Saturday, June 25, 2005

2005 SF Classic

In the words of the Grateful Dead- what a long strange trip it been! This weekends San Francisco Classic and UN Challenge was an enduring marathon of windsurfing racing that made this 2 day regatta seem like a 5 day championship. I was well worn out by the time it was over and welcomed the rest on Sunday night.
The Classic started with light conditions and the postponement flag flying till close to 2pm. I went out early on my 10.0 and 63 cm r14 fin thinking it would be ripping on the outside like it had done for the past week in the bay. Immediately there were a few holes on the inside and I knew it was going to be a challenging race as the flood was starting to kick in. My objective was to stay with the leaders and not let them get away under any circumstances.
I lined up well on the start getting a good start at the pin end on port with speed to cross everyone. Mike Z was just below me and it took a few minutes for us to untangle as he was grinding up for angle and I was footing for speed. An outbound freighter was approaching and we were forced to tack. With Bill going early and leading us back to the light inside, we got knocked and Bill pulled ahead. Mike and I both tacked back as we could clear the passing ship and Bill continued left. Crossing once again just outside the gate, Bill was ahead of us both. The flood was strong and we all realized we couldn't make it outside the south tower with the strong voodoo chop. I got stuck on the tack back and nearly missed the south tower by a few feet. The rest of the fleet was getting stuck as well in the 6' boiling chop. A few people snuck by and got to the flat water towards fort point and came in to round with speed. Once there you needed to navigate straight downwind through the voodoo chop. Again, it was a graveyard with fallen formula sailors! There were now a few people in front of me after the second mark and Jean and Percy just behind at the north tower. I decided to stay high on the next reach while the other 2 behind me drove deep first and came up to the mark with speed. At the Presidio shoal there was light wind and current with most of the fleet either stopped or really spread out on the course already.
Lap 2 saw more of the same scenario outside the gate but now there was an incoming freighter splitting the fleet in ½. I tacked to avoid the huge wind shadow and went far right over-standing the mark so I could come in with speed. Once in the voodoo chop, everything changes and I wasn't able to make any further forward direction. Slowly I made my way around the red nun for a second time and got around the north tower and down to Anita Rock where Peter rounded just in front of me. We were shlogging coming in, well behind the leaders who had already rounded and were planning in the middle towards Harding. I go to gybe around Anita and the support boat waves me off the course saying I had not made the 10 min. gate from the first sailor. I knew there were at the most 6 sailors in front of me with the rest of the 25 board fleet behind me. Certainly there was some mistake. I continued on pushing ahead on the rest of the classic course. I managed to get Peter on the bottom half of the course, just as we rounded Blossom rock. Now there were only kiters in front of me and this was there first attempt at the classic. I'm not sure if they had a different course but they were going all over the bay. I finished the classic ready to forge onto the UN Challenge. With no competitor in sight, this was going to be a long upwind beat to the StFYC. My classic time was the longest it had ever been, almost 1:40. Going back upwind by yourself makes it seem like even longer. Alcatrez- only ½ way up the bay seemed like an eternity off on the horizon. I knew the flood was getting stronger and I sensed I should stay away from the city front and it would be stronger there. I worked my way up in the lee of Alcatrez. The Angel island side seemed lighter so I was forced to go back up the city front in the flood which really slowed me down. I made it back to the beach after close to 3 hours on the water. I was spent.
I found out later I was not scored for the UN Challenge as you needed to finish the Classic in order to start it. I was rather upset knowing the afternoon didn't really matter after all. Well I knew I did it, gave it my all and finished. After all you're racing against yourself and the other boards are just obstacles around the course. Day 2- Again we waited for the breeze to fill till around 2pm but managed to get 3 course races off in 11.0 conditions. I used a 70 cm fin today feeling better on the upwinds. With finishes of 3, 2, 3, I finished 1 point out of first. Bill and Soheil tied with 7 points as we all battled it out near the top of the fleet. Al and Eric were up there was well, mixing it up but it came down to some luck getting around the top mark. Soheil found out that being out in the lead gets you more clear air and you able to squeeze the mark more. With the rest of the fleet following on the starboard layline, we all fell down in the flood and had to double tack to make it around more than once. It was a parade to the middle both up and downwind as the only real wind was there. Soheil tried going inside on the last downwind and got passed by 4 boards. I managed to pump down and get Bill at the finish as we was on his 10.0. Next race, the majority of the fleet started on port again. I was getting really decent starts with Soheil but he was climbing and holding his lane. Eric and Al didn't seem to have the angle with last year's north sails- perhaps the fins but Soheil was well tuned on his 64- cm fin. I would get close sometime upwind in the lighter stuff but never managed to get him upwind or downwind. On the last race, Soheil and I started on port again and crossing the fleet at the starboard layline but having to duck most of them at the start. It came down to Soheil extending his lead on the last leg and Bill, Al and I coming into the finish line together. Al and I gybed early as a 50' recreational sloop sailed upwind in our course. We both we outside strap sheeted in going all out to the finish line. I didn't look back at Bill as all my effort was going into passing Al. We had been in this scenario before last year at the Elvestrom regatta. It was the guy who worked harder who won. I got out of the harness and started pumping. At first, it wasn't any faster but I was able to go deeper and as the boat end of the line was favored and Al and I were headed towards the pin end of the downwind finish, I crossed a few seconds in front of him while Bill came in with speed and finished at the favored board end.

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