Making it Out in Hatteras

In Hatteras the ocean can be quite difficult simply to make it out to the surf zone for riding waves. The general mantra seems to be that if you can make it out on a given "big" day, you proved yourself. In recent years (2005 and 2006) we experienced some big days in Hatteras with mast high set waves, and tough conditions simply to make it out. Ripping current, fluky inside wind, and continuous walls of white water often prevent many from finding the clear line to the outside, or even attempting the feat. Once out though, wave riding seems rather "conservative." No one goes for the big critical hit on a 12 ft barrel or floats a 10+ foot wave aerial ahead of a 8 ft wall of whitewater... or at least I have not seen it yet in person/video/photography. Perhaps its timidity in dealing with big Hatteras bombers, or the fear of a long swim in a pounding impact zone, or perhaps the need to navigate back out after washing in. Gear destruction is also an issue, but likely the least of the concerns?!

In Hatteras there are no channels and reef combos to restrict the swell impact to a predictable area. Here, its all over the place. Though, there is a nice area I call "The Lounge" which lies in between the outer main break, and the inside shore pound. Its an area of deep water between the sand bar and the beach, where dissipated whitewater rolls though, and the current is usually pretty strong; however, it provides nice breathing room for relaxing after being tumbled by a big wave, and/or setting up for a water start to attempt the trek back out though the main sand bar wave pound.

All in all, when it is big here, much is "judged" simply by whether you can even make it out.

On the plus side, at least sand is fairly easy on the body/skin as compared to reef or rocks! We also have miles of soft sandy beach to wash up on after getting worked!

Classic Big Day Vid - Ocracoke Airport Beach, Oct 2005


At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opening a can of worms: I remember that day! I sailed for 6 hours straight, threw countless loops port and starboard, maybe even a couple of spocks! I never had to swim more than 10 feet for my rig, and I didn't break anything! Yup, I sailed in the sound, and had a ton of fun doing it! I'll be the first one to admit that I "pussed out," and often do when it gets big big big. Maybe its because I know my swimming ability limits? I've surfed waves that big, so I know what swimming in them is like. I don't want to drown. Maybe I know that instead of sailing straight in front of a mast high wave I can sail straight across the sound with no consequence?

I do want to give you guys props for getting out in waves that big. That an amazing feat. Another can of worms coming up: I also want you to recognize that we ARE getting older (one year for every 12 months). This stuff is dangerous. For all you guys laugh about him, Dana M is the only guy on this island who really trains to sail in a big ocean. The rest of us just sit around drinking beer until it gets good. All I'm saying is, please, next time you head out in over logo high swell, at least stretch a little before going for that swim.

Also, if anyone wants to learn some freestyle, come sailing in the sound with me. I guarantee the sensation of sliding around on the nose of your board is just as fun as hitting an aerial off the lip.

Feel free to make fun of me for knowing my sensible limits! I'm a big boy, I can take it!

See you on the water,

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

That video had more lip avoiding than a whore with a cold sore...and it wasnt even breaking top to bottom

At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is Dana's training program for big waves? Is it launching in overhead high shorebreak at ramp 34, drifting in waterstart position to past Avon Pier, finnally getting up somewhere around ramp 38 then riding outside until the lighthouse, sneaking in behind the jetty. Does a diet of Powerbars and Costra Rican breakfast blend really give you more energy than 12 oz's of Milwakee's Best Ice?
If any one trains for sailing I'd say it has to be Krenzal. He's probably the most aerobically fit of the entire Hatteras crew and he's pushing 60.
I think Dana trains for the ocean like all the other wave sailors on the island by just sailing the ocean. Everyone wants it to be perfect, but even crappy waves, sloppy shorebreak, and incositant winds are better any session in the sound.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger PeconicPuffin said...

This Long Island kook would much appreciate some guidance when I'm down there next month. Arriving around the 19th, staying until I get out...and back!

