Light west wind 12-16k with strong flood tide in first race, by 4th race, things heated up to 18-22 and a big ebb. Lots of traffic in the middle of the bay, with fishermen, ferries, and recreational lollygaggers to look out for.
The biggest lesson of the day is something I have learned before and will continue to learn: clear air is king. I got off the line one race buried and ate it the whole upwind. The other big lesson, I learned with to get out early and check the conditions. I was the first one our and began to realize the right side had more wind and better current. After the first race, we came in and switched down to 10.0s and the right side was beginning to ebb already. I started off on a 11.0 with 68 cm fin- just right up wind but by the second lap, I was noticing it a little dragon the downwind. I was 4th at the bottom mark but failed to cover the boats behind me who tacked early. I knew that the boats leading the other to the right side would be ones that would fare well. If you didn't lay the windward mark on the starboard layline, you really sailed a lot of extra distance with the flood up top. 2 times, I was able to pick a board or 2 off by doing this. Marks were rounded to starboard, so while coming in hot on the 3rd race on the starboard layline, I approached Percy who was just laying the mark on port. We crossed just in front of the r2 marker and when he ducked me, I thought he was going right into the mark. Luckily he missed it by inches and we fought it out downwind. I was going deeper but didn't feel my speed was the best/ In the first race, I was in the outside strap, making lots of progress off wind, then as it got windier, I came inside to the chicken strap. Mike Z and Steve have the best angle and speed in the fleet. I lined up against them in the 2nd start and they really got alot of distance on me. Again, get clear air and you will do well.
With the 10.0 up and a 64 cm fin, I felt dialed in and finally got a decent start on the 4th race, starting on port and leading the fleet to the right side. I rounded in 3rd and kept my position behind Steve and Percy. Overall, still need to be a bit more consistent. My finishes were all over the place with a 3, 5,5,6- making it a 5th place for the day. Good practice!
Monday, August 15, 2005
Here's some highlights from the slalom racing on day 2 at the gorge- enjoy
Heres a second video from Brian McDonald on day 3 of the event
2005 us nationals Day 1- no racing. Race Director dismissed fleet at 2pm with no traces of wind on the water. A group of us went kayaking down the white salmon river for a good adventure as well as a decent work out. A word of caution- snow melt is cold!
Day 2 update 10 am- racing postponed till 2pm today with no wind in sight. Event site looks glassy! No wind activity was cliff diving and swimming in hood river at punch bowl. I came back to site around 5:30 and got a decent session on the 11.0 and new r13 70 fin. Things felt good against Yugi when I lined up and down wind. Angle much improved but speed may be a bit compromised with bigger fin. This week will tell.
Day 3- Thursday July 28: The nuclear gorge winds finally arrived this morning. By the time we arrived at the site, the river was full of white caps and 25-30k. The organizer started of with slalom right away and we ran 2 heats of the modified gorge slalom course. Things were a little slow to get going as the fleets were spread out over 2 laps on the slalom course. The pros were noticeable ahead and the rest if the fleet battled among themselves. After slalom racing in the afternoon, the wind had dropped off a bit and we switched to formula racing. We got off 4 races but after the 2nd race got abandoned and the fleet sat on shore and waited for an hour. We continued and raced till 7:30 making it a long day at the site. The organizer will run the same set up tomorrow, trying to catch up for the 1st days of no win.
Running the modified slalom course was indeed an interning feat. The first leg was a normal downwind start and reach then a gybe with all 23 competitors rounding. Next up was a tighter reach and back upwind where you needed to tack your slalom board , run back deep downwind, gybe, come up and gybe around the rc boat and back for lap 2. The race lasted around 6 mins. and I was managing to stay just behind the top group of pros when I inevitable blew a gybe or tack and got shot back to the middle of the fleet. As I said before, getting the job dome is what you need to do. Just when you thing you have it wrapped up, I gybed and fell near the finish. My goal is to sail conservative around the course and not fall. Speed feels a bit off on the slalom stuff as well.
Course racing was a bit better for me. The first race we abandoned after we all stopped planning on the first downwind. After a rest, we restarted and I banged the Washington side and stayed in the air. I was running the 11.0 and 70 cm fin and stayed ahead of Bill Wier just to the finish where he managed to gybe before me on the layline. Good finish- probably around 6th. The next race, I stayed on the same set up and was in a much tougher fleet, with Bill, Wier, Steve S, Mike P, Bruce Peterson, Seth and Jesper. I rounded near the top guys and decided to continue back up the right side again with Bill on the second upwind. We fell into a hole and few guys got by going back up the middle with stronger breeze. Andreas Maake got in front of me and stayed there for a top ten finish. None the less I thing I am in the top 25% which should get me up in the gold fleet. We have 4 more qualifying rounds which we should knock out tomorrow.
Day 4: Another windy day at the event site. Amazingly we started off with course racing first thing as we were behind from 2 days of no racing. 25-30k was enough for me to stay powered on the 10.0 for 2 laps around the course. We are still sailing the qualifying series so the fleets are mixed up and quite confusing. Jean managed to power over on the last reach but after racing realized he sailed in the wrong fleet. I finished around 6th. The next race things heated up even more and they switched to slalom right away. We were lit up for the next 4 hours doing heat after heat. The rc was a little slow to get things going but the break was nice staying in the shade and making comments with the rest of the peanut gallery! The first mark was 100' off the shire so the first mark pile up was exciting and the crowds were in full amazement.
Around 4 pm we switched to course racing again but I had a long break as they ran the two other groups. Around 6 pm I got my first race in with the 9.0 lit up like a fire cracker. The 9.0 is a slalom sail but it was the only thing I could hold onto. I finished around 8th again with Andreas hot on my tail and Bill W just in front of me.
Tomorrow is the last day and the breeze is expected to hold. The question is if I hold up till tomorrow after 2 weeks of racing
.Day 5- 2 final races of qualifying series in course racing. I managed to sail a really good 2 races with a 7 and a 6th place finish. Race 1- I started off on starboard and banged the left shore with Mike Z and made it around the first leg with one tack- pumping and pinching around the top mark and going deep to the Washington side to the breeze. A few guys were pushing from behind but I managed to keep good angle up wind and even get past Mike Z but he sailed deeper on the downwind and passed me to leeward. As we approached the final layline, Mike gybed and I gybed inside him and was working my ass off downwind pumping to the finish but he managed to stay deep and get reach up for speed near the finish.Race 2- Another good finish in 6th as I sailed well up near the top of the fleet. A good start will go a long way if you have speed and clear air.Next we broke the fleets up into the gold and silver and got 2 final course races in for a 4pm finish. Things were a tighter up here with no room for mistakes. I got buried a few times on mark roundings and as a result got shot out the back. The real gains come from recovering from mistakes. The guys up top make few and if they do recover well. These were my 2 throw outs with a 17th and 20th as with most everyone. Still I moved up 3 spots from earlier today to finish 15th overall and 5th US men behind Seth, Bill W, Steve S, and MIke Z- perhaps earning a qulaifying spot to the worlds.