I've just returned from the 2006 US Open in Corpus Christie, Texas.
The regatta was held in conjunction with the Velocity Games- combining freestyle skateboarding on ½ pipes, kite-boarding, formula windsurfing, slalom windsurfing and speed sailing. It was a unique way to promote our sport- in conjunction with action and excitement of other 'board sports.' There were several thousand people on the beach and boardwalk just south of downtown Corpus Christie watching the different venues throughout the day.
Six sailors from San Francisco attended (Mike Z, Steve S , Mike P, Ivan, Seth, and myself) with 5 in the top 11 spots in the most competitive formula fleet-a good showing for our local SF Formula fleet as well as several other US Sailors taking the top spots! I would guess there was close to 40-50 sailors in the formula fleet with 7 international professionals attending. There was enough prize money to keep most of the pros happy and even went into the amateur fleet. We got 3 races in on Friday and 4 more on Saturday before the weather became too much on Sunday and the regatta was called.
The formula races were run in the late morning before the breeze picked up- even then the 10.0 was almost too much to handle in the choppy Corpus Bay. Steve S. proved sometimes you don't need to go big to win- making the most of his 9.0 slalom sail every race to finish 7th overall. The event was won by professional Jimmy Diaz followed by Gonzalo Costel-Hovel in 2nd, Devon Boulon in 3rd, Wilhelm Shurman in 4th, Phil McGain in 5th, Seth Besse in 6th, Steve Sylvester in 7th, Mike Zajicek in 8th, BRA 25 in 9th, Mike Percy in 10th and Steve Bodner in 11th.
In the mid afternoon on both days we had an hour break before switching to high wind slalom sailing. The wind was side-onshore so the marks could be set close to the shore with the finish line off the beach- making it exciting to watch! Not everyone had slalom equipment but enough was there on the beach so everyone who wanted to sail could- thanks to F2 sponsor and importer Eduardo Owen for providing the extra equipment. Phil McGain went onto win the slalom discipline after 2 days of racing with Jimmy in 2nd, Gonzalo in 3rd, Wilhelm in 4th, Seth in 5th, and Devon in 6th. There were 6 other locals competing rounding up the rest of the fleet.
In the early evening, the excitement was moved over the marina where a speed course was set. All that separated 4-6' gnarly chop with 20-25k in the outside bay and a smooth speed course inside was a 5' break-wall- making ideal conditions for a speed venue. You couldn't ask for anything more! The course was set on beam to broad reach with no distant limits except the extent of the marina. Arm mounted GPS units were provided by the organizer and each sailors' top 2 speeds were averaged for their score. You could take as many runs as you wanted- the only requirement was to show your speed at the beach and clear the GPS unit for your next run. Most guys were getting in the 33-38mph on their first runs on small slalom boards and 6.3-7.6 slalom sails. The top speed was set by Jimmy Diaz with 40.5 mph. I managed a top speed of 36mph with a few runs but was outpaced by the pros who were hitting 39+ mph on each run.
Overall, it was great event that showed windsurfing is still alive and healthy and when held in conjunction with several other disciplines can be a great spectator event as well.Day 1
Practice day today before racing starts Friday.
While rigging my 10.0 on the beach I snapped my 520 just above the boom.
I stuck in my 2nd 520 mast and again it snapped just above the boom.
2 masts, and I hadn't even been on the water.
It must have been damged on the way down here as they broke in the same spots and never any trouble before!
I found a way to calm myself down after a few minutes and decided maybe I shouldn't go formula sailing today before I break anything else.
I borrowed up some slalom gear and got a decent session on my 6.4 in a 20+ breeze.
I 'll sail formula tomorrow using a 550 in my 10.0 and do the best I can with what I have.
Day 2 :
Luckily with the help of my great sponsor- North sails- I was bale to get 2 replacement mast deleivered to me over night so I could race today. Thanks alot guys!
