Please give me a call (at 949-1982) if you have one or know of one
available nearby. Hereís your chance to gain a few dollars and get
rid of that old Pandera thereby freeing up enough garage space so you can
store that new potato chip race board you know you want.
Guy Racette has penned a series of articles for the next several issues
about the new REALLY wide boards and what theyíll do and how to make them
do it. After reading all three, Iím feeling an urge to go get one
of those wide critters. Donít miss the enlightening series-
the first is in this issue.
Letís kick Some.... Sand
by Guy Racette
Having spent several hundred hours out there
on (sometimes IN) the waters of Corpus Christi Bay, Iíd like to share some
First, itís becoming the norm that on lighter
days, kites outnumber sails at Oleander. On the windier afternoons,
the bump-n-jump crowd of windsurfers comes out and still outnumbers the
kites. I like kites. Not everyone does, but theyíre great fun to
watch, and I can usually keep out of their way. Although I plan to
do kiting some day, I donít think it can supplant windsurfing - especially
windsurfing competition - for me.
Second, itís a big surprise to me how in just
one season Iíve almost completely reset my personal guidelines for how
much sail goes with a given amount of wind. Oh, sure if itís peaking
at 25+, I still enjoy the old wave board and our ancient (by windsurfing
standards) í93 Tri-Lites, but Iíve also learned itís not much more trouble
to hop on a 7.8 or even an 8.7 with a Formula board. Iím not sure
why. Maybe itís all that acreage upon which to stand, giving me the
option to step out farther and apply more leverage against the sail.
However, there is that fear threshold of about 28 or 30 where I still struggle
to get up the nerve to head off the wind. See, you can still get
smacked, but good! But Iím having a blast learning.
Third, and despite the big sails, fins and
boards, itís remarkable how much faster these new wide style boards go.
Not just upwind. Not just in light air. On every point of sail
(with the possible exception of beam reach), they allow the use of bigger
fins and bigger sails for greater speed with better control. I know
it sounds (and LOOKS!) impossibly clumsy but itís really not. The
whole mess just floats up onto its own air pressure front and glides along,
with mostly just the fin in the water. A little front foot pressure
keeps everything stable. Chop that used to shake my fillings loose
now just seems to disappear underneath the board unnoticed.
Given all that, it amazes me to see how the
contingent of local sailors participating in Organized Racing has dwindled.
Sure, lots of folks have moved away, some have gotten into kite surfing,
others have no time for on-the-water activity of any kind.
Still, I would have thought that a town like ours would support greater
numbers of regular racing enthusiasts. It gets kind of lonely out
there. Still, Iím out there working to get some exercise and to maintain
and improve on my racing skills. Even without a regular training
partner, thereís much to learn.
I know the folks out there at Bird Island
are racing each other all the time. ďGoing for the PassĒ I like to
call it. You line up your opponent, who hopefully doesnít know he/sheís
racing. You turn just behind and upwind onto an intercept course,
and bear away just enough to blow by. While itís great fun, this type of
opportunistic racing does little to improve the sailorís overall skills.
It makes one faster on a flat water reach, and thatís about it. (Iíve
done enough of it myself over the years to know...)
So what Iím hoping to do here is to write
a series of articles that will encourage flat-water sailors who have avoided
the bay so far to give it a try. Of those sailors, (many of whom
I feel are clearly ready to take their skills to the next level) I hope
at least a few will consider racing. Now that the Formula Rules have
made it relatively affordable, it seems a shame to me if a windy town like
Corpus Christi canít field a great team of racers in every division.
Plus Iím sick of having those west coast bullies kick sand in our faces.
Board Stealing Dirtbags Nabbed-
Commodoreís Board Returned
Received 08/31 @ 9:00 PM
At approximately 3:30 today, Cline St. received a phone call.The caller's
number appeared on the Caller ID. The felon asked Oliver if he was interested
in a used F2 Axxis wave board w/ a slight nose ding. Of course, Oliver
was hip and played along. Police were notified of the callers intent. His
identity matched that of a kid, who attends my church. The police were
into laying a trap at Oliver's. He was willing to play along. The kid failed
to show. However, the the Caller ID revealed it to be the son of
one of the deacons of the church. We put the squeeze to him and he sang
like the proverbial canary. We went to one of the accomplice's home, found
the board in his truck. The truck was immediately impounded.The dirtbag,
faced w/ a felony burglary charge, turned stoolie and revealed the rest
of his associates. The cops did the good cop, bad cop, angered and hostile
owner routine and scared the living &*%@ out of the idiot. He's going
to play along and the case of the Commodore Burglary is over. Special thanks
to Oliver, who played his part to help me get my board back.
Kitemares/Darwin Award Candidate
Reprinted from rec.windsurfing news group
All day yesterday it was sunny and the wind
was cranking. Unfortunately I was at work. As soon as I got
off I raced down to the beach, set up, and waited for my newbie friend
to show up so I could help him launch his new foil. I got him set
up and ready to launch, then I launched my 9.4 inflatable and was waiting
for him to put his leash on so we could hit the water. During our
setup time, it had gone from sunny and nice, to cloudy and a little drizzle.....typical.
