by Brad Tibbels
“I brought my stuff, if you want to try.”
I had no idea what Filipp was talking about but I followed him to his car anyway. We were at Gunpowder State Park for our work picnic and he had brought everything… Everything. Long poles, short poles, curved poles, huge bags that looked like maybe they had curtains inside, big boards, little boards, ropes, vests, strange tools, pumps. It was all there. And he wanted to show me how to use it.
That was before I fell in love with windsurfing. Before I went on probably the best vacation I’ve ever had. Before I wrapped a hook around my waist, attached that hook to a sheet of monofilm and went skimming across the water like a skipping stone.
I drove down to North Carolina for my first BABA Hatteras trip last October. It took nine hours, three bathroom breaks, two lunch stops and one toll. But all I could think about was getting on that easy water. Where there’s no speed boats sending me their wake, no jet skis coming too close, no rental gear to return at the end of the day and it’s 4 feet deep forever.
Every day was the same:
Wake up, walk across the street and watch the birds catch wind off the waves as the sun rises.
Come back, make breakfast while I talk to my house mates about what I plan to work on that day and stretch my rotator cuffs.
Grab my gear from under the house, walk across the back lawn, drop into the water and windsurf my damn brains out.
Come back, hang up my gear and melt into the hot tub on the lower deck, hoping my shoulders will forgive me by tomorrow.
Dry off, take a beer to the top deck and stare at the starry canvas over head with its subtle Milky Way band.
Go to bed, knowing I get to do it all over again the next day.
ed note: Trip Reservation announcement for May 2018 will go out after February 10 from spring trip coordinator Dave Turner. 2017 & 2018 BABA members get first dibs. Is your membership current?
by Leon Turkevich
“Release the front hand all the way.”
“All the way?”
“Yep. All the way.”
In fact, I don’t release the front hand “all the way” as instructed, and the sail slams me backward off the board. Tom Lepak from ABK patiently explains that I fell back because I still had some pressure on my front hand which kept the backwinded sail from spinning around. I step back on the board and try again: this time, I do release my hand “all the way” by opening my palm and moving it away from the boom, and the backwinded sail effortlessly swings around in the fresh breeze as I step back into a perfect clew-first stance: my first successful lee-side escape! A few more tries and I got the heli-tack nailed. Now I just need to move it from the simulator to the water. Continue reading
ed note – I’m oh so tardy in posting this article – please don’t let that inhibit any writers from sending articles for the blog. I promise to do better!
Since I have become accustomed to ending my year of windsurfing by signing up for the Fall BABA trip to Cape Hatteras, I was very disappointed to learn that a work commitment would prevent me from attending the 2015 trip. A quick internet search soon presented an appealing solution. I would attend BABA but only Thursday through Saturday and sign up for Andy Brandt’s ABK Windsurfing Clinic the following week. This would get me a week and a half in Hatteras!
I’d been thinking about attending ABK for a while. My windsurfing skills had improved a lot over the past few years due to quadrupling my time on the water. I was handling more wind, had moved to a much smaller board, and was gradually improving. I did, however, sense that my sailing needed an intervention of sorts in order to progress further. Sure, I’d developed into a straight line windsurfer with a decent non-planning dry pivot jibe, but I wanted more, such as the Heli tack , back wind sailing, the duck jibe, and , of course, windsurfing’s glass ceiling, the carve jibe. Continue reading
Here it is dear readers, the last post from Amber about her Defi 2016 adventure.
by Amber, aka Defi Diva
The rain kept up throughout the night while the winds continued to build. It had been a challenge to remount the boards on our van’s roof when we finally checked out of our beach house the following day. If the gear had not been taped, noodled, and bubbled Chris and I would have braved the waters for no doubt and epic (and probably mast breaking) session! Argh! Confounded again, it was maddening. As Chris drove the way back to Barcelona, he once again had to white knuckle the steering wheel to keep the car on the road. Only this time it was blowing from the sea, the opposite direction from our drive down.
by Amber, aka Defi Diva
sorry dear readers to have left you in the lurch…. welcome back! (ed.)
I have found in my life that the path I have been given to follow is lined with amazing people. And when the way is challenging, all I have to do is look up and someone special will be standing by my side to lend a hand, a shoulder, or a word. That again became readily apparent this DEFI.
Els and I were sitting at the picnic table taking in the scene when one of the announcers began speaking to the audience in French. It went on for a bit and Els’s eyes grew wide. “What is he saying?” “Just wait you will find out”, she replied. All of a sudden he was calling my name and asking for me to come up front. Confused and embarrassed as to what was happening, I went dutifully to the stage. After he asked me a few questions about myself for the audience, he then told everyone about my board situation. I briefly explained what happened and then he announced that Francisco Goya had graciously offered me the use of one of his racing boards for the event. Wow!!!! So cool!!!! What an amazing and kind thing to do! It turns out that Bart and Chris had mentioned my crushed board to Goya during their fan encounter with him (see Relax and Chill – Part 2). So with the usual windsurfer’s generosity Goya made sure that if the situation arose (and the wind came up) I would not be without a board. And while I never had the opportunity to take him up on his offer, I will forever be a huge Goya fan.
