Friday, September 20, 2013

Lake Winnebago Super Crossing 2013

We had a great Super Crossing ahead of the Windpower Championships today. 15-25 mph wind out of the west at the start. I took my Starboard Phantom 377 with Severne Raceboard 9.5. A slalom board might have been a quicker choice (Kevin Gratton sure showed that it was, more later), but I really wanted to do the trip on a course board since I haven't done that before.

For the uninitiated, the Super Crossing is a long distance race that takes place the Friday before the annual Windpower Championships. It generally crosses Lake Winnebago on a reach, so a "true" Super Crossing is a SW to NW wind that allows us to reach from Windpower in Fond du Lac (south end of the lake) to High Cliff State Park on the north end of the lake. It is roughly 25 miles between the two points.

In 2010 several kiters made the trek in 30+ mph winds, but no windsurfers made it - including myself as I got spanked trying to use a 6.2 on a slalom board.

I made the trek solo in 2005 on a Formula board with a 9.0 in about 2:15 hr (about 1:20 there since a bit upwind, and about 0:55 back since a bit downwind). The wind was around 20-25 from the WNW that time.

This year was lined up great for a course board, so off I went. It was great being fully powered and I was able to hold a lead for about 5 miles until we were approaching Pipe, when Kevin Gratton started reeling me in. I was semi-relieved to see that he was on his trusty Naish 114L slalom board (instead of his Equipe2 course board), so I could feel a little better as he walked on past. I think he was on a 7.0 Naish sail as well.

Even with the equipment difference I didn't want to see him win without a fight, so I continued to pick my way through the swell and eventual get close to him again around the 8 mile mark (I had my gps screen display distance traveled the whole way) as the wind had backed down some. However, the wind ramped up pretty hard as we left the Pipe bay area and Kevin took off. I barely could see him by the time we got to the Brotherton point.

But at least we caught up to the kiters by the time we got to Brotherton (they had departed a bit earlier), so that gave me a nice target to focus on. Ed and Jeff had very good speed and I really had to chip away to get close to them (although Kevin was able to fly past pretty quick).

The wind and swell ramped up to their highest levels of the day as we passed the last point before the bay opens to show High Cliff State Park. It was a welcome sight since my legs were burning from holding everything together the last few miles in the steep chop.

When I got near shore I saw Kevin standing there, all smiles. I congratulated him on his speed up the lake, and told him I was going to sail back. I got to cruise back through the chop to the point just south of High Cliff and relax a bit since it was more of an upwind track that way.

Once I got around that point, the wind lulled and I sailed most of the remaining time until approximately Pipe in 10-12 mph wind. I was able to sneak into the footstraps sometimes and ride the fin, but usually got pushed towards the east shore and then would drop the centerboard and rail my board back upwind away from shore, as you can see in the gps tracks. Once I got near Pipe the wind picked up and I was able to sail on the fin most of the way back to Windpower.

It was a great day of sailing, and I'm looking forward to the races at Windpower Saturday and Sunday.

Summary Info
Start at Windpower

Get to High Cliff

Elapsed Time, North Trip = 1:21:45

Start Back
Return to Windpower

Elapsed Time, South Trip = 2:14:58

Total Trip Time = 3:36:43
Total Distance = 57 miles (this includes a bit of sailing prior to the race starting)
Peak Speed = 26 mph
Fastest Mile = 20.8 mph (indicated on 2nd picture below)
GPS Summary

GPS tracks laid onto Google Earth

GPS Data: Path with color indicating speed on top. Speed vs time on bottom.