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.

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