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Leaving his contrail behind, Ely powers out hard in the flats toward the anchor lines
photo by Denise Quinn

   

 


"Cheapskates take note: There's an unwritten windsurfing rule that doesn't state (because it's unwritten) that if you sell a piece of gear and don't replace it before the next session, you will invariably miss it sorely."
--A. Cheapskate

   
     
 

The day had started with the definite smell o' wind. It built in the AM, and the North Shore was "showing" like a pregnant elephant.

But if you live here you know how it goes. Manhasset Bay can get thermal early on some bright warm days, while the South Shore takes longer to come to a boil, if at all. But if and when it gets into gear it can hit a much higher top end in a thermal.

I picked up Ely from the station and we headed over to load up his gear, and then off to the famous sandwich shop on the Merrick Road.An innocuous looking place but a purveyor of fresh and well made heroes, we tucked in on the road and finished our nosh in the parking lot.Lenny and Denise were already comfortably arranged in beach chairs in wind watch position.

There was a quiet excitement, a sense of sure thing ocean session, but how soon would the wind reach critical mass. The question was answered by a slamming van door. Another unwritten rule: when the wind can shut rusty old car doors of it's own accord, there's enough windto plane. (i'm not sure how that applies to modern well-oiled doors.)

Ely was first on the water rigging a conservative 6.2; pretty soon he was in overpowered slalom mode and looking more like a world cup racer than wave sailor. There weren't any waves close to shore at this point, just a rough mogul sea. THe wind was in opposition to the tidal flow which was helping the water stand up a bit like a buzz-cut.

By the time I got my big low-end 5.5 down there it was already passe´ The wind had put on a meter's worth and Ely was soon to come back with a 5.3, and Carl a 4.7.


Breathless, parched, beat, but not ready to retreat, Elvis and Carl strategize
the next few runs over to Demo, as the wind gets it's freak on.
Photo Denise Quinn

There was now plenty of nice swell to jibe on, but each turn was an overpowered adventure and most of the time I was just trying to keep the board somewhat on the water, and retain a grip on the rig which wanted to become a kite. Holding down the rail was a huge effort and cramp invaded my feet with a crushing pain. The fishing fleet bobbed at anchor in sea-sickening inlet swells that began a few hundred yards offshore. We kept a close eye on those anchor lines and the drift of the the other lines -- the ones with hooks and bait. No place to get snagged.

Always a step behind in the rigging race, no matter what I rode or rigged that day it felt way too big and bouncy. The board I'd figured I needed just a day like this was sitting in a Fedex box en route from Hawaii. The board I'd sold was hopefully being enjoyed by our local buddy Scott Furr down the coast in Sheepshead Bay. So there was no alternative but to go out on the big gear. either that or do the Cedar Death March Back to rerig. After futile attempts with smaller fins, loads of downhaul, outhaul and moving mastbases, it was back to the van for an ancient backup board I hadn't ridden in years.

Not enough. I was literally now sitting on the pin tail just to keep this ride from taking off. Insane, but what a waste of good wind to be so overpowered on such a great day. You are never quite sure what's the greater crime -- underpowered or overpowered. But after 3 years, this day has stuck in my memory like a fishbone in the throat. Should been great, blew it by rigging too big and picking the wrong board. The schlogging you never remember, but being whipped and dragged you never forget. I did the long haul back to the lot riggede a 5.0 and came back.

Tide shift.

It was all over. The tide was going back the other way, and suddenly the power was off. Lessons learned. Still the blood had been flowing hard in the veins and the day was not quickly to be forgotten.