Sunday, August 13, 2006

Day 1-2 US Windsurfing Nationals, Maui HI, August 2006

Day 1-2

Greetings from the windy island of Maui!
The wind here has been excellent, providing ideal
conditions for the first 2 days of racing at the US
nationals. The race organizers decided to run slalom
right off the back as that’s what they're used to
running. The slalom fleets have been broken up into 8 age
groups with 10-15 sailors in each heat. Over the past
2 days we have ran 14 heats of slalom for each fleet-
making it really east to fall asleep at the end of the
day! In my class, the 19-34 year old men, we have some
real talent with Matt Pritchard, Seth Besse and some
impressive locals sailors taking the top of the pack
each race. I ve been a bit inconsistant with finishes
from 4th to last but more important, it's alot of fun
racing here. I come off the water with a smile on my
face after every race...something about racing in
boardshorts in great wind does that!
One thing noticable about this nationals is the local
spirit. It is more like a regonal event than a
national championships with lots of locals and
especially young kids. It's especially great to see
the younger kids here ripping around on the slalom
course. They are using 4.0- 5.0 small sails making it
look easy!

Next up today is the long distance race. Windsurfers
can't get on the water before 11 am and the wind has
been up up to 20+ before that, so its going to be an
interesting day on the water with perhaps more slalom
after the long distance racing.
To give you an idea of how windy its been, Ive been on
a 5.8 slalom and 29 cm fin fully lit up. My booms have
been slowing making their way down the cut out for
more control, as the well as a bit more downhaul each
You can check out some video here:

I'll provide some more updates later in the week as we
do more racing.

Day 4 Us Nationals

Day 4

How windy was it?

Well let's just say it blew the dogs off the chain
here in Maui at the us nationals for the past 4
We raced formula yesterday with 9.0s before deciding
we were too wound and switched to 7.6's. The rest of
the fleet stayed on course slalom boards in the open
class for a double windward leeward and some reaching
in the course.
We raced both inside and outside the reef, which made
calling the laylines interesting as you had to sail
through the breakers to reach the windward mark. All
of us had our share of disasters and it was the one
who recovered the fastest that made it out best. In
the first race, Percy, Steve S and I went off the line
with our 9.0's, sailing through the break before Percy
ate it and go pitched over falls. Steve and I rounded
the top mark together before he managed to escape
downwind going a bit deeper to the leeward mark and
getting a lead on me. He extended his lead and
finished first and I sailed into 2nd with Percy
recovering and placing 3rd.

In the next race, we all switched down to our big
slalom sails on our formula boards as it was a steady
25 with gust in the mid 30's. Percy and I headed off
together and lost sight of Steve- as it turned out he
had a collision with a rec sailor and took both of
them out. I had a few issues with harness lines and
was in the water trying to retie the sucker a few
times and not to succumb to defeat. Percy took the
bullet and another sailor snuck in there for second
before I finished in 3rd.
In the last race of the day, Percy and I were fighting
off the line again with out 7.6's in a solid 30k
breeze and monster swell. He rounded the top mark in
first and we both screamed down wind with our feet in
the leeward strap. Around the reach mark, Percy
looked like he was having trouble so I pulled the
trigger and sheeted in, grinding him down bit by bit.
I got just to windward of him and waited for him to
tack to cover him to the windward mark. Unfortunately
disaster struck again as I got a nice weed wrapped
around my fin and had to jump in and clear it. Percy
was gone, but that was the least of my troubles. This
time, my port harness line blew out at the webbing so
I had to be innovative to re-attach it to the boom-
needless to say it was a few times in the water which
let another sailor sneak into 2nd.

Meanwhile, the rest of the action was in the open
class with the biggest fleet of locals on course
slalom gear and medium slalom sails. Phil McGain,
Micah Buzianis and Matt Pritchard were up at the top.
it sure looked like those guys were having more fun
screaming on their small boards and catching up with
the formula fleet who started 4 minutes earlier.

