Friday, July 15, 2005

2005 Formula North Americans- Squamish, Ca

Day one- North Americans- 1 formula race and 3 slalom heats. Wind was up to 25k with holes and shifts near upwind mark. 25 racers from Denmark, Brazil, Japan and Virgin Islands- 5 pros! A lot of other decent sailors in fleet.
First race- good start off the line ahead of Yugi and Alan. I went ¾ of the way over to the left with Seth, Devon, and William while several others tacked early and headed towards the wall and more favorable current. We are racing at the mouth of 2 rivers. At 11 am the tide was out several hundred feet and by the end of the racing day at 530- the tide was up to the last 10' of the shore.
I ran into weeds on the 1st upwind after tacking over and just ducking Yugi. I ducked in to the water and cleared them. Down wind there is a big shift in the wind making it easy to overstand the leeward mark- I could have gybed sooner on both legs. A lot more wind near the bottom off the course. It seemed better off to go right early upwind, and take advantage of the geographical lift near the cliff. I headed that way on the 2nd upwind but got caught up in the mudflats on the low tide L. Overall I managed to get around on the course in 25k breeze comfortably with my 10.0. I had my booms set lower for the breeze and it didn't feel so good in the light stuff near the top. After 1 course race we stopped and started slalom.
During the slalom races- there were 3 heats consisting of one qualifying round and one championship round. I qualified in all my heats with a bit of luck as a number of the other sailors in my fleet either dropped out or didn't make it around. I think I averaged around 4th or 5th and them in the championship round I was 7th or 8th. The legs are a bit longer than those in SF with speed playing a big part of it. I managed 2 decent starts but was out sped on the drag way to the marks. My transitions for the most part were ok- getting around clean but I did fall on 2 gybes out 9 as there was a lot of traffic getting around the marks in the championship round. One start I was completely hosed on and got shot out the back. I have been a bit early lining up and the fleet has come screaming over and up me 10 sec before the start.
Best option is to sail out towards the 1st mark once the 3 min gun goes off, gybe back 45 sec. later and cross the line around 2 min. Finally gybe back around 1:10 to 1 min and get a good approach to the line.

Currently in 7th in fw race- need to beat out another guy or 2 to qualify for worlds. Qualified sailors- William, Jesper?. Yugi?
Not qualified- Seth, Devon, Alan, Zak.
Tomorrow's goal- be top 5. Keep eyes open after start. Dial in slalom gear.

Day 2- light to medium winds 10-15k, 4 races. Race is getting to the right side early and taking advantage of the gradient shift along the cliff wall. There is a bit of an outgoing ebb tide as well on the right side to make it a quicker ride to the first mark. The unfortunate thing about going right early on the low tide is the shallow water. I have run around 3x now giving up everything Ive worked for and shooting back to the middle pack.
First race I felt a little under finned with the r13 64 and 11.0. I gave up some angle upwind but really felt decent downwind gaining a board or 2. Ive been around 5-6 then seem to take myself out with low water or collecting some weeds on my fin to finish around 12th for the first race.
Second race- wind was up a bit more to 12-14k- better upwind performance and downwind as well. I moved mast track back to ¾ of the way back and was flying off the breeze. You really need to pay attention to all the crap in the water as there are tree trunks, bark, weeds and mud flats to keep you on your toes. Good first ½ of the race with 6th steady and then more bad luck 2nd time up.
Third race- don't remember much except battling it out with Yugi and Alan and coming up short at the end, Another 9th.
Fourth race- wind was really light and questionable for racing. Wind line was just upwind of the starting line. I decided to start on port with 6 other guys and I got off clean going to the right side. The rest of the fleet was stuck on the line. I had 5th wrapped up by the leeward mark with the next competitor way back. I managed to wrap my fin around a decent size collection of wood and bark and that really slowed me down. I had to jump off to clear them and get on my way. 1 board lost, 1 close on my tail. Back upwind, I kept my position and downwind played the same strategy as before- going deep to the layline and coming in hot to the leeward mark with speed. This time there was a big hole at the bottom of the course and I got skunked. 3 more boards got past me and I had to tack to make it around the leeward mark. Bad luck I guess going from 5th to 11th in a matter of minutes but that's what racing is- some luck and some skill. You've got to roll with the punches. Tomorrow's another day- another chance to move up

Day 3- wind looked like it was ramping up for an exciting day of formula racing. I rigged up 10.0 and went out to check the course out before the first start. While sailing down from the right hand side of the course, I hit something in the water and went over the front. The collision broke my mast and I missed the first race and was back on shore making a quick repair- trying to make it back out for race 2. Luckily I did get out in time and got the next 2 races in - finishing mid pack.
It was a bit different scenario with the wind filling in stronger on the left side. The right side was full of holes as well as a flood tide. I n the lighter stuff, I felt under finned as I was running a 64 r13. I couldn't hang with the top guys upwind but was fin in the middle group- always gaining some off the breeze.
I will try out a r13 70 if it gets lighter in the gorge.

Day 4- Long distance race today up and around the paper mill factory a few miles up the sound. The winds were very inconsistent only making a appearance near the shore. I sat not planning for at least 10 min waiting for the breeze to fill in while other sailors on the other side of the course were fully powered. The view from the top of the sound was amazing coming back towards Squamish. Although the strong breeze didn't stick around in the afternoon for slalom racing, we had our series in and called it a day and a regatta.
Overall a good arm up for next weeks racing. I finished 7th amoung the north American competitors- still room to improve but things are starting to come together. I know where I should be sailing and minimizing the mistakes is the only thing you can do.
The US Nationals start on Tuesday- a few days to rest up and start again.