Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nov. 17, Huguenot Park

Strong north winds around 30mph combined with a midday high tide kept the water very high in the Pond (lagoon) and at one point put the entrance road into the park underwater. I can't remember it ever being that high, even on a day where we windsurfed in winds up to 50. I was on a 5.0 and 84L board, and wished that I had packed my 4.25. The most comfortable of us were on 4.5s or 5.0s but as usual, Vincent made sailing a cambered 6.5 look easy later in the day. Here is a video of the 17th shot by Alex of Tallahassee.


The kiters were out in force, too -- impressive that many were able to sail so well in one of the windiest days we have had this year. I think most were on kites around 7 to 7.5m.

My midday Sunday, the wind lightened up and made for excellent surfing at the Poles - head high to overhead on the sets and long, fast rights. The wind was a little too light to wavesail but I'm not complaining!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

County Dock Road this Saturday, Oct 6

Ok - not great wind this weekend but it should be a nice Saturday for a little cruise around the St. Johns River and for a river swim. The forecast is for lighter winds from the north and northeast. So, let's meet at 1pm Saturday at County Dock Road in Jacksonville (Mandarin). I hope to see y'all there! Bring a longboard if you have one, and if not, hopefully there's enough for formula.

Jacksonville Windsurfing Event this Saturday, Oct. 6

Reminder - let's go windsurfing this Saturday, October 6, 1pm, either at County Dock or at Shands Bridge Pier. I will look at the forecast and make the call by midday tomorrow and post it on this blog. At the moment it looks like either site would work. See the post a couple of posts down for more details.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jacksonville Windsurfing Gear Guide

Suggestions for windsurfing gear in the Jacksonville area

Fortunately for us Jacksonville windsurfers, we have both the beaches and the St. Johns River. The river is pretty much like any large lake. I have found that two boards, two fins and 2-3 sails will cover 90 percent of the conditions you are likely to experience assuming you have to work for a living. If budget is a major concern, a Kona One and the appropriately sized one design sail can handle 5-25 knots on the river and 5-15 knots on the ocean (assuming shorebreak is minimal). Alternately, a sailable SUP like the Exocet Curve 11'5" or Exocet WINDSUP can handle both light to moderate wind wavesailing and the medium to high wind days on the river. Here are some suggestions based on what the regulars use.

basic light wind kit, mostly in the St. Johns River:

For light wind sailing on the River, get either a formula board or a Kona One. The formula board will need a 10 or 11 meter cambered sail, a carbon boom, and a 70cm fin. Formula gear definitely maximizes the time spent planing here in Jax. The mast's bend curve needs to match that of the sail, so get the mast that is supposed to go with the sail (North/North, Neil Pryde/Neil Pryde, Aerotech/Epic or Powerex), especially if getting a racing sail. This can get expensive, and used boards can be hard to find. The formula gear is best for those many light to medium wind days we get on the St. Johns from roughly September through May. It can also be usable on the ocean in the summertime with a skilled sailor and provided the waves are very small. Don't bother getting a high-wind formula sail unless you intend to race. Once it is too windy for your one formula sail, go to a shortboard and 6-ish meter sail and be happy! For pros and dedicated racers, a 10 meter sail is their high wind sail. Similarly, don't bother with a 12 meter, which often requires another expensive carbon mast. There is little difference in terms of planing thresholds between an 11 and a 12 meter sail, with pumping technique being more important, and the weather conditions are rarely such that a 12 meter sail is going to make or break one's session compared to the next size smaller.

Formula sailing in ligher winds is not technically hard to do compared to sailing any other planing board with footstraps, and in some respects is easier. They are very easy to tack and are very stable. The challenges are in (a) learning to pump the board onto a plane, and (b) managing all that power in stronger winds. It is definitely a workout, comparable to running or mountain biking, especially in the lighter end (because of the need for pumping to plane) and the higher end.

The Kona One is more versatile than formula and is great to have for racing, teaching, sailing in the ocean on calmer days, and occasional standup paddleboarding (best in flat water). It can be a blast on high wind (20-25 mph) days on the river also. Unfortunately it does not plane without a considerable amount of breeze, comparable to a medium-sized shortboard. The Kona One class has a one design sail that is sized based on rider weight that is easy to rig and appropriate for the board - no reason to get something different. There are many races having a Kona class that are held each year in Florida. Get the one-design class sail that is appropriate for your weight, or for purely recreational sailing, consider getting the next size up.

basic light wind kit, mostly in the ocean:

