Saturday, March 15, 2008

Holy Hatteras. . .and the Presidential Summit

February 10-11, 2008

Being locked into a Midatlantic coastal winter is an emotional rollercoaster. With temperatures in the 20s to mid 40s (that’s -5 to 6 degrees C for you Europeans), wet and nasty weather, and sporadic frontal winds, it’s not ideal when you’re dying for a shortboard fix. Enter Cape Hatteras. This beautiful, lonely stretch of island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is just warm and windy enough in the winter that it becomes a meeting point for northeastern windsurfers no longer able to deny the symptoms of windsurfing withdrawal. It is also holy ground for the St. Mary’s College Windsurfing club as the destination of their twice-annual club trip and the source of both sailing breakthroughs and many life lessons.

That’s why when James Douglass, seagrass grad student at Virginia Institute of Marine Science and former president of the VIMS windsurfing club (OK, Sail and Paddle Club with an emphasis on windsurfing), informed of his coming weekend trip to Hatteras, I didn’t even think before I said “Hell Yeah, I’m going!” For me it was also an opportunity to visit Stuart Proctor, 2007 St. Mary’s College graduate and former windsurfing club president, now working at Ocean Air in Avon and pursuing a career in writing. Also along (and the actual organizer of the trip) was Sam Lake, current president of the VIMS club. So three presidents and their gear piled into my minivan and Sam’s truck, and drove down the Hatteras highway to meet the fourth.

Stu lives in the loft apartment above Ocean Air. Every year he just becomes a way cooler dude, and his windsurfing progresses on the same level. He’s living the both the starving writer and windsurfing dreams at the same time. We hung out on his big, sunny porch waiting for the wind to fill, admiring the Pamlico Sound and also Stu’s lovely garden of very green and healthy plants. The four presidents discussed the pressing issues of windsurfing clubs, windsurfing, windsurfing, and windsurfing clubs, and made great progress towards the unification of windsurfing clubs and also world peace.

As the wind filled we headed down to the Canadian Hole, a sound-side sailing site named for the profusion of Canadian windsurfers that flock regularly to the Outer Banks. I was almost too excited about the sailing to rig properly. Stu, James, and I shredded around the Hole. Stu worked on his sick freestyle moves, and James and I did some drag racing and jibing while Sam got big air on his kiteboard. The three windsurfers even had time to run across the dunes for a wave sailing session in the frigid ocean. Although the wind was less than ideal for it, we still had fun sliding down some waves and jibing in the impact zone! We sailed until dark and then exhausted, piled back into the cars. James and Sam had to drive home because they have dissertations to write, but I stayed another day.

That night Stu took me to a party held by Arthur, a locally famous British windsurfing instructor working at Ocean Air. Arthur lives in a beautiful three-level soundfront home set back among the live oaks in Frisco. After an excellent dinner, the guests surprised me by breaking out guitars and a banjo for a jam session! The folk songs they performed that night in the oaks were poignant and evocative and made me long for a simple escape from the complications of my life. There was no trouble sleeping that night.

Stu jumped on my bed to wake me up at 7 a.m. the next morning. The wind was already blowing. After a run and breakfast, we alight upon the beautiful flat water of the sound. The wind built to 30 knots and I experienced the incredible freedom of using tiny gear to fly effortlessly across the water. I cleaned up my jibing technique and Stu landed a Spock. We sailed until evening again and by the end of the day my body was rebelling against the onslaught of windsurfing and refused to do what I asked it to. My state of tiredness was so great that I was actually hyper. I suffered some serious muscle cramping during the drive home that night. What a great feeling…Cape Hatteras wins again!

Read more on James’ blog!

No comments:

Post a Comment