Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship windy-prise. My assignment is to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Non-Windsurfing lamo has gone before.
Stardate June 4th, 1995
Just a day’s voyage to the races. Two million light years. What races you ask? Well, these are not pony races I’m talking about. The subject, dear reader, is windsurfing, but seeing that you’re reading this in American Windsurfer, you must have already deduced the subject matter. I’ve been beamed down to the Caribbean to cover the races. The O’Neill Aruba Hi-Winds Pro-Am are (whatever they are, but you better be sure shootin’ I’m gonna find out), part of the PBA World Cup Tour. Energize Scotty!
Destination: Planet Windy-wood
It seems to me that it should be pronounced with that roll of the tongue that captures the zest of the Caribbean. All that I knew about Aruba before my arrival was that it is a Dutch island and a desert island (think Gilligan’s) and a resort. Oh, and gambling is legal, casinos galore (so think Gilligan’s with beach front hotels, a Caribbean mini-Atlantic City). But let’s not forget perhaps the most important aspect, the reason why I’m here, without whom all this would not be made possible, the wind. Applause! Applause! As soon as I stepped off the plane, I felt the hot wind – the hottest wind I’ve ever experienced in my life. I thought, “Self, Aruba must be God’s hair dryer” -his or her’s Deluxe Ultra Pro Two Thousand XX Series Mega Salon Model, which thankfully, never stops blowing.
The flight from JFK/New York, Planet Earth had been full of honeymooners and retirees who seemed to be anticipating their island jaunt with as much lust and verve as they attacked their lasagna entrees and watched The Brady Bunch Movie. It was a sight to behold. Actually, I think American Airlines managed to squeeze half of Long Island on that plane. Had I known, I wouldn’t have checked my Lee Press On Nails, but would have worn them with sisterly pride. However, I knew that my destiny was different from theirs. I wasn’t here to frolic under the palm trees and cavort with an Aruban pool boy. No-ho-ho! I was here to learn all I could about professional racing and report back to you, the sweetly naive reader. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I was ready for the task.
BUT-before we delve into the intricacies of sitting on a beach and watching a bunch of guys and gals zip back and forth on the water (the breath taking beautiful turquoise blue jewel water that brings tears of joy to this writer’s eye), I need to clear something up. I am not a sun worshiper. In fact, I am a shade baby. I am of Irish heritage where people never, I mean ever, see the sun. Perhaps I could entitle this article “A Celt Goes To Aruba With SPF 85 And Tries Not To Get Fried.” There we go. I don’t tan, I burn and freckle, burn and freckle. In fact what I consider a tan for me, still laughs me off any respectable beach, so I don’t even bother any more.
At the airport baggage claim I felt like I’d truly arrived in Windsurfing Land when I saw piles of equipment, board bags and sail bags waiting to be claimed. I said, “Take me to your leader.” I then spotted a tall sporty looking guy who was neither a happy honeymooner nor a gambling retiree, which left me to draw only one conclusion, natch-he was a species known as Windus Surferamae, or in layman’s terms, a windsurfer. I introduced myself, “Hi, I’m Alex. I’m covering the races for American Windsurfer, blah, blah, blah, but enough about me…”
He introduced himself as Mark, an Australian from Melbourne, who’s name I found out later, was really Michael Tyrrell. At my request, he was pleasantly telling me about the races and how they work while we were looked for our belongings. I was having a hard time keeping it all straight. Mostly because I don’t understand wind. Plain and simple. This is something that I’ve never been able to admit until this very moment. Up wind. Down wind. The four winds. Earth, Wind, & Fire. Gone With The Wind. The Windy City. It all means nothing to me. Now I am ready to come forward and tell the ugly truth. When people have talked to me about the wind, I nod in agreement – never knowing, never understanding. My whole life lived with this shameful secret of ignorance.
My solution, I asked if Mark/Michael would be willing to explain it again, perhaps down on the beach, when I had my dictaphone. He was very agreeable. He went off to find his equipment and left me to find mine.
The photographer I was to be working with on this project arrived to pick me up (not to be confused with the editor of this magazine, two totally different guys). We checked through customs no problem. The customs official told me, while laughing like a hyena I might add, that I would get a good tan in Aruba. You don’t know the half of it, buddy. The first order of business was to check into the hotel, change and get down to the beach, or “the site.” Just hearing that gave me goose bumps, “The Site.” Oooh. Seeing it was even more of a thrill. We drove up to the beach front for a quick look and there they were, out on the horizon. From where I sat in the car, the windsurfers were tiny, moving like bright not-from-nature colored fireflies across the water with the afternoon sun at their backs. Electric.
