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Viewing posts created during January of 2013

Mini Tests, Jet Packs and Movin' Down the Highway

The Christmas and New Year holiday season were very busy, but activity, as usual, has tapered off for a couple of weeks. The Vela staff has taken advantage of the time by better organizing boards, putting on new foot straps, rigging additional 2013 sails, cleaning up the beach and huts, and generally getting ready for things to Cruising the Blue Highwaypick up by the end of the month. We just received a shipment of more 2013 sails! Guests have been blessed by good winds up until the last couple days when either big sail/board (7.2 to 8.2) were needed for consistent planing… or we just went out to work on light wind tricks. The 10-foot SUPs have been working great with a 5.0-meter range sail for light wind fun or for some small wave sailing.

Setup of the new location has started. Last Saturday we hired a tow truck and moved the Vela container Loading the containerAt the new sitefrom the current site up to the new spot north of the Ritz Hotel.

Planning and material acquisition is being finalized for a roof/sun structure extending from the container toward the beach, and hangers for sails to be stored there. This location will initially be used as an easy-access location with better winds near the beach for leaving gear during lunch or a break and a spot for switching sails. The great sailing mural done by Brian McCann on our container looks really cool at the new site.

I’ve taken advantage of some sailing time to check out the new 2013 Neil Pryde H2 7.2 paired with the Starboard iSonic 117 carbon. The H2 has definitely been upgraded this year with a medium depth race-like luff sleeve with a fairly deep profile near the boom in a user-friendly 2-cam configuration. NP H2 and Starboard iSonic combo... SWEET!Sure, it’s heavier than a no-cam freeride sail, but offers good acceleration and a very good top end. Control through gusts is really smooth with little backhand pressure, and jibing is again easy for a performance sail, and has easy cam rotation. The sail matches really well with the performance characteristics of our carbon iSonics speeding out on the blue highway. Pierre, one of our regular guests and speed sailors from Canada, reached a top speed of 37.5 mph on the H2/iSonic combo.

One of the most fun days I’ve had so far this year was blasting fully powered on the new JP FreestyleWave 111 with a NP Atlas 5.8. The board was fast and really smooth through the chop, with a very comfortable stance, but to me the best feeling was its ‘knife through butter’ jibing ability.  It was really cool to look for and accelerate into a gust and immediately roll into a jibe, oversheet the sail and feel the board rip through the chop and plane out! Changing the arc mid-turn was very easy. Come down and try all the new gear out!

Looking for a change of pace? New on Aruba this year is Red Sail Sports’ Jet Lev. A jet-ski type, no rider water craft directs water under pressure through a large hose-like tube into a ‘jet pack’-style back pack (remember James Bond???). The rider straps on the Walt on the Jet Levback pack and controllable pressure nozzles on the back lift you out of the water and provide steering. Jet Lev advertises the ability to fly ‘up to 30 feet in the air or hover and walk on water. Our friend Walt from Delaware gave it a try and had a blast. The staff (Ozzy) was very professional, and did a great job of explaining and controlling the entire process.

CLICK HERE for more information on all Vela Windsurfing Resorts!


Posted: January 20, 2013 at 08:38 AM
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The Great...the Bad...and the Ugly

Willy Nelson got it right when he sang ‘You Are Always On My Mind’… and I like to believe that he was thinking about Aruba – boy, is it good to be back. Yes things change, the Ritz Carlton Hotel is up and the windsurfing area has moved, but it’s still great to be out speeding along the blue highway with its clear water and smooth flat jibing. The wind has been really good since we arrived in December and we’ve had Vela guests planing every day but a couple (after all, every once in a while it’s good to work on light wind freestyle). Over the holiday season the center was busy with old friends Mac and Enry out doing lessons and helping the guests.

New boards!Once again at Vela, Christmas came early with new sails and boards. Some 2013 sails are already rigged so most of our quiver is 2012 & 2013 Neil Pryde sails. The new sails look great and are built really well, and the ones I’ve used so far have been sweet on the water. I’m especially excited about the new Neil Pryde H2 Racing 7.2 sail I rigged the other day. This year Neil Pryde dropped the RS:Slalom and upgraded the H2 with more performance in a user-friendly package. Feedback from the guests has been real positive, especially when matched up with our freerace carbon boards.

Carbon alley!Around 40 new 2013, JP and Starboard boards arrived and are all setup and ready for rental. All the old JP X-Cite Rides (158 to 122) have been replaced, most in lighter Full Wood construction. We now have a new line of Starboard Carves (111 – 151), that seem to fit well between the X-Cite Rides and racier Futura/Super Sport lines and have expanded the Futura line with some new 2013 boards. I can’t wait to try the new JP FreetsyleWave Pro edition boards we have in sizes 111 to 84. Finally, for the really light days or really big guys we have a new Starboard  Carbon iSonic 127 and a new JP Super Lightwind Pro 90. Our 12 new JP paddleboards have been getting lots of use from both Vela guests and tourists. The new boards are lighter and livelier than our old ones and feedback has been really good.

As I get more sailing in, I’ll give more feedback on the new gear.

I ran into Sarah-Quita Offringa and her brother Quincy out sailing together, nice to see their ‘family activities’ includes sailing together. Congratulations to SQ on her 5th straight freestyle title.

Sarah-Quita spins a Flaka at the new Oasis


Now the less-than-stellar news: Yes, a Ritz Carlton is being built and it has created a big wind shadow close to the beach.  We now have to walk out a little way (to near where the Oasis used to be moored) to start sailing. The other option is sail straight out at where the wind funnels between the Mariott and Ritz and then head towards the red flag to start sailing. We have moved the Oasis (our on-water refreshment cooler) over to the reef, near where the red flag was, for better access and sailing. Again, sailing at the ‘Red Flag’ and ‘Blue Highway’ are still as good as ever.

The good news: Vela just got written approval from the government to move just North of the Ritz, near the Fisherman’s Huts. This will give us cleaner wind and better launch access. Stay tuned as we finalize details as lots of other plans are in discussion. Or even better come join us for an amazing Vela Windsurfing vacation here in Aruba. —Tom Lepak


Posted: January 14, 2013 at 09:45 AM
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