Report: Windsurfing Lake Perris Wednesday Oct 27, 2010
The Santa Ana winds had been averaging 20 to 30 MPH with gusts as high as 43 MPH since 1 am all night at my house. It was hard to sleep with all that noise outside. In the morning I checked conditions and saw that the wind was picking up. It was stronger then I had expected it to be, so I suspected there had to be a place I could go windsurfing. As the Sun came up I looked out my window across the valley towards the east and the sky clear and blue.
Called a few buddies in the morning to see if they wanted to join me.
I was deciding between Lake Elsinore (on a Northerly wind) or Lake Perris (has to be almost straight east).
I called the Marina at the lake and spoke with a young man.
“Hello, I just wanted to know what the wind was doing there?”
“The wind has been blowing all morning.”
“How strong is it?”
“I can see some white caps”
“How fast would you say the wind is blowing?”
“5 to 10mph?”
(Now I wondered if it was really a Santa Anna?) “So tell me what direction is it blowing?”
He responded, “Blowing towards the Dam”
(tried to hold my excitement back)
“Thanks so much”
So I figured I would go and check the Lake out, if the wind was already blowing out of the east, even if it was not strong yet, it had a good chance of picking up. Usually, on the first day of Santa Ana winds it blows too north for Perris and you only get hints of it. But, the report sounded good, so I jumped in my van and drove the30 minute drive to the Lake.
Most of the trip I didn’t see a hint of wind, but this was normal. I have sailed Lake Perris so many times in the Santa Ana winds that I know most of the area should look like there is no wind in order for it to be blowing east. But still, I didn’t know if it was. When I came over the pass into the Valley just north of Perris, where it opens up and you can see all the way to Hemet, I noticed dust clouds 3 miles long, like a river flowing through. “Definitely East wind”, I said to myself.
But how strong I wonder? As I drove in I saw the flags pointed due east flat as a pancake stretching against the winds force.
The Lake was almost entirely covered with white caps. The East end was closed, so I head down to the Sail Cove at the west end of the lake near the Damn. I found out recently, as long as you set up a tarp on the sand, you can park your vehicle next to the water and the rangers won’t bug you. On the West end were I parked the wind had 2 miles of open water to build up swell, so the ramps were pretty big.
So I parked 5 feet from the water. The lake looked like a big river, with 2 to 3 foot swells. I estimated the wind was blowing 18 to 33 averaging in the mid 20’s. I rigged my 7.6 TR-6 Maui Race sail with my larger board 107liter Mike Slab board. I could have easily been on my 7.0 but wanted to make sure I had enough. The first couple of runs were scary. I was catching way too much air as I hit the swells. The wind was so strong I had to let out my sail to get back down on the water. Each ramp was fun though, in a crazy kind of way. But I couldn’t comfortably pull my sail in without risking jumping too high and being thrown. If it had been flatter water, perhaps I could have handled it, but the rollers were just too big so I was forced into the air with each ramp.
I stuck with it until I began to feel more comfortable with the conditions, but decided I would just have more fun on a smaller sail with a smaller board. So I went in and rigged my 7.0 (The smallest sail I have) and took out my 90 liter board. What a difference, now I was sticking to the water and had incredible speed. I was a rush because you would be going full speed and then, just when you thought you were topped out, a gust would it you and I was riding the fin only for whole stretches. It is like having that “oh shit!” feeling but holding on anyways.
It was like Lake Isabella when it is blowing in the 30’s, only because the ramps were bigger, more challenging sailing. One run I went up wind entirely on my fin (34cm Techtonic Falcon), but in control the whole time. Wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. Every time the board tried to settle back down in the water I would hit a ramp and up again in the air, so most of the time the board was barely in the water. I would have rigged my small Maui Race Board 70 liters with Johanna’s 5.9 Race sail if I had it in the van.
Charlie showed up, and the wind died off a little bit. I told him he could still use a 6.0 and have plenty of power. Unfortunately the smallest he had was a 7.3. He went out and sailed for a bit, but he said it was too strong for him to be comfortable. I think Charlie did a great job on his rig because the ramps were pretty big for his setup.
My friend Bob showed up about 1:30pm and Brent showed up shortly after that.
I sailed all day until 5pm. The wind slowly got weaker until by 4pm you needed a 7.0 sail. The best wind was 9am to 12pm. It really reminded me how out of shape I can be in after not surfing those kind of conditions since Maui in July. But today I feel energized!! Definitely a good day for Perris, more like the old days I remember. Hey this is turning out to be a good winter so far!
Let me know if you want me to put you on a list of sailors that get together to sail the lake and I will be sure and contact you when I go and give reports and feedback. I can even call you or text in the morning before you have commitments for the day to give you reports.