|Lepe & Calshot||1||1||2|
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We seem to have got our heads around the S word a little bit more. A few days with no wind meant we were GAGGING to get on the water and a trip to Ocean World to come face to face with Tigers and Hammerheads helped to put their habits into context. Basically, humans are not their food and the 'attacks' are mistaken identity - just the sharks having a quick try before spitting us out. Our haemoglobin tastes bitter and our fat is not luscious like turtle or seal. If you are unlucky, they can accidentally twist off a limb during the tasting process, however. Sharks go shopping at night and morning and in murky water, so if you can see clearly enough to see the shark, there is probably no shark... Very existential.
It was light-ish at Kanaha so we rigged big, after an excellent clinic on sail tuning from Ant. It was such a joy to be back on the water, blatting around and trying to improve our technique. I tentatively rode down some little faces and did marginally better at my bottom turn / gybes. It was a knackering 4h session with no lunch (we didn't want to waste any time on the water) and we had excellent critique not just from Ant, but from Andy's wife Shirley, who compared me to Mark "You betta than him!" I also got the highest praise from Ant. "I told Shirley you are quite good. For a girl..." He did have the good grace to cower a bit as I stepped menacingly towards him!
I cut my leg on the fin. My new-found knowledge and understanding of sharks did not help here. Knowing that a shark can detect a single drop of blood in an Olympic-sized swimming pool did not help my peace of mind. Nor did the woman frantically waving for us to go back to shore. I don't know what that was all about.
Max Rowe rocked up to say hi and was fangin' around on a 4.7. That is just not polite. Maybe I take on board what Ant says about using smaller kit!
"Go out and jump HIGHER than you've ever jumped before!" Ant's instructions for our 'one last run.' Shirley told Mark "You gotta jump higher than her!" I was quite pleased with my jump - I bore off on a little wave and would venture to say that I got the fin out and everything. Even a nice soft landing that didn't jar my knees. Ant barracked me; "Jackie did a nice jump - then she got the wave of the century and sheeted out to slow down and go over it!" You're damn right I did. Unfortunately, Mark does not have the same sense of self-preservation. He went for the wave of the century, tombstoned it, came down hard and smashed the BACK of the board on the reef... This is a new turn in the Ca-Lamberti stakes. He has never smashed the back of a board before. Ant was delighted. He got a GREAT photo.
I was absolutely BROKEN when we got home. We managed to keep our eyes open until 19:30 at least and slept through until 8am the next day!
It takes some strength of character to launch the day after a shark attack. Yesterday, Kanaha was closed because a French Kitesurfer had an interaction with nature - a mere 15 feet of tiger shark.
We launched at Sprecklesville, which has deep sand, vicious spiny plants (one went right through the sole of my flip flop!) and a couple of reefs to avoid. The waves are a bit random here, they don't come through in sets. We sailed upwind of one reef and after blatting around and getting quite tired trying to be calm and waterstart more quickly in the waves, I sailed to a little sandy beach for a rest and to sort out a harness line, which I couldn't do in the churning water. I noticed the error of my ways quite quickly. Ant shouted after me "There is no wind in there!" "I KNOW!" I tried waiting for a gust, but the shore break was huge and made launching in little wind quite a task. In the end, I had to swim the board out. Later, Ant said that I had been in so much trouble. Murky, turbulent water with no wind is just where sharks like to hang out - and I had been in the water for 25 minutes.
It was a relief to get back to the downwind bay. I felt a bit better - with the application of a bit of resolve, I hadn't panicked in the waves and am trying to get used to being in the environment, but my waterstarts are still taking too long. I am trying not to focus on the S word. The waves at Sprecks are not too powerful and the water state is a bit like the South Coast - only a lot warmer and with a volcano as a backdrop! We even got a rainbow.
I did a couple of sessions but wasn't comfortable and didn't really enjoy it. I don't know why, when it is such a beautiful place, but is hard to keep your head in the right place when you are terrified on two fronts! The wind got up later and I was massively overpowered; we were trying to do 360s to get us further on to the front foot when bearing away and I got slammed hard a good few times. Mark did a 360 and pushed it further than most people with sense and got properly flattened. Ant's observation on this was "No-one takes it like that. You could loop!" Oh no... don't encourage him...
