Monday, December 15, 2008

End of the season blow out

It's that time of year again- out with the old and in with the new.
Ive got a bunch of formula and slalom equipment for sale.

F2 FX Z 2009 Formula Board- SOLD PENDING
F2 FX 6 2008 Formula Board
F2 2007 SX Large slalom board (with 42 cm g10 fin)
F2 2007 SX medium slalom board (with 36 cm g10 fin)

IFJU 70cm light wind formula fin
Debocheit R13 64cm
C3 J 63 cm

2008 North Formula Warp 11.8 SOLD- PENDING
2008 North Formula Warp 11.0 SOLD
2008 North Formula Warp 10.0 SOLD
2007 North Formula Warp 9.0
2008 North Formula Warp 7.3
2006 North Formula Warp 5.8

2007 North Viper 550 100% carbon SOLD
2006 North Viper 430 100% carbon
2007 North Viper 520 100% carbon

Fiberspar 180-230 cm 100% carbon boom with reinforced front end (complete with adjustable outhaul, uphaul and harness lines)
HPL 220-305cm 100% carbon boom with reinforced front end (complete with adjustable outhaul, uphaul and harness lines)

Contact me at for additional info, photos and prices.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A day of thanks...

Thanksgiving came and passed like any other day here in Holland this fall with the temperature being a bit too low to tempt me on the water but nonetheless we enjoyed a terrific homemade feast in our tiny Amsterdam apartment. For the non- American readers out there, Thanksgiving is a day of thanks in the US where we gather with our families, stuff ourselves with turkey (or tofurkey); dressing; mashed potatoes, cranberries, yams, sweet potatoes, apple pie, pumpkin pie and ice cream and finally settle down to some good old American football on TV.
This year I have plenty to be thankful for including health, family and friends,
but since this is a windsurfing blog- ill keep it on topic:
The wind- although not always cooperative, I cant live with out it. My life is scheduled around it: vacations, jobs, and even the afternoon trip shopping with my wife. This year the dutch winds have been less than stellar but I'm thankful for the light air technique I am finally beginning to master. (...and even when its blowing the dogs off the chains and I dont have my small gear, I am thankful someone will be able to enjoy it!)
The water- with so many new places to sail this year, I am tremendously thankful for the all the time on the water I have spent training and racing this past year in and around Europe, the US and Brazil. From the small dutch inland lakes to the Baltic Sea, North Sea and both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans , it has been a great year to explore new lakes, bays and ocean swells on my windsurfing board. Thank you so much!
The other boardheads like me -without them, windsurfing would be pretty boring. To all the new friends I have made this year and the old friends I have grown closer with- thank you. You pushed me harder, made me sail faster and made me realized how great it is to have you around and how great this sport is that all all enjoy!
For all the small impromptu sailing sessions where you led me get ahead to leeward but still destroyed me with angle and speed- thank you!
For the sportsmanship you demonstrated at major Championships- thank you!
For the post session beers on the beach offering friendly advice and the promise to meet up again next week- thank you!
To the sail-makers, the board-shapers and the fin makers- thank for making this year better and faster than last year!
To the race organizers, mark set boats and volunteers that made every regatta a real treat!
Thank you!
And finally to the readers of this blog. Thank you for reading and leaving your valuable comments. I hope its been as good for you as its been for me.
Enjoy the photo compilation from the last years' windsurfing adventures:

Sunday Update: Meanwhile the finals of the Formula Windsurfing Grand Prix are happening in Fortaleza, Brazil: enjoy the vid:

And back in SF the early NW swell is already kicking in Ft Point:

Glad to see everyone is having a great autumn!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

last race of the year

Its been a painful month for windsurfing here in Holland but finally after nearly 3 weekends of trying, we got off a decent slalom series last weekend in Tjeukermeer. In typical Dutch style, the weather was cold, rainy and just plain awful. Well it could have been worse as the previous w-end we got of 1 race and sat in our cars for the rest of the afternoon waiting for the rain to stop and the breeze to fill. It never did!
At attempts at staying warm were futile despite a 5/4 steamer, booties and a wool cap!

Despite the lack of feeling in most sailors' fingers, we did manage to race nearly 9 heats of full on dutch slalom. The course was a bit of a drag race but once I got things tuned up I was near the front again. I didnt quite have the top speed as the leaders but alot has to do with what gear you have. I was switching back and forth between the large and medium F2 slalom boards- always seeming to make the wrong choice as the wind went opposite accordingly to what I chose. But for the most part, the 7.3 north warp was the ticket. Local Frisian sailor- Klaas Sybrand Jissin was tearing it up around the course with unstoppable speed off the line pulling away from Adriaan van Rijsselberg and Teade de Jong.
Unlike Formula racing where the race may last 20-30 minutes, the slalom race is almost over before it begins. Getting a good start is the only option for success. There are no alternative options to bail out and bang the right corner if you get stuffed off the line. With that said, its sometimes easier to forget about the count down and rather keep close to your opponents in the pre start- never letting them get more than a few meters away!
Mark rounding are another big way to gain or loose positions if you are rounding in a tight pack. Coming out with speed is the key- so that means being aggressive in your carve so you exit with plenty of power in the sail. I find it helpful to get my center of effort low and when I pop the sail around I can really give it a good pump to get going again. Of course, any mark rounding is usually a lesson in obstacle avoidance as there is usually 1 or 2 sailors struggling to find their way around the mark.
At the end f the day, it was all good fun- despite never having had picked the right equipment but thats all part of the game.
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you loose but always gybe like it was your gybe last ever!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2008 Dutch Formula and slalom windsurfing championships

This weekends final of the Dutch Championship was run in Monnickendam, just north of Amsterdam on the IJ. With typical dutch lake conditions, sailors were greeted to a SW gusty and shifty breeze in the low to mid teens- not to mention an October chill to the air!
We ran a double windward leeward course with a gate at the bottom that gave you some options back upwind. It was important to see what was happening around the course because if the right was good on the first leg, it might not be again for the 2nd. Keeping in the pressure is always key in light air sailing. Usually the shore line will increase the wind as it is forces it to bend and accelerate around any natural geographical occurrences but it this case, you didn't want to get to close to the shore as it would leave you wishing you wound have gone the other way. For the most part then it was staring and hitting the port layline and coming across. If you could keep a lane upwind, it was all good.

