Windsurfing in a Proper Autumnal Blow
It’s been a fairly windy summer really but we’ve had a proper taste of autumn this weekend. Heavy rain at times, lower temperatures and plenty of wind associated with a proper autumnal low pressure. Nothing to do with Hurricane Gert which is still on the other side of the Atlantic, but decent winds for windsurfing all the same.
I headed out on Friday after an hour and a half on the bike. It had been a lovely morning with plenty of sunshine but it clouded over as I headed to the beach and the wind was set to pick up. Once on the beach the wind was a little lighter than I had hoped for so I rigged my 5.7m sail and my big wave board. On the water that was fine for a while but the wind then started messing around. One minute the 5.7m was fine, the next it was too much and then there wasn’t enough wind for it. I kept coming back to the beach to adjust things as did the kite-surfer who was out but for a while there just wasn’t enough wind for this set up. After a while though it started to fill in properly and before long the 5.7m was too much to hold onto. I came in and changed down to a 5m sail.
This was now perfect and I had good fun blasting through the waves. The waves themselves were picking up and there were some sizeable lumps out the back. The wind continued to fill in though and things started to get more and more hectic. The wind was howling, there were waves and chop all over the place and suddenly things were pretty lively! Perfect windsurfing conditions.
I continued windsurfing for a while and then headed home
An hour or so after getting home the weather went crazy. First the wind picked up. It had settled in at around 25-30 knots whilst I was windsurfing, but now it jumped to 30-35 knots as it started to rain quite heavily. Next, the wind died completely and the heavens opened. It poured for the best part of an hour and then the wind went from zero to 40 knots in a matter of seconds. Here’s a plot from the Borth and Ynyslas Weather Station for Friday:
You can see the crazy changes in the weather between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. I’m glad I wasn’t out windsurfing while this happened. Although, as Morgan pointed out usually it would be just my luck that I would have headed out at around 5:30pm just as the wind started picking up properly, only to get on the water just before 6pm when it completely died. I would have then sat there in the pouring rain hoping the wind would come back until about 6:30pm when I would have given up waiting. I’d then return home and the wind would go ballistic!
The winds were much more consistent on Saturday and a little stronger too. Averaging around 25 knots on the beach with 30 knot gusts. You can see from the plot below from Saturday how much steadier the wind was throughout the day.
My left hand side and ribs were a little sore but I headed over to the beach for a morning windsurf session anyway. Today I rigged my 5m sail again but a smaller wave board. This board is 75 litres as opposed to my big wave board which 85 litres in volume. Although smaller, it is actually longer at 248cm not the tiny 214cm of my bigger board. Where the real difference in size is most apparent though is in width. At 52cm at the maximum point it tapers off to narrow points at both the nose and the tail. By contrast my bigger wave board is 59cm wide and stays much wider throughout its entire length. This means that the smaller board cuts through the waves and chop rather than bouncing around on top of it. This makes it more controllable in mad conditions and makes it feel more stable in some ways. It does however require a proper blow to get it going and that’s what we had today.
Shem had said that he would be out kite-surfing from Borth so after a while I headed all the way into Borth. I couldn’t see him but there was a kitesurfer with a bright green kite playing around in the lagoon inside the reefs. I’m not sure if that was him or not as I didn’t venture inside the reefs myself. There isn’t much room for manoeuvre on a windsurfer in there so I stayed out beyond the reefs and then headed back to Ynyslas before making the trip to Borth and back again. I then decided that I may as well use the whole beach so headed up towards the mouth of the estuary a few times as well.
By now my side was killing me. The trouble with windsurfing is that you are constantly being pushed and pulled, yanked and tugged, squashed and squeezed, stretched and twisted, and that’s just when sailing along normally. Every now and then you get thrown and tumbled, washed around and smacked, battered and bashed as you fall off in spectacular style and get mashed by the waves. It’s a constant battle and even when sailing fairly relaxed you are constantly tweaking and adjusting things to keep the board and sail working in harmony. Keeping the board tracking in the right direction over chop and waves is a matter of small and not so small adjustments several times a second, the sail is being trimmed constantly too, backwards & forwards, in & out, up & down, it’s just never ending and in crazy conditions there is no time to relax. As well as keeping the kit trimmed optimally there are waves to avoid, gybes to complete and jumps to land. It’s a high speed, high impact and high energy arena where anything can happen.
This had all taken a toll on the muscles in my already sore left hand side and after another big crash they were killing me. I floated about in the water for a while waiting for the pain to subside, all the while getting pummelled by whitewater. In the end I water-started and sailed back to shore ready to call it a day. Carrying my kit up the beach while slightly incapacitated was OK but didn’t help the pain. Rather than de-rig straight away I lay on the dunes stretching and trying to ease up the muscles. Nothing worked though so I packed up and headed home for a hot bath and a deep heat muscle massage.
That didn’t help either so I’m now just hoping it will settle down over the next day or two. Maybe tomorrow will have to be a rest day! I hope the pain doesn’t last too long as I’m supposed to be taking part in a Quadrathlon in two weeks time and then Cyclo-cross season starts the week after that. I can;t have another injury now!