New rubber for the winter

When it comes to wetsuits and neoprene I have one principle. No sponsors. I want to buy the best. And that is not easy. The last 3 years I have used wetsuits from Mystic, Pro Limit, NPX, Tiki, and Neil Pryde. But none is perfect.

I need wetsuits for the spring when it is cold in the water but warm in the air, the summer when it´s warmer in the water, in the autumn when its quite warm in the water but cold in the air, and in the winter, when its just very cold. After 30 years with windsurfing I have ended up with using 3 to 4 wetsuits. With about 70-90 days of windsurfing a year, they usually last for about 2 years before they are worn out.

The first problem is that the suit should keep the right temperature. For example the Mystic Cure 6/5/3, an expensive winter suit. Looked good, but was not warmer than my Neil Pryde 4/3. The Neil Pryde Elite, fits perfectly, but I can tell you that a tube of Aquaseal doesn’t last a long time. So most double lined suits are too cold, most of them are too small around the lower arms. And the single lined are always leaking after only a few weeks…

But. Last week when I went to the German Championship, I borrowed a Simmer 3/2 with long arms. I thought it would be too cold for the season. But it was so good compared to i.e. e my 4/3 TIKI, thinner and more flexible but much warmer. And a lot of place for the muscles!
I decided to try to keep it, and when I went to meet the owner Johan, who works in a surf shop, I ended up buying the whole range. One for every season, I thought it is best to grab the opportunity when all suits where in stock in my size.

I cannot say that Simmer has the best suits, because I have not tried more than the 3/2 for a week, but I like it a lot. The only downside, so far is that it takes a while to dry it. I will be back with more on this subject. 
1. Edit one. The 5/4/3 was warm but OK around 12-14 C in the air and water.
2. Edit two. The 5/4/3 works OK around 8-10 C in the air and water, with polypro underwear.
2. Edit three. At longer sessions (more than about 90 minutes) the 5/4/3 can be cold even with polypro. Then the TIKI-heatpads are marvelloes.

Up, down and up again in Germany

The European Championship Speed Tour in Germany is finally over and it was a mentally rollercoaster. The duration of the event was eight days. The longest contest I have ever entered. First some words about the place and the organisation. We stayed and sailed at a small fishing village, Orth at the island of Fehmarn. Three restaurants, two cafés, one bar and three surf shops, that´s probably all you need. The geography of the village is that it is surrounded by a long low peninsula and inside it is shallow water. Perfect for speedsurfing. 
We, Daniel Borgelind and I, stayed in a huge apartment overlooking the event area. Perfect. The German “ordnung” also impresses me. The event tent with the race office for example was solid and had everything we needed. And when it comes to the “fin-talk” (obligatory at all speed contests), they had a doctor in fluid dynamics that held an hour workshop about the subject. About 50 participants where competing in the event.

The week started slowly with a heat wave and no racing on Saturday and Sunday, but on Monday the wind picked up.
The organizers decided to do a fun-race, a little unnecessary I thought, but afterwards I think it was the right decision. We (Daniel Borgelind and I) went out with 9,5 and had some fun. We thought we were the fastest of the day, but one German guy, Michael Naumann (also on Loft Sails) was on top.

Zara Davis and me enjoying life, (with a glove on left hand)
On Tuesday (my wedding anniversary) we sailed 2 heats. The first was in winds around 18-22 knots and I sailed my Loft Racing Blade 8.6 and CA SP63. A perfect combo for light wind speeds. I won the heat with some margin. The organizer decided that it was not valid afterwards, but according to the international rules with 20% of the sailors, over 28 knots in average, it was valid. (Actually 80% was over 28 knots). In the afternoon the wind picked up. I went out testing my 7.8 sail before the start, but it was too small. When the heat started I was fighting my way down the course with my 8.6 in 37 knots in top speed. I did 2 quick runs and went ashore and switched to 7.8 again. 

In the middle of the heat I had a terrible crash. Hooked in I went through the sail and got stuck with my head down in the water, with my arms on the other side of the sail. It was a close call and I almost drowned. I fought for my life. But at my third attempt I got up on my feet. Relieved it ended with a broken sail, I thought. But when I looked at my left hand the ring finger could not move. The organizer was very helpful an drove me to the hospital and after some hours with X-ray and more, I ended up with a straight finger for 9 weeks…  

It has to be exactly fixed all the time. Depressing when leading the event. I desperately asked the doctor, could I continue to windsurf? You could try, he said. But to be honest, when the ring finger is straight you cannot use more than the thumb and the index finger. Depressing, even if I was sharing the lead with David Garell.

Carbon Art SL 55, Loft Sails Racing Blade 7.0. Photo Pete Davis
On Wednesday the wind had picked up to 30 knots, but the water level was very low. They decided to start a heat anyway, and I made a plastic package of the finger and bought a neoprene glove to keep everything in place. Normally I would sail my 7.8 and SP53 in these conditions, but that sail was wrecked so I went out with my precious Carbon Art SP55 (extremely fast slalom board) and a 7.0. We sailed on a 500-meter course and there were big holes in the wind down the course. It was hard to sail with the finger, especially to jibe. But I did 4 good runs with speeds around 35 knots. I had delivered with a bad finger and I could exhale, BUT. The red flag came up! The organizer closed the course because of low wind, the heat was cancelled. One hour of waiting and then the new heat started. I had to go out again. That was tough. The water was even lower, so I sailed light on the feet, but it was super flat and I enjoyed every run.
I ended up winning the heat, and that put me into the lead alone. 

We spend the rest of the evening getting things to fix my broken 7.8 for the next day and also getting better gloves for my hand. Daniel spent some hours with my sail and at 12.00 PM the sail looked OK.

The last day with wind was Friday. My tactic was to be out on the water and do some safe runs and try to stay top 5. When one of the top guys went in a gust, I went after. With one more run we would have the first discard. But at the start of the first heat I noticed a new problem, the important batten over the boom was broken. I tensioned the battens above and below to maximum, to get a better shape. It worked but it was almost impossible to rotate. The only choice left was to fight with the 8.6, and I managed a 4:th and a 6:th place (and the last I could discard). That put me up to the top (9,4 points) ahead of Manfred Merle (10,7) and Daniel Borgelind on third (12). Close battle! I am very happy to win a major speed event; it is actually the first time I have won!
Gold, and Bronze to Sweden!
And on Friday we packed and after noon we headed back to Sweden, and I managed to get to my daughters birthday party. Thanks everyone that helped me around the accident, Rosie, Zara, Pete and Daniel.