You would think with all the right equipment Id be able to dial something in....eventually!!
But that still wasn't the case as I spent most of the past week swapping, sails, mast, fins and boards only to come to the conclusion that I havnt been able to change my technique enough for the new board.
That didn't stop the top 3 guys from dominating the regatta with the F2 Z and kashy fins.
The 40+ competitors had sufficient conditions to run 9 formula races over the weekend and almost, just almost a downwind slalom race on Sunday with the wind in the low to mid teens.

Still struggling for upwind angle on the Z, I began the week by swapping out my sails with Marc de Jong- thinking maybe it was the North Sails that was slowing me down. I jumped on the Maui Sails and wow what a different feeling. Much softer and less rigid and bouncy than the north but once I had both sails rigged correctly there wasn't all that much difference in my angle. On both Saturday and Sunday I started off on the Maui Sails TR3 12.0 and later switched to the North 11.8 for the later races. I found myself doing better with the Norths but still with both sails- I was getting spit out the back 3/4 way up the first beat. Once there it was just damage control to maintain a position and not lose anything more.
Ok, I thought, maybe its the fin- I swapped out the kashy 72-2 xxs for the new lightwind xxs IFJU fin with some better success but with all the weeds on the course, I honestly couldn't tell much except there want much of a difference in the fins. Both xxs fins seemed to get the board planing up soon but that wasn't the problem.
Like most of the previous F2 formula boards, the ride is quite technical. This years' Z is no exception. If you can get the board into the right groove upwind, its golden but getting it there is the problem. If you are not in the groove, your upwind angle really suffers. When I did find success it was when I was railing the board and really applying a fair amount of back foot pressure. Too much though and the fin would spin out. The rig had to be locked down on the deck of the board and me- hiking out hard to windward. Ive gotten a fair bit more comfortable sailing with the uphaul upwind. This keeps the rig upright, more power in the sail and better angle.
Finally on Sunday with another 4 races and the wind in the mid teens, the organizer decided to switch to a downwind slalom format as there hadn't been any official slalom results this season.
The problem, however is the dutch rules say you need 15 knots at the start. With so many holes and gusty conditions, it was leaving only 1 choice- the 130l F2 slalom board and 9.0. If you cant plane with that, its almost not with doing slalom. We had 2 false starts with general recalls in the all for one fleet before the organizer finally decided to make it a fun race as the 5 pm deadline was quickly approaching. I got off well just above the fleet picking off a few boards at every mark roundings with the big sail. Adrian was the only guy to pass me as he snuck in at the 2nd mark with a sailor down and me leaving the space. But not so fast, I managed to pass him on the last leg as we both sailed over Peter who was stuck on smaller gear to finish just outside the top 5.

Despite the lack of performance on my part, I did learn some good lessons from the weekends' racing. Even if you do have all the best equioment, youve got to know how to use it. Nothing makes up for time on the water and knowing the limits of your gear.
Thanks to Jan de Jong and Robert Hardholt for the photos

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Real Trip- Dutch edition

With Saturday's forecast looking promising, and the allure of several heats of downwind slalom in the north of Holland, I made the trip up from Amsterdam to Makkum for the REAL TRIP.
Ill give you this, the dutch know how to throw a windsurfing event.
Nearly 150 competitors for a massive weekend billed for its party and great windsurfing.
The fleet was dived up into 5 randomly generated heats so that you always had juniors, hybrids, race boards and slalom boards in each start. The vintage gear was in full effect with several vanderberg long boards and other centerboard hulls on the course. The juniors were mostly on the BIC one design and the rest of the fleet on medium and larger slalom gear.
Only 2 rules: your board must be under 85 cm wide and 9.9 is the max sail area.

Thanks to Jan deJong for the photos.

As the first heat started, the wind was in full effect in the mid teens.
I had my F2 sx 105 l board on the beach with a 7.3 north warp ready to go.
But with reports of the forecast diminishing later in the day, it was time for a quick change of plan.
Time to rig the 9.0 warp and large 125 l slalom board.
With just a minute or 2 to spare, I made it upwind to the start for the start of heat 4.
It was shallow enough that you could water start with under a minute before the start.
I was the most windward board on the line and got off to a nice pumping start while most of the fleet sat parked on the line. Adrien got off well below me on the middle of the line and led around the course but he ended up sailing in the wrong heat so I took the bullet.
As we waited for the next round to be run- the wind really lightened up with a few puffs in the low teens.
I headed out early before my start to make sure I had enough time to shlog upwind with a 42 cm fin! For the most part- nobody got planning off the start. The hybrid boards and long boards all had superiour speed in the shlogging conditions but some resourceful pumping technique allowed me to pass 2 boards to finish 5th in the heat.
After that we were on postponement for another hour before a pitiful attempt at a long distance race.
So with only 1 planing race complete, I called it quits and headed home with no more racing for the day. Sundays forecast didn't even merit the the trip back.

Up next is the finals of the Dutch Championship in Monnikendam this w-end.
Hopefully a good chance to see how the Z performs in light air again.
Another IFJU fin arrived just in time to test this week before formula racing finishes for the season here in Europe. Still hoping to make it to the final Formula Grand Prix event in Brazil this November to get my ranking up into the top 20.
So far sitting in 25th for the season- a good showing from last years' 50th.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Off tpoic but too funny to pass up!

