The Consolation of Windsailing
                           by D. Ohmans


TODAY IS 20 degrees cooler than yesterday, and so, though one could
conceivably go windsailing, it is better to merely write of it. Here is how
it is done.

     You start on some warming morning by climbing into some swimming trunks.
Then you put your socks on, and over them, some cheap black beach booties, and
a T-shirt. Grab your old towel and wrap up a book or computer, a rubber shirt
and water-worn hat in it, and it is out to the truck bringing the old life-
preserver and the mast base extension along.

     Next into the truck goes the boat itself (or the mast). It is about nine
feet long, with a fin and retractable center board. I have removed the foot
straps because I am too old to hot dog it. The board has a strong rubber
universal joint attached to it.

     We might as well bring the two parts of the mast in a separate trip,
since the eight-foot lengths can be clumsy. But together they make a fine
surface for sliding in the bagged sail, meanwhile dropping the boom which was
brought out with it over the upended fin of the boat.

     The boom is often fitted with loops of rope called harness lines, one on
each side. These hook onto a harness worn by the rider. I have removed them as
well, although I have such a hook. Windsailing with it requires a whole new
geometry of triangulating thinking.

     Those fit fine, protruding from the back of a shortbed pickup. If your PU
is a Toyota Tacoma like mine, you are truly ready now to experience the
consolation of windsailing.

     Another difficult technique, like the full-twisting 1 1/2 somersault in
diving* beyond my abilities, is the water start. Understandably, when there
has been enough wind to launch a water start, I have never wanted to learn it.

     It is a sort of consolation to leave Pueblo, Colorado going west. At the
Mexican rodeo, the "charreada," both announcers knew of Pueblo only that it
was the so-called Home of Heroes. As one crosses into the county at a street
called Goodnight, Dion feels consoled.

     The dam is in the distance. Pueblo West is sprouting up all around, but
not here of course: for this is a relatively very popular Colorado state park,
Lake Pueblo State Park.

     When we land on the scaly, shaley beach by the South Marina, the loading
process is reversed: we throw everything out into the sun. The boat is flipped
over and inserted in the water pivoting on its tailfin. Meanwhile, after
applying lotion and a consoling brief dip before donning the dry rubber shirt,
the fisherman's hat, Dion contemplates the limits of the horizon.

     From then on assembling the windsailing apparatus is not onerous,
although it appears as such when I approach the impending downhaul and
outhaul involved in stretching the sail. Yet your consolation for doing so is to
sit on the cushions of the life preserver instead of the hard rocks, then to put
the jacket on and engage in the uphaul.

     Uphaul means standing on one's windsail, with mast now connected to the
board, and pulling the sail up off of the water. Even a firm breeze feels
almost motionless if the sail is parallel to it, and the boat is perpendicular
to the wind and waves.

     When Merle Haggard sang, "White lightning's still the biggest thrill of
all," he may have been referring to the next moment in windsailing, when we
grab out along the boom and pull the clew around into some wind...and begin to

     Late this summer, when I was 66 and a half, I crossed Lake Pueblo from
south to north on a windsail. We drifted to the west however about 300 yards,
and when I could not gain on that to access my egress, I found myself walking
through the reeds parallel to the shore, sail and all. In those reeds one can
find the bald eagle, the hawk and the heron.

     It is artistic license to claim that then there was planing, or at least
planing with centerboard down, for the nose rose up even if the velocity
failed to double. [In September 2014 however, one year after taking two
Viagra, true planing occurred with centerboard up--white lightning--and the
board sank back down into the ripples like a hydrofoil] An uneven breeze,
however, is quite unpleasant.

     The way to cross Lake Pueblo is to trust the consistency of the breeze.
Beyond inconsistency, however, without testing it is not always simple to
reverse direction and use the mirror image of the way over. A deeply sinking
sensation occurred when I started the quarter mile back and the board would
not move forwards. At that point, one needs the consolation of not

     And yet back in Pueblo the Blues have vowed to put veterans on a
pedestal, while the Red states demand a monstrous military, the city has no
taste, and the county is controlled by mobsters. A State Park can be a
consoling sanctuary. It abuts Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.

     In windsailing one can see the approach of a breeze as ripples on the
surface of the lake. With a given breeze, there are given two directions to
go, and it is usually an obvious decision which of these is in the direction
of the destination.

     Tonight at the grocery store the clerk asked me whether I needed help
with my groceries. No I still have three good years, I joked. Earlier at
church no one heard me pontificate on the recursive sort and the concepts
of total, average and marginal as two instances of the nature of God.

