Monday, January 30, 2006

2006 Miami OCR

Greetings from the Miami Olympic class regatta. While its not exactly our San Francisco mikes lab one design fleet, it is one design windsurifng racing. Alot of you already got the taste of the rs-x board in san francisco last september, this time, the fleet is a bit biger and a bit stronger and a bit more expereienced. The only thing we dont seem to have is a decent supply of breeze. With one day of racing so far, we have 2 races in and 10 more planned for the next 4 days. The first race got off with 15-17k and planning conditions. It was rather shify up the first beat but
still able to stay on a plane the whole time. We did a double windward leeward course, finishing downwinf. I managed to get oof to a horrible start but clawed my way back through the middle of the fleet for a 16th while Seth maintined his place up top with a 6th
place. By the next race, the wind had died to 6-10k. Getting off the line, proved to be rather difficult for most of the fleet and the majority of the fleet was track forward and centerboards down. Pumping doesnt seem to make a big difference in these conditions so it seems like eternity to get through the course. Most of the fleet was spread out and there was a time limit o 10 minute after the first finisher. With that said, only 16 sailors managed to get scored. I missed the cut off by a few minutes but didnt realize it, pumping my way to the downwind finsih, exhauting myself! Seth managed another decent finsih with in seconds of the cut off
to finish 15th.

Day 2 Miami OCR-

With John Craig at the helm of the RC on the RS-X course, I thought there would be some compassion but unfortunately not as we made our way through 2 more races in 4-9k of breeze. It is painfully obvious who has spent time on the board and who has not!
Today was another "learning day" trying to get up to speed or at least maintain it in the fickle breeze. We were on postponement till 1pm and then started a race in 5-6k, maybe gusting up to 7- defiantly not planning but moving around the course like small displacement dinghies! Pumping doesn't seem to make a lot of difference up wind, maybe a 10% increase and most of the fleet is pumping off the line and the top guys around the entire course. If you aren't pumping in the correct technique, it's actually worse and you foot off-something I found after 2 unsuccessful races. Downwind, its the rowing pump that works the best- pumping theclew in , then throwing the mast forward and scooping the mast back- creating your own wind.
Seth and I were battling it out in the back, trying to figure out how this new thing works. Meanwhile, the other US hopeful, Ben Barger, who has spent a lot of time training in light wind Florida, was up in the front of the fleet with 2 top 10 finishes.
Wednesday's forecast looks better with some more breeze filling in the afternoon.

Day 3: Miami Olympic Class Regatta: 3 more races today in a dying breeze. The wind was directly off shore, which made it shifty and gusty with the course set just to leeward of the skyscrapers of downtown Miami.I was expecting the breeze to go right all day as itdecreased as forecast suggested. All but 1 of the upwind legs, it either stayed steady or shifted leftwhich made banging the right corner a disastrous strategy. The fleet really got spread out in the lightstuff as the lightweight sailors had a big advantage. I even managed to finish 20 minutes beyond to top guys in the 2nd race and get DSQ'ed for not finishing in time. It defiantly took a skilled eye to stay in the wind, especially downwind where you had to gybe 8- 10x to stay in the puffs down to the leeward mark. Once planning in 10-12k, the different sailor weights even out and in 14k+ the heavier sailors had an advantage. Of course, it's never always steady and the wind was very shifty so it made today's racing very tactical. The best sailors are still coming out on top.
Final day: The new Olympic class racing format was tried today with the top 10 sailors advancing to the metal round for a race that would count double and could not be discarded. The idea behind the change is to make the sport more media friendly and understandable to the public. The new metal round does have it's pros and cons and will probably be worked out as the format is used more before the next Olympics. The rest of the fleet raced in a consolationrace counting just like every other race. It was the best breeze of the regatta and Seth and I lined up and both felt pretty good in our normal SF conditions. I planned to go left so I started at thepin with clear air but immediately got chucked as I crossed the pin end committee board and got caught up their way too long anchor line. It just goes to show you that you should probably run a few dry runs of your planned start on the line where you want to start just to make sure you know what's there! Bad luck struck again on the downwind as my outhaul became unthreaded from the back of my boom on the first downwind. I managed to tie it off and completed the next legs with a very baggy sail. Seth went on to finish first in the consolation round and took 14thoverall while I got 24th overall.
On the bright side, both Seth and I qualified for the US Sailing Team in 2nd and 3rd place. With a limited amount of funding from the US Olympic Committee ($3000 for entire 5 person US team), we will probably both be running scaled back campaigns. The good news is, the formula class is a decent cross trainer for the new Olympic class and with another strong west coast formula season in front of us, I will continue to race in the strongest fleet in the country!