From this weeks' Onion

Sorry but I couldn't resist!

Hope you all enjoy the tongue in cheek reporting from one of America's great newspapers.

BOSTON—Four years after being blasted as an elitist for his Ivy League education, wealthy background, and hobby of windsurfing, sources say that John Kerry has in fact become quite proficient at the water-based leisure sport.

Enlarge Image Kerry Windsurfing

"After losing the election in such a humiliating and disgraceful manner, John really threw himself into windsurfing, and I'm happy to say it paid off," said Kerry's longtime adviser and windsurfing coach, Steve Sylvester. "Everyone claimed he was too wishy-washy and didn't have a thick skin, so he said he'd show them all, and he did. His T-bones and slamjibes speak for themselves."

Sylvester, like many of Kerry's friends, said the defeat at the polls may have actually been a blessing in disguise, since it allowed the junior senator from Massachusetts to spend more time on his true passion. As evidence of the incredible progress Kerry has made in the last four years, Sylvester pointed out that the former presidential candidate is now able to perform a number of freestyle moves and some light carving without hurting himself. Kerry also reportedly knows all about tacks now, and can stay on the board a full minute longer than he could during the last presidential campaign.

In addition, his water starts have matured significantly.

Besides upgrading his windsurfing board class from Freeride to Formula Windsurfing, aides said Kerry has made strides in other areas to escape his image as an out-of-touch patrician. According to a press release from his office, Kerry can now name the stadium where the Green Bay Packers play with ease, as well as meet large groups of factory workers without wincing, and remember that his favorite Bob Dylan song is "Lay Lady Lay" without first checking with a handler.

It is not known whether Kerry intends to use his new skills in a future presidential run. When reporters reached him for comment, he was being swept into the Atlantic Ocean by a 35 mph gust of wind.

Friday, September 26, 2008

2008 Formula World Championship Final report

After packing up 5 sets of formula gear into Markus’ van for the trip back to Holland, I literally stepped away from the sailing world- escaping into a week of exploring Portugal with Alex for a well deserved vacation on the sun drenched beaches of southwestern Europe. This was the first time I’ve traveled without my gear- making going through the airports and renting a car a pleasant experience again. Who knew!!

Now that things have settled down a bit after moving across Amsterdam 2 times this month, sailing a world championship ,taking a vacation, and finally getting back to work Ive had some time to reflect on the regatta and my training leading up to it.

Although I was happy with how I sailed- with several races in the top 30, I wasn’t consistent enough to make my goal of improving 10 spots form last years Worlds in Brazil. Nonetheless sometimes you can learn more through not succeeding than with success itself.

Leading up to the event, I had some touch choices to make in terms of equipment selection. It seemed, to gain an advantage in the light breeze (which I so desperately needed) I had to sacrifice some of my biggest advantages in my program- namely control and confidence in the windier conditions. In the end, there just wasn’t enough time to adequately test my new fins on the 2 boards in all conditions to make the best decision.

Dialing in your equipment, still, seems to be the best things sailors can do to adequately prepare themselves for a regatta. If you don’t know how your board/fin/sail combination will react to different conditions, you are left wondering if a different combination might have worked better. Once that’s it your mind, you wont be sailing fast at all!

A lot of sailors were coping with the same issues- including the 1st and 2nd place finishers. Let’s look at Wojtek Brzozowski as an example of how to get the job done. He used a starboard 161- a 2 year old board but with enough time on it to feel comfortable in the conditions most likely encountered in the regatta. He sailed away in most of the overpowered races because that was his strong suite and he had equipment that allowed him to do it. Gonzalo Costa Hoevel, on the other hand made a decision to switch to the Exocet board at the Euros- 1 month before the Worlds. Despite being in top form and probably the fastest sailor there, he struggled from lack of time on his equipment

Even with your equipment dialed in for the conditions, sometimes it takes a great deal of focus and preparation to stay on top of the game. We literally had hours of waiting time on the beach waiting for the wind to fill in and had to be ready to be on the water prepared for the start in 20 minutes once the AP flag went down. That meant keeping at least 2 rigs- semi rigged on the beach ready to go at all times. Most readers know, that the 100% carbon formula windsurfing masts tend to spontaneously combust in sometimes normal sunny conditions the minute you turn your back on the beach. That meant keeping your rigs cooled but also yourself. It’s easy to forget about the sun and drinking water and keeping yourself fueled all day long- at an event like this but being fully prepared for racing- even if it starts at 6:30 pm and you’ve been at the beach all day is priority number 1.

I was making a point to stay fueled with extra lunches every day + a minimum of 4 liters of water (and energy supplements) throughout the day Putting more protein into my diet, helped tremendously in terms of recovery. In a 6 day event, I couldn’t eat enough nuts, eggs, fish and dairy to keep myself fully recovered. Also carb loading the night before and immediately after racing helped in preventing fatigue and aiding recovery. You are what you eat!

Onto the actual racing: 11 races were run over course of the 6 day event with the majority (8 races) run across the span of 2 windy days. For the most part, the conditions were side off shore with the breeze filling in late in the afternoons. With the wind coming off the land, the tendencies were for stronger gusts with frequent oscillations- making it very tactical sailing indeed! On the other hand, when the wind wasn’t there- it just wasn’t there: No Chance! The last 2 days of the event was spent waiting for the breeze with no additional results posted.

Despite the varied conditions, most of the racing was in over powered conditions- something I normally would have greatly welcomed but instead loathed as my results sufferer due to board handling and control issues Even with my smallest 67 cm fin and 10.0 rig the board felt unbalanced through the chop upwind when the wind was over 18k- fighting to keep the rail down. Off the breeze in the windy races, it really took a lot of muscle to keep the board from flying out form under you. Instead of concentrating on the racing, I was concentrating on keeping my board under control!