Anyway, we were too excited for a little rain
to stop us, so we proceeded as planned. I decided to do a little
beach jump just to test the wind. I got about three feet off the
sand, and when I came down I heard a weird snap. I waited for the
pain to start coming from the bottom of my foot because I figured I landed
on a stick and broke it, but I felt nothing so I just shrugged it off.
A couple seconds later I wanted to do a big jump so I started running with
my kite, switched the kite around, and got lifted about 8 feet off the
beach. When I came down, I landed on my right ankle and heard this
sickening snap and for an instant I thought I shattered my ankle.
I took a couple steps and didn't feel any pain, and then I figured out
what was going on. As I was in the air, I was getting electrostatically
charged, and as I hit the ground I would loose my charge back to the earth.
The snapping sound was sparks going from my foot to the wet sand.
I immediately downed my kite, yelled at my friend not to launch, and got
the heck out of there.
In retrospect, the rain and forecasted isolated
thunderstorms should have been big red flags when deciding to launch....but
my enthusiasm got the best of me. Luckily I learned that lesson without
killing myself. I just thought I'd pass this along and maybe keep
someone else from flagrantly disregarding their common sense like I normally
Edís Note: The above posting drew many responses from the news
group readers one of whom recommended attaching the kiters car keys to
their kite lines the next time this fellow decided to fly a kite near thunderstorms
A Flat water Geek from New Mexico
Comments on the 2001 USWA Nationals - Hood River, OR.
What wind? - Who would have guessed that the
Gorge would only offer up enough wind for two days [Tu & Th] of racing,
out of a possible five days. I heard the same thing just about happened
during the '95 Nationals in HR. Guess lightning can strike the same
place twice... Good thing they ran us hard on the first day - five races
with almost no breaks between races. On Thursday, the races were cancelled
at 4:00 [lack of wind] and of course it started to blow thirty minutes
later. Could have easily gotten in one or two races. At 4:00, the wind
was slowly building and it was starting to cap at the Hatch. We could have
also raced on Saturday, at the alternate Stevenson site, in east winds.
I'm sure Darren [Rogers], our race director, got a bit of flack over those
decisions. With the luxury of hindsight, It's easy for us to give him a
load of shoulda. Here's one dose of shoulda - he should have taken off
that Sailworks shirt and put on a Neil Pryde bull's-eye. Makes it
easier to ready, aim, fire...
Prodigal Fun? - Out of thin air, the Mistral
Prodigy class appeared at the Nationals. Something like 4 or 6 in the class.
Just what we need - another exclusive Formula class to alienate the other
manufacturers and stifle the small board builders. It [Prodigy] is probably
a great [beginner and race] board, but the dwindling interest in Techno
is the writing on the wall for exclusive model/manufacturer Formula class
racing. Put some dimensional and weight limits on the boards, limit the
number of sails and fins used, and keep it open to all manufacturers -
regular F-31 racing. The guy that won the Formula Senior Masters was riding
his own creation of sun curing resin and a hand shaped blank from Home
Depot [his board cost less than $200 in materials]. These garage gurus
are what spur board development. Long live the David's of the world and
down with Goliath..
I spy - although racing is the main
attraction at the Nationals, there's a lot of other entertainment during
the five days. Example: You have World Cupper [North Sails] Micah
Buzianis and caddy, giving fellow North team rider Steve Sylvester some
rigging tips, while Mike Percy [Windwing sail development], and Bruce Peterson
[Sailworks designer] listen intently while in the immediate area. Wish
I could read lips. Barry Spannier [Gaastra designer] was also glancing
at some non-Gaas sails, on his rambling walks through the gear compound.
And then you have Phil McGain coming back almost everyday with a different
set of modified battens to install in his sails. I even heard a rumor that
he totally recut and restitched a sail overnight. Guess that's what it
takes for Phil to win...
Camless crusade - Bruce Peterson used camless
Retros the whole time. One of the other pros [Vlad?] took one out for a
spin and commented that he could never get the lower battens to unwrap
from behind the mast to give a clean leading edge. Since Bruce didn't win,
wonder if he is now rethinking his strategy. Funny how Alex Aguera, first
place Open Master, and Rob Mulder used cammed Sailworks...
Happy w/o more wind - There was one person
that was happy that the wind never returned for the last two days of the
event, Mike Percey. Mike bent over to downhaul his sail and had his shin
'pop'. For the following days of no wind, he could barely walk. Steve Sylvester,
nipping at Mike's heels in fourth, was probably praying for wind to take
over third from Mike. BTW, Mike got third Open Master.
Best of Times - Starting on port and getting
clean air. Uneventfully blasting downwind at a speed that you thought would
cause serious injury to yourself and the gear. Sharing all the trivial
experiences with your fellow racers over a beer.
Worst of Times - having the best start of
the entire week [on port] and then having a general recall. Half the starboard
starters were over early but I still was about fifth or sixth at the start.
