Christmas Greetings from OZ

While northern Europe is suffering from severe cold weather and snowstorms, we enjoy that the summer has arrived to Wollongong in NSW. Christmas Eve was the first day we only swam in the pool. But today at Christmas Day we had another stunning day at the Towradgi-beach. The idea of this holiday is to spend some time with the family so we all are doing boggieboarding (or bodyboarding as they say here down under). It is interesting those small differences in the language. We are calling windsurfing ´vindsurfing´ in Sweden, but down here it it is called ´sailboarding. Guess they do not consider windsurfing so much surf... Anyway, we are all improving our skills in boggieboarding, and I hope to manage a 360 before we are going home ;-)

Happy Christmas everyone that are reading this blog in Russia, Spain, USA, Greece, Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Croatia, Ireland, England, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden!

P.S. Some houses here would make Chevy Chase full of envy.

Wollongong - Second day and a second chance

Lake Illawara from Mount Kiera lookout
Click on the image to enlarge
Loft 5,3
Yesterday we arrived to Australia (after a non premium experience with Soutern China Airlines). Today was the first full day and when we woke up the ocean was boiling. Maybe gusts up to 50 knots. Here I am in the middle of the summer with no gear... After picking up the rental car we went to a shopping mall, went up to Mt Kiera lookout, took a walk at the Botanic Garden and eventually we went out to the lighthouse at the harbour. A lovely day with the family and freinds. But half past six a took a drive to the Yacht Club at Lake Illawara. (I knew this was the best place to find some local windsurfers). About 5-6 guys where out. Most of them on smaller wave or freeride boards and all of them had wavesails around 4,2-5,5. I asked one guy straight away if I could borrow his kit only for a few runs, even pay him well, he had a Severne-sail about 6,3 and used a GPS. But he replied that it would be better if I go north of Sydney and rent some stuff there (1,5 hours drive)... He thought I would break his gear. Can´t blame him, when getting a question like that from a complete stranger.

After a while most of the guys came ashore and they all started to chat with me. One had an old 5,3  Loft O2 sail with a big hole in the foot of the sail. After a few minutes he offered me to use his stuff. Oh, I was soooo happy!!!! I was so execited that when I did 5 good runs I did not switched on my GPS properly... But he was very very kind and let me do another 6-7 runs. I felt soooooo good, even on a old freerideboard and a non cambered sail with a 30 cm hole...! The gear was not trimmed at it very best, but it worked surprisingly well. I did over 33 knots in peak, the conditions was almost exact the same at Torkelstorp where I live, so it was easy to sail over the chops. But it was also very very much weed, actually the same sort of weed that we have at home, and he had a straight fin 35-37cm fin... When I get back home I will send him some good stuff. I think he will enjoy some nice Lessacher fins !

Port st Louis - just not what I expected

I had never been in the south of France. All computer racing games I have done, I expected something else, like "Cote de Azur-Need for Speed-something". Camarque was completly different. I was more thinking about the swamp-land where Shrek lives. Maybe not November makes Port St Louis it best, but it looked like it had it best days (about 50 years ago). The breakfast consisted of a cup of coffe and a piece of bread and butter. But the lunch and evening meals was great. Very good meat, pizzas and seafood. They even had red wine for the sailors at lunch! The setup for the contest was a 500 meter run with videotiming, which means gates, one man zones, jibing marks etc. The first day we raced in gusty 30-60 knots offshore winds, only myself and a few more sailed through the gates... The locals seemed to look at the rules just as guiding. ;-) One of my frontstraps went off after my first run and I only did one more run the first day. I have to admit that I was not good prepared for this event. Then we had some sunny and calm days when we explored the canal at St Maries de la Mer with the veterans Andrea Baldini and Jan Krijn van Dijke. Holy Ground! Another day we went for a roundtrip to  Marsielle.
The last day we had to race in onshore conditions. Thats the disadvantage with videotiming, it is too much work to move the course. Dumping onshore waves up to 2,5 meters was not good at all when I only had brought speedboards to the event. This contest had a ranked of 3,5 because of the videotiming and some prizemoney. It a little sad that 2 heats made that big difference compared to all heats that where sailed in Sweden and Germany with only 1.0 rank. I hope the rules will be changed next year. Anyway, we had very warm and nice weather, good food and cheap hotel. Apart from the onshore saling, I must say that I like Shrek´s land! 

