Thursday, September 6, 2007

Taking a beating in Holland

While some people pay for this type of service behind closed doors in the red light district in Amsterdam, I am taking my public flogging openly at the first day of the Dutch championship.
No excuses needed- I just couldn't put together a good race after 5 tries in marginal conditions. There is something fundamentally different about sailing overpowered compared to sailing underpowered!
While my set up was starting to feel alive when the puffs hit 12k, I was getting worked off the starting line and upwind with an 11.0. Most of the fleet was on 11.9's and some 150-lb-er's on a 11.0
Choosing the wrong side upwind 4 out 5 times doesn't help either. Nor does not being prepared.
Sometimes having all the comforts of home (like a toolbox, cell phone, supplies and a car) makes it easier to cope with the small breakdowns and trials of a regatta. But coping- nonetheless- is something everyone has to do and those that do it the best- come out on top!
Being out of my usual element really put on the pressure: How to understand whats going on at the skippers meeting. Getting the start count down in dutch!
With almost 15 years of racing experience you'd think having the fundamentals down would be something I would have gotten down in maybe say the first 5 or 10 years. Still learning after all these years- that's what makes the game so interesting and fun to play. A bit frustrating sometimes but at the end of the day- fun!
If it isn't- you've got to ask yourself why are you doing it.
Below is quick debriefing on my attempts to get around the course of day 1 of the Dutch formula and slalom championship:
After a 2-3 hour wait for the wind to build- the RC sent the fleet out around 2pm for a double windward leeward course in 8-10k. Most choose their big 12 m2 sails. I choose my biggest I had at the moment- my 11.0. Something wasn't quite right upwind- I wasn't getting any angle and getting killed off the line. By race 3 I had figured out my bottom batten was broken and preventing any chance of getting upwind efficiently. After a quick scramble to get a replacement- (thanks you Tom and Adri) I got back on the water for the lat 2 races after missing race 4.
Still no luck getting off the line with speed and power as I was being a bit conservative with the one minute flag up at most starts. As most of you know- the race is pretty much won or lost at the start. Going up wind in bad air on the first beat pretty much sucks and puts you in a bad mood for the rest of the race. Overcoming this was one of the main problems I faced today.
I wasnt too sure what was going on in the front of the fleet as I was having my own difficulties finding my way around the course. Needless the say, the dutch have a strong fleet. Looking forward to the next 3 days of racing in Almere.

This video puts the light wind sailing into perspective- at last weeks "The Mission 2007" event, 300+ participants with very light wind. But that didn't stop them from having fun on the tow in ramp! (wait for crashes at the end)
A few pros doing lightwind slalom with formula gear and 11.9's


G-42 said...

Hang in there; nothing more frustrating that milking it for power and finding you just don't have the juice. Hope it goes SF-style psycho for you.

Anonymous said...

hi steve

i completely understand your feelings - racing outside your natural habitat, and in conditions you're less familiar with is tough!

hang in there