One more day of course racing today before the 2006 US Nationals is over. One part of me will be really thankful but the other will be disappointed to leave
this place! It's really a unique place to race with a
strong local fleet- almost just a crazy as the formula
sailors in the Bay area!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Day 5 Us Nationals. Maui

Most sailors found their way down to Kahana beach on Friday for the last day of racing with tired limbs and sore muscles, but behind it all were smiles on everybody's faces- knowing it couldn't get much better than this!

The RC waited till noon to start the racing as the water was still coming in and filling the shallows of Kahana reef. I hadn't managed to find any coral heads with my formula fin but then again I wasn't really looking to either. We set up for a start just off the beach with the RC calling the line from the comforts lawn chairs set in the sand. A windward mark was set inside the reef in the "shallower" water and then it was back down through the gate; a small reach across and below the infamous "Portuguese triangle"; then back upwind to a windward mark set outside the reef; back down to the reach mark; back up to windward mark 1; and finally downwind to a finish just off the beach. The formula class started first with the RSX sailors and the juniors for crowded line. It was Percy, Sylvester and myself all off the line on our 9.0's. I got a good start, knowing I had to win the 2 races today to take the series. I looked back and saw Sylvester catching up with better speed. We both tacked at the layline, with Percy just behind- taking a stumble through the breakers as we headed out. Knowing it was shallow in that area, we still forged ahead, both wanting to get to the windward mark first. Steve rounded just in front of me but I was able to go a bit deeper off the breeze and gain some distance before we had to gybe a the shore. I managed to stay out in front for the rest of the race with Steve nipping at my tail all the way to the finish. One race down and now I was just a ½ point behind Percy for first going into the last race. We had a bit of a break while the other fleet got off their race. It was really exciting to see the course slalom boards making their way around the course with tons of speed and position changes. At the top, it was Phil McGain, Matt Prtichard and Micah Buzianis with Seth and the hotshot locals following close behind. From the shore, I could see the breeze building. Neither Percy, Sylvester or myself wanted to be the first to chicken out and rig down, knowing that it might cost us the race if we sacrificed speed for control. Finally as we lined up for the second and final start, it was Sylvester who rigged down to a 7.2 slalom sail while Percy and I stayed on our 9.0's.

The starting line was again filled with a lot of junior sailor- who were legitimately racing amoung themselves- but to us were another obstacle to get around. Percy wasn't so lucky and got sandwiched and got off to a slow start while Sylvester and I got a clean start in the middle of the line. I had switched to my faster fin, knowing Steve had a bit of an advantage the previous race. We rounded the top mark together and made our way towards the bottom gate. I was able to go a bit deeper with the bigger sail but was slower in my transitions. At the gate, Steve had some control issues and I went to pass him to windward just at the mark. We crossed paths with a few of the course slalom sailors -who had just started and were making their way upwind but not quite with the same angles. I got squeezed out and had to foot off to clear my wind and Steve and Mike got a clear lane to windward of me and began to climb. We all overstood a bit and came into the top mark with speed with Sylvester rounding just in front of me and Percy a few boards behind. I managed to go a bit deeper than Steve off the breeze again and we gybed for the downwind mark overlapped with the petal to the metal. I didn't have enough speed to get below him so I let up a bit as we got closer to the mark so I could find a lane upwind if he let the door open at all with his rounding. I did manage to find a lane and climb on Sylvester upwind and get to the top mark in 1st with Percy in 3rd. It was just one more leg to the finish with Steve a few board lengths behind me. I went as deep as I could that leg and gybed at the layline seeing Steve behind me as I crossed the line to take the race and the regatta. Although the formula fleet was much smaller this year than previous' years, it was a good feeling to finally finish on top in a class I've been racing in for the past 4 years.

Meanwhile, in the bigger course slalom fleet, it was Phil McGain in 1st, Matt Pritchard in 2nd, Micah in 3rd and Seth finishing in 4th overall. It was a real treat to race in Maui for the nationals and I'm looking forward to coming back again. Next years nationals will be back in San Francisco at the St. Francis Y.C.