“Les Ventes” has finally arrived bringing 20-30 knots of offshore breeze. The puffs were coming from the right as well the incoming tide. The fleet was stated in 2 groups so we had 60 men on the line for each start. I got stuck in the 2nd row at the start but stuck to the left side of the course. There was a big left shift near the shore as our windward mark was set a ¼ mile off shore in puffy shifty conditions. I came into the mark with speed approximately in the middle of the fleet, rounding in a big pack. Downwind I didn’t quite have the same angle and seemed to loose a few boards. Back upwind I stuck to the left side because it seemed I could hold my lane on starboard. On the top reach I was able to pass a few more boards and managed to finish 35th out of 60.
Race 2: I started in the middle towards the pin end but failed to pull the trigger early enough and got beat off the line. At the upwind mark, I went to gybe and buried by nose and lost the rig to leeward. From that point it was catch up and I finished 43rd
Day 2 saw similar conditions with the wind building 20-25knots. I got a second row start and immediately tacked over to find a lane and made my way to the right side. I tacked a little bit below the layline and got a great lift coming in. It looked like I might make it but there was a left shift and a drop of velocity the closer I got to the windward mark. The guys who went left were coming in strong. On the top reach I managed to catch a few guys but really blew it as I carved too deep on my gybe and really lost it. Confidence is an important part of racing and I was thinking about it too much. There went the middle of the fleet sailing by as I uphauled my sail! Down at the leeward mark I was on the outside of several boats coming into the mark at once so I took a wide turn with speed and really foot off to the right side. Downwind I gybed a bit too early and got caught behind a puff. Although it seemed like I sailed a decent race, the fall at the top put me way back in 49th.
The 2nd race I went right again off the line and gained rounding the top mark in mid fleet but downwind didn’t play the shifts all to well and finished 44th.
Upwind my speed seemed good but perhaps trying to squeeze out too much angle. A better sailing day than yesterday but results didn’t show it.
The breeze was a bit lighter than the previous days but building to 20 knots by race 2 There were big shifts to be found near the windward mark from both the left and the right, so it would be a gamble to get to the layline too early. In race 1 I immediately tacked over and got a clear lane to the right side where I tacked to understand the mark but still got a 20 degree shift and came into the top mark with a group, all sailing with our tracks back. I immediately gybed and got back to the left side downwind in pretty good position. I still didn’t have the same angle downwind as it seemed I wasn’t pumping as hard as the others. I again rounded the bottom mark with a big pack and was forced to the outside where I ended up footing and making my way to the right side. Upwind I really felt in the groove and rounded the top mark in 28th just behind my teammate Ben. The wind really shut off on the top reach as we went track forward. I gybed immediately after the mark to get any new breeze that was coming but went too deep track forward as the wind wasn’t there yet. A group of 10-15 boards came planning over me as I was just outside the new breeze that was coming in. I managed to get track back and start going and by the time I got to the bottom mark the entire fleet had ridden the puff down and there was the biggest group of boards at one mark rounding I have ever seen. One more reach to the finish – another 1 minute of pumping but with 40 boards making their way to the finish. The only way to go was up to get clear air and I crossed the line with 10 other sailors. How the Race Committee ever got the finishes would have been a miracle and I ended up 46th. Not the result I wanted but I was really sailing a better race.
Race 2: Not a good start at all as I had to get 3 tacks to finally get clear air and a lane to the right -middle. Upwind I was playing the shifts in the middle trying to protect the right side. This worked but I again lost a few boards downwind as I wasn’t sailing the same angle as most around me. The 2nd upwind was again really shifty but I played it safe and really didn’t gain or lose anyone around me. I finished 41st but think I could have been in the low 30’s if I would have worked harder downwind.
Tomorrow is the lay day and the fleets will be broken up into gold and silver according to the positions after 3 days of racing
Day 5, IMCO World Championships, Cadiz, Spain. I was a bit frustrated over my results in the past few days but after yesterday I had a chance to rest and really think about things better and put it all in perspective. This is a chance to challenge myself-pushing myself to my personal limits- not basing any personal satisfaction on whom I beat or how I finish in the fleet.
Today things were a bit lighter that the previous days with a 15-20 knot off shore breeze. The wind was very gusty and oscillating throughout the course. I did manage to sail a much better race all together with a clearer head and no expectations. I also lengthened my harness line after my coach’s repeated suggestions and was able to really keep the rig upright upwind- improving my pointing, something that really gave me trouble the previous week of racing here.
Downwind things also changed for the better as I was sailing near the top of the fleet and working much harder to keep my position. My downwind angle was on par at least half of the time and I pumped more and tried to stand the rig up right as much as possible.
Race 1: Not off the line as well as I wished but managed to hold a lane and tacked over about a quarter up the windward leg. I got a nice left shift that took me right to the layline and rounded top mark in the top 20. On the first reach I managed to pass another guy who went low while I stayed high for the breeze to come down. Immediately I gybed at the mark to stay in the wind but faltered somewhat as the rig got away from me. Downwind I was working hard but couldn’t quite get the same angle but I got a few of the boards I lost downwind back by playing the shifts smart up the middle of the course. On the last reach into the finish I rounded with 3 other boards who got caught up with each other and both sailed high while I went for speed towards the finish line and crossed in front of them both. I think I finished somewhere in the low 20’s.
Race 2: Finally a good start off the line with speed and a lane. I played the middle right side of the first upwind leg and rounded the top mark in 6th. I probably lost that many downwind as the guys at the top are really working hard and are a lot faster but I’ve never worked so hard like that leg when I was up in front. At the bottom mark there was a group just in front of me so I tacked over and went to the left side early where ITA 2 and myself got the left side first. This was the way to go as we got a nice lefty and gained all those boards I lost downwind. I rounded the top mark in the top 5 and again was really motivated to stay out of the harness and work my ass off like I never have before. I stayed in the breeze but lost a few boards that gybed immediately after the mark and got a nice puff coming down. On the bottom reach to the finish I pumped past one board to finish in 9th place. Best finish yet all because I sailed smart and had a clear head today!
The last 2 days of the Championship turned out to be very light wind with only 1 race in the silver fleet. The race was run in under 7 knots of breeze and I really struggled to keep it going. It an anti climactic way to end the regatta but I knew I sailed several decent races was capable of finishing strong with the right preparation and mindset. At the end I finished in 90th place ouut of 120 boards, 4th amoung the American sailors. Overall I learned much in the past month racing and training here in both light winds and in heavy. It was good preparation for the upcoming Olympic trials next month in Florida. Before I leave Spain, Alex- my wife and I will travel and get to see some of southern Spain and do some of the tourist things you never get to do when training and sailing a regatta.