September 7, 2002

Lake Superior: Session One

I finally got a chance to hit up Lake Superior for some windsurfing. It was different than the wicked session I had on Waconia a week ago. The Waconia Session offered the balls-to-the-wall adrenaline rush that hooked me to windsurfing, but the Superior Session was very subtle. Today there was a bit of wind, but a little more than that.

When I got my board up and planing in the harbor it was exhilarating. Here I was, windsurfing in my crazy northwoods town on the biggest lake on the planet. Beneathe my feet, a modest 130 liters of Lake Superior were being displaced and tamed. I had arrived, but I wanted more. I wanted speed. I wanted to blast over the chop. I wanted to shake the ceaseless spray out of my hair as I laughed from the top of a Red Eye frenzy. I took in as much sail as possible and tried to catch wind that wasn’t there. My meager 4.4 meter sail tried its darndest to grab the atmospheres, but I was asking for too much given the conditions.

So I settled in. I found the sweet spot in my sail, dug in my windward rail and tried to keep everything balanced and moving at the pace I was given. I surfed for two hours, making numerous trips to the middle of the harbor and back. As time passed the runs took less thought and effort. I got a feel for what the conditions would allow me to get away with. I could hold the sail like so and cruise without falling over backwards. I couldn’t step back into my footstraps without spinning out under the ill placement of my weight. One time I dropped the mast on my shoulder. Another time I tried to grab a large gust of wind, but the sail flung me into the water ten feet from my rig. It was fun. It was chill. Every time I returned to shore I rode out the wind as long as possible, risking a trashed fin for the few extra seconds of surfing. I just couldn’t bring myself to cut the runs any shorter.

And then once, for a split second, it was just me, the wind and the huge setting sun. The board and sail were transparent, my mind was cleared. Everything was working together without my conscious manipulation. It was a feeling that lasted long enough only to hint at a greater experience in the future. Things are wonderful, and they can only get better.