Thursday, August 28, 2008

hi res!

Update: I added Sergey's hi res tips at the end of this post.

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Now, check this out!

Blog reader and video editing/compressing expert (at least compared to me!!!) Sergey wanted to show me how much better the resolution of the videos posted on the blog can be... and he bloddy well did!



I'm shocked. That is pretty much just as good as the original!
How did he do it? A few steps requiring a few different software... I'm not sure I really want to get into that.
Also because I like the fact that posting the videos on youtube, they get to be seen also by the many "independent" youtube users. My most viewed video, in fact, has been seen almost 9,000 times now...
Quite a shame that the quality gets so shitty though...

Anyway, just wanted to finally show the kind of quality that the gopro camera can offer. And the original (un-edited) clips are clearly even better than that.

On a different note, here is the South Pacific weather map of today. I won't make any comment on it, 'cause if by now you haven't learned how to read a weather map... well, too bad for you!


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And here are Sergey's tricks.

I FTPed him a DV-AVI (best quality you can save a movie file with Windows Movie Maker: 720x480 at 30Mbps) version of Jeff's video.
He did a bunch of processing and uploaded the outcome on his amazon S3 account. Then he sent me a script to embed it in my blog. The result is the amazingly good quality video you see above.
Here's what he told me he did:

"I ran auto levels in Adobe Premiere Elements (kicks WMM's ass while costs about $70 street), and then several filters in VirtualDub (free). (deinterlace, resize, unsharpmask, levels).
Then compressed using automen (free) with different bitrates.

Two other things:
- there was also hostpot filter to brighten the edges.
- try to put a lot of rain-x on lens - basically pour on the lens, let it dry, then smear very thin, but still visible layer with a tissue.

For general reading, I would recommend to start here:
http://www.doom9.org/index.html?/capture/postprocessing_vdub.html - VirtualDub http://www.virtualdub.org/ is an essential tool (you don't care about deinterlacing, unless it is introduced by your video editing program, for example when rendering slo-mo)."


He also pointed out that Youtube offers now the possibility of watching videos in high quality (as long as the original file is good enough).
If you just want to link the high quality version of a video, then you have to add &fmt=6 at the end of the address.
Example, Jeff's high quality video link would be: >http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgqZl4cuuwo&fmt=6
By the way, I finally invested 2 minutes in a google search and figured out how to have the link opened in a new window... it was about time!

If, instead, you want to embed the high quality version of your youtube video on your blog, the magic string to add to the address (which appear twice in the code you copy from youtube) is: &ap=%2526fmt%3D18

I just added it to the original Jeff's video post, the one below this.
I also left the old low quality one. Please, check both out and let me know via comments:
1) did the high quality version loaded ok for you internet connection speed or did you have to wait long time before you could see it?
2) would you rather have high or low quality in the future?
My plan for the future is to embed the high quality version and provide a link for the low quality one...

No doubt Sergey's version is still way better than the youtube high quality one. But, as I said, I really dig youtube and I don't feel like getting into all those processing steps he did to achieve that mesmerizing quality.
Plus, winter is around the corner (today it's September 1st... yeah!!) and there's a big south swell coming this weekend... I'd rather go surf!

Also: the video uploaded on youtube is NOT the DV-AVI version (which is 790MB), but a way smaller WMM video file (640x480, 2Mbps, 54MB).
I just tried to upload the DV-AVI one (youtube has a 1GB limit) to see how much better it looks. It took more than 1 hour and it didn't look any better.
Actually, even Sergey's magic version doesn't look any better when uploaded to youtube.
In other words, youtube does reduce the quality a lot, which is understandable considering that they host billions of videos...
But now at least they have a high(er) quality option and I'm pretty happy with it.

Huge thanks to Sergey for all these useful information.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jeff at Upper's

A sweet little video that shows Jeff Henderson in a typical summer time day with a very little wind swell and a very flashy Superfreak. Enjoy.

Youtube high quality.


Youtube standard quality.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

brava Alessandra!

Congratulations to Alessandra Sensini who took second at the Olympics in the RS:X windsurfing class.



