Sunday, December 12, 2010

Windsurfing on the Blacktop. How to and why.

Tis the season again for epic wind in an otherwise windless inland location.  This winter is starting off much like the last with bitter cold and windy days.  Windy but too cold to safely solo sail the warmer water of Belews Lake.  I've got a nice 6mm wetsuit but I still haven't figured out how to prevent face freeze while windsurfing. 

I've been windsurfing on a stateboard a few seasons now and love it.  I'm not going to try to put together an eloquently stated case to sell skate sailing.  If you love having a sail in your hand and hate to see perfectly good wind go to waste it is for you.

A few freestyle tricks and me just carving, backwinding and jibing.
Street Windsurfing Tricks. Year 'Round Stoke from r d moore on Vimeo.

What do you need to start out?
All you need is an old longboard skateboard.  There are lots of types but what you want is a flat board and you want the wheels close to the nose and tail. 
This lets you stand anywhere on the board without it popping up.  My first skate board did not have this setup so I moved the wheels closer to the nose and tail- a short to longboard conversion.  Pretty darn functional too. 
I also prefer bigger wheels > 70mm.  The bigger wheels let you role over any little rocks or debris easily.  I got this 47" pintail for $20 and it is awesome for skate sailing.

How do you make one?
If you have a 1 bolt Chinook base then you need to drill 1 hole big enough for the bolt to fit through right behind the front wheels.  Done.  If you have the 2 bolt Chinook quick connect then you drill 2 holes.  Screw the brass t-nut on the bottom nice & tight and you have your first kit.  You can see where I drilled the hole in the pic above.  If you have some other connection your life gets a little tougher.

Where to get a board and safety gear?
Tons of cheap gear on Craigslist & Play it again sports.  There is lots of field hockey protective gear at my local playit again so I got dirt cheap stuff for my wife and myself.  If you are just jibing figure 8s you won't need the stuff but why risk it.  You only need a small area and you don't want to be setting speed records blasting downwind.  Trust me you can go really fast really quick so keep carving.

For freestyle windsurfing.
Just grab a shortboard which is the most popular type of skateboard so most available.  These boards have the wheels mounted closer to center so you can easily pop up the board.  Again just drill your hole behind one of the wheels and you're set. 

About your sail and boom.
The boom should be one you don't mind scratching.  The sail should be fine.  If you have outdated stuff lying around this is a good use for it.

Where can you windsurf on pavement?
Mostly I street sail in the winter.  I've had good luck at most parks, some schools and a few churches.  You will be amazed how little wind you need but as always pick your spot based on clean access to the direction of the wind.  Here is an example of the park that I used for W wind.  This and a high school is where I took some video at the top of this post.  Note the long parking lot running NNE-SSW.

Andy introduced me to street windsurfing and one of the tips he gave was carry a broom to clear the area of debris.  Also when the land owner sees you are acting responsibly and cleaning up he is less likely to toss you for being there.  Being respectful gets you pretty far.  If this post is helpful to you and you get into skate sailing please let me know!

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