I arrived todayafter a 13 hour flight from San Francisco into Melbourne. After the long journey, I was ready to let my body rest for a day before I went out to practice. My equipment arrived in one piece after much repacking at the airport to bring the weight down and lots of hassling to even get it on the plane. You'd think, it was the first time the airline had dealt with oversized windsurfing equipment. I met up with a few other sailors and got some food before I checked into my hostel with Yugi from Japan. The regatta site is well laid out with storage area in the Elwood sailing center and storage crates nearby for easy access to the beach. It was already blowing 15-20k and lots of sailors on the water getting tuned up. I decided to check in early and get some needed sleep. I will provide updates when I can here and you can also find more info at the www.formulawindsurfing.org site and www.sailmelbourne.com
Friday December 9th-
The wind was considerably less on Friday afternoon when I arrived at the sailing center. A few people were out in the marginal conditions and after registering for the event and getting my equipment measured in, I rigged up my 11.0 and hit the water for a hour or so before the wind really shut off. I managed to get things dialed in and line up with a few people. I think with a little more wind and power, I will be at my best performance. The warm up regatta starts tomorrow and will run for two days before another days rest and the world championships on Tuesday. I fell ready and confident! More to come later!
Saturday, December 10,
Warm up regatta started today with around 30-40 boards. Most of top guys still tuning with each other or team mates. I decided to sail regatta as I hadn't sailed much in the past 2 months and needed some race experience and to get a feel for the course next week.
We had 5 races total today but I think only 3 or 4 counted as the abandoned a few due to the fluky winds. By the afternoon things had heated up and it was a good 18k on the course with a decent swell coming in. I finally got things dialed in by the last race where I was finishing in the top 25%. The starting line was set really tight so the fleet was pushing the line and we had a few general recalls due to the anxious starters. I got stuck in at least 2 starts in the 2nd or 3rd row and got gassed off the line. In light wind, clear air and speed are king! You can go anywhere without them. The breeze was really patchy in the morning and early afternoon with big holes and puffs coming down. I started off on my 10.0 as it was blowing a good 15-20k when we started but I was soon underpowered and wishing I had taken the 11.0. The next race was immediately after the first so no time to change sails. I was doing a little better but hit some deep holes and got caught drifting as boards on the other side of the course flew by and rounded well ahead of me. During the last downwind leg, my harness line blew out and I managed to stay out of the harness and pumping the rest of the leg to the finish and even caught a few boards. Funny how that works! By the next race, I had come in and switched to the 11.0 and felt better and in more control. We had at least 2 more races as I remember and by the last race, I was really dialed in, passing people both upwind and downwind, I had a great start the last race at the boat getting clear air and speed. With the Kashy fin, I found if I had clear air, I could really wind it up and get good angle. Off the breeze, it was really fast and I was trucking on my nearest competition.. A few things, I learned today: always climb if you can especially on the last beat to the windward mark, As they say, save your money in the bank, so you can use it later. I had laid the windward mark early by going to the right corner and was coming in strong with a lot of boards coming from the left side. Some of them tacked in front of me and by the time we got to the windward mark in a group of about 20 boards, I got hosed out the back door and had to round the unfavoured gate.
Next lesson was to be aware of what the rest of the fleet is doing- especially after the start. Keep your eyes open and look around!
Another day of racing tomorrow before a day of rest on Monday and the big regatta on Tuesday. Ive got everything measured in already so no waiting around. Ill stay clear and rest up.
The formula worlds finally started after a long afternoon on the beach. The wind was teasing us up and down all day with puffs coming in and staying for 10 min butt never really built until after 5 pm. With 10k on the course, they sent the men out for the first start. 87 men on one line with 10 knots of wind. This would challenging o say the least!
I wasn’t able to get of the line but neither did ½ the fleet. I struggled to get going for what seemed like eternity and finally went out to the right side where the breeze was stronger. I was deep in the fleet but I managed to reel in a few at a time. I know I finished deep but without a decent start, that’s all you can expect.
2nd race- same seranero with 10 knots of breeze, a big fleet and a small line. Again I struggled to get off the line and get going but most of the fleet was in the same position. Its hard to tell how things went as it was very spread out but once I got some clear air, I found myself going well- climbing upwind with speed. The Kashy fin has a lot of potential but lacks the grunt off the line. Its hard to have a fin that will do everything well but I am finding sometimes you have to compromise.
