Saturday, 16 February 2008
An area of high pressure over northern Europe combined with a low over the Azores saw the isobars crowding together from Corsica to Spain.
With 20 knots from the east and a building swell it was time to get out the windsurfing kit. But what kit?
I have put so little money into windsurfing over the past 5 years that my gear is now reduced to one average condition high wind and wave board, one waterlogged, no non-slip, higher volume board and four scruffy sails.
But a while ago a friend was throwing out old equipment and I took a board that he wanted to bin. I’d never used it until the other day. It is a custom board built on the Costa Brava in the late 80’s—20 years is seriously antique in the windsurfing world which is only 30 odd years old itself—and the design was, well, typical of the era. A wide, thick, high volume nose, minimal rocker, a forward placed mast track, a thin narrow tail and closely spaced footstraps. Underneath there were concaves and a long fin track. All laughably old fashioned.
But on the water the board was a bit of a revelation. Boards like these were considered difficult to sail and were responsible for tipping a lot of aspiring windsurfers off the learning curve and into more user-friendly sports.
It needed a lot of wind to get going—earning no points for early planning, but once it was up and running it fairly ripped along. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve got used to life in the slow lane at 3 knots with Onawind Blue but this board felt seriously fast. Reaching for a few minutes saw me a considerable distance off shore where I discovered another quality of this antique—its gybing ability. With very thin rails at the rear, the board digs in and flies round the corners. When I got the technique 100% dialled I planed right through the gybes with speed and ease.
There’s not much of a traditional windsurfing scene. Actually I think it’s non-existent but there’s a lot to be said for getting these dinosaurs out of the cupboard for some 80’s style blasting.
After three days of windsurfing the wind finally died leaving behind quite a tidy swell. I took the old board surfing and found that in the smaller waves it worked, up to a point, as a surf board. Again laughably unfashionable but at least I was in the water having fun.