Sunday, April 26, 2015

Don Wagner Formula Board for Sale for $100

I'm selling the Don Wagner formula board that I bought two years ago. You can see the ad I posted on iwindsurf.

http://www.iwindsurf.com/classifieds.iws?db=boards&search_and_display_db_button=on&db_id=20791


The board was basically given to me for $100, so that's what I'm selling it for, although I'm also throwing in a 70 cm fin, so it's a real steal. The only catch is that you have to pick it up from my house in Florida. I won't ship it.

People might be interested in the reasons I'm selling the board, so here they are:

1. The board's wind range and sail range overlap quite a bit with my Exocet Windsup 11'8", which I am keeping. Though the formula planes about 2 knots earlier and is faster and more powerful upwind and downwind when planing, the windsup handles on-off planing conditions with less frustration. This formula board in particular has such a boxy shape and low-volume (albeit very wide) tail that you really notice the all-or-nothing aspect of planing/schlogging. It's a greyhound when planing, a basset hound when not planing.
2. I haven't been windsurfing in barely-maybe-planing conditions much lately since I've been putting more effort into race sup training.
3. It will free up a spot in the shed for an as-yet-undecided possible new board addition.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Long, tough SUP race with Danny Ching and other hotshots

Danny Ching is a famous SUP and outrigger canoe racer from California. Right now he's ranked #3 in the world and he has lots of first-place wins in super competitive races like the "Battle of the Paddle". That's Danny on the right, next to a top Florida racer named Brad Ward.

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Mr. Ching has two signature brands: "404" (paddleboards) and "Hippo Stick" (paddles).

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My local SUP shop, CGT Kayaks, sells a lot of his stuff, and my buddies on the CGT Race Team really idolize Danny because he's such a badass. Naturally, we were stoked to hear that he would make an appearance at a SUP event in our area, the "Fort Desoto Paddle Roundup," which was held April 17th - 19th.

The first two days of the roundup were social events, clinics, gear demos, and short-length recreational races. I only made it up for the last day, which was a 9.5 mile "Elite Race" around Mullet Key, the island at the mouth of Tampa Bay that Fort Desoto sits on. (See my GPS track from the race.)

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So I wouldn't have to get up too early on race day, I stayed Saturday night at the aptly named "Budget Inn" in St. Petersburg. I was thankful to get a ground-floor room to put my board in at night, and a mini-fridge to pre-chill my camelback. Some other folks from the CGT race team were up for the whole weekend, camping on Mullet Key. They invited me to see a Tampa Bay Rays vs. NY Yankees baseball game on Saturday night. The Rays lost 0-9 but it was still fun to watch. The Rays have a cool aquarium at the stadium with real stingrays and cownosed rays that you can pet. There's also a sign at the back wall of center field that says "404," which we thought was apropos to the weekend's event.

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The race venue was a beautiful beach with clear, blue water. The race itself was fun, but very challenging. (More so because I forgot my gatorade-filled camelback in the hotel fridge and had to tuck a borrowed water bottle in my fannypack lifevest instead.) I paddled hard, struggled a lot, learned a lot, and managed to get 3rd place in the 14' sup division with a time of 2:00:50. Danny Ching did it in 1:43:15 and Brad Ward did it in 1:54:27. Full race results including times are posted on Distressed Mullet.

The race start was from the beach, around a buoy near shore, then clockwise around the island. I was a little more thoughtful about the start than I had been at the Cocoa Beach race. I positioned myself upwind of the buoy, and though I didn't dash into the water and pop up on the board as fast as some of the competition, I had a safe, wide line that got me offshore and ahead of the slower folks early on.

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The early part of the race was cool because I could still see Brad Ward and Danny Ching not that far ahead. For about half a mile I drafted behind two guys on JP boards. The drafting definitely made it easier and helped me save some energy for later. Then I got ahead but the JP guys drafted me for a mile or two. Doh! Eventually they wore out and I dropped them, and the rest of the race was just me competing with myself, because Brad Ward was too fast to catch up with, and Danny Ching was of course long gone.

The middle part of the race was very challenging because of a strong sidewind. As you can see from this iwindsurf.com graph from Egmont Channel near the race site, the south wind rose steadily through the morning.