That was just a taste of what was to come. Doesn’t saying something like that make it sound really suspenseful? I went to the hotel to check in and who was there? Well, none other than Bjorn Dunkerbeck. He was much larger than I had imagined (not that I had really imagined it that much), standing there in his shorts and flip flops, like a piercing Teutonic monolith.
When I was introduced to him, he said, “You need some sun.” My knees turned to jelly. Bjorn Dunkerbeck was telling me that I needed some sun. I didn’t know quite what to say. He really looks you right in the eye. I was way overpowered, like the way he must feel if he were to take an 8.0 out in 40 knots, or if he tried to run a race in high heels. Things sprung to my mind like UberBjorn or RoboBjorn to describe his larger than life presence. None of which I relayed like, “Wow Bjorn! You’re really big!”
What I did say was some babble to the effect of, “Uh- I doubt I’ll get any. I’m Irish and…” I trailed off. He retorted, quicker than lightening, “You will.” I didn’t bother to go into how I thought that neither God nor the great explosion that created us all didn’t intend for me to ever be out in the sun longer than running from the car to the supermarket, but I felt I should spare him this commentary. He seemed so confident, who was I to argue? The first sailor I met down on the beach that afternoon said, “Hi, I’m Tom Pace and you’re toast.” referring to my melanin deprived complexion. This coming from a man with the St. Tropez tan though it’s unlikely he’s been to St. Tropez, lately. He told me that he’s from Florida, but lives in Maui and he’s been competing for twelve years. His alter ego is known as “Tom Cat.”
Tom began to point out the sailors to me-Jutta Mueller, a top German sailor, Patrice Belbeoc’h from France, who would give Bjorn a run for his money, Pascal Maka, a former speed champion. There were sixty-four men and fifteen women there to split up $75,000 and $25,000 respectively. The World Cup must be a cup o’ money.
They sail everywhere and come from everywhere-England, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Argentina, South Africa, U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Italy, Aruba, and the U.S.A. (What? No Irish? Huh-wonder why?). However, most of them live in Maui. Actually, that’s an exaggeration. Many do. Pro windsurfers are citizens of the world. They follow the wind, they desire the waves.
The O’Neill sponsored Aruba Hi-Wind Race is about course, slalom, and speed racing. Nobody seems to love these things quite as much as wave sailing (I learned during my informal survey), but I’m sure it depends who you ask. This is one of the older and bigger events which everybody comes. It’s a high point on the world tour. A Grand Prix. This is seventh event on the tour, but it is the second Grand Prix. There are tons of events, but only something like eight of them count for points towards the World Cup. The World Cup ends in November with the Aloha Classic. You getting all this? I’m not going too fast for you, am I? I just want to get all of the techie stuff out of the way so I can talk about what really matters. When I find out what that is, I’ll let you know, promise, cross my heart, hope to die, stick a Fiberspar mast in my eye. Ouch. Now how is that for loyalty? Meanwhile, back on the beach… Tom Pace, the friendly, funny, Floridian, a veteran of competitions, gave me an idea of who’s who. I began to match names and faces. It’s just one big game of Old Maid on that beach. The race site is quite a spectacle. Rigs, rigs everywhere, littering the area. It’s like one big stable. Sails lie everywhere, piled, stacked, tied together, some just floating aimlessly in the shallow clear green water. Tom Pace’s valuable piece of advice was that if felt a strong offshore gust, I should duck because the sails are known to fly through the air (that being their primary function). He then recalled several such accidents for me. I was glad for that piece of advice. I am prone to moments of obliviousness. I’d hate to have to be flown out of Aruba by helicopter and then be in my own Rescue 911 T.V. reenactment. And I’d hate to have to wear a t-shirt that said, “I went to the Aruba HI-Winds and all I got was this lousy concussion and a free helicopter ride.”
Over the week, I took copious notes so to depict this pro event, in a “Mork calling Orsen. Come in Orsen” kind of way.
Here we go.
