3rd a 7 mile downwinder. The first run of our Downwind Swell Chasing Series. We met at 1 pm at the gazebo. The ocean was lit up with ragging whitecaps. At least 20 knots. By the time we made the car drop and waited on one late arrival, high level cloudiness had killed the wind. We had about 10 knots max at the beginning of the run, dropping to 5 knots at the end. We had fun. Maybe next weekend we'll get some real wind. We're moving the meet time up to 12:30 to account for the extra time it takes to make the car drops in heavy beach traffic. That should get us in the water about 1:30
The gazebo we meet at....... Saturday looks like the best day for downwinding in a long time. SW winds at 15-20 knots are expected. The tide level will be very low, making the beach break small and friendly.
Jacky and I will be at the Fort Fisher gazebo on Saturday at 1 pm. If you want to join us, please come.
The Concept: Create a system for lovers of SUP downwinding to meet and run together on windy weekends.
When: Any Saturday or Sunday afternoon when the wind is blowing 15 knots minimum from the S or SW.
Where: For now, we'll meet at 1 pm on the Gazebo, at the second cove in Fort Fisher. This is the Gazebo staring you in the face as you drive 1/4 mile past the civil war fort. You can't miss it. Free parking is available all around the rock lined beach overlook.
How: Those showing up to run, will decide the distance based on the comfort level of those involved, and the wind strength for that day. Car pooling arrangements will be decided on the spot. Car drops will be made following the 1 pm meeting. You can expect the actual run to start about 1:45 and finish around 3 pm.
Check this blog each Friday for the weekend downwinding forecast. I'll give my prediction on the likelihood of a downwinder going off. Living here allows me to compare the forecast wind with the real wind, then I use my crystal ball.
Prizes: NONE. This is for people just looking to chase some swells with a few friends.
Downwind Runs we often do:
7 miles- Fort Fisher to the Carolina Beach North End pier 5 miles- Fort Fisher to the Marriott Hotel 4 miles- Our house to the North End pier 3 miles- Fort Fisher to our house (We often stop here when the wind dies on us)
What to expect: We typically run about about 2 pier lengths off shore following the coast. Sometimes much farther out to catch more of the SW wind. Jacky and I carry Camelbaks with Co2 inflatable life belts hidden inside. PFDs are required when running way off shore, outside what can reasonably be called the surf zone. Only when within the surf zone, is it legal to be without a PFD. It's completely up to you whether you comply. We don't care one way or the other. But we do recommend nobody show up without a leash. Nobody should count on others to save them should you loose your board. In 30 knots, it's near impossible to paddle upwind to save anyone.
I hope to see a few friends join us downwind swell chasing this summer. Feel free to call me or Jacky during the weekend to confirm the run is happening. My cell is 297-4567. Jacky is 264-1552.
We had a blast today. I was lazy with the camera though. I even twisted the arm of Quinn and Al and got them on my Sub Vector. They did great for prone surfers trying to SUP. Meanwhile, I longboarded on Quinn's board. It reminded me how superior concave decks are. Those domed decks feel like greased pigs, whether SUPs or prone surfboards, they all suck. Concave decks are the future.
We skipped the race today and went surfing instead. The decision was made after doing yesterdays downwind run and feeling a little ill from it. Near heat stroke for me. Face was red when I finished. When I rested during the run, I felt woozy. Mid 90's and marginal wind is hard on the body. Today's forecast was more extreme heat and even less wind!
Update: There are signs of hope this morning at sunrise. The SW wind is already blowing at our house. That is a classic sign of a strong sea breeze coming this afternoon. That is what we want to see. A return to normal. If we see the same signs of wind tomorrow morning, it's going to be good!
Here is this areas best wind speed indicator for a SW wind. Ignore the direction indicator, it's wrong. But the speed is very accurate for my beach. It's blowing 19 mph at sunrise! 100% stronger than forecast. This is the magic of SW wind in our area.