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The incessant choppy waves and wind forced me to paddle only on one side, and even then I had a hard time maintaining course. My speed dropped from about 5.4 to 3.3 mph and I struggled to find a rhythm. The usual tricks weren't working, but I had some success with adopting a weaker but higher cadence stroke and standing farther forward on the board to weigh my Fanatic Falcon's nose down and prevent it from getting knocked downwind by each wave. In retrospect I think a smaller fin might have helped me make course corrections more easily. I'll have to experiment with that in the future.

The coolest part of the race was going under the large pier at the southwest end of the island, and finally getting to go downwind and paddle on both sides again. The wind and waves really gave a great push to the finish line.

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By the time I got there, though, the wind was so strong that I had trouble turning the board to face the beach for the final paddle in. I could hear the race mc talking me up on the bullhorn as I came around the buoy so I wanted to look cool, but I was awkwardly paddle-steering to stay on course for beach.

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It sure felt good to run through the finish line in 3rd place, though.

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About 13 people had to drop out of the race before the end, but most of my CGT teammates finished it in good time, too. I was really proud of everyone who even attempted the course.

Here's CGT racer Kevin Hill winning first in the male 18-39 12'6 board division (2:23:34). Interestingly Kevin was beaten by Mark Athanacio in the 40-59 12'6 class (green trunks, 2:10:38), and Mark was beaten by Kelsa Gabeheart in the female 18-39 12'6 class (pink tanktop, 2:09:46), showing that age and gender divisions don't always stack like you might expect.

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CGT team captain Matt Kearney showed he had recovered from a nasty falling-on-his-fin-while-surfing injury by finishing strong in 2:41:47.

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And CGT team motivator Justin DiGiorgio made it in 2:49:43.

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It was interesting to see all the different types of athletes completing the challenging course. Folks of all ages, genders, and body types seem to be able to draw on diverse individual strengths to get their SUPs and other paddlecraft moving fast. Outrigger canoeist Wendell Martin (goatee) doesn't look like the typical athlete, but he wasn't far behind spandex beefcake Mark Wienzierl (cowbow hat).

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And here’s an outrageously muscular guy contrasted against a striking slender 56 year old woman and an average looking younger dude. Anybody with the right attitude can do well at this sport.

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PS- That’s me windsurfing in the background of the above photo. I put a 5.5 sail on my SUP raceboard after the race and blasted around for a while on that. It planes but not super fast. My top speed was about 19 mph according to the GPS. I switched to my 106 liter shortboard for a bit after that and had a good sesh up until the lunch and awards ceremony. Lunch was traditional “old Florida” cuisine, with cornbread and smoked mullet. Everything was on biodegradable or reusable kitchenware in keeping with the environmental awareness theme of the event. Very cool, in a scaly, boney, fishy sort of way.

Next race is much closer to home; the CGT winter race #4 this Sunday. I’m hoping I can get first place in that, but you never know what tough competitors might show up, or when Mark Athanacio might decide to race a 14’ board instead of his usual 12’6. I’ll paddle hard regardless.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Florida State Paddleboard Championship 2015

Last weekend I drove up to Cocoa Beach with some buddies from the CGT sup team to do a big paddleboard race- the "Florida State Paddleboard Championships."

Buddy Damon by the van before we drove up.
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Running start.
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Apparently the FSPC is the longest running paddleboard race in Florida, dating back to around the year 2000. Interestingly, in the year 2000 "paddleboard" meant the kind that you paddle with your hands while lying prone like a surfer. But at some point in the last 15 years the popularity of standup paddleboards (SUPS) eclipsed that of lie-down paddleboards, such that "paddleboard" is now synonymous with SUP, and we call the earlier thing "prone" or "traditional" paddleboarding. There were still a few prone paddleboards in the race this year, along with other unusual human-powered craft like outrigger canoes and super-long narrow kayaks called "surf skis." You can see how fast the different craft were in the race results. (The race was 5 miles long.)