I am trying to take some positives from today; I didn't panic in the waves and tried to be sanguine about sharks. They are a fact of life here and attacks are rare. It is more dangerous to drive, but sharks still command more fear than the M25!
I was shattered from fear and effort. I went to bed. When I closed my eyes, I saw waves coming towards me!
We just met Francisco Goya at his factory! What an absolutely LOVELY guy. I have been told off for being too happy, but Mark said that Francisco's smile made me look miserable! Cisco said that he has lived here for 20 years and has seen sharks twice. "Just relax! If you fall in, the current brings you back to the shore." Maui is a charmed and magical isle.
We pointed out to Ant that a guy in Goya was wearing Maui cycle shorts. "Yeh - but he had a bike!" I think that some of the tutoring may have to focus on getting us to look a bit more cool! (Although I have to point out that Ant did drive off without filling up after pre-paying for gas! We didn't say anything about that. Well, not much.)
We stopped at middle Kanaha and Ant launched again on his kite. I fell off in the impact zone and had a proper benny. Ant alleges that I swore at him. I can't believe that I would do anything so un-ladylike while in the process of panicking about drowning, being eaten by sharks or clobbered over the head by my kit. Unfortunately, the head cam was switched off so it is my word against his m'lud! I am a rather unlikely watersports person in that I have a real fear of being submerged. I have a way to go in getting used to trying to waterstart in under 20s with waves crashing over my head.
The wind dropped, which was a shame, as I sat on the beach for a while and collected myself. Ant gave me a big hug and rationalised it. "It's waves; you're in Hawaii. You're out of your comfort zone" He said he had a guy on a clinic who had gone out here in the flat, fallen off and just touched the bottom. He chucked his kit back on the beach, said he'd had it with windsurfing and didn't sail again for a week. We all have our fears to overcome when we push our boundaries, but I still feel like the inflatable boy who took a pin to the inflatable school, prompting the headmaster to say "You have let me down, you have let the school down but worst of all - you have let yourself down."
And I can't believe I got my hair wet for one run!
Tomorrow, I will face my demons.
We went shopping and Mark bought some really great Speedos, which look exactly like cycle shorts.
A langorious, slow start (the wind doesn't kick in here until about 11am!) with a chat over our learning points from yesterday. Then a trip to Mecca - Ho'okipa! We sauntered straight into Brawzhino and Klaas Voget. The board for the heats read like a who's who. Ant found it very funny that Mark turned up at Ho'okipa - the coolest windsurfing beach on the planet - in his "cycle shorts"! A few years ago, he said he would have disowned us... RRD's tag line is "We were uncool before it was cool to be uncool." We are uncool, but have never quite managed to transcend our uncoolness into cool...
We went down to the 'Water Treatment Plant' - lower Kanaha. I had a mare! A bloke on the beach said "You know there are a lot of sharks out there." There is a bit of localism here and that was what this was about. Ant told him "I lived here for 15 years." but I had the S word in my head...
Ant came out on his kite, which is excellent as he can stay right with you even in the waves. I managed to ditch right in the impact zone with Ant by my side saying "Hurry up. Hurry up. You have been in the water too long." I interpreted this as "You better get on quick as there is a shark!" rather than Ant encouraging me to apply the 20 second waterstart rule. I completely freaked! In my panic to get aboard, I went over the front twice, which I never do. Ant said later "Jackie came back into the beach at about 40 knots!" He decided that I was not in the right frame of mind here and we moved up the beach to Kanaha.
Had a lovely afternoon zapping around at Kanaha, ever wary to stay clear of the Triangle of Death! My gybes had gone to hell but I was pleased with my tacks and carving some S shapes. It felt like the wind had dropped compared to yesterday but I wouldn't have wanted more than a 5.3. It was the new Ezzy 4 batten sail. Ant asked me how it felt - to be honest, I couldn't notice any difference! (I said the same yesterday about the 5.8. Ant pointed out that it was no wonder, since it was a 5 batten sail!)
By some strange quirk of fate, the vagaries of American Immigration and a hasty decision, we find ourselves in Maui, just the two of us; oh, and Ant Baker, all to ourselves!