Here is the wind forecast from the 2 big dogs, NOAA and Intellicast. Other sites just regurgitate what NOAA says.
We're leaning toward skipping the race. We'll save $100 and avoid hours of torture. If we're wrong and the wind does blow, we can always downwind at home. We were really looking forward to this, but you can't control the wind.
If this forecast holds, Thursday looks good for our first downwinder in a long time.
5pm start, our house to the North End Pier. We hope to have a few people join us.
The big race is Saturday, and the forecast wind direction is perfect for giving us the magic wind. By magic wind, I'm talking about our standard summer sea breeze that blows 50-100% stronger than forecast.
The article inspired to me to write about downwinding safety. I have done about 15 ocean runs in winds up to 35 mph.
1) Don't even think about trying it without a leash. We run up to one mile offshore doing ocean runs and can become separated by over a mile. You should plan for the worst, and expect to be on your own out there. It's not possible for someone to reverse direction and paddle upwind to save you in 30 knots. If you're worried about leash drag, get a short coil leash. Jacky and I use Bully's paddleboard coil leash.
2) Take your cell phone. Water proof bags are available at Great Outdoor Provision for less than $20.
3) Carry water. We've done runs with and without Camelbaks. We always finish feeling good when we take the Camelbaks. We usually finish beat without them. A little sip every 20 minutes really does make a difference.
4) We carry Co2 inflatable life belts in our Camelbaks. PFDs are required by law when doing off shore ocean downwinders. Enforcement of the law is inconsistent. Most get away without using one. We feel better knowing it's with us.
Next week I'll announce a weekly Downwind Swell Chasing Series to take place each Saturday throughout the summer, wind permitting.
A headwind of 11 mph for the 11AM start. 12 miles upwind is crazy. I hope they schedule a rain date.
I'd like to see races run like the big time contests run at Pipe and Makaha. With holding periods to allow for fun conditions to materialize. But it's not up to me. I'm to old to get involved.
I used to run races back in windsurfing's heyday. I organized and ran the High Wind Slalom Series at the Fortfisher Basin. We raced every weekend during the month of June, but only when the forecast allowed shortboards, and sails below 6.0 to race. We averaged racing conditions 3 out of 4 weekends each summer.
Jacky and I did a 4 mile ocean downwinder today with the Surftech Bark 14 footer. The board is very nice. It gets on a plane easy, connecting runners with ease. Stability is nice. I'd rate it nicer than the Boardworks Vortice. Not to be confused with the hollow, very fast, XP Vortice. But it should be nicer, the design is a full year newer.
I have been studying board designs and where they are going. Just in case I decide to shape new race boards this Winter. I'm willing to buy a production board, should I find one that blows my mind. This Bark was nice, and had one feature I found superior to my board, but the other performance features were about the same, just different.
The feature that impressed me was the template. The width/volume is biased toward the front. I think this promotes early planing and reduces pearling. I could feel that extra meat up front really help when the nose drops and the tail lifts, and you know it's time to paddle and catch that runner. The more pointy nose, balanced templates (F-14, Naish 14 footer, and my home built board) can't ride the nose as hard, making powering onto a plane more tricky skill wise.
What does it all mean? IF I ever build one myself again, it will have this style template. If any of my buds want to join us downwinding, I'd tell them to buy the Bark. For now, it's the best of the production 14s available on the east coast.
One final thought. If you haven't tried the Elite Racer from Quickblade, you must! Jacky was using this paddle. When we swapped paddles, the difference was amazing. The weightless Elite Racer allows you to maintain an insanely fast paddle cadence. Weight matters big time for racing strokes.
Foote with width/volume up front. I like it!
F-14 without width/volume up front. A balanced template.
Naish 14 without width/volume up front. But I like the tail design!
59 years old. 6'2 195 lbs. a.k.a. DW on the Standupzone.
Wife SUPs too. Started SUPing May 2007
Real Names: Dwight and Jacky Fisher,
Contact: fishersfortblog at bellsouth.net or phone 910-two nine seven - four five six seven.