3 formula races in morning then organizer decided to switch to slalom racing then more speed sailing in early evening. By 8pm, I was dead tired and its only day 1 of 3.
First formula race I started mid line but got rolled by devon above me. I didn't seem to have angle or speed but rounded in top 10 behind Percy and Steve. At bottom mark I was in same position but closing in on Percy. Again upwind he had better angle but I went low for speed and made up some but going to the right side there wasn't much room to pass. The chop was building but still the 10.0 and kashy fin felt ok. On the downwind, I was on Percy's tail and he gybed first and I continued a few board lengths longer. At the leeward mark, it got a bit lighter so I was able to come in with speed and pas him at the leeward mark and finish behind Steve.
2nd race- things heated up some and I got off to a better start to the left side and rounded by Steve and Mike. Off the breeze I had good speed and managed to catch up some but really got in a bad position at the leeward mark and had to go for speed again.
A few people started on port and got over to the right side early where there was flatter water and got to the top mark first.
By the last race the breeze had heated up and the swell bigger and I was getting tired. In the same position just behind the pros and Steve and Mike, I went to round the leeward mark and jammed my windward rail and fell in. I took a minute or so to get going again but by that time I was in the middle of the fleet and sailing fast.
Slalom racing was up next but I had an unexpected surprise when the board I was using had an unexpected malfunction. That was it, after 1 race, I was out. My luck had to turn for the better after this!
Next up- speed sailing in the marina where it was blowing 20+ and I got p 36 mph. Jimmi got the top score of 40.
Day 3 -
4 course races this morning into the early afternoon before switching to slalom in the afternoon and then more speed sailing in the late afternoon.
I got dialed in the first 2 races today during the formula event but lost the pace in the last 2 when I had a bad start then switched to a sail I hadn't used since last season.
During the windy races I kept it together and rally felt good with my speed and angle. I still have not figured out why I am not up to speed but when I am sheeted in 100% and pulling with my back hand, I really feel good. Although my angle still isn't up there compared to Steve and Mike on port tack but compared to the rest of the fleet, I feel good. With 7 pros I am just behind the SF guys but in the hunt with then. I managed to beat Steve and Mike Z in race 3 today when it got windy which was a confidence builder.
My starts have been good but some how by just being in the right place at the right time- but that's part of sailing. In race 1 I got caught up in the mass at the boat- thinking I would get a bad start but was right at the boat when the board to leeward went down for speed which left me room to get off the line with speed and angle. I popped out with Steve s on my windward hip and kept him there for some time until I when down for speed and he eventually got free and sailed his own course.
In the 2nd race things were similar going into the start but I got hosed off the line when I didn't accelerate off a big piece of chop that hit the starting line. I caught up somewhat but was never really back in the hunt. How you recover form disaster is the real sign of a victory.
In the 3rd race the wind was still up. I got a decent start going off to the left side in decent position just behind Steve and Mike Z. We rounded the leeward mark with Percy on my rtail. Up in front, the fleet was getting knocked near the shore and was taking over before the layline. I looked back and Percy was climbing on me but I decided to stay with it and sail out to the layline. Percy tacked then I tacked. It looked like we would both make it while the rest f the fleet who tacked early got caught on the outside in a lighter patch. Percy and I rounded in front of Mike Z as we all headed down wind. Steve was just infront and I was matching his speed. Then we gybed and I rolled Steve to the leeward mark with a bit more speed and finshed just behind Percy in the race.
The last race- I made the big mistake of going to my 9.0 with out having sailed it since last fall. I was rushed out to the starting line. The cams were not rotating well and the boom sliding down. I just wasn't in the groove but I kept with it and finished the race just to get some points because after all - its all about the points.
No racing today as thunderstorms were all across the area. So results stand as of yesterday. Top pros in top 7 spots with Jimmi at the top. Then it was Steve S, Mike Z, and myself in 11th.
Check out the photos on the link to the left of the speed event- some cool action shots!
Here's alink to some other shots of the event as well