Port St Louis was also a turning point for me, I entered the event with Naish Sails and ended with Loft Sails. I am 100% sure that this will improve my performance and looking forward for the next season.

Weymouth Speed Week 2010

Team Sweden takes a rest
The contest i Portland Harbour is soooo different to any other speedevents. First of all the course is open twice a day, no matter of the wind. Everyday a Cup is the prize to chase. In the main contest, only the best 500 meter run during the whole week counts. That means that is up to you to go out everyday and sail for the Cup of the day. Or go for a photo session on the oceanside, or chasing T-shirts downtown Weymouth. Every night we gather at a local pub for a meal and some beers. And 100 competitors including the crazy guys with the boats. Wow!

Swedish Championship 2010

The first weekend in October each year it is always the Swedish Championship speed windsurfing in Kungsbacka Fjord. 2010 was no exception. Oddly enough, the wind has always showed up in time just to those days.

This year, however, gave the forecast at a highly unusual southeasterly winds. 36 Swedes and a Dutch guy showed up early on Saturday morning. While we rigged it was blowing around 20-25 knots but when the course was readyvthe wind was out.

Marcus Richardson from Växjö
After lunch we launched a first heat. Almost no wind,  but when it was five minutes left came a gust of about 20 knots and the entire starting field disappeared down towards Kalvø in one wing beats. It looked more like the start of a long-distace race. The wind was over 10-minute intermission, and about as far into the second heat. Each sailor caught in other words, only with a single real run per heat. For one heat to be approved must be 25% of the sailors to be over 28 knots of average speed. There was some concern that we would not do this in four juniors with BIC Techno-boards with daggers also participated in the speed class. The concern was unwarranted, and we passed that limit a wide margin. After the first day Marcus Richardson and Johan Gelander was in second place.

Anders Björkqvist waiting for the gusts with great patience
Before the second day promised weather forecast gusts of up 30 knotsThe wind was a bit more than the first day, and made it possible to sail back relatively easily without having to swim too much.

Half of the field ran speedboards of about 85 liters. In the fourth race was the competition's best wind gust of about 30 knots that lasted decently long. I did some runs on my Carbon Art SP44 cm speed board. We where about 7 sailors had speedruns over 33 knots.

Eight sailors were on top 2 during the 7 heats, but given that we could run the full seven heats so the end result was still fair.
Swedish Championship was also a race in World Cup Speed Windsurfing, so now we have again a lot of Swedes in the international rankings. I ended up 4th which is my best place in the Swedish Championship for many many years...!

King of Paradise 2010

In late Juli 2010 I arranged my first international speedevent. King of Paradise at Karpathos. I just love Karpathos and I wanted to go there again after sailing the Worlds in 2009. I also wanted company so when the World Cup At Fuerteventura was cancelled, I decided to to it by myself. Chris Schill offered me the speedcourse 4 hours a day and during the first week we was 15 competitors. I ended up third after Markus Emanuelsson and Daniel Borgelind the first week and won the two other weeks. We had wind for only four days, but the week after I was more lucky with strongers winds, but not soo many friends to compete with. I logged speeds over 42 knots which is fast for the special Karpathos speedstrip.

Karpathos - In the paradise playing with the devil

In the same moment you hate it and love it. Devils Bay or Paradise Bay. The two names of the spot really says everything. On one hand you have 20 steady knots of wind, the water is 27 C and its sunny everyday. Windsurfing in the Paradise.
The other hand. The gusts is roaming with plus 50 knots and the water is boiling and the sudden gusts knocks you down on the way upwind like hit by a heavyweight champion. And when entering the speedstrip you are kicked in by an invisible foot, after a few seconds you lose most drag, but just a few seconds before you hit the stonewall in the end of the beach, the best wind kicks in with hypersonic power. Go as far as you dare, before bailing out. The devil is playing with you!

