Remain Calm...Even Overpowered 4.2m at the Cove!
Today, the Cove fired with strong gale force winds overpowering 4.0m sails!! I headed down there to catch an afternoon session as winds, swell, and rain increased. The wind was the clear winner however, as the swell topped at around head high and the rain spitted and blinded, but was not too bad. As I drove south passing by the Canadian Hole, only one lone windsurfer was out, and no kiters were found at Kite Point. This was a clear sign that everyone was at the Cove!
Strong SE wind blanketed the OBX and the direction is the preferred choice for Cove wavesailing. As I drove towards the access ramp, a number of vehicles with New York and Massachusetts plates indicated that visiting sailors were out. No wonder Canadian Hole was empty! Driving onto the beach at Lifeguard Beach (Ramp 43 which was the only open ramp with access to Cape Point) the blowing sand was intense. Heading toward the Point, I could see a number of kites flying along with a bunch of windsurfers. Surf conditions was averaging waist to chest high with long clean side-shore lines, which was building as I rigged 4.2m for classic Cove wavesailing conditions.
About 30 minutes into the sesh, the rain began to fall, though the wind remained solid powering the 4.2m and 76ltr quite well. The surf began hitting head high with larger swell on the outside providing perfect conditions for big FWD and back loops!! As the afternoon progressed, the wind ratcheted up a few notches and hit gale force overpowering 4.0m range sails. A few of us remained out, attempting overpowered wave hits, and launching huge airs! Though, by around 4:00pm, I was basically out of control so decided to return to the beach and pack up. All in all, a fun Cove session and it was great to see all the visiting windsurfers out there early on! No photos given the crappy weather, though I am sure someone snapped a few out there!
The "Remain Calm" portion of this post title focuses on the sailor who had a little panic attack while out during the early segment of my sesh. I was inside after working a little section, when I heard someone yelling at me for help. "HELP, HELP, HELP!!!" was all I heard, and I jibed immediately to check on the sailor who was down. I expected he had a gear failure, but rather he was in a panic attack from the continuous white water hits, as he held onto his gear. Luckily, he was inside and as I was down too to assist, the water was shallow enough to stand, so I called out to "STAND UP," which he did. I also called out for him to remain calm, gather his bearings, and let the ocean carry him to shore. After a few moments, he gathered himself, and calmed down to make it back to the sand. I took another run, and upon return to the inside, I saw that he was onshore with his gear intact.
The moral of this incident, is that when entering the ocean, the most important aspect of the situation is the REMAIN CALM if a threatening element arises. Regardless if you feel helpless by pounding whitewater, or even have a gear failure on the outside, the best way to ensure your safety is the remain mentally calm. Once panic strikes, this is often the killer for people venturing into the ocean. Regarding the incident today, luckily some reassurance and simple instruction from an experienced ocean/wave sailor helped the guy spooked by the situation.
All in all, when out there having fun in the ocean, if you feel you are in one of those "OH SHITTTT!!" moments, remain calm and go with the flow. Believe me, I have had plenty of those moments challenging the ocean over the years, and I always try to remain calm first and foremost.