Latest thoughts and news (I'll try to keep it somewhat tangential to paddling...)

AUDACITY & THE WINGED BOAT: Why we take fun so seriously.

Valkyrie Downwind is at its heart an Arts & Humanities endeavor. Thankfully, the rapidly growing wealth of constructive information being promulgated on learning to paddle Surf Skis, announcing races, and purveying all the personalities and accoutrements of the sport we love allows this site be more etherial, to focus on the soul of driving longboats on the open ocean. However, for the casual viewer, the writing, photos and video on the site and FB page might cause them to ask: “Is this not a little grave? Slow motion, dark music, the prolific use of Norse mythology, even the militaristic graphics -- what is this, a cult?”

Perhaps, but art is often a reflection of time and place, and I think the best way to begin to explain the story behind the winged boat and the passion I seek to express here is with this piece written in 2012 in my second year of learning to paddle the ski and forging the relationships that would go on to inspire the entire Valkyrie Downwind project.

Today in 2011, a few months after Operation Neptune's Spear, an Army National Guard CH-47D helicopter, call sign: Extortion 17, was shot down in Afghanistan with what is believed to have been a single RPG7 shot. Aboard was a quick reaction force, many from the same tier one unit that prosecuted Geronimo. All aboard were lost: five aircrew, three Air Force commandos, one K9 and 22 senior Navy door kickers.

When the Direct Action guys make the news for rescuing someone or eliminating public enemy #1, the local restaurants and broadcasts here proudly claim them as "VB's own." It is also a fact that a hit such as Extortion 17 leaves voids in gyms, bars, and neighborhoods....

I think all mariners, aviators and old soldiers eventually learn to live with an ancient truth of audacious endeavor: Luck can beat skill at any moment.

Here, in this place, this truth is almost palpable. People quietly leave and return...and, sometimes they don’t....but on the marsh trails, on the beaches, and on the water, athletes push just a little harder, for the buddy they’re racing, for an absent father, and for the the always smiling widow down the street whose husband you never even met.

Today push an extra one out for Extortion 17, for Red Wings, for Razor 01, for Super 64 for the countless other call signs that never RTB'd, or, just for AUDACITY...”

arrivals, Norfolk International Airport

arrivals, Norfolk International Airport

The wings around the boat in our logo are Valkyrie wings, the armored arc angels of Viking mythology that descended on battlefields to raise the most valiant of the fallen warriors and carry them up to Valhalla, reuniting them to raid again with their friends and ancestors for eternity. War like? Yes. The descending blade has traditionally been used as a symbol of power from above; military symbology and the myth supports this. But, consider all of this a little deeper. When you finally learn to drive a boat by your own hand before a running sea, there are moments that you feel the boat fly as if it is being lifted by wings, and that is what the myth of the Valkyrie is really about isn't it? Putting your self out there for those you love, those that have gone before, and to be closer to those you have lost.

On a calm day at Heorot1 you can hear F18s practicing carrier landings, the drone of LCACs rehearsing amphibious assaults, and on windless nights, the crack of automatic weapons and the charge detonations of arguably the greatest maritime raiders in history crossing the beaches. But, when the NE wind begins to blow, it is all easily overwhelmed by the howl of the gods whipping up a raging sea.

WE ARE AUDACIOUS, we train hard, we play hard and we drive longboats on the sea with all of our arm and heart. If a random turn of fate should ever negate all of our strength or guile then,....

We'll see you in Valhalla.   "CUIV"

1 Note; Heorot is the given name of the boathouse from which much of this springs. The meaning of the name is the stuff of a forthcoming story the working title of which is: “Why My Boathouse is called Heorot- how a cat made me re-read Beowulf