On the flip side though, the board performed solid in the light breeze. I was able to keep my lane in most races under 15k upwind and had some great speed and angle downwind.

As usual with a big fleet of 85 boards, the premium was on starting- especially since we were all starting on the same line under one start. No qualification round and unfair seeding to complain about but rather get off the line well and hold your lane to the lay-line. One big trend I noticed was the mid line sag in the big fleet starts. If you could get a nose up or even a board length or 2 from you’re the board on your leeward hip, you already had a huge advantage at the start of the race! I wasn’t too concerned about starting at the favored end but more so heading in the right direction up the first beat with clear air. For the most part, getting to the shore and the geographical lift was the thing to do. That meant in at least ½ the races, the port tackers were charging the line- crossing and ducking through the starboard tackers coming with right of way down the line. In more than one occasion there was carnage on the line with multiple cases ending up I the room and sailors being chucked from several races. But if you could get off the line and to the shore first, you could take advantage of the land shift and get lifted right to the mark. The same thing downwind- if you timed the gust at the shore right, you could literally sail 10 degrees deeper and faster than the fleet outside. In more than 1 occasion, this left me coming back into the leeward mark having to gybe into a steady parade of port tackers lining up to round. The leeward mark was another situation just as important as the start as it was a parade to the shore. All you needed was a good rounding and you could be assured to climb over the fleet below you getting footed as the approached the shore. Sometimes though it paid just to foot over to the right side only to take advantage of the land shift. If you tacked away for clear air, you missed everything completely. I learned too, that you cant be too greedy- having been left standing still near the shore- waiting for the next puff to fill in when the middle of the course was filled with pressure.

Another major issue that greatly determined the regatta was the use of redress.

Some sailors thought the jury was too generous but in fact there’s a huge loophole in the rules to take advantage of- which plenty of sailors did! Specifically in Appendix B of the RRS, windsurfing has 1 extra case that allows a sailor to ask for redress if another boat failed to keep clear and retired or was penalized. But as always, once you find yourself in the protest room, anything can happen! If you are willing to take the risk, the opportunity is there for you to gain or lose!

Finally a brief about the new Formula One Design class that was racing with the Formula fleet this year at the World championship. Starboard provided 10 complete kits for some Olympic class sailors to try. Most found the equipment better than the current RSX class but still not yet completely acceptable. The 11.0 men’s rig seems a bit much for one sail to cover the range of 6-30 knots. Ironically most racing in the FOD fleet registered another smaller sail and used it during the windy races. To say that the 11.0 planes any sooner than a formula board with a light-wind fin and 11.8 rig is absurd!

Yes this new class may make the sport more accessible and more opportunities to train with existing formula fleets but still the equipment has some fine tuning before it can be called an Olympic standard! The choice for 2012 is a tough one indeed. Abandon the RSX class in favor of a purely planning class and risk not having racing at light wind venues or stick with the current class and have a class that is so far out of reach from the standards of windsurfing that it only attracts Olympic campaigners. My thoughts are that we need to grow the sport not continue to chop it up into fringe classes that national authorities can barely justify supporting. Windsurfing would be better off with the FOD in the Olympic. Not perfect, but lets hope it can turn out better than what we were promised in 2004 at the last selection trials.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday evening update

Just like clockwork, the final possible start passed and soon after
the 6 pm evening breeze arrived.
Not enough time for anymore racing!

Sunday afternoon update

3:30 update
2 hours till last possible start.
No breeze yet.
Filling in slowly...

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday morning update

Waiting for breeze to fill in before last possible start at 5:30
Slim chance!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 5 evening update

Finally after nearly 8 hours at the regatta site, the RC left the
beach, setting a windward leeward course on the side/offshote
conditions. The wind was 6-9 knots and I was jusy able to get going-
lining up a few times with good speed and angle against some other
sailors. My goal was to get going off the line with speed snd a lane.
At first port tack looked to be the best option but I bailed half way
down the line tacking back to get a good starboard approach. I started
pumping like mad at 30 seconds to get going and keep my speed up on
the line. I knew I might have been over early but with sailors above
and below me, I knew I had to go if I wanted any chance at all during
the race.
10 seconds to go, pumping hard and protecting my hole to leeward.
5 seconds- pump, pump, pump with max power in the sail, driving the
board up for speed.
Still pumping at max power for 20 seconds after the start to keep my
air free.
I heard the board to winward and behind coming up and pump even harder
to fight him off. To leeward I've got a Olympic class sailor on the
formula one design pumping like crazy.
I maintain my lane to just about 90% up the first beat and have to
foot below the Olympic class pumper to keep going. I hold off another
20 seconds after reaching the layline before tacking to ensure I can
make the top mark in one tack and with speed. Better to be a bit
conservative in the light stuff rather thsn risking catastrophic
disaster by not making the mark in one tack.
Just as I get to the top mark in the top 20 the race is abandoned.
Sometimes you're the fish and other times you're the fisherman!
It looks like that may be the series ad Sundays forecast looks dim.
Nonetheless, happy with my performance for the day even if it didn't
count. I needed it mentally to get back into the game. Time will tell
if its too little too late.

Sent from my iPhone

5:30 update

Dying from east....
Perhaps filling in from north.
"its usually never like this" so goes the expression!
Still waiting for wind!

