We’ve had a nice couple days ’round these parts. Friday was the 4th (and I think it was the 4th in other places, too) and a special Holiday Edition of 25 mph air cranked through our lovely granite wind tunnel. When I got off work that evening I hauled on up to Rowena for a rematch. I figured I had my waterstarts pretty well dialed, and I was ready for more huge swells, more strong current, and more sharp slippery rocks coated in algae.
I rigged up my 4.4 (my biggest sail), got out in the water, fumbled in the bay for a while, got my waterstart groove on and hit the River. It was awesome. I was sweeping up and down these huge swells, cranked out on a plane, squinting against a fine spray of unshackled river…
It was awesome for about fifteen seconds. Then I ran out of river and needed to turn around. My current method for tacking and jibing consists of falling in the water, wrestling my gear around, waterstarting, and heading off in the other direction. This is what most windsurfers do for their first year, so it is important (nay, essential) that we have our waterstarts absolutely solid before biting off too much River. If you miss a jibe in front of a barge or paddleboat or 50 foot sturgeon, you want to be sure that you can waterstart in a snap and avoid being eaten or eaten or eaten.
At Rowena on the 4th of July, I discovered that I do not have my waterstarts dialed. I cannot waterstart in four foot swells with waves crashing over my head. I can try for two hours to do such a thing, but all I can accomplish are tired arms, a broken nose (my board, stupid) and a belly of river. I may have sat and soaked and fought out in the middle of the River for a long time, but it was a different experience than my last time with Rowena. This time she had a harder time completely brutalizing me. I knew what I was doing, I had the m4d 5k1llz to survive the extreme wind and waves, and the swells make sure I kept from getting swept too far downstream.
After two hours I was still only limping into shore, so with a couple hundred yards to go I just bit my lip and started swimming my rig back to the launch site. I did fine up until the last fifty yards, when my left calf decided it would seize up with the WORST CRAMP EVER and cripple me inches from the finish line. As I thrashed in the water and fought my horrible electrical failures, the other calf got the SECOND WORSE CRAMP EVER. It felt like the muscles in my legs were trying to tear out from under my skin and drain into my wetsuit. I tried bending, straightening and stretching my legs, but nothing helped the pain. I started gagging it hurt so much. Really, what could I do about it? I had to get back to shore, and now that I was out of the swells there was nothing to counteract the current. I grit my teeth and kept pounding my way back to Rowena.
I made it back to my launch site. Not only did I make it back to my launch site, I made it back under my own power. Nelson didn’t have to rescue a frightened little kitten from the big bad swells. Kyle didn’t have to drive his big bad van down to where the soggy little kitten washed ashore. If it wasn’t for the Agonizing Cramps of Rowena, this round would have been a clean draw. Sure, she isn’t playing fair when she turns my own meat against me, but a fair game was never part of the original agreement. We play to win. We play for keeps.
We play with the gloves off and the electricity on.