TRADITIONAL PADDLEBOARD MEN OPEN
Ranking ,NAME, TIME
1, Jens Hoffman, 0:53:57
2, Daniel Prosser, 0:55:46
3, Michael O'Shaughnessy, 0:59:44
4, Jason Geiger, 1:10:57

TRADITIONAL PADDLEBOARD WOMEN OPEN
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Cynthia Aguilar, 1:02:59

SUP - MEN 18-49, 12'6’ & UNDER
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Connor Bonham, 0:55:15
2, Jamie Twigg, 0:55:27
3, Abraham Wilson, 0:55:37
4, Andres Pombo, 1:00:11
5, Zach Rounsaville, 1:00:12
6, Jeffrey Berry, 1:02:01
7, Grant Begley, 1:05:40
8, Darryl Austin, 1:10:40
9, Damon Cooper, 1:16:53
10, Erik Thomas, DNC
11, Ryan Findley DNC

SUP - MEN 18-49, 14'
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Kieran Grant, 0:51:03
2, Garrett Fletcher, 0:51:42
3, Michael Tavares, 0:51:44
4, Brad Ward, 0:52:38
5, James Douglass, 0:55:17
6, Cristian Prado, 0:55:57
7, Barrett Hoard, 0:58:30
8, Chip Bock, 1:00:58
9, Kevin Hill, 1:01:02
10, John Beausang, 1:04:01
11, Christian Grause, 1:06:05

SUP - MEN 18-49, UNLIMITED
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Patrick Klemawesch, 0:51:54
2, Zach Bankhead, 0:59:09

SUP - MEN 50-59 12’6”& UNDER"
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Mark Athanacio, 0:56:20
2, Mark Preece, 1:18:54
DNC, Bruce Wall
DNC, Walter Bunso
DNC, Hal Atzingen

SUP - MEN 50-59 14'
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Brian Hovnanian, 0:57:12
2, Danny Smith, 1:01:18
3, Keith Cook, 1:05:59
4, David Rush, 1:14:41

SUP - MEN 60+, 12’6” & UNDER
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Albert Chicra, 1:14:46

SUP - MEN 60+, 14'
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Rand Perkins, 0:53:39
2, Rick Dean, 1:04:05
3, Alan Montgomery, 1:07:02

SUP - WOMEN 18-49, 12’6”& UNDER
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Victoria Burgess, 0:59:32
2, Kristin Apotsos, 0:59:45
3, Francesca Morrow, 1:04:17
4, Meg Bosi, 1:07:33
5, Corrine Banks, 1:08:01
6, Monica Arche, 1:09:26

SUP - WOMEN 60+, 12’6”& UNDER
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Beth Winkler, 1:16:18

SUP - WOMEN, 14' WOMEN OPEN
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Kate Pagan, 1:08:28
2, Laura Siljestrom, 1:17:38

SUP – JUNIOR MEN
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Connor Rush, 0:56:51
2, Conrad Garcia Jr., 1:04:25
3, Peyton Thomas, 1:14:45

SUP – JUNIOR WOMEN
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Annette Garcia ,1:05:38

OC-1 Men Open
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1,Wendell Martin, 0:53:03
2,Conrad Garcia Sr., 0:55:36

Surfski Men Open,
RANKING, NAME, TIME
1, Reid Hyle, 0:39:26
2, Josh Ashley, 0:47:45
3, Brent Robitzsch, 0:49:01

I paddled hard and I was very happy to get 5th place in the 18-49 age 14' sup class. Seeing the really good paddlers at work was inspiring, too. Two fast people from "slower" classes finished ahead me- Rand Perkins in the 60+ year old class, and Connor Bonham in the 12'6" board class. Rand got a slow start but passed me on the downwind leg of the race. I briefly caught up with him at the halfway buoy turn and tried to draft him on the upwind leg. It sort of worked for a little while, but then he turned the speed up and I couldn't stay in his wake. After that I just tried to keep a steady pace.

63 year old Rand Perkins at the finish line. Wow.
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I wasn't paying attention to who was behind me in the latter part of the race, but right when I rounded the buoy to head for the beach finish I noticed that one of the 12'6" sup racers, Connor Bonham, was catching me. I didn't have the wherewithal to put on a final sprint, what with being really tired and having to undo my leash and concentrate on surfing a wave in. I got to shallow water and jumped off my board around the same time as Connor, but my legs were crampy jello sticks when they hit the sand, and Connor zoomed ahead of me, finishing in 0:55:15 to my 0:55:17. I'll have to practice those running dismounts before the next ocean race.