Todays course

Todays posted course

Saturday morning update

Breeze looks slow to fill in today with diminishing foecast. Sailors
finding ways to keep themselves occupied.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Formula Worlds Day 4 Evening report

With 9 races already complete for the men's fleet, the RC was in no hurry to set a course today in the offshore, puffy conditions.
Finally with 1 quick race in the fluky conditions, the Portuguese express kicked up for the 3rd day in a row at 6pm with gust in the mid 20's for a spectacular formula race.
It was balls to the wall survival sailing as most of the fleet got caught with the light wind rigs and fins.
I held on but it wasn't pretty- going all the way for the leeward strap downwind in some hairy and fast runs.
The day started with the postponement flag dropping and sailors scrambling to rig as it was 90+ degrees on the beach and carbon windsurfing masts tend to spontaneously combust if left unattended in the heat while rigged. I just made it to the starting line in a very holy and gusty downwind run off the beach towards the course. With a good start 1/4 of the way down from the boat I was able to hold my lane once a few boards peeled off. At the layline I held off a few board lengths before tacking with the 20 boards in front of me. I climbed and made the mark while the guys who tacked early all missed the top mark in the light conditions. Downwind I stayed in the breeze, gybing 3 times to stay powered. Back upwind for the 2nd time I headed to the the left again, really overstanding the top mark and came flying in gaining 10 boards who tacked early again.
Finally on the last dowwind I got out of phase and let the sailors behind me gybe in the puff and lost a few more boards. So it goes in lightwind racing!
Still a good finish in the top 30.
The fleet was sent back into the beach and waited till the breeze stabalized.
I had just unrigged my 10.0 thiking it couldnt possibly get windy in the next 15 minutes before the fleet would go out ot stay ashore.
Sure enough by the time we started it was 20+ and I was on a full bellied 11.0 and 70cm xxs kashy fin. The next 20 minutes was an exercise in survival trying to keep the rig upright around the course. I struggled with the "Big Z' was it was a handful both upwind and downwind in the big puffs. Once I got the thing locked down, it was ok but no chance of any graceful transitions on my part.
2 more days left to move up but the forecast looks painfully light- just perfect for the lightwind Z and my 11.8

Day 4 worlds afternoon update

Offshore breeze today very unstable, shifty and gusty. RC waiting for
wind to stabalize before sending fleet out.
3 races planned for each fleet.
Wind looks stronger than yesterday but still in wrong direction.
Check class website for up to minute updates.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 3 formula worlds

Today was about saving face.
Normally I would be happy about a big breeze day but with the Z, it
was a challenge to find the zone. I finished all 4 races in the mid 30's
We raced another 4 races in a side/off shore breeze producing big
gust and shifts around the course. In the first 3 races, the port end
was so favored that more than 3/4 the fleet ducked the charging
starboard tackers and headed towads the beach to gain the first shift.
If you were lucky enough to time if right with the puffs, the shore
paid off. Otherwise the outside was a gamble as it wasn't as windy as
often. The finish was set just off the beach in an anti-climatic non
planning finish for the first race where I lost 15 boards on the last
In the next 3 races the finish was moved further offshore where the
breeze filled in. Still though it was a parade from the leeward mark.
If you could hold your line, you could gain a lot. I had to tack off
several times to find clear air and lost out to the boards that held
on till the beach.
Off the breeze, in the big puffs, the Z was a handful, even at the end
if the day with the 67cm fin and 10.0.
On a positive note, I was able to dial in the 10.0 but it didn't seem
quite balanced on the big board. The rig responded well to standing up
in the light spots to climb well.
Overall though a bit disappointing falling a few more places down the
fleet. Tommorow I will try without the plates to see if I can make the
board go any better in the breeze.
3 more days of racing- still time to make the most of it.

Day 2 formula windsurfing world championships

The portugese coast delivered for day 2 of the formula windsurfing
world championship in Portimao with a late afternoon thermal breeze
kicking in for 4 races in the 85 board mens fleet.
The side shore breeze made perfect viewing from the beach where the RC
set a windwsrd leeward course.
With the breeze building all afternoon, most sailors chose their 11.0
rigs with some flying on the 10.0 rigs.
I had some trouble dialing in my 11.0 and was either slow upwind or
flying downwind, constatly trying to find the right setting. The 'big
Z' was a bit much to handle but saved me a few times in tight mark
roundings where I was able to keep my angle well. Some good moments of
racing for me today but some of my gambles didn't pay off as well as
I'd hoped- leaving me stranded near the shore waiting for the next
puff to come down the course. Other times, I was completely wound
downwind, exploding on race 3- taking my first discard. So far after 5
races, I'm sitting in 34th with room to get back into the top 30 to
meet my goal for the regatta..
Some noticable trends so far in the regatta:
Mid line sag- with a 85 board fleet, the line is huge but the black
flag has been keeping people back. I started 2 races today a full
board length in front of the boards around me.
Puffs near the shore- you can get really lucky gybing around the
windward mark set close to shore and carrying the breeze down the
Thursdays foecast looks equally as good with the breeze expected to
build but so far at 1:30 nothing has even filled in.
Both fleets are anxiosly waiting to get a few more races in before the
fleets are split into gold and silver.
Last nights AGM kept us on site till 11pm and back to the beach for a
10 am skippers meeting.
Check out the class website for results and photos, www.formulawindsurfing
. org

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Formula Windsurfing Day 1

Day 1 at the 2008 Formula World Championship was filled with anxiety waiting for the first race to happen. With a first possible start at 3:30, the girls fleet raced 2 back to back races, then the men headed out- having to suffer through 2 general recalls before the Black flag went up on the 3rd attempt at starting. At nearly 6:45, the 85 board formula fleet got off a clean start with just one sailor over early. The fleet was bunched up at the boat end so I had no choice but to duck them and head for some clearer air down the line. Unfortunately, not many holes to find but I was able to find a lane and round the top mark in the top 20, staying in the breeze. Downwind, there was a few pockets of breeze near the shore that you could really gain with but I was just on the edge- not fully taking advantage of the limited breeze. Back upwind, most of fleet in front of me headed towards the shore to take advantage of the shift off the land. I tacked a few seconds too early as I was trying to get myself a clean lane for the beat back upwind. The difference was huge as the 3 boards inside of me all got lifted while I sat on the edge of the puff- still better than the guys who tacked early and went left upwind.