Funny how we [lead pack] continue to sail for a bit as your brain casts
off the denial and deals with reality...
Worst of Times-II - looking down and seeing
grass and bubbles trail off the tail of the board. There's poor success
in maneuvering a meter wide board with a 70 cm fin to miss mats of floating
grass. Tough call as to when to deal with it - drag it all the way across
the river and back up during a tack to remove it, hope that the problem
grass will shed by sailing on [it never did], or deal with it as soon as
it happened. I usually chose the first option after running out of hope.
Need more - Oldest racer was 72. Not enough
Juniors either, only three. And where were the women? A threesome. You
don't have to be 'alien class' to race. Put a band-aid on the ego and join
us next year...
Port burn - Bunch of the fleet got 3rd degree
burned during a port start of the last race. The port tack start pack had
grown to about 15-20 over the course of the previous races. Darren had
set us a nice and long line that usually favored a port start. Getting
clean air [avoiding the starboard blob] and hooking into the upwind current
sooner was the honey that caused the popularity increase for port. However,
twenty seconds before the start of the last race, the wind clocked 20 degrees
to the North and gave the Starboard pack a big advantage. For us poor port
tackers, in addition to getting a major header, the wind also vanished
and left us in a vacuum for a minute or so. Most of us could not even make
the start line, while pump, pump, pumping in a rage. That's racing...
Flip-flop frustration - In a building wind, grabbing a smaller sail, only
to have the wind decrease. In a dropping wind, grabbing the big sail, only
to have the wind increase. At least I explored the top end potential of
my 9.5. I would not have guessed that a 9.5 was controllable [I didn't
say easy and fun] in 22-24 knots of wind. That's what's cool about racing,
you are forced to make a choice and cope in situations that are way outside
one's usual comfort zone.
Flap it - A lot of non-AVS boards were sporting
a flap. At the suggestion of my board's designer, I glued one on the tail
of my board. This almost totally eliminated spinout. It would still spinout,
but usually you were given a tactile warning [you could feel it through
the rear strap] to back off the fin, instead of being surprised and having
the tail slide sideways.
Stripes/concaves/cheaters - Quite a few of
the boys riding Roberts boards with very dished out decks. When Rob [about
6'-5" and 200+ pounds] jumps on his board, the board deck almost flushes
out level with the water. I like the concept of having as little volume
as possible in the board. The width is the major contributor to current
course racing design, not the volume. The concave deck also keep the nose
from developing lift. The Roberts 'nosebleed' boards [slotted] are now
passé. A fifth strap, centered between the two rear, 'cheater' strap
is becoming a bit more popular. For most of the pro level [a.k.a. alien
class] sailors it's rarely used, but sometimes it's better to finish a
race w/o falling then to blaze and blowup on the downwind legs. Even Mike
Zajicek [Mike's Lab builder] had one on his boards. Mike Zajicek [Mike's
Lab] was giving Rob Mulder [Roberts] heck about the wide, black, racing
stripes that some of the Roberts boards were sporting. The heat gain of
the black areas on the board were pretty high - almost too hot to keep
your hand on, while baking in the sun. And for those of you that don't
believe in adjustable outhauls and harness lines, you would have been burned
at the stake...
Wrong priorities - I opted to free sail the
two days before the event, instead of 'practicing' on a brand new board.
I take racing seriously [placing 5th in Formula 39-44 year olds]. But being
a wind starved New Mexican sailor, I could not let the best wind of the
Summer [per the locals, it was best week of the season] go to waste on
a raceboard. In essence, sailing a tiny board and sail [thanks for the
loaner gear Windwing !!] IS practicing. Isn't it? By the start of the Nationals,
all my upper body bone joints / tendons / ligaments were fried and bloodstream
was well primed with Aleve and Motrin. At least I buckled down the day
before racing started and got acquainted [a.k.a. pummeled] with 'The Beast'
[to be named Blanca Grande, before the initial christening changed my idea
of a more appropriate name]. There has got to be a more pleasant way to
clean out the sinuses. Doubling the size of the sail and riding a
that has twice the volume, sure is a shock...
Thanks Grande - to the CGWA and USWA for putting
on a great event. I also have to personally thank the folks at Windwing...
Bill, Amy, Bob, Mark, Terry, Sonya (sp?) for all the support - having access
to the store to work on my board, those hand delivered El Rinconcito [awesome!]
burritos by Sonya and the daily loading of the cooler, sail mods and gear
storage, shelter's shade sure was nice on those windless, sunny days, awesome
Windwing pullover and t-shirt, yada, yada, yada... And also thanks to John
and Marie Steward and Chris McNail for a place to bunk.
Mrs. Tansill and I have a new family member (and therefore a new CCWA
member) who arrived as a birthday gift for me from Berniece. The
happy 7 Lb bundle of energy is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy who is
named Red Cloud (after the Sioux Chief). The little guy will soon
be pulling guard duty on my board trailer as soon as we are finished spoiling
him. I would also like to deny the rumor that Iím teaching him to
eat kite strings- heís already learned that on his own after training on
every shoestring in our house.