Getting My Feet Wet (The First Days)
The site did make me feel as though I was on another planet. A happy sunny planet. An equipment outpost. There were a few tents set up that were filled to the brim with gear, not leaving much room for people. Then there were the Fisherman’s Huts on the beach that were designed to provide a respite from the elements, (really just the element of the intense sunlight) but one has to crouch underneath for the full respite effect. By the time everyone has arrived and designated their rigging areas, shade is a valuable commodity. One sailor confided that it seemed “kind of Mickey Mouse”, because the first day there wasn’t enough shade, any drinking water, or any bathrooms. This was all remedied fairly quickly. Race coordinator Julie Renfro had an admittedly uphill battle to get the Pro-Am in gear, but pulled it off beautifully, with the assistance of her sister Angela Emory (wife of Sierra, future owners of Emory Boards and voted most adorable couple of the World Cup by yours truly).
I expected a lot more fanfare than there actually was. There was plenty of hub, but not so much bub. I kept asking myself, “Where is that beachy zaniness? The naked coed volleyball? The double cylinder beer bongs?” I had to keep reminding myself, “I’m at their office. I’m hanging out at the windsurfing water cooler. “It’s a beach with business overtones. As Francisco Goya, an affable Argentinean wave sailor who resides in Maui and has a smile that could melt butter, put it. “Everybody has a good life, nobody’s, like, suffering. But still, there is tension. There are guys who are always competing. They try to make you feel insecure. But you’ve got to just laugh at the whole thing and do the best you can.” The competitors all arrive a few days before the event gets under way, to test the waters, as it were.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
The first day of racing, Tuesday June 6th, is clear, sunny, and windy (Thank Gawd! I was worried there for a minute). Someone had selected Whitney Houston’s soundtrack from “The Bodyguard” for our listening pleasure. It seemed a strange choice for an outdoor sporting event. I felt like I was at a weirdo bizarro wedding reception. Should I go ask that cute New Zealander over there if he wants to dance?
It was exciting the first morning. Everyone was suited up in their full regalia with their O’Neill Hi-Wind jerseys which look like something from the wardrobe of the artist formally known as Prince. They’re snug, they’re sexy, they’re purple. The early part of the day was devoted to downwind slalom racing. For this wind needs to be blowing over twenty or be fifteen, gusting up to twenty, and it was. The course was set with orange buoys by the race director Alex Aguera and his managers, Vernon, who monitors the starting line, and Klaus and Phillipe, who trade off working in the director’s booth (making the race announcements and settling protests).
Everyone was practicing out on the water and making last minute adjustments, when they announced that the first race would be starting momentarily. Luckily I was able to go out on the press boat to watch the heats (the rounds within the race itself, just in case you were wondering) from a closer vantage point. From the beach, the races are hard to follow. The course is set far out by the wind line, so it doesn’t make much of a spectator sport. To truly appreciate it, you have to be on the water, or have bionic vision like the Six Million Dollar Man.
Out on the boat, (a boat with shade-I was in heaven) I was fortuitous enough to sit next to an amiable Dutch tourist who had oodles of info about racing, not that it was necessarily one hundred percent accurate, but I milked him dry. The press boat had anchored near the second mark (the slalom course is shaped like a big W) for photo ops. The start was off on the horizon. The competitors have a four minute of start up time, which means they have four minutes to get into position and cross the invisible starting line at the end of the four minutes. This was later explained to me by Australian sailor Steve Allen, who in the end placed ninth and is so sweet you could pour him over pancakes.
When the gun went off for the first heat, the sailors came darting towards us. It was quite a sight to behold (much more so than the lasagna gorging tourists on my American Airlines flight #684). The heats consisting of eight sailors are over before you know it. Zip! Zip! Zip! Zip! There are eight heats per race and eleven races during the entire week to complete the regatta. Watching them round the first mark, they pumped their hips like jitterbugging, Elvis-loving maniacs on the run from the law. For what purpose? This motion thrusts the wind into their sails and pumps them onto a plane which ultimately makes them go faster, but it looks pretty silly. Silly, but effective.
Robby Naish won the first heat. After that, I completely lost track. There were a couple of false starts and some resails. I was learning how the competitors lose by elimination by being over the starting line or staring prematurely. And, they have to finish in the top four to be eligible for the final. It’s a continuous weeding process. The goal is to not be eliminated or kicked out.
