September 09 – Report from Isabella
by Shaun Geer
I just wanted to share my experience at Isabella this weekend. Spencer was right, it blew there. Oh boy did it blow.
I showed up on Friday about 12:20pm. Amazingly the beach in the ghetto was not really filled in. There were a few jet skiers but only about 6 motorhomes and campers. I pulled right up next to Gabor’s trailer where he hand signed me into the corner and asked me to park my van on the perimeter of his camp so we could have it to ourselves.
I pulled out my 7.0 meter sail as the wind was just coming up and small white caps could be seen on the lake. The air was warm, between 80 and 90 degrees. I asked if I could use a corner of Gabor’s large tarp and he said sure…
Gabor rigged his kite and he and I went out for about 1 hour. I took my small Mike’s lab. I was able to plane in the gusts but the wind began to die off. After fiddling for about 40 minutes, watching Gabor sail his kite while I spent most of the time in the water, I went in and got my 122 liter, 9’6″ Drops board. The wind began to switch to the West. I sailed along the West side of the lake going almost all the way to Wofford Heights. The wind was light, some people tried sailing it, but you needed a big board and a big sail. I sailed for about 3 hours mostly by myself just traveling over the lake.
Saturday my friend Jeff showed up about 11am and the wind was blowing out of the North still. I suggested we go to have some breakfast at Nelda’s as I didn’t think it was going to come up until after 12:30pm. We came back from breakfast and it still was not blowing. Every now and again the lake would tease you as a 20mph guest would come through only to disappoint with a 10mph lull behind it. I kept thinking to myself it’s going to fill in!! By 4pm I had just about given up and got out of the water. I looked out over the water and it was difficult to tell with the angle of the sun, but it look filled in. Jeff and I had been playing in the gusts earlier and we were tired of it, so he was reluctant to go in. But I had to try.
I got on the water and discovered that it was more then enough for my 7.0. I called Jeff on the water and we sailed for about 1 hour before the sun went behind the hill.
Sunday we woke up to the wind blowing out of the South. That was a good sign I said to my friend Jeff. By 11:40am we were on the lake and I was using my small board with a 7.0 TR-4 Maui Race Sail. By the afternoon it was too much for Jeff on his 7.6 and Charlie on his 7.0. But I held on to my 7.0 as others began to rig 5 meter or small sails. I had a blast as it never really got that strong, but it was plenty strong for me to do anything on my 7.0. The gusts were strong enough for a 4.5 but the holes required atleast a 6 meter sail. I was sailing non-stop while others on smaller rigs were sailing 80 percent of the time and getting stuck in the holes, but for the most part it was a good day. By the afternoon the wind got stronger and stronger. I would guess it was averaging in the mid-twenties and gusting at times to the mid-thirties. I held on to my 7.0 as long as I could. Curtis was sailing a 5.0 while others were on 4.5s. Just about everyone got blown off the lake except for 4 sailors. Jeff complimented me, saying “Shaun you know the guys on the beach are all impressed with you holding on to that 7.0 sail, they don’t know how you do it.”
I continued to sail for about 40 minutes longer. This was probably the strongest wind I have sailed my 7.0 meter sail in at Lake Isabella. I was afraid at times to attempt a jibe. I made most of my jibes.
Mike Heyman looked at me and said, “There’s Curtis and Marvin, go show them what slow pokes they are Shaun.” He pointed towards the middle of the lake. You could make out two sailors going back and forth on a long reach across the lake.
I went down in two reaches holding on for dear life… Man was it blowing. The swell was about 2.5 to 3 feet. Curtis was doing jumps. As I was heading East on the lake just down from the ghetto I was beginning to pass Marvin as a gust hit the both of us. I had to sheet out almost all the way and I still felt like I was going to get knocked down. I would guess that it was probably a 40mph gust that came through. Although the water was flat I wouldn’t even have attempted a jibe in that kind of wind.
It was so windy that when I went to reach back and pull in the sail as I entered my jibes to depower it, I didn’t have the strength to pull it in. I was also tired, but I don’t think I was that tired. I crashed once on the West side of the lake and almost lost my rig in the wind as I barely caught it swimming. So I thought I had better go in before I hurt myself.
As I was sailing in I saw three guys helping Johanna to derig her sail as the wind was so strong there was a possibility you could lose your stuff. Then they moved to help Jeff derig his sail.
I went in and wobbled up the beach trying to keep my rig from hitting the sand in the 30mph gusts. I laid my board down on the tarp and let out a sigh as Johanna asked me. “Did you get enough?” “I am overpowered”, I replied. “Oh your admitting it now?”, she said. “Yes, it is insane out there. If I wasn’t so tired I would love to take out the 69Liter JP and have some fun in it, but I am just too exhausted to try.”
As we stood there and looked back at the lake a gust hit us that blew sand so hard that it hurt when it hit our skin. It was crazy.
Now I am back and I want to thank Spencer for his report as he was right!! I just everyone else could have joined us. The jet skis and boats were a pain at times, but by Monday they were gone and we had the whole lake to ourselves. It is days like that when you wish you had saved your energy to sail. I think I sailed only about 4 hours on Monday and I was too tired to sail anymore. Just when I thought it was going to die off, it got stronger.