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Part 3, The Thrill Of Speed

Jake

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In both Hobie Cat and windsurfing, I prefer flat water conditions rather than dealing with the ocean swells and chops. My last time out in the surf line, I made a mistake by hot dogging with my Hobie and paid the price. Yeah, I flipped it over as I jibed too early and ate it big time. The wave hit me broadside and I immediately bailed out from all the lines, sails, boom and mast. Didn't want to get knocked out cold as the boat was trashing about like a wounded shark. By the time it beached itself, one of the rudder blades was damaged. And that was the last time I played in the surf. It was simply too expensive to replace another rudder blade.

But ripping across flat water on a speed run is an absolute adrenaline rush. Once you get a taste of speed and at the same time, pissing down your shorts because it scares the chit out of you, then you're in for a thrill of your life! Approaching speeds of 18+ knots, the rudder blades will start "singing" or cavitating, as sprays of water hit you like a slap in the face. That afternoon with high winds (gusting to 20 knots), my brother and I were flying across Mission Bay, San Diego. I was the front man, handling the jib sheets from a full body extension supported by a trapeze wire. My brother was the skipper, steering and adjusting the mainsail for maximum flight time in response to the ever changing dynamics of wind speed and directions.

To prevent from capsizing or dumping the Hobie, we constantly trim both main and jib sails (sheet in/out) every few seconds and also shift body weight fore and aft to maintain maxium hull speed. We must also be constantly aware of swells and chops created by high wind as you see gusts of wind dancing across the water. Under those conditions with hull speed of about 16 -18 knots, the leeward bow suddenly plowed into this one foot chop. The leeward bow actually "pearled" under which literally stops forward movement of the boat. Remember, I was still hangin' my ass over using the trapeze wire. My "diaper" has a metal hook and designed for quick release from the "traps" but apparently not quick enough and I was immediately launched forward like a human sling shot. I "face plant" hard on the water, just barely missing the forestay (a steel wire rigging to support the mast). Dumping the Hobie like this is called "pitch pole" where the stern is pitched up and over the bow. In spite of landing hard, I unhooked myself and swam back to assist my brother righting the Hobie back up. We gave each other the "high fives" and off we went again for another speed run.

Speaking of speed, here is a video of guys on a very high performance cat, risking physical injuries just for the thrill of it (yeah, I would donate my left nut, just to be a crew member):


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