Unfortunately the conditions weren't quite like the ones in the photo above, since they never planed and, for what I saw, they never even hooked in the harness!
They were desperately pumping huge and heavy sails all the way.
Congratulations to all the competitors for the incredible level of fitness.
Congratulations to the Chinese Jian Yin who won the gold (for just one point).
Congratulations to the British Bryony Shaw who won the bronze (and looked pretty cute to me).

I really enjoyed watching this race (and the previous sailing classes the days before), because there was no audio comment. Only the sound of the waves and sometimes the screams of the spectators... it was like being there.
On top of that, there was a very competent written commentary by Gary Jobson (who cracks me up!) for the sailing classes and by Platt Johnson (his blog) for the windsurfing.
AND, on top of that, there was not the usual biased and american centric comment that NBC offers on their TV channels.
So, big thumbs up to the webcast.

Here are a few general considerations about these Olympics so far.

Things I like:
- the mesmerizing level of the athletic performances
- the camera angles

Things I don't like: I can't stand all those celebrations with the flags after a victory. Specially in the individual disciplines.
Sure, my hate for flags is probably well known, but can somebody tell me what's the point in an age in which there are so many athletes that have been naturalized by other countries just to get a chance to participate?
I saw a table tennis match today between an austrian and an italian. Their last names were Li and Yang (or something like that) and they both incredibly resembled Mao Tze Tung... give me a break!
The medal ceremony is another jewel. Thank god they only play the national anthem of the gold winner... I remember when they used to play all three! So, it's actually getting better from this point of view... but still, what a pathetic thing to listen to those same old boring songs over and over again.
Do something different: just play the winner's favorite song or, even better, let him/her sing it! Now, that's entertaining.

I love to watch sport competitions, no matter what kind of sport (ok, ok, with a slight preference for surfing and wavesailing), but I hate the huge hype that the media put around the proudness of belonging to a country or another.
Why?
Hello-o, wake up you guys... it's all government propaganda!
It's one of the many means governments have to make the citizens proud of being such and be ready to support them next time they'll need to invade an innocent country in which they have some kind of interests.

Did you guys see that spot from ATT?
"Are you one of the many american fans that say WE have won eight golds medals?" and then it continues in a similar fashion...
Well, ask yourself the same question and if the answer is yes you need a good doctor... because who won eight gold medals was bloddy phenomenal Michael Phelps, not you!
You, instead, have been brain washed.

Well, I know I've pissed off a bunch of readers by now, but if I woke up at least one, I'm happy.

Sorry about the political rant. Once in a while, I gotta do them. Da hell, it's my blog...

PS. In other words, don't expect me to fly the italian flag next time I'll win the Aloha Classic... I'll fly the Peace one instead.
PPS. Talking about which, would somebody please try to bring a wave sailing competition back to Maui? I know it means crowded waves and Hookipa off limits for a week, but it's just too much fun to watch!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

well overhead I said... (+ Barbados amarcord)

See?



Ok, ok, I'm just kidding... that's Anders Bringdal in a day of last January.
Why do I publish it? 'Cause I don't have any photos of the last couple of days.
I got a bug again and had to stay in bed for 48 hours straight (actually I'm still there) with a temperature that went up to 102.3 (39c)... not fun. Sick during a weekend with a swell... good timing!
Now I'm getting slightly better (in fact, I'm posting).

So, how was it you guys?
I quickly checked Hoo on Friday at 1 and it looked chest to shoulder high and a lot of fun. The buoy did build a little more, but I doubt it went up to the height I wrongly forecasted.
The good thing of having to stay home is that I didn't have to go through the many "hey GP, where's those overhead waves?!" I would have received at the beach...
Anyway, Hookipa sailors please post a comment and let me know what I missed.
Reminder for everyone: on this blog the comments are moderated. That means that once you submit one, it won't appear immediately, but I will have to approve it first. I wish there was a message explaining that, but evidently there's not, since once in a while some people leave the same comment many times, probably wondering why it doesn't show...

What else? Here, check these couple of links taken from the web page of the italian newspaper La Repubblica:
This is the Leryn Franco, who is a Paraguayan athlete competing at the Olympics in the javelin throw... stunning!

And this is something that doesn't really need a comment (wait a few seconds and english subtitles will appear).