Surfing a wave in.
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Far outclassed in the footrace.
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It was fun to be there with my new friends from the CGT Race Team. I drove up with Damon Cooper, who put in a very impressive performance for a novice by finishing the course on a heavy 12'6" x 32" non-racing SUP. Also he won a $429 carbon fiber paddle in the raffle. Lucky! Kevin Hill was just a few minutes behind me on his Laird Hamilton 14' race sup. Kate Pagan got first place in the womens' 14' class. Meg Bosi went even faster on her 12'6" sup but got 4th place in her class because there were some other very fast women racing 12'6" boards.

Meg and Kevin.
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Besides the racing, we did some surfing with our raceboards. The first surfing stop was actually on the drive up on Friday afternoon. Damon and I stopped at my old haunt of Fort Pierce Inlet State Park. I caught a few on my 14' Fanatic Falcon, but actually had the most fun borrowing Damon's 12'6" Riviera Voyager. Damon got some good pictures like the ones below.

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The surfing after the race on Saturday was a different experience. The waves were even better- glassy with no wind on them, but the beach was quite crowded with everyday beachgoers and surfers plus folks watching a surf contest. You had to weave around people, which is tricky on a 14' board. I was actually really pleased with how my 14' Fanatic Falcon surfed, though. My previous attempts to surf it in, in choppy short-period in the Gulf of Mexico, were pretty challenging and frustrating. But the bigger, smoother, longer-period waves on the Atlantic side actually made it easier. The board has "reverse steering" until it gets up to speed, but once your going, and you get back on the tail of the board, it handles more like a normal, albeit huge, surfboard. The song in the video is by the Chemical Brothers.

Cocoa Beach SUP 4-4-15 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Exocet WindSUP 11'8 and Cross 106 session

Saturday March 30th had some pretty good North / Northwest winds with small waves at Wiggins Pass State Park. I rigged a 6.4 sail and started out riding the Exocet WindSUP 11'8". When the wind picked up I switched to a smaller board, the Exocet Cross 106. The other windsurfer is Dr. Alex Owens. The music in the video is by The Qemists.

Cold Front 3-28-15 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Monday, March 23, 2015

SUP Racing, Jesus Lizards

I've really been having fun lately, albeit a masochistic variety of fun, with SUP racing and training. Yesterday I won another of the local Imperial River races put on by CGT Kayaks. A couple of the differences between this race and the last race were:

1) I'm now officially on the CGT "Race Team" so I have a cool blue jersey with the Caloosa tribal design on it. Being on the race team means that we're expected to do some out of town races this year, so I'll be reporting on that later.

2) We started in groups of four this time rather than being released individually, which made for tighter and more strategic competition. It definitely gets choppy with four people side by side all paddling as hard as they can. My fiercest competitor Ben Walker fell off in the cross chop and that helped me out early on. Of course later I fell, too, trying to weave through several German tourist kayakers blocking the upriver turn-around buoy.

After the race we did a Hawaii longboard surfer style photoshoot with some of the race team.

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Also, after the race we got to see a Jesus Lizard that shop owner "Caloosa" John had adopted. These are the famous water-walking lizards that can escape their predators by running so fast across the water that they don't sink in. Like many other tropical reptile species, they have been released into the wild and become a pest in Florida.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Pics of Windsurfing the 14' Fanatic Race SUP

The other day my wife Rhonda graciously came to the beach with me after work to take some pictures of me windsurfing the 14' Fanatic Falcon SUP that I recently converted into a windsurf. I would have gotten some onboard video, too, but I loaned my GoPro to my graduate student a couple months ago and haven't gotten it back yet. Anyway, the pics are below. It was a day with disorganized knee-high waves and 5-10 knot side-offshore winds, fading to 0-5 knots. I used a 6.4 sail.

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When the wind got to too light to get around with the sail I paddled for a bit. Man, trying to surf a race sup is hard. It's really tippy, it takes a long time to turn around, and when you do catch a wave it's hard not to crash. But it's fun.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Empress Game cover art- Deadly beautiful space woman

My wife Rhonda is a writer. Her latest book is called Empress Game. It's the first in a space opera trilogy that will be published by Titan Books. The book will be available in July, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The cover art has just been released and it looks like this.



I think it captures the badass spirit of the protagonist quite well. I'm not an unbiased reviewer, but I've read the book and I think it's awesome; fast-paced action and science-fiction intrigue with an unforgettable heroine. Needless to say I'm extremely proud of Rhonda.