In the afternoon, the wind had died a little and the course racing began. Way more confusing to follow than slalom. It’s upwind racing with bigger boards for lighter conditions, (the wind minimum is eight miles per hour). These heats are in sixty-four and thirty-two sets. From the beach I felt like I was watching a windsurfing version of Swan Lake or The Ice Capades. Sails were weaving back and forth. After a certain point, they cease to become people. They’re units. Little soldiers. An infantry of tan, beautiful men and women. Hi-ho! Hi-ho! It’s off to shred we go! First one up the theupwind mark wins-I think.
The rest of the week followed pretty much the same rhythm. Races in the morning. Races in the afternoon. A few delays here and there. The race director has to ensure that the eleven races are spread evenly over the six days. Finishing up early has to be avoided, but the timing worked out perfectly. Some afternoons grew long and hot. It may be windy on the water, but still as a tomb on the beach. I would make the rounds (or “laps”, as Anders Bringdal described them) around the site. From the Fisherman’s Huts to the Amstel beverage booth, to the Vela refreshment and relaxation tent, to the director’s booth to check the course map and see what was on the schedule, then back to the huts, but back the other way past a handy water cooler, trudging around the entire time and sweating out precious bodily fluids over splayed out equipment. This relatively short excursion took planning and strategy. How hot was it? How necessary was it for me to make the trip? And if I ventured out, would I have the stamina to make it back? Sometimes it might just not be worth it.
An alternative to the beach loop was to go out on to the press platform, where the sailors hang out while waiting for their races to beginning. The platform, designed for photographers, is far on into the water by the wind line, but the water is still waist deep and bath water warm. This is a great vantage point. It is where the slaloms start and it’s close to the course marks. It’s also a great place for Sailboard Vacation’s videographer, Charles T. Dasher, (“Dasher”) to collect footage for his ingenious weekly “Wind-O-Vision Aruba” videos. Every Wednesday night, Sailboard Vacations has a barbecue, the venue for Dasher’s video debuts. The hilarious one we saw had a “Saturday Night Fever” theme. This was the high point of extra curricular night time entertainment during the week appreciated by the international community, but early to bed, early to rise, make a pro windsurfer healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Riggin’, Restin’, & ‘Rithmatic
What really goes on on the beach while all of the action is out on the water consists of resting, rigging, and waiting. Two patient and supportive wives hung out in the shade in hopes of getting to spend some time with their husbands in between heats. They told me that if they didn’t travel with them, they’d never see each other. They are on the road that much. They provide moral support and refreshments (sometimes the easily digestible baby food and sugar water) during the work day. Something that is much needed. I would need it. These women would never describe themselves as “widows” as that term is too negative. It connotes abandonment, which they are most definitely not. Even though they don’t windsurf and do not participate in the sport directly with their spouses, most couples don’t need to do each other’s jobs in order to understand them. The resting, the lounging in the shade, on the mounds of equipment, create good snoozing areas, some afternoons, the races were postponed every hour for four hours while waiting for the wind to pick up. People cop shade, catch up with each other, or wait in preparation.
The rigging is chronic. “This is very much an equipment race”, said Robby Naish. People are tightening, fin changing (it’s all in the tip), trying to figure out the ultimate gear combination for the conditions. As Tom Pace said so deftly, “If you don’t have it, it’s like trying to play tennis against Andre Agassi with a spatula.”
I learned the pro alphabet, thanks to 22 year old Englishman Jamie Hawkins. I asked him how his week was going and he replied not too well because he keeps PMS-ing. I never knew it had two meanings, in this case “premature starts.” Then he’s had a couple of DSQ’s (disqualifications). Then there are the DFL’s. When I asked him what that meant he told me straight , “Dead F_ _ _ing Last.” With all of this, Jamie still finished in the top twenty. Speaking of top…
Robby Naish, need I say more? He’s The Original. The “Mickey Mantle” of windsurfing, but with a perfect liver. Modest, low-key, hard working. Not to mention very approachable. Robby is Robby. No matter what. He’s thirty-two and he’s been sailing for twenty years. He’s an industry in himself. Two homes in Hawaii, his own sail company Naish Sails Hawai’i (in case you’ve been living under a rock like me) and a friendly Jolly Roger inspired logo. In addition to all of this, he’s a really nice guy. Fan after fan approached him for autographs and pictures, while he’s packing up and he’s gracious with everyone. Signing, “Aloha and good sailing. Robby Naish, US1111.” Its got a nice ring to it. He’s likable and modest, possessing all of the qualities of an American Hero. Too bad windsurfing has yet to hit the wide highway of the mainstream in the United States. You just want to go and give Robby his very own ticker tape parade. They can’t get enough of him in France (“RObee! RObee!”), although he is nothing, I mean nothing, like Jerry Lewis. Then there is Anders Bringdal, twenty-seven years old, currently number one on the tour, a Swede who wins heat after heat and always manages to seem like he’s having a good time. He’s charismatic and funny. He joked about the “S” on his sail standing for “Superman” instead of “Sweden.”