Talking about Olympics, did you know that NBC webcasts live some disciplines? Clearly only the ones that they considered minor and clearly sailing is between them and clearly they never really show windsurfing...
Here's their online daily schedule.
And this is the schedule of all the sailing races, from which you can see that the RS:X class (that'll be windsurfing) started last Monday. Too bad I can't seem to find an updated version of the standings...

Italian windsurfer Alessandra Sensini will enter the games for the fourth time, in search of another gold medal after the one she won in Sidney in 2000.
Not that I care too much about formula racing and huge sails pumping (8.5 for women and 9.5 for men) in light wind, but I met Alessandra in Barbados and she's a super nice girl (who can totally rip in the waves), so... good luck Alessandra!

Mmm... after a feverish nap, I went to see if I had any photos from that vacation in Barbados and... there she is, the one on the left! The dork in the middle is me (notice the shorts, but we're in the 90s...) and I have no idea who's the girl on the right.


This one, instead, I remember quite well. A spectacular windsurfing bum from the wonderful city of Rome.


And here's the same girl twenty years later...


Just kidding!
These are the fun conditions that we were blessed with: kind of onshore, but fun jumping and backside riding... and sunny and very warm!


Lastly, my equipment back then: a Fanatic 258 and a North Vertigo... geez, I would love to give both a spin nowadays and see how they feel!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

harness hook + first north Pacific fetch

I don't like the fact that the harness hook slides for two reasons:

1) After a jibe it's hard to hook in, since it is usually resting on the opposite side of the body.
2) I don't seem to be able to sheet in as much. Specially when sailing upwind.

So I wrap the webbing around the hook of my harness, in order not to make it slide. Now I have another good reason to do that:


The hook broke, but I made it happily back, thanks to the webbing wrap that hold it together...

On a different note, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce you the first fetch of the season in the north Pacific oriented towards Hawaii .


The related north swell will hit Friday and Saturday and I can't wait.
Well overhead at Hookipa is my forecast. Keep your fingers crossed!

PS. Check the new Hot Sails Maui ad on the right. It features a young german sailor called Leon Jamaer in a sick shot taken in South Africa. Don't know the photographer, but congrats to him too.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

3.2!

That's the smallest sail I have ever sailed in my life. It happened today around 3.45 in one of the many peaks of the nuking wind. Way more fun than I thought, I have to say. Definitely in control, despite of the huge chop. Once back to the beach, Juan had a go on it. Here's a nice shot of him. Maybe tomorrow I'll try a 2.8...

And this is a short clip that will give you an idea of how uppers looked like today in a moment in which I was on a Smack 4.5. A bit of windswell, pretty much coming from the same direction of the wind, but slightly bending on the reef so that once in while a down the line turn was possible. I actually did two turns on this particular wave, but that was kind of rare.
The board is a production Quatro 63l (single fin) that I'm demoing. Pretty good board, but I haven't tried it at Hookipa yet.
Enjoy the sunshine and the warm water... well for the last one, I guess you just have to trust me!
video

Friday, August 08, 2008

Uppers jumping fest

Wednesday I busted out the helmet cam and caught a few good sailors practicing at Uppers.
I saw Levi's sail and followed him for a while, but he wasn't jumping at all (maybe he couldn't for some kind of injury or something). So I looked around for another "prey" and I found some satisfaction in Jake "the snake" Miller. It doesn't rime, but he should be nicknamed "the grasshopper" instead... got that push loop down, Jake!
All the jumps but the third (by Skyler Haywood) in the following little video are by him.
video

Yesterday, instead, around 3.40 there was a big squall coming through and the wind got so strong for 15 minutes that I sailed perfectly powered on a 3.7 and 63l board. I actually could have used a smaller board...
Crazy wind. let's see what's on the menu today. Despite the wind, the windswell is not really picking up yet. Well, actually the Mokapu point buoy went up to 7 feet, 8 seconds, but from 90 degrees straight and that direction doesn't hit Hookipa and Uppers as well as when it comes from the 70s...
Oh well...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Jibes

First update. Go the end of the post to read the update and see the new videos.

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Jibing on a shortboard ain't an easy task. Specially on choppy waters.
Without having the pretentious goal of being a complete and extensive treatise on the subject, here's a brief list of the three most common mistakes I encounter.