2009 - a taste of the world

If the first year was more about learning to speed, the second year 2009, was about tuning the sails, finding out more about board design and get some racing-experience. A big advantage was the support from Naish International. The - 2009 range was refiend with cut-outs and small adjustment on the footstrap setting. I also got their gun-needle Naish SP60.

The new sails in X166 felt a lot better then the year before. Still hard to get to know how to trim.

But at the first contest of the year Anders Bringdal showed up. I haven´t raced with Anders since Tylösand 1997. A lot of things to catch up with, but also a great help with tuning gear. Anders helped Robby Naish and Nils Rosenblad with testing and tuning prototypes for the Stealth 2008 and showed me how to tune them and also told me to try to use other type of masts. A difference of about 1 knots extra and I saved a lot of hours of trimming.

But on the second swedish contest I fell and broke my eardrum.  After that day i NEVER sail without my helmet. A few weeks later I broke my rib in a catapult. Why should it be easy?

Anyway, in late July my family and I went to Karpathos in Greece for vacation. The same weeks the World Speed Championship were going to take off. I had applied to start, but due to my low ranking I was not even close. But they decided to let the Greece Speed Championship the week before be a qualification and give the best five wild cards to the Worlds. That week was hardcore with wind-gusts up to 60 knots. Devils Bay was like a cooking boil. But I managed to sail the Greek Speed Championship and be the best "not worldcupsailor". My best run was 37,5 knots on the scoreboard.
I reached my goal to enter the World Championship. When the main contest started, my body was aching and I sailed with small sails on my 80 liter slalomboard all week. I enjoyed life at it most, even if I finished 33:rd it was great to race. Those two weeks at Karpathos were just magic.

I wanted to do some more international events. In early November I went to the European Speed Championship in Dungervan Ireland. I only brought two boards. (And what hazzle it was to get my stuff over to Ireland). Anyway Dungervan turned out to be a big waiting game. But the last day the wind came. I went out with an extrem downhauled Stealth 7.8 in 35 knots of wind. After a few tries I made a very fast run with a peak speed over 40 knots. Unfortunatelly the wind slowly died and I stood and waited for a strong second gust.  It never come anymore wind and my avarage over 2 runs was only 34.5 knots. I finished 6:th in the Europeans and 11:th overall in the worldcup. Compared to 2008 it was 130 places up ;-)

2008 - Learning to speed

2008 was the first year that I sailed speed with a GPS unit. I bought four new slalomboards from Naish; SP80, SP95, SP110 and SP128 litres. And camber sails, Naish Stealth 5.8, 6.4, 7.0, 7.8 and 8.8. I had no idea what fins I needed but Choco Mach 1 and Fireblade and Lessacher Chamelot looked alright. I was very happy with my wave-booms from Chinook, so I bought also the racing-booms from them, but they where far too soft.

In early March something terrible happend. I had some kind of infection in my ear and became deaf and lost my balance. For 4 weeks. God I was depressed. But slowly I begun to get my hearing back and in May I was on board again.

The second obstacle, on the way to the first speed contest all my new boards fell off the roof on to the highway in the middle of the night. 4 broken boards, not a good start...
The third problem, how should I tune this stuff? At the first slalom contest I used a 30 cm fin to the the 7.8 sail. The whole run was a big spinout. The first speedcontest I used a 6.4 sail on the 80 liter and did runs of 32 knots. Every one in front of me uses either 7.0 or 7.8 and was sailing faster. I had simply no idea how to trim the gear and had no top Naish-sailor to ask. 

What the hell should I do? Well what I did was spending almost 70 days on the water at home trimming and tuning. And when it was time for the Swedish Championship in October I had found the speed in some of the boards and rigs. I won one heat and did well in the rest. I finished 5th that year overall in the Swedish Speed Tour 2008.