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right about Jim K, I strive to be half as fit as he is at half his age! After an hour of tennis on a flat day this past spring, he put his racket down, raised his fist and yelled "dammit Andy, HIT the ball!" while I wheezed for air on the other side of the net. However I have a feeling his diet resembles Dana's more than my "whiskey with the oatmeal" irish breakfast.

Dana trains by sailing, all the time, anywhere. He sails in the ocean, he sails in the sound (a lot), he sails on a skateboard (seemingly more than anywhere else). All that time with a sail in your hands will make you a better, more fit, more prepared sailor, certainly more than all this typing will...

I wouldn't dismiss the sound as a great place to improve your sailing. I'm not talking about just figuring out jibes, either. Take our normal SW summer winds: Good jumping ramps are almost always found easily and more consistently in the sound. I learned to loop in the sound, not the ocean. Maybe its a chicken or egg kind of thing. Do I think the sound is fun because I like freestyle, or do I like freestyle because the sound is a fun place to sail? Next time the ocean's flat, but you're sailing in it anyway, try a vulcan if you get bored. You might just like the opportunities it opens up. Here's a hint: it's way easier to learn them in the sound.

With young guns like Kauli Seadi starting to take over the PWA, the limits of wavesailing are being pushed further and further. These guys are incorporating newschool moves into their waveriding and jumping, and leaving our oldschool heroes in the dust. Obviously none of us are PWA material, but that doesn't mean we can't try to keep up with them!

Next time you're out there, try something new. Let's get Hatteras back on the Windsurfing map.


At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next time you're out there, try something new. Let's get Hatteras back on the Windsurfing map.

People are. They're kiteboarding. (:

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

andy..if dana is putting in all this time on the water and eating so well...shouldn't he be alot better than he is? i think he has pulled the jedi mind trick on you..when's the last time you've seen a decent photo or video of him? not trying to knock the guy here..its just a little kooky that he convinces alot of people with his soul surfing act... anyways..

ps.. dear anonymous.. PBR's beat MBI anyday!

At 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we're talking my language. A 24 oz PBR while rigging settles the stomach and gets me ready for my eventual warm-down swim which is usually how I end up my big wave sessions. I may not be part of the first string Hatteras crew but it's not from lack of effort. In the video that was a 6.2 that I snapped the mast on. Big sails, small boards and big waves are not the best combination. I didn't get much stand up sailing time that day, but total time in the water getting my broken gear back onto dry land did give me a workout. I'm aging as quickly as everyone else, so while I'm still fit enough to sail the ocean that's always going to be my first choice.

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Being one of the "younger" members of the Hatteras wave crew, I am probably most impressed with Danosaur! This guy is in his mid 50s, always had a 12pk of Busch Lite in his truck, and goes out in anything the ocean throws at us! He has been out for every session, from the BIG day in the video, to TS Barry this year, to you name it, he was there. Unless he had to visit the dentist's office!

All in all, I hope I am still sailing the Hatteras waves at that age, and ready to rig where ever, and when ever it is going off!
Oh yea, and also be ready for a cold brew after the sesh!

At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just knowing that Andy cares so much about my safety and health I'll definitely reconsider going out when it gets good.

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, there aren't that many of us left.... Anyway, I keep hoping I might just learn something from one you old, "experienced" guys... Sometimes its tough to get through the attitude, though. Dana sold me with his "soul surfing act" because he's one of few who actually tries to help people in this sport and promote windsurfing. And he does it in a friendly manner! Imagine that? -A

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you'll find any "attitude" from any of the participants on this blog if you show up at the beach. I guess the post you're reading hear are the bantering between the two primary groups of wavesailors on the island right now. For lack of a better description the North Beachers vs the South beachers. Then all of a sudden we have a Point day where both groups end up at the same spot and you get the "attitude" of the two groups mixing together. Why don't you come on down and sail a day with the North, then a day with the South and make your own decisions about which was more fum. Either group would welcome you, especially if you brought beer!


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