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.
We had surprisingly few high wind sessions for mid-October in OBX, and, honestly, for a clinic it’s probably better, since you get more feedback by staying close to the instructors. During high wind sessions, I practiced carving gybes. I’m still not quite able to get out of a gybe planing. I usually stall somewhere close to the exit, and finish with a pivot gybe, but I got a lot closer. I feel that after one more clinic I should be able to get there.
Every afternoon at 5:30, right after the second session on the water, we’d gather in the house, and Andy would show the videos of us windsurfing. These video sessions were very good. It’s useful not only to look at your own mistakes, but also to hear Andy’s highly detailed and informative analysis of other’s moves.
The crowd was excellent, everyone was super nice. For Friday night dinner, Olia and I roasted a 20 lb turkey, stuffed with prunes and apples. This was a cool dinner party with instructors and students to end the clinic.
Overall, I’m really happy that I got a chance to attend the clinic, and will definitely be back. It’s a perfect vacation, with all the concentration on windsurfing and learning and my mind was totally refreshed. Many thanks to ABK for sponsoring BABA!
ABK Camp in Hatteras in October was wonderful. I’ve been windsurfing off and on for over 30 years (with one long hiatus related to children), but I’ve never had much in the way of formal instruction. I’d heard good things about ABK and so I figured I should give it a shot. I went there hoping to improve on the things I do all the time but am not very good at (high wind stuff like carve jibes and jumps). Well, I got that and a lot more. We were sailing pretty much all day, every day and so when the wind wasn’t howling we did light wind stuff. I learned things like clew-first waterstarts, backwind sailing, fin-first sailing, short board tacks, and even a switch stance duck jibe. All this light wind stuff made me a better high wind sailor. No, I didn’t perfect my planing carve jibe but I feel like I’m closer to nailing it more consistently (maybe 1 out of 50 instead of 1 out of 1000). I can’t say enough good things about Andy and his group of instructors. Most of the people in the camp were repeat customers and I can see why. That’s not to say that wasn’t a wide range of windsurf experience in the campers. Our camp included a sailor who had started this year to our own Olympic windsurfer, Farah Hall. I hope to go back for the Fall 2015 camp.