I had lived for the past year in Rio Vista, riding a Simmer Pure Slalom board and Enduro sail, doing some fast runs but also a lot of walks of shame (back upwind up current along the road). Honestly, I never really dug the brown bumpy water, it hurt the knees and was just a short quick run and back weaving through kiters. I’d say 20 years on Maui spoiled my ass. Then I got a job in Sacramento and thought, okay, time to just hang up the cleats. But I found this tiny spit of water where guys invited me to race Lasers and Thistles on the West side of the city. It was ugly industrial ship cargo on one side, but on the other, a clean sweep where the last of the Delta breeze could roll through in the late afternoon. I noticed a couple of guys out windsurfing, one on an old Mistral Equipe longboard (John Mathias) and Skip Goncalves on his Naish foil. There was a lady with a big smile out there as well, Barbara West. I thought, I haven’t been on a longboard since the ’79 Internationals. I’ll give it a shot. Surprisingly, it was a nice feeling, and easy on my rusting parts.
Fast forward a year later, and I saw this Windsurfer LT. I’m good friends with Bruce Matlack, so I ended up buying the first board out on the Left Coast. The rig was too small for my fat ass, so I rang Kai Katchedourian up and reminded him when he was still in diapers, I was a team rider, so he gave me the bro deal on a 7.8 Simmer Race XT, about the right size for the lake. The wind comes up here around 5 like clockwork, and blows 10-15, with some days blowing harder when a front comes through. There’s a bigger lake up the way, Lake Folsom, but I’d already spent 14 years there doing time so the sight of the place brought back bad train wrecks of thought.
We have races every Tuesday night throughout the Summer. I did okay in these for an old fart, and had some great battles with John. Skip went off to some stupid lake in Italy so there really wasn’t a whole lot of interest from people watching us sail around the course, but up to 15 were just coming out to play. Tried to start a Green fleet but they just were against going upwind to a weather mark. I guess triangle racing is too difficult. Maybe a different course for next year.
Skip teaches at Sac State and a windsurfing school, while John just donates his time at the club putting on rigging and beginner clinics. Skip helps out as well and Sam Studer does the same down at the Delta but what a horrible place to learn. I helped out at a couple of clinics for UC Davis Sailing Team and a large group of Boy Scouts. When I found an older Scout really into it, I gave him some personal coaching. He said he wanted to windsurf for the rest of his life. I’m like, do you have any career plans? Yeah, he’s already accepted to Stanford Engineering. Okay. So I wanted to tell him about my book but at the time I had some questionable material in it. I went back and took all that stuff out, or most of it.
We had one event, the Capitol Cup (Sacramento was once home to Arnold), and the bay area boys came up with their big sails and big skill and kicked our ass. But it was mid day and the wind was mediocre so only the big sail boys got planing in the Open Class, no excuses. It was the first fleet race for Windsurfer LTs. Skip Boman won Open Class and Bradley Wilson the LTs.
We also had a nice field trip rerouted from O'Neill Forebay to Rancho Seco (see nukes) because well, it was nuking at Rancho Seco.
That's Diane Barnhardt holding the flag. I think she's the youngest at the club and out there every day. Gerry (atric) is our resident triathlete, getting better every day, as is Derek. They're also at the club every single damn day.
Paul Hewitt, who used to work for Barry Spanier at Maui Sails, is one the foilers on the lake. He makes the F4 protos just a block away. I was fortunate to be hired by him to shoot his factory and studio shots for his website, www.rocketcomposites.com it’s quite an impressive operation. Noted, he also came out for our club regatta and sailed old school with a Windsurfer Comp without a harness, and almost took me down in one race. There was another guy came out and raced with a Slingshot foil. He’d pass me downwind but I figured if I gave him a good shadow as he did so, he’d come off the foil, and did. Not happy mixing foil racers with old school, but I’m a grump.
The past couple of weekends it’s been windy so the guys have been running speed challenges, timing on apps for top speed. I tried to out categorize them with length of board, weight and age of sailor, number of donuts eaten. I think Skip won the short boards with 31 something and I won my categories on the LT at 23.5. We had beer for trophies. They go good with donuts. That's my app recording, looks like a cosmopolitan drink. There's also a wind recording, you can see it's sort of gusty.
It looks like the sport is growing here year over year and it is largely due to the efforts of John Mathias. It takes people to drive a fleet. If you’re in the area, come join us. It’s only about 100 bucks a year to join, and even less to use all the club gear. We’re working on getting 5 together for the LT fleet deal but people are always slow to pull out their wallet, particularly when it comes to buying my book! Old school, new school, it’s a mix of mutts and really doesn’t matter as long as you get out on the water and go sailing.
Skip Goncalves setting speed record on Lake Washington.
Me tooling around on a typical Midsummers Eve.
Skip's drone footage of light wind regatta.