1) Too much weight on the back foot. This is very understandable, since a planing jibe happens at fast speed and it's just scary to lean forward into the turns the first times. As a reaction you tend to lean back, put too much weight on the back foot and slow down the board. Once you lose your speed, you can eventually still close your jibe, but everything will be more difficult. For example, flipping the sail won't feel neutral, like it would if you flip it at full speed.

2) Not sheeting in enough. Sometimes this is caused by not sliding the back hand back on the boom before initiating the jibe. Sometimes it's caused by being overpowered: the better you are, the less sail you need to get planing, so when you're learning you tend to need a little more sail than strictly necessary. Oh, and sometimes it's caused by the fact that... you just forget about it!

3) Bad foot work. I personally believe that jibing switching the feet first (and then flipping the sail) should be illegal. 99% of the students I get have learned this way. The thing is that it's extremely hard to switch your feet without having your board wobble a bit, hence losing that pressure on the inside rail and/or losing the plane. Jibing flipping the sail first (like in the video below) is way more fluid, even though it may seem odd and intimidating at the beginning. Its main difficulty is to achieve that complete independence between upper body (that's flipping the sail) and lower body (that doesn't move an inch and keeps pushing on the inside rail).

One thing that helps a lot is to have a friend filming you from the shore, so that you can look at yourself. If you do so, put the video on youtube and send me the link. I'll be happy to comment it.
Today, after having filmed a bunch of my student's jibes, I had him filming three of my jibes on his gear. video

Flip that sail first you guys!
And learn on a Superfreak... EVERYTHING will be easier. I'm sure that Michael (who's the guy in the top photo that I just stole from Sharon's blog) would agree.
By the way, look at his harness lines...
Without getting to those levels, using too short harness lines (22 and under) is another quite common bad habit. Longer harness lines give more freedom to sheet out when hooked in and can save a few catapults.

The wind in Maui is about to get nuking. Today it wasn't light already, as you can see from the Kanaha Iwindsurf.com graph...


Hopefully we'll have some windswell waves to ride too. Get your small sails ready...

------start of first update--------------------
A reader sent me a little clip with one of his jibes. It's a perfect example of what can go wrong with a feet-switch-first jibe. Despite the fact that the carving, sheeting in and speed are ok, as soon as he switches his feet the board immediately stops. As a result, the sail flip becomes difficult, since sheeting in a sail in strong wind in precarious balance on a small board that has no speed at all is a very difficult task.
Since he said he can do sail-flip-first jibes on the other tack, I suggested him to start trying to flip the sail very early in the jibe (like at the end of sec. 9 of the video) at full speed. Eventually even to try not to switch his feet at all and sail switch stance for a while... If anyone feels like trying this, please make sure to move that sail towards the back of the board once you grab it on the new side, otherwise you may risk some nasty switch stance catapults...
Thanks Benjamin. FYI, you're in good company. I've seen exactly the same mistake thousands of times...

video

Don't believe me? Here's another one... looks familiar?
video

Friday, August 01, 2008

1st of August appreciation post - Busting down the door

What's to appreciate about August 1st?

The fact that it's only two more months and we'll be back to winter swells... can't wait!
I went to see the movie Busting down the door yesterday and all those north shore waves had me day dreaming...

Great movie, by the way. Here's an article that describes it quite well.
I wonder if there's any way to read the original Busting down the door article by Rabbit Bartholomew.
I left a request on this other article on surfermag, we'll see...
Anyway, the movie is now at the Maui Megaplex, so if you missed it yesterday you still got time to go see it.

In the meantime, the pro surfers that nowadays enjoy the dream life that those guys created back in the 70s are scoring perfect big barrels in the Somewhere in Indonesia Rip Curl contest. Check the video on demand page, click on day 1 and select the highlights.
Love the Bruce Irons tube and, of course, Kelly's switch stance trick.

I hate posts without photos, so here are a couple of an old friend of mine...



Oh, August 1st! The first reader that happen to drive to La Perouse is kindly requested to post a comment (to whatever the last post of this blog will be then) and let us know if the LP parking is accessible and if it's possible to do the 10 minutes walk that takes to the actual surf spot. Thanks.