     Instead, windsailing is simple, like shipping. When you hold on you may
go fast or slow, and then when you turn around there are two ways. One is to
do a jibe turn, twisting the mast around and hence instead the boat, ahead of
your outstretched arms. The other is for the rider to walk around in front of
the mast, why, to get to the other side of the sail. Here again the mast stays
almost gyroscopically locked while the board rotates beneath it.

     It is absorbing, and Pikes Peak on the horizon and all the buttes nearby
add to the absorption. You can go out, and you can go back, and occasionally
get to lean back with all your might and be swept along towards the shore. You
can make jerky motions with your biceps that translate into little bursts of
speed. You can say to youself, "Asi que pasen cinco anos," may five years go
by this way.

     Once the train track is established on which you go out and back, the
next step is to bend it (like Beckham). If you are going forward with the sail
off to your right, and tilt the mast forwards along the axis of the boat, you
will veer to the right. If you tilt it backwards, you will veer upwind to the left.
Similarly if the triangle of the sail points to the left, tilting the mast forwards
will veer left, and backwards, upwind to the right. A jibe turn is always a
downwind turn.

     The usual way to fall off the windsail is to be pushed off backwards by
the sail. Then any abused lover can find consolation and solace in clinging to
the side of the board, peeking over it at the panoramic skyline. At that
moment one's experience is both unique and universal. Besides, the water had
a persistently liquid feel, not to mention the temperature gradient.

     A motion to which I recur is the jibe turn. As the sail comes around, let
us say counterclockwise as seen from above, the wind will resist it and twist
the board in a clockwise direction. As the wind resists it, the rider can lean
forward as if onto the sail to hurry the transit, and enjoy a dramatic pose.
If the sail is twisted clockwise from behind the mast, the bow turns sharply
left, and the rider can put her weight on the boom and on the sail.

     If jibes are downwind, tacking or coming about means turning around by
facing--and actually sailing for a moment--upwind and continuing around,
accomplished by walking around the mast on the front of the boat. If anyone
needs, in the broad sense, to sail upwind they will have to tack at least
once, and probably more often when the limits of the containing shoreline are
neared. It is a sort of constrained maximization problem.

     A most consoling aspect of windsailing is seeing evidence of an oncoming
gust of wind, and pulling the mast almost against one's leg, so that the
increment is transferred into forward speed instead of it jerking one's arms.
Leaning back with all our weight provides a consolatory moment. Hearing the
swish of the tailfin suggests yet more sensory pleasure. The silhouettes of
the buttes complete the otherworldly perfection.

     "How would you like to have your own shoreline, down Sailboard Road--all
to yourself--buttes blazing by day or reflected stars." Jet skis took over
Sailboard Road, and the shoreline during week ends is no longer your own. Yet
if you want to be a hero on a tiny board in a tiny sea, Pueblo is a good value.
Before 1975 it was the arid high plains, and in the 1980's was a windsurfing
mecca, but in 2012 the wind seems to have died down and I am alone on the lake
with several sailboats.

     A windless lake attracts several permutations, like a young lady with a
stand-up long oar board, both remarkably light and buoyant. Females in kayaks
is one of the latest movies playing at today's Lake Pueblo. The boats which
were bought like cars on the showroom floor come rolling by in the water.


* APPENDIX - The Full-Twisting 1 1/2 Somersault in diving
             by D. Ohmans, 2013

     As mentioned, this particular dive was unattainable in life. Everything
that is not an instinct is a working model (Bergson). Some divers can perform
the full-twisting 1 1/2 somersault. Here is how we do it.

     Climb the ladder onto the springboard. Stand ten feet back from the front
edge, and relax your arms. Take a large step with the right foot, then a
smaller one with the left, then a right to within a foot of the edge. Fling
your arms and left knee upwards, pointing the left toe down. At the end of this
jump, bring your hands down like compressing a spring.

     As the springboard launches you into the air, again fling your arms, but
reach back with the left so as to flop over onto your back along the body's
long axis. Imagine that this rotation has been built-in since take-off and will

     Meanwhile the diver must attend to the somersault. In the air you simply
lean back, drop your head and jerk the knees and legs upwards from the waist.
You essentially motivate a back flip, so the forward horizon will roll up past
your eyes and you bring your feet over down towards it.

     You have now completed probably 3/4 of a turn along the lateral axis, and
a full rotation with your waist as the fulcrum. Halfway down through the air,
again drop your left arm back when you see the water over your left shoulder
and reach around forward with the right.

     Finally, just put your hands into the entry prayer position and slip them
into the water at the end of both revolutions. Keep your legs as straight as
possible by flexing at the waist.