The sailable standup paddleboards like the new Exocet WINDSUP and the Exocet Curve (formerly Kona) 11'5" and similar offerings from Starboard and Fanatic are very well suited to Jacksonville's surf conditions. They are a great complement to regular surfing and are easy to sail through the shorebreak. They can be used in the river as well; they just are not going to be as fast as a formula board. You probably would use the same sail or sails as for your higher wind shortboard - one sail around 6.5 and one around 5.5, ideally a wavesail of some sort.

higher wind, basic shortboard kit

For river sailing in higher wind, a board around 100-115 liters seems to cover most of our windier days. This is on the large side when looking at windspeeds on the river, in that the river tends to have extended lulls. A "windy" day can be 20 mph gusts with 10 mph lulls, often about 3 minutes on and 3 minutes off, what sailors call puffs or rolling gusts. An unlimited budget would dictate a pure slalom racing board (or 2) for the river and a freestyle wave type board for the ocean, but realistically, a freestyle wave board like the Exocet Cross works for both waters. It can be a "freerace", "freeride" or "freestyle wave" - whatever. A racier board will be better for the river and a board with softer rails will be better for the ocean. The river tends to have areas of very flat water and areas of moderate chop in the deeper channel. Waters north of the Buckman Bridge (I-295) can have voodoo chop but they aren't windsurfed much. For sails, a sail of 6.4 to 7 meters (exact size depending on lighter or heavier rider) and a sail of around 5 to 5.5 meters will cover the range of the board. The style of sail is more a matter of personal preference, though any sail with cambers or tube battens will be more vulnerable to damage if sailed in the ocean. Aim for a board that you can uphaul -- for a 170 pound person, that is around 104 liters at the smallest. This kit also works very well for seabreeze days on the ocean and in the lee of the St. Johns River jetties for moderate breeze, side-shore and side-onshore days.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Everyone Out! - St. Johns Long Distance Race Oct. 6, 2012

Event: JSA windsurfing (Just Sailing Along) and long distance race

Date & Time: Saturday, October 6, 2012, 1pm, unless cancelled due to no wind or epic surf

Open class

Location: To be determined, with the launch announced on this blog (jaxwindsurfing.com) by 1pm on October 5. It will probably be Shands Bridge Pier or County Dock Road.

No trophies or fees. We're sailing and we may happen to decide to sail together to a point and back.

Come join us for a little "show of force!" We will be entering the beginning of the good season for the St. Johns, so let's get together. Bring any gear you might like to sell, too. Both launches are good for getting photos.

Also, know that on Sept. 29 and 30, Shell Point Sailboard Club (Tallahassee) is holding their annual Endless Summer Regatta. They always treat out of town sailors very, very well, and Shell Point is a great venue for windsurfing. More info is at 20knotsnob.com

Monday, June 18, 2012


Last Friday, we had good conditions for wavesailing out at the Poles, with side-on wind at about 18 and waist-stomach high waves on the outside. I was pretty powered up on a 5.5 and a 102 l exo cross. I moved my straps to the inside position and was feeling really comfortable out there - too comfortable! I decided to go for a big port tack jump (not my best side) on the outside break and lost control of the board at the landing, torquing my front foot in the strap. I think my back foot was out by that point. I was wearing reef booties, with straps pretty loose so that my foot was in pretty good. The booties kept my foot locked in during the crash, which was bad. I managed to sail back to shore, keeping weight off my left foot, and from there the hanna park lifeguards and fire and rescue helped me get to the hospital. The lifeguards and paramedics did great, and thanks also to the ladies that helped derig my sail. The xray showed a dislocation of all 5 metatarsal bones, shifted left (on left foot), in what is known as a lisfrancs dislocation. The ortho surgeon put them back in the right place as best as can be and then the next step is more surgery to hold the parts in place. Yikes! All for one pretty sucky jump.

So, in hindsight, i have a few suggestions for my fellow windsurfers.

- Assuming that i recover from this (i understand that other sailors have done stuff like this and returned to sailing and competition), i'm going to stop wearing booties, esp in off the beach sailing. It was on my to do list in the next couple of weeks to redo the nonskid of my board and stop using booties in the waves. It is hard to know for sure if that would have helped but i think it may have.

- going for big jumps on a 102l board in the waves probably isnt worth it. It is a big board to control in the air, with great potential for big torque on a landing compared to the 80 something liter boards normally used for bigger jumps.

- if you want to go for a big jump, do it on the outside break and not a mile offshore. Fortunately i was on the outside break, and was able to sail most of the way back without getting washed too bad.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Shands Bridge Pier, Green Cove Springs

6 windsurfers out at Shands Pier on Saturday, May 12. Winds were around 12-18 out of the southeast. The launch is about as friendly as it gets for the St. Johns River. Here are a couple of photos Vincent took from the pier, looking north towards Green Cove Springs.