CHS- 12/16: why they call this windSURFing

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CHS- 12/16: why they call this windSURFing

just a reminder why some people windsurf: from the Charleston elist

Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 11:09:37 -0500
  From: "West, Scott"
Subject: Saturday at the South end  of Folly...pre and post parade....

Saturday morning started out like any other morning in the winter...cold.
The forecast was for a Westerly wind at 25 to 30 knots, and there had been
reports of possible surf at the local area beaches, as well as an impending
parade at Folly Beach threatening to close off access for a short while to
the better surf spots.

Typically, for those windsurfers that live closer to or on the Eastern side
of the Charleston peninsula, a West wind means bump and jump at the
Sullivan's Island lighthouse or bang and hang at Fort Moultrie, or rock
climbing at The Hilton at Patriot's Point.  And, one must point out, all of
these locations, as well as the James Island Yacht Club/Sunrise Park, are
all scenic and possess their own special merit.  But the majority lack that
one special thing that makes 40 degree wind chill absolutely to die for

...waves.  Duh.

And so the morning started with the usual cell phone marathon to mobilize
the troops.  
"Bart?  You goin'?"
"Yes.  I have clearance, a Santa hat, and all my gear and surfboards."
"Great.  Is the Santa hat neoprene?"

"Matt? You goin'?"
"Yes.  But I have to do 30 extra minutes of something first.  I'll figure
out what that is along the way."
"I see.  OK.  Um, we'll meet at your house.  There's a parade out there, ya'

"Peter?  You goin'?"
"Have boards.  Will travel.  I'm hungry. Got food?"
"No.  Food is secondary.  It's blowin'!! Lessgo."

"Jose?  Wake up!!!  You goin'?"
"Wha?  I don't want or need a Chia pet right now.  You goin' windsurfin'
"And I don't dance, Jose.  No cha-chas.  We're meeting at Matt's House.
Bubber's gonna meet us at Folly."
"Oh, you're cold.  I get it.  When one is from Peurto Rico, this could seem
a little...unbalanced.  No problem.  I'll call you with a report later.
Insulate your house in the meantime."
"And a very Merry Christmas to you, Jose!"

"Bubber, we're heading that way.  See you there?"
"Yea man!  It looks great!  I'll meet ya'll there around 1030."
(And that was the last time I talked to Bubber until later that night.  I
A.  It wasn't regular boardsurfing, and therefore wasn't worthy of his time.
B.  Was too far away from his house regardless of the fact it was on Folly
C.  He just was hoping for his chance to sit on Santa's lap.
D.  All of the above, with the first 2 as excuses to justify a rendez-vous
with the man in red.)

The first parade of surf-enabled minivans, pickup trucks and a gross display
of windsurfing and surfing equipment weaved its way through the labyrinth of
slow moving Charleston traffic in record time to converge on the Western
(Southern) end of Folly at the Folly Beach Park at 1045am.  Though the
second parade of small English cars and child mangling floats were not far
away. .

On the way over, the skies had become cloudy and the temperature dropped.
The windsurfers were greeted with a spitting image of the ocean side of Fort
Fisher at the South end of Carolina Beach on a SW, but without the need for
four-wheel drive vehicles or a trek through the marsh from the sound side.
Upon seeing consistent cross-off winds and waist high surf (smaller than
expected, but long lines and very clean) with spray bellowing off the back
of each roller, we all quickly forgot about annoyances such as wind chill,
frost bite, and hypothermia, and feverishly began rigging sails like madmen.
By the time the neoprene was on, it was every man for himself in the mad
rush to hit the ocean.  I won...nyah, nyah, nyah....oh...wait...that made me
the wind dummy, didn't it?!  Oh!!  I see how it's gonna be!

As most of you folks know, the usual scenario is that a side-off wind is
dangerously gusty making the trip through the waves very tricky often
placing you in the impact zone with no wind in your sail and sinking very
quickly in front of an incoming wave, we all rigged floatier than normal
boards.  After two runs, I was on my wave board (85 liter) enjoying
relatively easy trips out into the surf zone, with nuclear winds whipping up
clean surface chop for bump and jump conditions about 150 yards out.  At the
end of Folly where the park is, there are no zillionaire mansion beach
houses or other significantly sized manmade structures to block the path of
a Westerly wind.  The marsh and small dunes apparently don't put up a lot of
fight like the practical and simple 6500 square foot beachfront homes on the
Isle of Palms do, at least not in terms of blocking the wind.

Cutting through the surf at a 45 degree angle to the beach and 45 degrees to
the swell, heading in the direction of the tip of Kiawah, and coupled with a
45 degree wind chill blowing on my now below room temperature fingertips,
sailing was smooth and fast.  A missed jibe (on purpose, of course...I just
couldn't wait to get wet) on the outside gave me the opportunity to warm up
my neoprene hood (vertigo inducer) and get a better bearing on the wind
direction long enough for me to realize a strong upwind leg out and a decent
upwind leg back in would allow  just enough room to spend plenty of time
downwind in the surf to tear down the line of the waves without losing any
upwind ground.  Losing upwind ground would eventually put you in the shadow
of Folly beachfront homeowners and would make for a very unpleasant swim and
walk back.  With extreme speed motivated by the known presence of predatory
aquatic wildlife in the area between Folly, Kiawah, and John's Island, one
very quick water start had me screaming back at the beach happily
overpowered and barely in control of my 5.5 sq meter wave sail.


It was as if someone shot us out of a big barrel and straight into the surf.
Starting about 100 yards from the surf zone we were able to pick up waist
high swells and ride them in for over 100 yards into the beach with just a
tiny bit of room to jibe and head back.  The rocket part was due to the fact
that the wind direction off the beach allowed us to go front-side on a broad
reach and well in excess of 20 knots down the line of these waves.  Multiple
bottom turns, slashy cutbacks and lip smacks were mandatory and lightning
fast with lots of spray off the back of the small but long and fun waves.

By about 130, the wind had reached its forecasted peak and started backing
off a little making slightly bigger sails and floatier boards in demand
(5.8s, 100 liter-ish boards).  A couple of kiters had made it to the party
by about 1PM and were shredding it up through the surf with nice wave rides
and big air, too.  They were still going pretty strong as we were leaving,
although I think one of them may have gotten caught in the wind shadow
downwind of the park.  

What a day!! I know that plenty of sailors and kiters have gone off here
before, but it was a first for Bart, Matt, Peter, and me.  I'll be back for
wind and waves anytime South swells with westerly winds are predicted during
the spring, fall, and winter. Peter, Bart, and Matthew also described the
lighthouse at Sullivan's as a similar setup on a West wind, but I would
think it would take a more Northerly swell to break that far into the
jetties.  I'm ready to  check it out next time we get a West wind and North
swell, and I'm not working (just like now).
It's a good thing we don't get strong westerlies in the summer.  I hear the
tourons take the Folly park over.


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