Gunpowder Regatta and Learn to Windsurf

Longboard Start
Longboard Start

Your BABA peeps had a big weekend at the Gunpowder in June.  Where were you?  The threatening storms never materialized even though it was raining cats and dogs inland, and we had nice thermals both Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday the wind came early enough for 5 competitive longboard races.  The Formula kiddos decided to play rather than race and they were blasting downwind of the race course.

Big thanks to Jeff Forte for ably running the races from a kayak on Saturday.  BABA racing is going green – no carbon  except for our masts and booms.  For the final race of the day we had a self timed beach start in  rapidly increasing winds.  Stuart Annapolis Wind and Sam Berry returned to the race course after a long hiatus.  Welcome home guys!

On Sunday BABA’s Learn to Windsurf took center stage with an enthusiastic group of newbies ready to get on the water.  Storms were raging inland again but the bad weather was magically diverted around Gunpowder by BABA juju.  Hal Ashman of Ultimate Watersports was the lead on-land instructor.  I don’t think the students realized that they were being instructed by one of the East coast’s best.  Thanks for being there for BABA, Hal!  Winds were increasing through the afternoon so the LTW students had light wind to get started and a bit more of a push once they got their basic uphauling and sailing skills under wraps.  I heard one exuberant student cry out “I CAN DO IT!”  Congratulations to Janice E for continuing a tradition of well attended LTW clinics.  Thanks to all the folks providing on the water coaching – Mark Windz41, Helen VG, Bill A, Coby and Dennis.

ABK Boardsports – New BABA Sponsor

When I started windsurfing I took 3 ABK camps in quick succession, and that gave me a great foundation.  Over the years I’ve done a few lessons or short clinics here and there, but nothing as thorough as ABK camps.  I think lots of windsurfers are like me – we get a solid foundation and get comfortable with our skills and don’t think anything about taking an intensive clinic again.

It had been 15 years since Steve and I took an ABK Clinic.   I jokingly referred to our trip to Bonaire in 1998 as our prenuptial agreement, since I started windsurfing before I met Steve and he had some catching up to do.  This winter I revisited ABK Bonaire along with Janice Emerling and her cohort of Chicago friends (her Caribbean windsurfing buddies going back many years).  It was great to work with Andy Brandt again, and his instructors Brendan Quinn and Derek Rijff really know their stuff.  It’s amazing how they can break down every windsurfing move into understandable pieces, and how they can offer constructive critiques on body position tweaks that can make all the difference in completing a move.  Even when Andy and Brendan were busy talking to other students about their technique issues on the water they could see me sailing in for critique and pick up on seemingly minor missteps that lead to improvements all around.  They have unbelievable passion and enthusiasm for teaching windsurfing.

Taking an ABK clinic in Bonaire was a great way to get the most value out of a Caribbean trip because we worked hard every day.  And even if you don’t score ideal planing conditions during a clinic the ABK team has lots of moves to teach everyone.   I was a little disappointed that it was too windy for some beginner freestyle time on the water because I was so stoked watching the advanced freestylers hone their craft.

I heartily welcome ABK as a BABA Sponor.  Thank you Coby for starting the conversation with Andy last fall.  I encourage everyone to jump on the ABK bandwagon and take your first clinic, or your 5th, or your 10th.  ABK will be in Dewey September 27 – 29.  They have lots of other camps between now and then, including August in Bonaire, and spring and fall options in Hatteras.  Check out their website for the full schedule.  Time at an ABK Clinic pays huge dividends.

ABK generously donated tuition for a clinic to BABA.  The drawing was held at the Season Opener Party on March 16.  All BABA families (one entry per membership) who had renewed their membership by the party were included in the drawing.  Long-time BABA member Roger Fitzgerald won.  Congratulations Roger!


My Affair


by Dave Turner

I confess. I strayed.  My relationship had grown stale and unexciting.  The initial attraction was gone and what had initially seemed so wonderful faded to a gray, dull, never good enough relationship.  I was unsatisfied and unfulfilled and not even fully aware of it.   My betrayal happened so gradually that I really didn’t realize it at first.  First a casual inquiry, then more frequent contact, then a sudden rush of excitement and before I knew it things had gone too far and I was neglecting my first love.

The above describes my brief foray into Thistle sailboat racing. A few years back, I put my windsurfer aside and spent a season as a crew member on a boat out of Wilmington, DE. I love to be out on the water and a Thistle requires very little wind to sail, which meant that I could get out on the water frequently. I learned some new skills and made a lot of new friends.  As a lightweight, I was very popular with the Skippers.  A Thistle is best sailed with about 450 pounds for a crew of three.  A total crew weight of 600 pounds or more makes it very difficult to get the boat up on a plane.  My interest culminated with participating in the mid-Atlantic regional championships, with our boat placing 7th out of 22 vessels.

However, the appeal of the Thistle soon began to wane.  I found that much of my discontent with windsurfing resulted from having older equipment.  I upgraded my rigs and boards and found my new equipment to be much more user friendly. While the Thistle gets you on the water frequently, it is not nearly the exciting and loose ride that you get with windsurfing.  The sail blocks much of your view and you have to duck under the low boom every time your jibe.  Fail to duck in time and you get a big whack on the head. A Thistle capsizes fairly easily and I became mildly hypothermic one session while body dragging behind our boat (full of water) as the other crew members attempted to sail after our bailer, which had not been secured to the boat and was floating out with the tide at about 3 knots.  In addition, a fifteen foot boat can seem exceedingly small when your skipper turns into a tyrant when outpaced by the competition.

In the end,   I rediscovered my appreciation for my first love (other than my spouse, that  is!), Windsurfing.  While windy weather that fits your schedule my seem infrequent at times, there is nothing that matches the exhilarating sense of speed, freedom,  and that close to nature feeling  that you get from a good day of windsurfing.  In addition, there’s the instant acceptance that you get from the windsurfing community.  Show up at any windsurfing sailing site and you will be accepted regardless of your skill level or ability. Add in a great club, such as BABA, with its camaraderie and inexpensive trips to Hatteras, and I don’t think that I will be straying again anytime soon.D_Turner_beach