It was full on summer city front conditions tonight as the fog rolled in early and the breeze was up and down and back up again. By 6:00 pm the ebb was in full effect making the Friday night course a handful by anybody’s standard.
I choose the 9.0 as the gust looked to be in the mid 20’s and the ebb would be building all night. With a just a few minutes to spare- I got out the course only after making some emergency repairs to my board as it went flying across the parking lot of the StFYC without me!
Race 1- Off the line well with David and Eric in tow to the windward mark. On the first beat up we were all dodging our way through the returning fleet of J-105s blazing downwind form an off shore race. I did the chicken dance a few times with some out of control broaching J-105’s coming downwind and me going upwind- up, down, up, down, NO YOU GO UP AND ILL GO DOWN! Finally after a bit of confusion I got through the pack but overstood the weather mark. A few guys understood so we were all coming in hot together. Off the breeze David gybed too early to make the bottom mark and was going deep. I knew he would have to gybe again. Comfortably in the lead I fought my way through the voodoo chop between mark A and mark X on the city front. Just as I as was surfing down a decent piece of chop- working my way as deep as possible I got the foot of my sail caught on the wave- fully sheeted in I couldn’t do anything!
In the water I recovered as fast as I could but David, Eric and Soheil snuck in there to round the bottom mark in front of me. Not really in control at the rounding I again took a dip to windward and was in the water again. Not a good way to start the series with a 4th.
Race 2- Off the line well again getting the start at B and taking advantage of the inside lift. It looked very marginal near the top so I decided to overstand again- thinking Id come in with speed but a lucky puff got the guys who tacked early to the mark first. I immediately gybed around Anita with David to get back to the breeze outside while Eric continued inside catching a nice puff down. Not sure how but David was working deeper off the breeze and going strong- getting some separation between us. I mis-judged the bottom mark again due to the fog and let David and Eric and Soheil round in front of me. Sailing the last beat upwind I noticed from the previous race, you didn’t need to go all the way to the wall to make the layline to the finish. Soheil graciously pointed this out to me as he got stick in a no wind bubble while tacking at the wall and went down- handing me 3rd.
Race 3: Still a bit frustrated at my mistakes, I put it into my mind that I would win the next race. Visualizing winning the race helped as I got off the line well and rounded in top form with David getting stuck at the top mark with no wind. Eric and I took off downwind together with him gybing just in front of me at mark B. I let up on the throttle downwind so that I could get a clean rounding around the leeward mark. I knew that I would have some angle on him. Approaching the wall I was bit above him and let him tack while I continued a few seconds as there was plenty of wind. In hind sight I should have tacked when he did- knowing we would already make the layline for the finish. Nonetheless I got my speed up and made my move to windward- crossing the finish in 1st with Eric just a board length or 2 behind.
Race 4: Another tricky one as the breeze was up and down and shifty. I went for the start at B but Eric was holding his position on the line well and I didn’t get a good chance to accelerate off the line well. Eric punched out clean while I tried to maintain a lane just to windward. It took me the whole upwind beat to put some distance on him and it looked like another good opportunity to overstand the windward mark as it was dead at Anita rock. David- well off the pace upwind was behind but tacked early. We all fell off a plane rounding- like going from a high speed chase to slow motion- in a an instant!
I gybed around Anita to get the hell out of that no wind zone but somehow David caught that lucky puff near the shore and got some separation off the breeze. This was the 2nd time this happened and in hindsight I should have paid more attention to the trends happening around me. It would have been better to ride the puff down near shore than to gybe early. David got the bottom mark in first with myself a few board lengths behind. I knew I had better speed upwind than him but with only 1 leg to go I had to make my move. I footed below him with better speed and went for the pass. As it got lighter towards the wall I made a huge mistake and let David tack first. He got the bullet- crossing the line just in front of me for the final race of the evening.
Unfortunately the breeze was dying so no chance for a throw-out in race 5.
Another good night of racing and a tune up for next week’s nationals.
The important thing to remember is that its ok to make mistakes- just that you don’t need to make the same mistake more than once! Also pay attention to how the fleet is across the course. Is there an obvious trend that is evident after 1 race or even 2 or 3 races- take advantage of this.
Be sure to check out Brian pre nationals pod-casting interviews- available here.
Up next is Saturdays Calcup race in the east bay before a 2 day rest before Nationals next week.
My predictions for nationals: its anybodys race to win and lose. There are several guys capable of wining but in no particular oder heres my top 5 and top 10 predictions:
Top 5: Mike Z, Steve Sylvester, Seth Besse, Steve Bodner, David Wells
Top 10: top 5 + Ben Bamer, Mike Percy, Al Mirel, Eric Christanson, Bill Weir.
And by the way- as you've probably heard- we're about to make a move to Europe in the next few weeks- most of our stuff is for sale. You can check it out here before it goes to craiglist or the sidewalk!