The prelude had been 9 months before on a chill January afternoon; "Mark - Ant Baker is running an entry level wave clinic on Maui." "Book it!" "Do you want to know the details?" "Book it!"
We started our day in the mahogany-floored house that looks out over the jungle, the volcano and the ocean, with Ant running through our aspirations. Then a trip to Second Wind, a joyous toy shop run by the lovely Kevin, who saw us right with RRD Ltd / Ezzy, just like home and upgraded us to Carbon Booms.
We drove down past Ho'okipa. We were not sailing there - not just because the Aloha Classic is in full swing. Apparently the channel between the rocks is about as wide as our van. A wipeout on Ho'okipa has consequences!
We stopped at Kanaha, a beautiful, tree lined beach with a misty mountain backdrop. We launched on glassy blue water from a fine sandy beach, with mast high waves churning on the horizon! We were told not to pee in the water, avoid the 'Triangle of Death' (where currents meet a breaking wave) and the swimming area which was protected by shark nets. Yes, shark nets. That is why you don't pee in the water. Sharks are a fact of life here. That takes a bit of getting used to! I saw a turtle. Apparently it is best to avoid them too - they don't bite but an impact can take of your fin!
We practised our tacks and gybes on film and broke for a quick lunch at Taco Bell. Here watersports are everywhere, so the staff didn't seem to mind putting out 'Caution, Wet Floor' signs as we dripped in our boardies.
After lunch, Ant came out with us to look at the waves. They were solid mast high. I felt sick. "Not feeling it?" Ant asked me. I shook my head and said that I would sail back in. Mark has a bit more bottle than me and rode one. When Ant came back in, he told me "He was so lucky not to get nailed!" Mark had fallen off on the lip and nearly went over the falls. The wind really got up for the last few runs and I was quite overpowered. There were guys out on 4.7s, Ant told me! We got a high 5.
"That was the worst sail I've had in 6 months." so said a fellow sailor and that pretty much summed up the consensus on the beach. We had all had high hopes for a repeat of yesterday but with more wind. There was certainly more wind than yesterday. Then there wasn't. Then there was...
Everyone was coming in and changing down. "I'm underpowered on a 5.6" "Overpowered on a 3.5" "Changing down from a 5.0" - ooooh the decisions. I opted for the 5.2 cranked down. I went out and had to land almost immediately to let off all the outhaul to get going! It was the antithesis of yesterday - huge gusts, massive lulls and horrible, messed up chop. And the rain... I had to sail with one eye shut and my chin tucked into my chest as the rain was so painful. The lulls were such fun on a small board in the chop. Still, I made all of my tacks, which bodes well for Hawaii. I thought I had forgotten how to sail a small board!
Mark nearly got swept out of The Run on a 102 (sinker for him - with not enough wind to get going.) Thankfully he managed to catch the last 2 feet of harbour wall and pull himself back in and up the slipway. The Run would normally just result in a walk of shame, but today, huge waves were crashing over into the car park. That would not have been pretty.
Mark changed up to the 110, then the rain started again. I ended up alongside a chap bogging along in a lull in the rain and asked him The Question; "This is fun, isn't it? Tell me it is." They say a good day on the water is better than a bad day at work. I was supposed to be at work for a training course that was cancelled. Even though it was horrible, I did prefer being on the water!
We had a look over on to the sea side of Hengistbury Head, which looked revolting (huge shore break onto the groynes and a complete lull inshore) and decided to call it a day. We sailed back in (well away from The Run!), de-rigged in the p***ing rain and soaked the van. Then we went and dripped in Helen and Bernie's motorhome over tea and a cake. Then the frikkin' sun came out! H&B had had the sense to go out and come straight back in again and have lunch, although they were toying with going out again, what with the sun making an appearance. We had to text them on the way back home "We're driving through what is coming your way..."
At least we didn't have a tornado like Hayling Island!
SO MUCH FUN! We did the 'Marginal, let's go fu'coffee' and it not only filled in after a short shower killed the wind, but the sun came out and it was about 15 degrees! NOt bad for October. Had to drop in the water to cool down!
It was springs, so a high high - the water was beautifully flat. The wind was quite southerly, so we were sailing towards The Run. We got a whistle from the quay when Mark, Bernie and I ripped in and did a formation carve gybe! Though I say so myself, we deserved it.