“What would America do without me?” he asks facetiously. “There are all of these naughty people who run around, and the good part is, I’m not even effected by Kryptonite. It doesn’t really bother me. There is no weakness whatsoever.” I said that then he would be better than Superman, that would make him “Uberman.”
He agreed, but said then the “U” wouldn’t fit. “I have an ‘S’, even “though it is inferior. I’ve kinda got to live with it.” Then he was gone with his beautiful and equally charming girlfriend, leaving me and everyone within earshot laughing. You’ve gotta love the guy. I felt like “Loosa Lane” as Alberto called me, a Venezuelan who lives on Aruba and takes “city slickers” horseback riding for a living. That’s right. Just call me Lois or Loosa. Either way.
Bjorn is mysterious. Bjorn is serious (when he’s competing). Bjorn is gracious. He is an athlete with a capital “A” and a six figure income. One can almost envision him hurling a discus in ancient Greece. (More like ancient Amsterdam or Copenhagen, considering he’s half Dutch and half Danish). There is an aura of Sparticus about him. Sparticus in flip flops. He seems to keep mostly to himself during the competition. He immediately strikes you as a stoic professional. Bjorn’s home is in the Canary Islands. I heard him once referred to as “that Spanish guy who wins everything.” He’s been traveling the world for over ten years. Sailing for sixteen. He’s only twenty-five years old. Did I mention that he is seven times world champion? Oh right. Like you didn’t know that. He told me that he “doesn’t think about ten years from now” when I inquired about his plans for the future. When he’s rigging on the beach in the early morning, he’s quiet. He’s concentrating. He’s living completely in the moment. He’s thinking about the wind or the course or the equipment he needs that day.
There is something satisfying about breaking his concentration (post-race only) and getting a smile out of him. I told him that the sun wasn’t working on me and that I was going to turn into one big walking freckle.
Again he reassured, “Don’t worry. It takes time.” Somewhere, within this silly dialog that I had instigated, he smiled. A committed, thorough in-the-moment kind of smile. I don’t know if he was smiling with me or at me (between his mysteriousness and my goofiness), but it was satisfying nonetheless.
You’ve Got To Pay To Play
Not that anyone has any illusions about windsurfing being a bargain sport, this is not the World Cup in juggling where any old household objects will do – oranges, tennis balls, Makita Power Drills. Nope. You’ve got to have it all. I, for one, who has a down payment on a house (worth of equipment) in my den, am well aware of the different necessities the sport requires.
The pros, who fly everywhere with everything, really have their work cut out for them. It’s hard to fathom how they fly from place to place with (on average) six boards, six to eight sails, six to eight sets of booms, eight to ten masts, just as many mast extensions, tool boxes, fifteen fins,… whew! It boggles the mind. As Anders said, “It’s too expensive to be well organized.” If you had to transport everything you could possibly use on the tour you’d have to hire an elephant.”
There are many pitfalls to the traveling, like arriving before your equipment does. Then there are the damage nightmares. Michael Tyrrell discovered the gak of all gaks when he opened his sailbag on day ONE of the regatta. The nose of his two week old course board was split straight across like a big sandwich and a chunk was chipped out of the back. This occurred during travel. I naively asked, “Can’t you get insurance for this kind of thing?” I laugh (Ha!Ha!) at my ignorance in hindsight. Silly girl. All Michael could do was try to get it fixed in Aruba. Otherwise, he’s got himself one expensive sponge.
