bpw's picture

Atlanta Couples Learning to Windsurf in Nags Head

Hearing the Outer Banks is a great place to learn, we were thrilled to have new windsurfers join us this spring in Nags Head. We’ve reserved the same house again for May 2 - 23 next year, so let us know if you’re interested in coming.

Conditions for learning and improving skills are ideal. We rent a large house on the water. It’s shallow near shore with waist-deep water extending out as far as a beginner is likely to sail. The bottom is sandy, and the water is comfortably warm. We store sails in racks under the house, so gear only has to be rigged once. Such ideal conditions make leaning fun.

Here are brief vignettes of three Atlanta couples who joined us to learn and improve windsurfing skills.

Ed & Agata. Ed has been windsurfing in Atlanta for several years, and learned the hard way on Lake Lanier. Ed wanted to improve his own skills and his wife, Agata, was eager to learn. This was Agata’s birthday present and she loved it.

You can sign up for professional windsurfing lessons, but Ed proved to be a good, patient teacher. Usually the wind is light in the morning and picks up as the day goes on, but on the first morning of their vacation, brisk wind and waves made learning a challenge, so Ed stabilized the board so Agata could get started.

Marcel & Roxanna have been coming for years, and when they had children, began renting a house nearby and continued sailing from our house. In the photo Ed & Agata practice in the background while Marcel gets ready to sail, Roxanna watches their two boys, Joshua & Jeremiah. Peggy says she retired from windsurfing last year at age 70, but she’s been known to come out of retirement when conditions are just right.

After the first day, Agata decided she wanted her own wetsuit with a proper fit. So she and Ed went three miles down the road to Cavalier surf shop & picked up a nice flexible spring suit. Agata soon made rapid progress, heading out on her own and able to turn back to where she started.

Now it’s Roxanna’s turn to windsurf while Marcel & father, David watch on.

David & Mindy with their dog, Roxie. Dave found that getting back into windsurfing on Lake Lanier was a challenge, so he came to the Outer Banks hoping to improve his skills. For Mindy, It turned out to be a fun family vacation spot with lots to do, even for a non-windsurfer. Roxie found her moxie on the last evening.

Dave is having a blast getting up on a plane and hooked in with his harness.


webguy's picture

Fun and games with carbon fiber

While I love foiling, it can be hard on your gear, especially if you are pushing the envelope of higher speeds and higher winds. I've gone over the handlebars more times in the last couple of years than the previous decade.

Adding to that, I'm now using a custom board which is well-built but even well-built can't save it from a few hard hammerings from the mast. How hard? How about enough that the ink on the luff sleeve gets imprinted on the board?

So, I've gone into the board repair business. As much because I want to get on the water as soon as possible and not miss any sessions. Few things cause a foiler more anxiety than a decent forecast and the thought that the gear isn't ready for the water. Thanks to the guidance from various sources including the Board Lady, my board builder, Alex Morales and Rob Rock, I've acquired enough knowledge to make a reasonable repair- or at least one that looks okay from a distance. As well, I've also practiced these skills in shortening a few older boards and that practice has helped a lot.

Here's a repair I did recently this spring. I wish I had a picture of the original damage. A day of foiling fully powered (7.7, big wing and gusts near 20) meant that I foiled out (foil lifted too close to the surface) a couple of times. When that happens going upwind, the board then tends to drop hard to the water, trip and stop; and inertia sends you over the front. I've learned since a bit on how to tame that power a bit by moving my back foot and hand up to depower both the wing and sail. The crashes were hard as I was moving along at a good clip.

The impact of the mast crushed the foam inside the board and pushed the top deck down. The exterior crack was actually on the bottom as the top was tougher than the bottom. (If you make something stronger, often, you merely move the point of damage elsewhere which is why when, say, repairing a carbon bike frame, the repair is made no stronger than the original or you risk stressing another part of the frame which wasn't designed for that stress.) I could have just patched the crack but I knew that the interior foam was compromised so any quick exterior repair meant that I was just putting off what really needed to be done- replace the foam, too.

The original damage. It's really not apparent from the top but I took this photo for reference when it came time to mimic the logo. The deck was depressed, the foam inside was soft and the biggest damage was on the bottom of the board where the hard nose pushed down and away from the bottom.

I cut out the damaged foam with a Dremel-like tool and tapered the edges with a grinder and sander to give the new material a surface to adhere to.

I glued in a piece of purple insulating foam. I used this because it was reasonably stiff and easier to shape than styrofoam. More styrofoam was cut out to make sure that the new foam had a good fit and would glue in well. I uses Gorilla glue (polyurethane) because it foams a bit and fills any inevitable voids. It's a bear to sand though as it's really hard.

After it dried, I sanded it to shape. You have to account for the thickness of the PVC foam (I used Divinycell) of the deck sandwich so it has to be some amount below the existing deck.

Next, a layer of glass and the Divinycell is glued in. Divinycell is flexible and can be somewhat molded with a heat gun so you can shape it before applying. I used a poor man's vacuum bag of cling wrap and lots of tape to pull it tight. Don't cheap out like I did - blue painter's tape works better as it releases cleanly. The glass and Divinycell were slightly bigger than the hole so that they would glue to the taper and any extra is sanded off in the next step.