One more lap to go and I was sure to gybe early to take advantage of the limited breeze near the shore but the timing just wasn’t right as I had to wait for the puff to really get going. A few guys passed me here and I rounded just in front of a big pack at the last mark. With the finish boat just a few meters beyond the leeward mark, it was a bit anti-climatic but I was really happy finishing in 25th. The F2 Z board really seemed to be flying well in these conditions with good performance. Im stoked I made the decision to register the board for the regatta.

Up in front was Gonzolo taking the bullet.

Full results at

Monday, September 8, 2008

Formula Worlds Registration Day

Photo Credit: FormulaWindsurfingClass
For the last few days the wind failed to materialize till the late afternoon when most of the fleet got out on the water- finalizing their decisions of what gear to register and tuning their kits for the World Championship starting Tuesday.
Monday was registration and the last chance for me to decide what board to register. Luckily 2 new kashy fins arrived on Sunday that made both boards go even better than before but the key decision was that the Z board had a bit more angle upwind when things got lighter.
In a 60 board fleet, you're going to need as much grunt off the line as possible
I lined up with a few people and had good results both upwind and downwind. Now the mental part is there it will just be following through on the physical side and getting the job done.
Of course, every day is still fixing and making minor repairs, trying not to stress to much about broken battens and the like.
This World Championship should be something special as the new Formula One Design will be racing with the Formula fleet. 10 kits were provided for Olympic class sailors to use and they have been out there paring and tuning their kits. They general feeling is that the board and fins are decent but the rig still needs work. Nonetheless, the new Formula one design class will have some interesting racing this week with the organization trying out some new formats with a possible metal race at the end of each day??!!
Stay tuned as the event progresses for more info!
I feel really confident in the light stuff which has always been my weak spot and the forecast for the early week looks promising with light winds and a front moving in later in the week for some big breeze on Friday and Saturday.

For the event, Ive registered the 2009 Formula Z with a 72cm-2 kashy xxs, kashy xs 70 cm and a 67 xs kashy. The rigs I am using are a north warp 11.8, 11.0 and 10.0 (Thanks Patrik!)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Z question

To Z or not to Z?
That is Z question.'The Zed' I am referring to is the 2nd Formula board F2 registered in the beginning of 2008 when the class rules where frozen- to limit the board manufacturers cycle to every 2 years instead of every year. F2 made and registered 2 boards for the 2 year cyle. The catch was F2 released their first board early in the year while the Z just appeared before the Europeans in August. Until the last day at the Euros, Denis Little- the lone sailor on Z was untouchable. Its light air performance was phenomenal!
But...yes there's always a but. The thing that makes this board so good in the light air might give up that advantage when the breeze is up. Think Chubacabra- the code zero light air jib the US Tornado team registered in the Olympics that failed to perform in anything over 12k. The increased tail width of the board requires an insanely powerful fin. At the Euros., Denis was using a cut down 83 cm fin to basically walk away from the fleet- that was until the breeze came up and the board had more control issues.

Call it part marketing hype, part obsession of an development class sailor!
I have never been the fastest sailor in the light breeze. Hell its my weakest link in the chain at the moment but the beauty of an open development class like the formula class, lets sailors pick and choose form a variety of equipment. Some more available than others. If you can get a hold if it, use it!
With the Worlds just over a week away, I have to register 1 board for the regatta. I will take 2 and continue to test the board with all my fins to see if the advantage is worthwhile. Otherwise I will register my 2008 F2 board that Ive been sailing all season- its light air performance, not terribly impressive but a good overall board that performs well in the light, medium and big breeze. My most impressive result so far has been in the breeze at the last day of the Euros.
The board was made available to a handful of sailors in the Netherlands going to the Worlds. I was able to get a hold of one earlier this week and sail in in the first day of the Belgium Formula Championships on Saturday.
The outcome so far was impressive. Better angle than Ive had all season once I found the right fin. The light wind IFJU was going well in the 3rd race of the day where I finished 3rd behind Denis and Dirk. The first 2 races, I used the CRAD fin with decent results but it felt like I was not getting than most angle out of the board. In my past experience, the IFJU fin became easily overpowered once the chop built significantly.
Now the tough decision must be made: to register the Z at the Worlds or not.
Ive got another day of testing in Holland before the equipment gets loaded up and makes the drive down to Portugal and then another 3 days of testing to decide.
I certainly have learned an impressive lesson watching the America Tornado team going from Olympic hopefuls to DFL but then again how often do you get chances like this.
Would you have done anything different in their case?
At the moment, the risk outweighs not having a good board in the light wind.
Outside of San Francisco and Maui, Ive never sailed a regatta where over half the races were in 18+. It doesnt just happen that much. Believe me, Ive been waiting for it all my life!
Time will tell on this one...up until the very last minute!

Monday, August 25, 2008

THE MISSION: 5th Edition

To truly understand European windsurfing, you have to attend an event like 'Le Defi' with 800+ windsurfers on the water for a long distance marathon or The Mission- which was held last w-end in Brouersdam, on the Dutch- North Sea coast. Both events attract industry sponsors for a carnival like event- showcasing the multi disciplines of the sport- from beginner instruction, pro-freestyle and slalom racing, plus a semi-trade show of new products for windsurfing enthusiast to try.
The emphasis of The Mission event was on the juniors and having fun!

With 400+ participants- over 55 slalom heats were run over 2 days and the hundreds of spectators lining the shores got to see some of the worlds best freestyle talent in an extravaganza billed as the 'Battle of the Giants.' With an announcers booth towering overhead, the judges scored the young energetic international free-stylers with point based on audience approval. The juniors on the beach were really getting into it, seeing their idols perform willie-skippers, e-sliders and vulcans just meters from the shore- sometimes crashing into the rocks!
The big show, however was the RED BULL ramp which riders got towed into from a rigid inflatable dinghy - rocketing them up the ramp for some spectacular crashes but finally later in the weekend for an event winning double forward loop performed by Kevin 'Meev' Mevissen, local dutch free-styler.

