Sunday, March 7, 2010
A great experience- just wish it could have lasted
Home safe and sound, the equipment is put away and the board is all washed down and clean. Here is a brief discription of my first (hope my wife dose not read this post) attempt at the Everglades Challenge on a the Expedition Windsurfer.
Pre race activities on the beach at Ft Desoto, Florida March 6, 2010
A number of strange and interesting vessels are always to be found on the beach before the race. Here is Matt Layden's latest creation, Elusion. Matt has developed a unique design for his mico-curisers. To provide more interior room he has eliminated the dagger board and now uses the chine strips you see on the bottom of the boat. I am not sure how they work, but they do. Matt will be using this boat to sail around the state of Florida in the Ultimate Florida Challenge, 1300 mile race around Florida.
The "Yellow Thing" another very interesting boat that was doing quite well even in the high winds we got on Saturday.
The start of the 2010 Evergaldes Challenge
Here I go. As usual I am late, one of the last to leave the beach.
The day started out with winds out of the North East around 6-8kts. Here is Matt and his boat off Bradenton Beach Florida. As the day progressed the sea breeze picked up and winds started to blow. The NOAA weather bouys reported winds at 20kts gusting to 23kts. What amazed me was the way the waves increased so fast.
By the time we had gotten down to Sarasota the winds were in the 15-18kt range. This picture does not do a good job of depicting the wind conditions at the time. I was having fun surfing down the face of the ever increasing waves when I saw the Yellow Thing go over. I sailed over to see if he needed any help, but he had things in control and was soon back on board and headed down the coast. I helped pick up a few of the things that fell overboard and tossed them to him before sailing on.
Just about a mile from Venice inlet I sat down on my board to get drink and rest a minute. The winds were coming out of the NNW and sailing on an almost dead down wind run, I was having a hard time staying hooked into the harness. I snapped this photo of the waves in hopes of showing the size of the swell. Its hard to determine the size of the waves from the photos but at this point the winds were up in the 20knt range and the seas were big. I had seen a number of boats go in at Venice Inlet to get out of the big winds and I was trying to decide if I wanted to go in also or keep going on the outside. The conditions were what every windsurfer yearns for, 20kts and a 3-4 foot swell, but I had been sailing since 7:30am and had covered 35 nautical miles. It was now 3:30, with 8 hours of sailing and only a few 5 minute breaks, I was ready for a break from the big winds and seas.
Rather than try to pull the sail up in the large wave, I attempted a water start. Having a drysuit and a PFD I felt comfortable getting in the water. I had the board postitioned for a starboard start and was out of the water and sliding down the face of a swell. Before I could hook in and move back on the board an unexpected gust grabbed the sail out of my hands and slammed it down on the water. I, of course, ended up in the water wondering what I did to deserve that kind of treatment. As I grabbed the board I noticed something was wrong with the mast base. The u-joint had come apart. The webbing holding the two pieces together was all that kept the mast in reasonably close proximity to the track it was supposed to be in. Any doubt as to whether or not to head in through Venice Inlet was gone. I had to head in. Lifting the sail and holding it by the mast I was able to get in through the inlet and land on a small island named Snake Island. I rolled up the sail, set up my paddling seat and started paddling the 25 miles to checkpoint one. I paddled into the night until reaching the bridge to Englewood at 11pm. Cold and tired I called my wife to come get me.
Here you can see the wear on the bard from the broken mast base. I know, I know I should have bought a new base before the race and carried it as a spare. I cant even tell you why I let that detail slip by, but it is eating at me like a cancer. I cant stop thinking about it. Man am I bummed!
On my next post I will discuss what I learned about adventure racing on a windsurfer, the good and the bad.