Grand Prix events offering prize money of $100,000 or over are not supposed to charge an entry fee unless the race organizers offer a service to the competitors i.e. picking them up at the airport, meals, conga lines, complimentary aromatherapy massages with foot rubs etc.. A last minute entry fee was introduced and services were provided, but it was an expense that some weren’t expecting. Some protested by not paying. It was threatened that those who did not pay could not compete. But everyone did compete. The last day it was announced that for those who won prize money, their unpaid fees would be deducted. For those who didn’t, their equipment would not be taken to the airport. That was that. They even called out names over the p.a. of errant payees who would be stranded if they didn’t cough it up. It reminded me of high school announcements that stated (somewhat gleefully) who was doomed for detention on any given afternoon. It didn’t take me long to realize that windsurfing is a business like everything else, but this is easier to forget because of the wind, the waves, the water, and the sun. It’s a man against nature endeavor. Exciting and pure. There are no laws in the outdoors. A corny axiom, but true.
The Women Of The World Cup
“Man against nature”!? What about women!!??
Well, I’m getting to that. You don’t think that I would neglect my own gender, do you? Women pros are in a whole different category when it comes to competing. Of course I do not mean in ability or dedication. I mean more in fuss and consideration. There are fifteen women to the sixty-four men. The prize money is divided up on the percentages of numbers competing. First place Nathalie LeLievre, who won every heat she was in, which must be some kind of record, took home $5,000. The first place man, Bjorn, took over $11,000. There are men who complain about the women taking the $25,000 in the first place. Their argument is that the women should have their own tour. But how can they with so few pros competing? The women invest as much as the men on the tour, the expenses are all the same, but they make less than half. In order for women to have their own tour, more women need incentive to compete. Money is an incentive.
This is not a battle of the sexes. It is an imbalance in the sport. This is a story as old as time and definitely not unique to windsurfing. However, a different set of rules apply for women. What I mean by that is…
American Anne Hammerslag, just decided after sailing amateur for several years and working as an instructor that she wanted to compete professionally. All she had to do was sign up. That was the easy part. Buying her own equipment at discount, trading in her miles for a free plane ticket and staying with friends in Aruba allowed her participate in the Aruba Hi-Winds. Completely sponsorless. Of course she’s hoping that will change soon.
She’s sailing in as many races as possible this year to gain the attention of the industry. As she stated, “That’s the thing, you have to spend the money to get to the races, to get the exposure, to get the sponsors, so then that you can afford to sail all of the time, so you can get to the level where everyone else is, so that you can be competitive.”
Anne sailed really well, placing eleventh (great for her first major pro event) against the top women sailors in the world. But she just missed qualifying for the moolah. Her attitude was great because she was excited just to be there. She’s doing what she loves. Sign her up.
On the sixth night, Sunday June 11th, they rested, and the Hi-Wind Committee threw a big banquet to delegate the awards and welcome the amateurs, whose leg of the competition was beginning the next day (they put the Am in Pro-Am). Many of the amateurs are local Arubans, Caribbeans, and South Americans. As one amateur put it succinctly, “Without the amateurs, there would be no pros.”
The dinner was held at the Hilton Hotel. I think its intention was to be a big bash. It may have been supposed to get crazy, but it never really did. It was more like a noisy conference that broke up early. People lined up to collect their prize money. (Let’s play, “How fat is your envelope?”) It was a cash collecting frenzy. The trophies were presented during the dizzy buffet dinner. People were talking throughout the presentation. Third place woman was Jutta Meuller, second was Swiss Sandra Gubelmann, and Nathalie LeLievre took first. For the men, Anders Bringdal was third, Patrice Belbeoc’h second, and Mr. Dunkerbeck was first. A smattering of applause for the thank you speeches. The winners thanked the race’s sponsor, the race committee, the race organizers, the isle of Aruba, and the wind. But it really only livened up during Bjorn’s speech, the second half of it, where he addressed the Latin audience in Spanish. He got a huge response. A congenial Latin American man translated for me, “The wind has no language.” A lovely and fitting final sentiment.
After that, half of the party left to go home to rest for their early flights the next morning. The other half stayed drinking out of one the handmade wooden trophies. A group of French sailors were singing spirited French songs, and when they left the party was officially over, but for a few late lingerers. At that point, I felt it was safe to say that my work there was done. I had gotten a taste of this strange new world. I grasped what it meant to be a pro windsurfer in its many different forms. I learned what it meant to be on the PBA Windsurfing World Tour. I had asked a lot of silly questions, worn my ignorance on my sleeve, and had a great time doing it. I was ready to return to my world, the sixty-five degrees and rainy of New York Icky.
Beam me up Scotty, because now I get the wind.