Friday, August 26, 2016

Back to the Blog (with a selection of diary posts from The Canarian Summer)

Right then, back to the blog ... I know, I've neglected it for so long ... got distracted ... published two books co-written with Nikki (I'll talk about them at some point) ... started writing my memoir .... done a whole lot of windsurfing ... and Life here on The Reef chugs along quite nicely.

The daily updates that I could have (probably should be: "should have") been posting here were instead posted to a thread on the Boards forum, started by a fellow windsurfer (Mark) who spends his summer in Lanzarote. His thread is titled: Canarian Summer 2016 (August) The Summer Groove

Anyway, I'll recap a few of my posts on Mark's thread:

30th July 2016:
It's been a great summer for wind so far here in Tenerife. I've been using my 3.7m a lot, and basically could sail every day if my body allowed it. We have had some good waves, but not every day, and not necessarily on the very windy days. Patience, good timing, and a certain amount of luck is needed, but a few of my sessions have been truly memorable.
6th August 2016:
Interesting day for me ... I had a couple of hours on the Quatro MiniThruster 85l in the morning, very well powered on 4.2m (could have used a 3.7). I'll post my feedback when I have time, but I can sum it up by saying that it's a fantastic board. So, quite windy, but the waves were rather disappointing, apart from a few rouge south swell sets.Then just when I was on my way back from the Wall, the wind died completely - as in not enough to sail back. So an 800 meter swim and a long walk back along the beach to end the day for me.
10th August 2016:
I collected the trusty old RRD twin - nice job on new grip by Sr Luca Orsi and had a couple of sessions at el Muelle with 3.7m. After sailing the Quatro MT for my previous session, the RRD felt like a ten year old pair of jeans that have been renovated - fits so perfect, like an old friend ... and to be honest, do I really need a new board? It does everything that I'm able to make it do, and more ...
11th August 2016 (replying to @Dutchdude's comments about my wave riding: "I find getting the right waves there takes skill and a bit of luck. Silicon Beach didn't seem to have a problem to get the waves with a bit of height to get some turns in, looked good.")
Thanks for the kind words Dude ... but to be honest, watching you do such neat tacks just outside the break, I think you are probably a much higher level than me ... it's just that I've been sailing the same waves for nearly ten years now (up to 200 days a year), so I've sort of developed a 'sixth sense' about how and where they break, which ones are going to peel nicely, how to position yourself when it gets crowded etc If I went to a different spot, I'd be struggling a lot more - especially with wind from the right.

Yesterday the waves at the wall were p1ss poor / non existent most of the time ... a rideable set every five minutes at most? So tactics are as important as technique when there are quite a lot of people all desperately trying to catch the few waves. It is a nice spot out of season (May, for example) when we get a decent 2 - 3 metre swell, head high waves, and only a few people out. But the best thing is that is so safe, and you can sail back out around the break, so there shouldn't be conflicts between jumping and riding - much more of a problem at Cabezo. Having said that, I was on a wave a few days ago when a fin wizzed past my head about 50 cms from me! The jumping nutter fell in, turned round, and apologised, but if he'd been any closer I would have had a fin in my head ... I think he should take up kiting - he has the right mentality for it!
12th August 2016:
The south swell is tricky. I've experienced the scenario you describe: riding dtl and you meet a wave wrapping around and coming at you from the other direction. When they're bigger this usually ends up with you having a close encounter with the wall, in a knee high powerful white water. However, the current then sweeps you rapidly around the corner into the harbour. The only times I've broken a mast is in a big south swell ... picked up by a rogue wave, a lot further out, and coming from the 'wrong' direction, when I was looking the other way, and then hurled into the washing machine, lost the kit, swam after it but the mast was already kaput.

In a solid south swell the line-up is about half way along the wall instead of beyond the upwind end (you can catch a wave from up there, but you then meet the express train wrap-around as described, and it usually ends up with the close encounter of the wall kind) ... however, if you get a really solid set you can ride del a lot further downwind - sometimes half way back into the south bay!
16th August 2016:
Yesterday started quite windy and I rigged a 3.7m, only to find myself underpowered and drifting down wind towards Mt Roja .... which was actually lucky ... because there was a chap down there with a broken boom, sitting on his board out in the big swell, heading behind the mountain - a very dangerous situation. I told him that I'd sail back to one of the rental centres and get the boat out for him, but being so underpowered I actually ended up way downwind beyond the kite beach. THrew my kit on the beach and sprinted several hundred metres to the German Naish centre. The owner was sitting there reading a magazine. I breathlessly told him that there was a windsurfer in trouble who needed rescuing (with a Naish sail, in fact). He shrugged and kept on reading. I went next door, and his wife got the binoculars out and eventually they located the chap.

