The 2007 Windsurfing season started off with a perfect start at this years’ inaugural Alex Cavigila Regatta in Miami, Fl. From January 12-14, over 100 windsurfers gathered at the Shake Leg Sailing Center in Key Biscayne in Miami Florida to pay tribute to one of windsurfing finest watermen, who passed away a few years ago. No tears where shed but rather statements like “The best run windsurfing regatta in a very long time” from Formula class winner Micah Buzianis.
Conditions could not have been better with a steady 15-20k breeze for all 3 days of the event. 4 windsurfing classes were represented giving the dedicated amateur racer; the serious Olympic campaigners; and the w-end warrior all a chance to compete. Several PWA racers and legend Robert Teritehau also showed to race up making it known that windsurfing is not dead or dying in the US. This was the North American RSX Champs as well as the 2nd stop on the F2 Florida Formula windsurfing series- a strong show for the middle of winter!
The biggest compliment doesn’t go to any particular racer but the Shake a Leg organization who threw their first windsurfing regatta but also set the new standard for what we should expect for a w-end of fun and racing. The Shake a Leg Foundation is a non-profit sailing center that helps disabled sailors enjoy sailing on the Biscayne Bay. They have a fleet of tradition Sonars- that allows disabled sailors to race comfortably and safe in the sometimes challenging Biscayne Bay. More importantly, they have an army of volunteers who made the event run seamlessly. From helpers at the launch making sure the flow of 100+ sailors got off, to boats on the course- giving out water and lunch! - this event was one to be remembered- not to mention to great parties they threw in the converted Coast Guard Airplane Hanger just 100’ from the waters edge.
Friday- Day 1: 2 pm first start with a 15-20k breeze from the east and flat water. The RS-X class was up first with a full mix of international sailors and several US sailors. I was excited to watch these guys as I had spend a lot of last year campaigning in this class and know a lot of the fleet. It’s a true mix of athleticism and sailing tactics as these full time young sailors are trying to gain the experience to represent their country at the 2008 Olympics. This was a warm up event for next week’s Miami Olympic Class Regatta-which will draw close to 1000 sailors in all 11 Olympic classes, as well as the north american qualifier for the 2007 ISAF Combined World Championship in Portugal later this year. That event will qualify you for the '08 Games. With 1 minute to go, most of the fleet is one the line, holding their positions; 30- seconds- the jockeying continues; 10 seconds- the mad pumping frenzy begins and doesn’t let up to the finish of the race. Half the fleet gets off strong to the left side, with the other half left in their wake and bad air on the 2nd row, trying to tack off for clear air. The women’s’ RSX fleet starts next with just as impressive start. The formula and new Kona fleet are left waiting as the RC is learning its first lesson of race management but will soon learn from their mistakes and get the courses and fleets in order to have everybody racing at once.Finally the Formula fleet starts and I get off the line in the middle with a decent lane. Immediately I find out my upwind isn’t up to par as I have trouble holding angle despite hiking my 6’-4” frame out to windward. This years new formula boards all have wider tales and demand a bigger and more powerful fin than last years boards to get the most angle upwind. Most of the fleet is on the new F2 board as well as a few L6’s and L7’s in the fleet. It almost looks like a north sails one design event with most of the fleet on the 2006 and some lucky ones on the 2007 north warps. One thing's for sure- everybody who wants to be competitive has a Kashy fin. I soon find out that a 65 cm Kashy isn’t quite enough and need at least a 67 or preferably a 70 to stay in the top 3 or 4 positions. Otherwise it was damage control for as I wasn’t able to optimize my strongest asset- leverage to windward. Jimmy Diaz leads the fleet around to take the first bullet with a noticeable absent Buzianis – missing the first start. I round the top mark 5th and watch BRA- 5 go down hard on the first downwind as he catches some of the notorious Biscayne Bay weed on his fin. I hold onto 4th Behind Steve Sylvester with 15 year old Brazilian prodigy Gabriel Browne, BRA 50- finishing 2nd.