We had to work a bit, but were on the plane the whole time. It was great to catch up with Christchurch locals too.
Now just looking forward to tomorrow, which is supposed to be WINDIER! Woop Woop!
This was as close to a classic session as you can get! It was a warm autumnal day - and the sun even came out to sprinkle diamonds on the water. It started as a quite marginal NW, with Dudley and Bryn bogging about, so we rigged big and went out as they came in. The wind built and for once, the strategic 'let's have a coffee and see what happens' paid off (usually the wind dies off in inverse proportion to the amount of caffeine in our blood stream!)
We were planing straight away and after about an hour, we had to land on Hengistbury Head and crank on as much downhaul and outhaul as was physically possible to enable us to hang on to the sails. Mark could keep up with me but couldn't overtake, even though he had 2.2m and 2 cams on me. I was flying! It was a long high tide and the water was beautifully flat, so we managed without changing down board sizes. Several more reaches right across the harbour, with the pleasing addition of a little audience on Hengistbury Head for some of them. I am sure they were more interested in my gybes (and waterstarts!) than they were in the two guys pulling off Vulcans. Then a magnificent blast downwind and in. (Mark - remember that you have a 520cm fin. This necessitates caution when crossing the sand bar. Sorry not to have witnessed the catapult!)
I had so much fun I was even sanguine about the parking machine swallowing £1 (when the parking charges are already daylight frickin' robbery and it's nearly November and Christchurch Council is still charging summer rates and Brain watched me put my money in and then said 'It just swallowed my money too' - thanks for the warning... At least he lost more than me!)
It was still AMAZING!
It was forecast to be 17kts in the morning. It wasn't, so we went to the gym. It seemed to be filling in after lunch so we launched. I took the 6.7 (YES - I am sure I can manage it!) Had a couple of planing runs but OMG it was hard. The sail was not downhauled enough and was not stable in the gusty winds and made waterstarting very tricky. My lines were in the wrong position, but while I was up I didn't want to drop the sail to adjust them so I ended up on my arms - a fact which my shoulders, upper back and forearms regretted later!
I still felt like I couldn't sail - it is so gusty and swirly. Met Mark in the bay and we uphauled and fell in in synch as we were simultaneously back winded by a 30kt gust that hit the headland and came back on us! At one point, the gusts were so ballistic that I didn't think I would be able to get back in downwind (oh please god don't say I will need to be rescued again. I can't stand the humiliation!) The next minute, I couldn't move as I was standing holding the sail up in a complete lull! Mark was not so proud. He got stuck among the moored boats and just waved for the rescue boat. "Just f***** tow me in!"
That's 2 rescues each!
The only good thing about today is that one of the instructors had been into Bodrum on his day off and bought some 30cm lines for Mark, which is very sweet!
Our verdict on the venue - the wind is PANTS!
Oooh - the excitement! It was blowing when we got to the beach after a real brown dog morning, complete with a somewhat interesting massage in the spa. We bailed out of part 2 of our sailing lesson to windsurf and as soon as we were ready to launch - the wind dropped!
By the time we had frigged about, all the kit had gone and we had no choice, so I went out on the 6.7 / 141 and Mark on 150/8.5. When I said I would have the 6.7 I got an "Are you sure you can manage such a big sail?" I obviously look like a week and feeble woman. "I sail a 7m at home..." I replied
I got a couple of planing runs, but was largely bogging. The sail felt like a canvas fertiliser bag on a twig and actually vibrated when I was planing because it had no downhaul, outhaul and needed a few battens tightening! It was a pig to waterstart, as it just stuck to the water. Mark's footstraps were swivelling like nothing on earth and I think we are getting on the staff's nerves. Mark asked for a screwdriver to tighten the foot straps and one of the instructors said "They are meant to be like that." I sensed that mentioning downhaul, outhaul and batten tensioning would be futile and construed as a week and feeble female making excuses for not really being able to handle such a big sail!
At least a few of the instructors saw me scream in and I managed to do some fairly passable gybes in view. One of them mentioned it later - they only believed it was me because they saw my pigtails flying!
As soon as we were kicked off the water - the b***** wind got up.
Well, it was beer o'clock anyway!