The wrap is removed. You can see where I masked all around the repair to keep any excess epoxy from spreading out on the existing deck and requiring sanding. It also protects the deck when sanding (next step) so you can feather first into the tape rather than sanding big parts of the existing deck and logo. A little prep before hand pays off.

The Divinycell is sanded to shape. Now the nose is starting to look like a nose again.

I glued on a couple layers of carbon fiber, each piece on top larger than the bottom to feather the edges. On top of that is a layer of glass so that any sanding and finishing is done on the glass layer so as to not lose any strength by sanding through the carbon. Lacking a vacuum bag, I used lots of cling wrap and tape. As the top of the deck is slightly concave, I had to clamp down on an extra piece of foam to push down on the concave.

After removing the clamp, you can see the wrap stretched tight over the carbon and glass layers.

The wrap is removed and ready for the final finish sanding and filling of any pin holes. Mixing a "peanut butter" paste of epoxy and glass sphere filler is spread over the glass to fill any larger voids and Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty fills any pin holes.

I finished off with some white primer and then gloss clear coat per Alex Morales's instructions. I used a black Sharpie to recreate the logo so it wouldn't look awful at 100 yds away. Finally, applied non-skid by applying a coat of clear coat, sprinkling on some acrylic non-skid dust (available at your local hardward store) and another layer of clear coat. Again, recreating how Alex did the original board although I think he uses proper auto clear coat which is a little more durable but toxic without the proper breathing gear.

My board nose is now ready for more windy days! Hooray!

Simply majestic...

Phillip Koester at Red Bull Storm Chase Ireland

Philip Koester (GER) in a winter North Atlantic storm during the Red Bull Storm Chase in Magheroarty, Ireland on March 10, 2019.

gene_mathis's picture

Gene’s Campground Adventure

Editor's note: We thank Gene for taking the time to describe from his experience in the big blow last Sunday

And who came up with all these rules?

Rig for what you got, not what you want or the forecast. When you can’t decide between two sails, go bigger if the sun is shining, smaller if cloudy. (Caps look bigger in the sun, and it was sunny.)

When I arrived it was windy. I checked the launch, super high water, not good but doable. Rhett was planning on his 5.2 but falling off plane a little in the lulls. Maybe 6.0 or 5.2? Then the wind came up some, maybe 5.2 of 4.5? So, put on wetsuit first before rigging to have more time to decide and one last look. Although I had the 5.2 pulled out of the trailer, the last look told me to rig the 6.0.

Anyhow, I was overpowered, struggled a while trying to water start, then decided to just clear the sail and body drag back. That didn’t work well, was going to miss the launch, so shoot for Bozo Island? Got close to Bozo, but not an island, just trees growing out of the water with waves. If I could make it there, I still had to get back to the launch. I was getting a little tired, there is a rule about take your breaks, watch your energy level, but this is hard to do in the middle of the lake. Also a very important rule is stay with your board. You don’t want to give out and not be able to hold on to the board. Also, remember, don’t panic. I remembered years back when David W and I took our trip to Bozo, instead of struggling; we sat on the boards and let the wind blow us down wind (to Bozo Island.) So I sat on the board and headed for the campground. Know your take out points. Years back, I ended up at the campground after breaking a mast. Not that big of deal, but, you have to breakdown your gear and tote it to the locked campground entrance (hide it) and then hitch a ride back to Van Pugh. Then you have to drive back to get your gear. All this can add a couple of hours to a not so fun day, and if it’s cold, it’s cold. I was dressed in my warmest wetsuit, better to be too hot than too cold, you can always cool off, so I really wasn’t that cold.

Once at the campground, it was tuff trying to get ashore due to the high water and I was glad to see the Hall County Rescue guys. I’m not sure they were looking for me (although I think Barret had called them) because they asked where the second person was. Then we saw the 2 kayakers stranded at the campground (they were definitely cold, having no neoprene.) Hall County took them back while I stayed with the kayaks and broke down my gear, then they came back and hauled me and all the gear back to Van Pugh. (I think the coast guard will not rescue gear.) I really did appreciate their help. I think they had a good time too as it does look like a fun job as long as no one dies. We probably should only call them as a last resort when someone is in real trouble. We don’t want to get a bad rep or get windsurfing banned. But it’s hard to tell if someone is in trouble when they’re far away. I used to keep cheap binoculars in the car to search for people; this is probably a good idea. Also, remember the universal distress signal. And don’t turn down help. I’ve hitched a ride with fishermen ( kiting) and on David W’s jet ski (kiting), had a nice ride in a pontoon boat (broken mast) and have hitch hiked a ride (in a wetsuit) from Aqualand (pulled muscle ) and from the campground. It seems people don’t mind picking up hitchhikers dressed in neoprene, I think they’re curious.

I guess, even when you take your time, think about what you’re doing and try not to do anything stupid, sometimes, stuff happens.

Gene Mathis