by Amber, aka Defi Diva (have you been practicing – saying it just right – every time you open a new blog post…. d’FEE dee-VAH! )
The next day we again took our time getting up and moving. Bart had recommended that I bring my smashed board to L’Oc Surf shop to see what they thought about the damage. “Maybe it can be repaired?”, he offered. “And if not, then at least we will know for sure.” So Bart, Els, and I headed over just after breakfast with the board. As Els waited with our precariously parked car, Bart and I slipped through the back side of the venue with the board. When I pulled the board out of its bag again, my stomach turned. I loved that board. I had just bought it a new 33″ Hatteras Weed fin for it, and the combination with my Aerotech Phantom made me forget every other love I’ve ever had. The fin floated the board, and I had remarked to Keith McCulloch, the fin designer, that it was like surfing on “hot buttah!” (said in some sort of Jersey/New York accent). The fin disappeared beneath the board, and that had made the Futura float like a magic carpet.
Every windsurfer we passed cringed with horror when they mentally registered the damage. Some even stopping to touch it along the way with a whistle and head shake. When the owner of the L’oc Surf came out to see what could be done. He too stopped wide eyed in his tracks. While much discussion went on between him and Bart in French, I did catch two important words; Impossible, Finis. We then retuned home with the board to stash it away. Bart decided he would take it back with him to Belgium. Maybe someone would like to give it a Steve Austin makeover, or better yet perhaps repurpose it as a object d’ Art coffee table?
Els and Bart were there to greet us with big smiles and hearty hugs. Our little beach house was only a couple of blocks away from the little bungalows where we had first met three years earlier, when I had come for my first DEFI adventure. They had already checked in and picked up the keys to the house earlier that day. So when we walked in there on the little coffee tables were three piles of gifts waiting for us. Two piles were labeled ‘Chris’ and ‘Amber’ while the third was labeled ‘Chops’. Both of us dove into our piles, sifting through the finest Belgian Chocolate, windsurfing stickers and other awesome swag, just like kids in a toy store.
Chops’ pile on the other hand contained a variety of dog biscuits, as well as some much needed dental treats.
by Amber, aka Defi Diva
The place was packed. Cars, people, and windsurfing gear fueled a buzz that quickly enveloped us both. As Chris navigated through the storm of wet-suited people, families, dogs and walking sails we caught glimpses of the water. The beach was blanketed in hundreds of sails and boards and there were equally that many out running their laps in the stiff off shore winds. As we watched masts slam down in the water with varying frequencies and locations, it became immediately obvious that the Tramontain was out toying with the racers like a cat with a newly caught mouse.
Chris and I then spent the next two hours navigating our way back into Baggage Claim and the Air France claims counter. Unlike most airports, the baggage claim area was back behind closed doors in the international arrival zone. At first a rather indignant information agent told us that we were too late and we should have made that claim back when we had collected our luggage from the belt. Luckily I was with Chris not only because he was able to translate and speak Spanish, but also because I probably would have strangled her. “Who the freak unpacks their luggage in the claims area to see if anything is broken???!!!!” I said in utter exasperation. “Come on. She is just being difficult. Let’s go upstairs and see if we can talk to an Air France agent directly”, he said gritting his teeth.
We did eventually talk with a ticket agent and she explained how to get back into the claims area where we would need to file a claim. So dragging the broken equipment (because the boom had also been severely warped in what ever event that had brought on my board’s demise) we eventually made our way back and found the correct office.
In Barcelona, the airlines don’t have a direct office to handle these sorts of claims. They all go through a third party that simply takes down the information and then submits it to the appropriate airlines. When we took out the board to show our agent the damage, the wide eyes and whistles from the other agents near by as the curious gawked in fascination, made my heart sink once again. Chris put a brotherly arm around me, “Don’t worry, honest, we’ll figure this out.”
Later that afternoon we finally checked into our hotel, the AC Hotel Gava Mar. The hotel was located right on the beach over looking the ocean, and off in the afternoon sun we saw windsurfers and kiters racing back and forth. As tempted as we were to go out and join them the reality of being awake for the last 36 hours really started to set in. So instead we opted for hot showers, a nice meal, and our beds.
Further Adventures of the Defi Diva
“Holy crap! I can’t believe how long it took me to pack those boards!” I said in exasperation to Chris. He laughed, “Yeah it took me the better part of four hours yesterday. I kept having to run to the store for more noodles and tape. And then of course, I could only reliably use one side of my body for lifting and moving.” Things were looking up though. No locusts, or nuclear events stymied our trip to the airport, and Lou had successfully deposited us and our gear at Dulles International right in front of the Air France ticketing area. We engaged a couple of porters to help us with our boards and gear, and then Chris took his car to economy parking while our boards sat in front of the ticket agents attracting a myriad of attention from both the traveling public as well as the Air France staff. At the advice of Christine, we had prepaid for our excess luggage, with both Chris and I having to each shell out close to $1,100 round trip just to ship our two boards and sails. Sigh! It is hard to be an unsponsored Diva… Continue reading