Day 1 racing photos from Jan deJong

The pure beauty of the event was seeing so many people having fun on what ever gear they had.
With marginal slalom conditions, the old school longboards found themselves at the top of several heats on the slalom course. Others in the pro fleet were racing formula boards and 12 meter sails while the light wind slalom enthusiasts- such as myself- were struggling even with large and Xl slalom gear through out the w-end. Other heats, we were lit up around the 4 mark downwind slalom course finishing 10m from the shoreline and crowd! In the 36 man pro- fleet, I finished 8th overall using the north warp 9.0 and F2 SX Large slalom board in all the races. More importantly, I spend my birthday -Saturday- on the water doing what I love best with hundreds of other people enjoying the same moment!
Saturdays BBQ and party were well attended with dutch juniors charging the dance floor till 4 am!
Breakfast was served on Sunday morning at the event site- with most rolling out of their campers spread across the natural harbor of Brouwersdam groggy eyed form the night before.
Sundays forecast of more suitable slalom conditions never arrived despite several rain squalls, and typical dutch gusty, shifty lake sailing. Nonetheless 2 more heats of downwind were run for all the divisions- including a final of the top 50% in each fleet.

Day 2 racing photos from Robert Hardholt

In mid afternoon, the Battle of the Giants continued with the rigid inflatables pushing the pro riders up and over the ramp . Others were getting towed and lauched into a freestle smorsgasburg of moves.- just in front of the crowd. The red bulled infused juniors were still wide eyed on day 2 for an autograph session with posters of the pro riders.
(I can remember my bedroom as a 13 year old filled with posters and magazine cut outs from WIND RIDER and WIND TRACKS magazines. To have them signed by the pros would be the icing on the cake for any young windsurfer.)

Battle of the Giant photos form Robert Hardholt

All in all, a great event for the sport of windsurfing showcasing its diverse talent and all around fun for the juniors. We need more events like this in the US to keep the enthusiasm alive.
Check out the online magazine the event organizer put up- just one day after the event:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 5 Report: 2008 Formula Windsurfing European Championships

Sundays first race was run in very unstable conditions as the new weather system proceeded make its way across Leba. Still side/ offshore, the 8-10knot breeze was oscilating in no particular pattern. Still though, most of the fleet was quick to pick up the big left shift after the 2nd general recall of the day. I found myself setting up for a port start with just 3 other sailors. Peter
Eliens NED 538 managed to cross the entire fleet with Sean OBien AUS120 and myself ducked through the first of the starboard fleet charging the line. As we worked our way to the right side, it was evident, the shift off the land was the better option. Getting to the layline too early, we all failed to make the top mark as the rest of the fleet came across from the left side. At that point, the fleet was beginning to fall off a plane downwind. The guys that did get around, were sailing wider angles and coming in hot to the leeward mark. I rounded with a pack of 3-4 boards immediately ahead and could only tack to clear my air. Working my way towards the shore, it was a hopeless struggle of getting knocked on both tacks! Finally on the last upwind, I really over stood the top mark and rounded while 10-15 boards sat parked below me. Unfortunately, the leaders had gotten around a lot faster and started the time window. I finished just outside the limit with 25 other boards and was stuck with a DNF! Some very questionable calls by the RC in terms of abandoning the race but at the end of the day, thats racing!

AllegroCup 2008, Report 5.1 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

The silver and gold fleet were not able to get off any racing and had their races abandoned and the fleets limped back to shore.
The afternoon was spent waiting for the new weather system to arrive.
The silver and womens fleet started in 10-12 knots but as the gold fleet got ready to go out, the breeze picked up a notch to 18-22k with building seas.
I made the choice to rig down to the 11.0 and 70 cm xs kashy but just before the start, moved my mast track forward 2cm to settle the nose as well as lower my booms form XL/L to L/M on the north boom cut outs.
I was just a hair shy on pulling the trigger at the start and was eating bad air off the start. I tacked a good 30 seconds out and found a clear lane to work my way back. You could tell a lot of the fleet were struggling with their big sails upwind. I nearly avoided a port tacker trying to cross me as the end of his booms scrapped across the front of my board in a very tight crossing.
At the first mark, there was carnage. All I could do was sail around the mess and dive deep downwind in the chicken strap.
The swell at that point was a good 1-1.5m with the gust pushing into the 20's. Amazingly, the north 11.0 was still stable but gybing it was a handful and I rounded up, getting the beast to settle again and down to the leeward mark. I rounded well and climbed considerably on the boards below me. A lot of boards were still struggling to make the starboard layline through the swell and chop and had to tack again. The top reach was real test in skill keeping the board under control and I was some big catapults in front of me. Going deep we had 2 more gybes before a deep reach to the finish. I was plying it a bit conservative, avoiding disaster at all cost as the finish was so close. I looked back and saw alot of the fleet behind me - so a good sign! 26th place.
Event leader NED 13 wasnt so lucky and returned to the beach after a collision with a Polish sailor.

We had a quick 10 minute break on the beach as the fleet was scrambling to rig down and add chicken straps- what ever they could to survive the last race. I opted to keep the same set up as I hadnt yet rigged my 9.0 (no 10.0 this year!) and I was feeling fast on this set up. I got off the line well and opted to tack early again before getting stuck in the parade at the beach. This worked out well and I was holding in mid fleet at the first mark. Again, there was destruction off the breeze as alot of guys were going down hard as the breeze was now a solid 20k and gusting harder. I managed to keep it together for the next few legs before switching int survival mode on the last few gybes to the finish. Another 26th which improved my overall standing to 45th- a great improvement form todays earlier performance in the first race.

