Monday, June 22, 2015

Conquering the elements!

I just came back from my first windsurfing experience several hours ago. BEST. THING. I'VE DONE. IN A WHILE. The result of the 2.5 hour lesson was me totally drenched (yay swimsuit though!) but with the widest smile on my face that I still can't shake.

But let me tell you, it's no piece of cake. It's HARD. When I first tried to raise the sail while standing on the sail board, I felt like a total loser. I kept falling over and over. My feet were shaking. It seemed impossible to keep my balance while lifting the darn heavy thing from the water, while it's mostly submersed in it! Finally, I realized how to do it, with the instructor guy screaming to use my shoulders rather than arms to pull it up. It worked!

Then came the harder part: actually positioning myself on the board when the mast is up. At this point, I had to move my feet in a different position, behind the mast, and adjust my leaning angle, while completely extending my arms holding the sail. THIS was hard. I fell over and over again, with no avail. Water was pretty nice though. :) At the end I got a tiny amount of balance, gliding just a meter or so with the wind. Then - splash!

Finally I switched with someone else, jumping into the motor boat with the other learners, and watched to the other boards either struggle (the total beginners like me) or sail pretty smoothly (those with some experience) in the water. The Charles was really pretty, with the sun just beginning to set.

The wind was also pretty low, which did not bother me at the least. Heck, I thought, I can do this! I jumped at the next opportunity to get the board. They dropped me off on a board somewhere in the middle of the Charles, and this time I got on without any hesitation. My feet were no longer shaking, and I could stand confidently on the thing. I pulled up the mast like it's what I usually do at 7:15PM on Monday nights, and positioned myself accordingly. Somehow, I was heading upwind -- so I extended the sail and then brought it parallel to myself. This caused me to accelerate rapidly against the wind, and I was gliding! I was fast! I controlled it! I controlled the wind and water - both elements, with my body weight in delicate tension with the mast and sail. It was the most amazing feeling of unity and power.

Then, when wind started changing direction, I tried my best to adjust my position and the sail position relative to the wind. I felt like I needed to turn, but they hadn't taught us tacking yet. I tried to improvise, but -- splash! That was that. Ah well, swimming is fun :D

Coming up next: conquering earth and fire? :)

P.S. Speaking of earth.... This weekend I also finally went to the MITOC circus, and hiked the Tripyramid loop + 2 other peaks, a total of 28km (17 miles) with cumulative altitude gain of 6,000 ft (1,800m!). This was done in about 10 hours with less than 4 hours of sleep -- and no caffeine! Perhaps there is something energizing in just being in the wilderness; the body is fueled by sunlight, the lungs with the purest breeze, and eyes with excitement and wonder of the surrounding nature. Hey, I know it's corny, but it's true! :D Check out these sweet views from Mt. Whiteface, for instance (not even one of the Tripyramids!):

Ok, I am being pretty sleek about this, but we were pretty darn exhausted by the end. Check out the progression of our smiling faces throughout the 17 mile journey... 

In the beginning, about 2 hours in:

~6 hours in, second to last peak: 

10 hours in (check out the ripped muddy pants, twitching eyes, "smiling" faces, etc): 
 Well... it was worth it! :) More nature-y photos here -- get inspired! 

Also, here's the trail map of what we covered for anyone curious, or wanting to repeat it:

Map credit to this site


  1. That's... quite a big loop! I'm jealous - I never did Passaconway!

  2. Also, windsurfing counts as air as well as water, right? :) So now you just need to find a volcano... go fire spinning... get a terrible sunburn... etc and you'll have them all.