Race 2- Breeze is still up with some hints of right shifts coming down the course. Micah leads off the line with amazing speed and dominates around the course. Jimmy is in safe 2nd with BRA 50 pushing hard in 3rd. A bit further back finds Sylvester, BRA-5 and myself battling it out around the leeward mark and close on the 2nd upwind. Sylvester was able to climb on us using his dialed in 2006 set up- consisting of a ML6, 67 cm Kashy fin and 9.9 slalom sail. I find myself with plenty of power with a north warp 11.0 but am under-finned with a 65 and L7 board. Upwind BRA-5 and I go back and forth dodging the weeds but he shuts the door on me on the last reach to the finish. Sylvester over-stands the bottom mark- following the RSX fleet to the outside leeward mark. I’m still searching for the sweet spot on my set up but realize I need a bit more wind to fully take advantage of my setup.Saturday Day 2: 11 am first start with 4 races today and lunch served on ‘ a barrier island located a few feet above the tide line ½ mile off shore from the sailing center. Winds are steady 15-20k but die later in the afternoon to 12-14k- still perfect for formula sailing. The left side is still favored and it is a parade to the port lay line. I try starting at the pin as to not have anyone to leeward so I can go for speed and not get crushed on angle upwind. It works as I round in the top 5 but need to wait for someone to make a mistake to gain. The L7 feels great off the breeze- going deep in the puffs while remaining in full control with use of the new double chicken strap. Micah still is able to walk away from the fleet with some amazing speed with an 11.9. Jimmy is bit closer today as he switches to Kashy blade from his Deb. Unfortunately the Kashy fin is a lethal weapon and sends Jimmy to the hospital with a cut foot. Note to self- don’t clear weeds on fin with foot! I manage 2 decent races with a 4, 5 finish and 2 throw- outs- 7, 9 as I struggle off the line and fins some major weeds on the course. The fleet is getting more aggressive on the starting line going for the favored pin end start.
Saturday evening finds most competitors tired from 2 days of racing but the Shake Leg Foundation throws another great party with a live reggae band, great food and plenty of beer to forget about the days mistakes.
Sunday- Day 3: Forecast looks lighter but breeze is still holding in the mid teens. In addition to more chop there are holiday w-end cigarette boats (think Miami Vice re-runs) and more recreation power-boaters running around the Biscayne Bay. In race 1, an obnoxious 40’ yacht plows directly over our beat to windward- surprising us from windward and behind. Sylvester just barley escapes footing across the bow and nearly getting himself killed. I throw the brakes on just 20’ away and stop. Fernando isn’t so lucky as the boat slows for Steve but accelerates again just in front of him and causes him to crash in an 8’ wake. I settle for a 5th again and watch a close battle on the last leg between Steve Sylvester and BRA-5. With Jimmy, TKO, BRA 50-Gabriel Browne pushed Micah but experience won with Buzianis claiming his 8th bullet. In the last race, I switch boards to with another racer so I can try the new F2 but more importantly I wanted to confirm it was the lack of fin holding me back and not anything else. Sure enough with a 70 cm Kashy fin, I am able to hold my lane off the starting line with Fernando just below me and Steve to windward of me. I hike and climb to windward- good show and I round in 3rd just behind Steve. The Brazilians struggle off the line but BRA 50 catches me off the wind as the board I’m using has no chicken strap and I’m fighting the 70 cm fin in the gust and chop. Back upwind, I hold my own but manage to wrap myself around the windward mark hoping to pinch around it with no luck.
Overall- a really good impression of the F2 board, as it’s more in control from last year’s board and has some great speed with the wider nose. I was more impressed with the bigger Kashy fin but couldn’t quite optimize without a chicken strap in the building breeze and chop.
What’s really impressive is the results in the formula class- Micah comes out in first with 8 bullets but behind him was 15 year old Gabriel Brown from Brazil and almost 4x his age- Steve Sylvester in 3rd place. I finished in a respectable 5th place but know theres room to dial in before the seaon gets underway. The Miami formula fleet has really improved with a bigger and more talented fleet as well their own race series. Check out their site at http://www.miamiwindsurfing.com/alex.html for full results
In the RSX class it was the Polish team taking the honors in the men’s and women’s class. US Sailors Ben Barger finshed strong behind Canadian Zak Plavsic just outside the top 10.
In the new recreational Kona class- long-boarding and simplicity ruled with a dedicated group of older sailors having a lot of fun.