Several BABA members participated in ABK camp in Hatteras this fall – Vlad Gavrilets, winner of the ABK camp drawing at our season kick-off party, Jon Fleuchaus and Farrah Hall. ABK is a generous sponsor – BABA appreciates their support and we encourage every windsurfer to take a clinic (or 5) with ABK. Check their calendar for 2015 dates in lots of different locations including Bonaire, Hatteras, Lakes Bay (NJ), Corpus Christi and Padre Island.
The clinic was a blast!! First of all, thanks to Ned Crossley we had a fantastic house 50 yards away from the clinic site in Waves, NC, with 10 windsurfers in it. As a surprise house mate, we had US Olympian racer, Farrah Hall (check out her blog post about ABK in October). My wife, Olia, joined us for a couple days later in the week.
Next, the instructors – I’ve taken a lot of lessons before, and ABK instructors were really top notch. Andy and his crew are very passionate about our sport, and they know how to explain, how to teach, and how to correct your mistakes.
There were 5 instructors for 20 students. This is a great ratio – I always felt I was getting individual attention. Andy breaks the students into groups by interests and abilities. There were a number of regulars, who were clearly head and shoulders above others, and that leads one to aspire to become as good as those folks in spinning various light and high wind tricks.
Every morning we’d start at 9:30 am sharp, Andy would announce lectures, and students would have a choice which lecture to attend. I had a chance to listen to 4 out of 5 instructors, and found each lecture very informative. I attended lectures on carving gybe, light wind tack, high wind planing tack, a fantastic lecture on gear from Derek, who writes equipment reviews for WindSport magazine (also a BABA sponsor), and, of course, Andy’s class on Sail Chi. In the latter, Andy shows how to practice with a sail on dry land, and does so in his highly entertaining manner. Andy is a real artist and it’s a blast to listen to his lectures (although, once again, all instructors were fantastic). I learned a ton from these lectures, and they really helped during practice sessions on the water.
There were two practice sessions each day, one in the morning following a lecture, the second in afternoon. The first session stops at noon, second goes from 2 to 5 pm. The setup is great – instructors break into groups, they stand in shallow water, and students practice various tricks or moves close to them, so that they can observe and quickly give feedback. This works well for both light and high wind. It’s easier to get more feedback during light wind sessions, since you are always close to your instructor. For me, these light wind sessions were invaluable, as my gybes and tacks were very clumsy, and I learned the essential skills necessary for high wind maneuvers as well, such as back winding and sailing clew first. I also learned how to do a clew first beach start.