One big lesson I learned today was to overstand the layline in a crowd. In the 2nd race, I understood the top mark and had to double tack to get around the gate. I lost quit a few boards here which could have been avoided. Next upwind, I had clear air on the layline and actually understood as I banged the corner upwind and came in strong pinching a few people off who overstood. Well again the big lesson today is to get off the line clean in a big fleet. Everything else is secondary. You need big sail and a big fin in this light stuff to get going.
Tomorrow should be windier but you never know as the winds change here like the four seasons.
Wednesday day 3 worlds championship: still waiting for breeze today as teaser winds are up and down. RC sent girls out for their first race and they planned marginally around course. Men are on standby. Fortunalty there is a decent clubhouse where there is some shade and relief from brutal sun and flies. A few broken mast already with the inrense sun down here. Most people don’t rig until just before they go out. Lots of interesting and new equipment on beach: new north warps look really good as well as NP.
Another day at the office….We got off 2 races in the early afternoon and then came in for lunch. It was the waiting game from then on. I did however manage 2 better races breaking into the top 40. There was actually some wind early in the day from the north which made it really gusty. In fact, it was well in the upper 20’s and most people were lit on 10.0s. I started on port both races getting over to the shore where the wind was the strongest. I was early to the layline and a lot of people came up and tacked infront of me giving me some real bad air, but I stuck with it and squeezed around the windward mark in the middle group. Off the breeze, there were a few holes outside but inside- well lit even in the chicken strap. I rounded the bottom mark with a group and managed to squeeze up to some clear air. Its amazing what a little determination will do for you. I wanted to go over to the right side so I sucked up some bad air at the beginning to get to the favoured side of the course. It was a parade on the top reach with not much changing but I did make one mistake costing me 5 or 6 boards as I stayed on starboard and didn’t gybe right away while the other group got better breeze by going back inside. I did move up a few positions today and my sailing improved so I am quite happy with the performance. There was a bit of luck involved in today’s racing and I was on the lucky side. We should be getting a discard soon so Ill manage to throw out my 60th place and perhaps move up a few more. With 2 more days left, I have to move up to 44th place to reach my goal for the regatta.
Friday evening update:
Well another day of waiting…we almost didn’t get any racing in today as the wind failed to materialize until later in the afternoon and then in marginal conditions we had the race abandoned after the wind dropped to 0 near the finish. I was really lucky as I got the short end of the stick and finished near the back of the fleet. We had multiple general recalls leading up to that race and a lot of people black flagged- since we re-raced race 6, those who got black flagged could not race. We ended up starting at around 7:30 in a building breeze. I had my 11.0 and r13 68. It was a little too big as I got passed on the reaches but found it grunty upwind. I prefer the new Kashy in terms of speed but it lacks a little grunt overall- similar to the c3s I was using a while ago.
So we finally started. I was in bad air so I tacked over to get back to the right side and clear air. Most of the fleet was there already so I was catching up. Off the breeze, I was in a big pack and not feeling as strong as I did before with the big fin and fighting it out in the middle of the fleet. Back upwind, I rounded with a big group and fought my way to the right layline where I caught a few people. Off the breeze, it was a little sketchy as things were light and gust were coming down randomly. I kept my position but just near the leeward mark, I feel into a big hole. Nothing you can do but wait for the wind to fill in. Meanwhile 10-15 boards came screaming in from the other side and rounded in front of me. On the last leg, I climbed high and shot down to the finish, getting a few of them for a 41st place. I sailed a much better race but didn’t finish through at the end. Well that’s what counts. I m leaning a lot here and hopefully, it will show later.
Saturday morning update:Still waiting for wind. They say its coming in strong but we’ve got a 4pm deadline for last possible race.
Saturday evening update:
Wind finally came up and was gusting 30-40 mph. At 3:40 when the RC pulled down the AP flag from the flag pole, the shore-break was well above my head. There were several wave sailors in front of Elwood beach- entertaining to see next to a formula board and 9.8 heading through the break! I launched with my 9.0 and had some troubles with my outhaul from the git-go when I had to retie the line in the water with some decent sets pounding on me 200m from the shore. I sailed through the startling line to get some points but I was a bit late as I wasn’t scored. If the RC had scored me I would have moved up a few positions but as it stands they didn’t and I kept my 51st position from the day before as I used this race as my 2nd throwout for the regatta. Big lesson learned- always be prepared to race no matter how late it is or what the conditions are.