I had a rest (I was knackered after my Usain Bolt-like exertions), had lunch, changed up to 4.2m and had a rewarding session at the Wall, in decent waves.
24th August 2016:
It's funny ... this will probably sound like heresy ... but I actually quite look forward to the wind stopping for a few days When it blows like it has all summer I find it hard to resist. After about three days of solid wind I sometimes say to myself: "you definitely need a rest now". I get up the next day feeling totally knackered, and take my dog for a walk before breakfast. Usually there's no wind that early, and I'm thinking: "OK, great, now I can get on with some other stuff" (I do actually have a part-time job as a tutor on an online course). And then an hour later I'm working on my computer, with the window open, and the first gust blows in. And it's like a switch has been thrown in my brain. I'm on auto pilot, and half an hour later, I'm rigging up.
The USP for El M├ędano is the sheer number of windy days per year (TWS claim 250 on their website). Some would say that this makes it about quantity rather than quality. And they would probably be right, if you compare the conditions to places with better waves, but perhaps less consistent wind. But it does mean that a windsurfer here gets loads of TOW and stays fit. When you combine this with a near perfect year-round climate, it will hopefully mean that I can keep going with the sport for longer than if I was in the UK (I'm 63 in a few weeks).
So yes, I'm very lucky, and I do realise it  As I see it ... what's the point of planning for / worrying about the future if you find that when it arrives you don't have good enough health to enjoy it?


 This is today's post, 26th August 2016 :
I've had a rest for the last two days, but I was expecting to windsurf today (Friday). Now I'm not so sure ... the forecast has been downgraded. However, it's a lovely clear morning here - no clouds. I'm looking out of my window at the majestic range of mountains leading up to Mt Teide (3,700 metres), against a deep blue sky, and I was about to write: "but there is not a breath of wind" ... and then the first gust blows in through the window. So I'm still optimistic.
Anyway, that brings my windsurfing news up to date.

As I mentioned, I've been doing plenty of writing (just not on here!) ... some with Nikki, and we've (self)published two books:  'Nobody's Poodle' and 'Somebody's Doodle'. I'll post about them separately.
My ongoing project is a memoir. It's a book that I've been working on for quite a while, titled: "The Wind of Change - memoir of a Windsurfing BabyBoomer". Hopefully it will make it into print etc one day (maybe with a foreword by Peter Hart - that would be nice!). There will be lots of travel stories / anecdotes from various places we have windsurfed. I've read plenty of surfing-travel books, but as far as I know, there isn't a windsurfing memoir out there.
The Baby Boomer aspect is maybe something people of my generation can relate to … I was born in 1953, grew up in London in the 60's, played in bands for a living … same age as Tony Blair, who plays guitar and is also probably an ex wannabe hippy :-) Our generation has seen so many changes (hence 'The Wind of Change') - the internet, 'extreme' sports etc … and, of course, we are the lucky ones, compared to younger generations who will have to deal with our mistakes - global warming etc

Anyway - watch this space:-)

Friday, June 24, 2016

"Independence Day"

Bad day for the (so-called) "United" Kingdom (including Scotland?) and a terrible day for Europe.

This morning is like waking up to find that The Donald is now leader of 'The Free World'. By the way, according to the BBC, the presidential hopeful is visiting a golf resort he owns in Scotland today. He said it is a "great thing" that the people of the UK have "taken back their country".

A "triumph for democracy"? Well yes, if you support Farage, Boris, Le Pen, Trump etc ... but, btw, wasn't that Hitler geezer also democratically elected?

Anyway, enough ... it's over (phew) ... It's a 30 knot day here. Life goes on, so f*ck it! I'm going windsurfing - that's always been the best way to get over a morning like this.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mucho Viento!

Crazy windy today. As I was about to launch with my 3.7m sail (our smallest) someone told me that the wind meter was recording gusts of 54 knots, so I pulled on all the outhaul tension that I could. Walking to the water was hard work, waterstarting / gybing etc were advance maneuvers, and to be honest it was survival mode.

