The SF Classic and UN Challenge is an endurance race like no other. I went into Saturday's race with a positive additude- thinking I had a good chance at the top 3 or 4 places. I had the board speed, the tactics and the endurance for the long distance race.
First big decision was what to rig. I had sailed the 9.0 the day before and it was just a great sail- perfectly balanced on the ml06 and kashy fin. The classic course is a lot of reaching so I decided on the 9.0 as its been getting big the last few afternoons and conditions can change so much across the bay. Normally for formula windward leeward racing I would choose a 10.0 as my small sail as you want to be prepared for the lulls.
The breeze was still lighter on the inside near the shore so I decided to start on port tack near the boat to get out to the wind line first. I came down the line, ducking most of the starboard tackers and shot up getting a clear lane. As the fleet progressed up to windward, I was closing the angle on the guys who started above me on port. At the top mark, it was Steve S, Bill W, and Crad in front of me. The first reach down was light so we all gybed early and came into the boat at the north tower with speed. I was able to pass Crad here but knew I had to keep the leaders in sight. As we shot across the bay to the presido shoal, I knew the 9.0 was a good decision as it was a solid 18-22k already. Unfortunatly at the shoal marker we all came to stand still for several minutes and the rest of the fleet caught up. The top 3 exited just as the arrived and we were on to lap 2 of the top triangle. I overstood the red nun as to come in with speed and tack around as close to the mark as possible. There was a strong flood up at the top of the course making it difficult to get around the mark.
As we sailed downwind again, it was evident Bill with his 9.8 was going deeper than Steve and I on our 9.0s. Steve went high and had to double gybe to make the mark. I stayed as deep as I could but was well high of the mark and gybed with Mike Z on my hip at the mark.
As we reached across the bay towards Anita, I felt Mike putting on the pressure. I was in control on the 9.0 but certainly not pushing the envelope as there was some decent chop to deal with. I had enough speed to keep Mike off my tail and rounded Anita in 3rd behind Bill and Steve S. Bill went low on the next leg and I stayed in the outside strap for more speed and rolled over the top of him. With Steve 20 seconds ahead I found my pace for the rest of the race.
Once we rounded Harding, there was some commotion on the water as there was a capsized yacht nearby. I didn't think twice as there was another sailboat on station helping out. It's a split second decision you make and since Steve didn't show any signs of stopping I kept going strong in route to Blossom. I was just concentrated on the gnarly chop in front of me. Several guys in our fleet stopped to assist the situation as they saw several kids in the water and sailboat sinking! Once below Alcatrez on the reaches, the 9.0 was still a handful but I was doing everything to stay sheeting in with power and control. I looked behind several times and say David Wells pushing Mike Z but not closing the gap any one me. With each rounding (and there are several down there) I counted the seconds between Steve's rounding in front of me and my rounding. I tried to knock off a few seconds each time but Steve never let up!
It got really ugly in the middle of the bay and I was just hoping to survive with my foot in the leeward strap surfing down some decent chop and swell. Once around the Berkeley pier it was smooth sailing on a beam to broad reach to the Olympic circle mark X. I'm glad I had Steve in front or I would have never found that mark! One more reach to the finish! I was able to hold off Mike and David from behind and finished 2nd about 1 minute behind Steve S.
Going back upwind proved to be another endurance marathon. I was certainly glad I had a 9.0 at this point! With Steve leading the way out, we sailed through a lot of weeds. Steve got caught up in some of them and went down to clear with fin. I motored past him and was in the lead. At this point I had lost track of Mike Z as his dark sail was just too hard to see on the water. I made my way over to Angel Island with Steve in tow and crossed the bay again back to the SF city front where Mike Z crossed me. I knew at that point he had made up at least 30 seconds on my time so catching him would be difficult. I sailed back to the middle of the bay hoping to stay powered but overstood the finish line and came reaching in. Mike was able to finish 30 seconds in front of me to take the Challenge and me in 2nd with Steve S finishing just behind me in 3rd. Bill W. finished 3rd overall on the upwind as he as had a better time that Steve S.
Overall a good race pushing myself to the end- with only one mistake near the end of the course, I was just happy to finish!
Sunday- course racing, SF Classic
After a long and trying day yesterday in the long distance race of the SF Classic, we lost a few of the guys for today's course racing due to sheer fatigue. Otherwise, it turned out to be a great day with 3 course races and off the water by 2:30 pm.
The fog rolled in on Sunday morning delaying the breeze a bit but by 12:30 for the first gun of the formula fleet we had a gusty 14-16k with 15 boards on the line. The course was set for a double windward leeward with a small ebb tide kicking in later in the day.
It looked like the boat end was really favored but the fleet was running late at the start and there was a pile up near the boat so I decided to reach down the line for clear air. Unfortunately I got rolled by Ben on his 11.0 as he went trucking to windward of me. I tacked over and went to the left side of the course but was playing catch up from that point on already and rounded the top mark in 6th. The shore was somewhat lighter but always the chance for a nice puff to come down and take you straight to the leeward mark. Converging at the leeward mark, I caught up with Ben and Jean and rounded to the outside of them with lots of speed. With clear air, I was able to get a lane and squeeze from below and work up to the starboard layline where I was catching up with David Wells. We battled it out downwind only to cross the finish line overlapped. I went for the boat end finish, and finished 4th, as that was the favored end at the start while David crossed at the middle of the line for 5th. In front it was Percy in the lead followed by Steve S and Al Mirel.
Race 2: A few port takers trying to get to the outside breeze first but still boat end favored. As usual, only one person wins the start at the boat and the others get gassed. Percy was the first to line up near the boat at around 10-15s. He left a nice hole to windward so I put my bow up to sit on the line at 7s. Not thinking there was much room to windward of me, Steve S also managed to start there just behind with Bill Martinson getting a close call with the RC boat. I tried to keep Steve S in line but he took every opportunity to climb on me to windward n the first reach. He reached the shore first and got the inside lift from the shore to the top mark. Percy was close behind and we rounded 1-2-3 at the bottom mark. Back upwind, Steve was leading but lost sight of the windward mark and let Percy slip into fist again and take a second bullet. I finished behind Steve S. in 3rd with Al just behind coming from the middle of the bay on the downwind.
Race 3: The wind was up to 18. I knew I had to win the start to get the race. Whoever won boat usually won the race. I lined up and got a great start keeping Steve to check behind me. I was the first to the shore and got the land lift right to the top mark. Ben was coming in hot from the outside in the most favorable conditions for him- powered on his 11.0. I tacked right at the mark but he came in with such speed that it left me standing still. We split tacks going off the breeze and I rounded the bottom mark in 3rd behind Ben and David. Upwind, I was climbing on them both but Steve and Mike P. were getting a great lift climbing off the leeward mark from behind. At the top mark it was Ben just in front. He immediately gybed while I kept going hoping for the puff near-shore downwind. I should have realized that the outside was more likely to have more breeze and got stuck in a battle with Steve on the inside while Ben easily crossed in front of us. Steve out maneuvered me and finished in 2nd taking the regatta from Percy who finished 6th in the last race.
Lots of thanks to the volunteers doing rc this w-end, the StFYC, Longboard vineyards, and Ultra Nectar for their support