Nikki took some pics at the harbour wall. I like the steel grey light.




Saturday, January 9, 2016

Chinyero Ride

Chinyero ride with (left to right) Richie, me, Cristine, and Anna (taking pics).

We had to wait while the clouds cleared from the summit of Teide, and while we were posing, a drone was buzzing around above us, flown by another couple of bikers taking airial shots.

This is probably the most scenic of our routes, with a mix of pine forest, black volcanic rocks (we start from the 'Arenas Negras' recreational zone), and even meadows of flowers and almond trees that are already in blossom. In places it looks a bit like a Scottish wilderness.

The biking is also a good mix of fast flowy single track, and technical rocky sections. The ride is about 1:45.  The first ten minutes are a brutal uphill, and final ten an exhilarating downhill.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Vilaflor Up-Down Ride ... with a Motor !

Beautiful late afternoon, not a cloud in the sky, so Anna and I decided to go up to Vilaflor and do a circular ride that she 'pioneered' a few weeks ago. It starts from our usual spot, but instead of taking the 'motorway' main track, you climb up the road for twenty minutes, then turn off towards Teide onto quite a rough track for another forty minutes of tough off-road climbing, and then fourty-five minutes of rocky, loose downhill takes you back down to the main track, and back to the car.

To be honest, the thought of slogging for an hour uphill with my dodgy knees didn't really appeal to me, so I decided to do it on Nikki's electric mountain bike (a Focus Jarifa Pro). Anna is in her element slogging uphill, so she wasn't bothered.

I the end it was a good decision as we had to get round in two hours max before the light started to fail, and I stopped a lot less than I normally do, and moaned a lot less about shlogging uphill with dodgy knees. I was also trying out my new Shimano hydration backpack, as Nikki's bike doesn't have room for a bottle cage, and it worked superbly, also meaning no stopping for a drink.

As you can see from the pics, taken on Anna's phone, the light was exceptionally clear and the colours very strong: the greens of the trees, against the red / black of the lava, against the intense blue of the sky at >2000 metres.





Friday, October 30, 2015

Afternoon in the Rain

Following my "Morning in the Mist" Vilaflor ride / walk with Nikki and Gizmo (see my previous post), this was the more 'extreme' version (in terms of mud, anyway). In a way, it was also an example of the way that the internet has changed our friendships, and our lives ...

I teamed up with someone who I'd met in cyberspace (on the Boards windsurfing forum). Pablo is a yacht captain who is taking his boat across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Like me, he's a keen windsurfing, with many years of sailing adventures to his name, so he stopped off in Tenerife to 'score' a few days of windsurfing in el Medano. Sadly the Wind God was not co-operating. So instead I offered to show him a different side of the Island, and do a bit of mountain biking up in the forest.

When I turned up at our usual meeting place (the bar Las Raices, at about 1100 metres, above La Esperanza) it was 14c, not too chilly ... but fully in the clouds, and steady rain was falling. The weather was foul really, and normally we would never venture up there on a day like that. I suggested that we just have a drink and cancel, but Pablo was not to be put off. This was despite him not exactly having what you might call 'technical' bike gear.

Just look at this picture ... I have my SPD bike shoes, Gortex bike jacket, helmet etc ... and Pablo has ... his 'official' / company / yacht uniform ... no helmet ... and deck shoes !


Despite the lack of suitably clothing, a bike that was possibly a decade older than my full-suss Marin, and never having seen the trail before, Pablo ended up 'smashing' the downhills at a furious pace.

Anyway, he's just about to set sail for Cabo Verde, and then the Atlantic crossing to Antigua. I wish him Bon Voyage ... and thank the internet for introducing me to somebody who lives the adventures of life to the full !

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Morning in the Mist

We decided to take advantage of the extra hour this morning, and get out of town up into the mountains. It's been an oppressively hot & sticky autumn so far, and it was around 25c as we left the coast, so we weren't too upset as we watched the temperature dropping on the car thermometer as we climbed up to Vilaflor. When we got up to the track it was a very refreshing 14c, misty (in the clouds at about 1200 metres up), with occasional breaks of blue sky and sunshine.





I went for a bike ride ...


while Nikki and Gizmo went for a walk ...


There were a few puddles, but not too muddy. Doesn't look much like the Tenerife that most people know though ...


(photography by Nikki)