AllegroCup 2008, Report 5.2 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.
The overall result found Steve Allen at the top tied With Ross Williams with Steve winning the tie breaker. A bit of a disappointment for Denis as he was leading the whole event but Im sure it will find him a better sailor!
Here's Denis earlier in the event after winning race 4- check out the tip of the fin about 54" into the video:
Thanks to AUS 120 for the video.
Results online at
Overall- Im stoked at finding some better light air settings earlier in this regatta and finishing strong.
This was a good test for next months Worlds in Portugal where we will see another 100+ board fleet.
For more info about the CRAD fins check out the interview with Ben Bamer of San Francisco here

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 5 afternoon update

Fluky offshore winds made the first race today an exercise in patiece.
After 2 general recals, we started and I choose the wrong side of the
course 2 out of the 3 upwind legs- luckily gaining 15 boards on the
last leg only to finish just outside the time limit with at least half
the fleet. Still waiting for the breeze to fill in . Rain equal
quickly approaching. Silver and womens fleet still need to start
before sending gold fleet goes out again. 6pm last possible race.
Updates at

Sent from my iPhone

Formula euros day 5 morning report

11:15 postponement flag is up.
Waiting for breeze to arrive...

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Formula Europeans Day 4 evening update

With 4 more races today, Denis Littel still stands in first with Jesper close behind. Gonzo has beeb a bit insonsistant today with an ocs and bad starts and put him further back,
All 4 races were run in 10-13k with a confused sea state od seas swell, wind chop and misc. chop from 130 boards sailing around the course. You can imagine how difficult it is to get off the starting line in these conditions. For 2 of the races, I got off the line well but buried on the other 2 forcing me to tack and go to the outside. The CRAD fin is holding its angle well - especially since I moved the back footstraps forward and am really sailing with a powerful baggy 11.8 upwind. There's a lot of tight racing all around the course with opportunities to gain a handful of boards every leg. We switched courses today and did the inside loop with 2 slalom marks at the end of the last downwind leg. An interesting mix up from the usual courses we do and putting a premium on board handeling and transitions. Im happy with my results today- finishing strong in the last race gaining boards on every leg. 1 more day of racing tommorow and another chance to move up- currently sitting right around 50th- hopefully breaking the top 50 by the end of the series.
AllegroCup 2008, Report 4.1 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

AllegroCup 2008, Report 4.2 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

AllegroCup 2008, Report 4.3 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

Formula euros day 4 afternoon update

A new weather system moved into Poland bringing overcast skies and a
decent 10-14k breeze for 3 more championship races. I had 2 decent
starts and got off the line well only to get to the laylines too early
and get buried as the fleet came across the middle. Around 3 pm,
thewind started to die causing the womens fleet to get cancelled.
Still waiting for more breeze to start 4th race.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, August 1, 2008

Made it through to the championship gold series with some room to to spare today with 2 races in the 20's. Both races were well fought all the way to the finish line.
I was sailing on my north 11.8, 2008 F2 and CRAD 73-3 cut fin.
Generally, downwind, the wider boom helped tremendously going deeper.
Up wind, the fin is holding good angle but the guys hanging form their uphauls- Italians and Germans- have found a few more degrees that I havnt been able to match.
At the leeward mark you had to stay as high as you could, other wise you had to double tack for the finish line set 100m off the beach in sub planning conditions! I just made the pin end in both races, out of the harness and pumping to the finish!

Finally in the 1st race of the gold series, I got off to a stellar start, sailing above the mid line sag and off to the left side. At the top mark I was near 15th, rounding in a decent 9-10k breeze. However, once down at the leeward mark I got passed by POl1 and FRA 99 where the breeze was really lightening up. The guys rounding in front stalled and tack and the only thing to do was tack for the better breeze outside. I sat, parked, as the rest of the 64 board fleet came sailing down the run. Finally I was able to get going to and held a good angle upwind in clear air to the left side of the course. Back up wind, on the 2nd beat, I had to overstand some as I reached the layline with 3 other sailors and plenty more coming up from the middle later in the leg. I held my course well up the port layline until Jesper tacked right on top of me and just buried me. Luckily, I wasnt punished as bad as a few of the guys below me. I rounded well catching a few boards this leg and could see the leaders a few hundred meters ahead.
At that moment, the race was abandoned!
Our class rules leave it up to the race director to decide upon suitable conditions.
Another 5 minutes and the leaders would have finished but the majority of the fleet had stoped planning at the leeward mark.
Thats racing!
Tomorrow's a new day with more pressure and a possible rain squalls in the forecast.
Enjoy the daily video reports:

AllegroCup 2008, Report 3.3 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.
Getting better with each race..cant ask for more!
AllegroCup 2008, Report 3.2 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

Also check AUS 120's site for interview with Gonzalo about his new Exocet board.
Results after 6 races

Formula Euros Day 3 afternoon update

2 more races for each fleet today and now we have a break before they split the fleet into gold snd silver. Conditions were light for the first race with the fleet barely limping across the finish line set ast the beach. I didnt think I sailed well the first race as I got stuck on the line in some reeslly light conditions. I managed to claw my way back picking off one boat at a time to finish in 25th with a spectacular finish getting 10-12 boards on the last reach to the finish. By staying high you can make the finish in 1 tack. Ive got another video and will post it at the end of the day.
The second race I was determined to get off the line but with most of the fleet in the middle of the line I got off but not well and again had to claw my way back through the middle of the fleet. Ive been able to hang better upwind and am sailing smarter this series. In a fleet like this its easy to gain or loose 10-15 boards with smart or not so smart move.
Still waiting results from 2nd race but I think I should make it ito the gold fleet.
Up in front Dennis is still getting more bullets passing Steve Allen on the last leg!
More updates later

Formula euros day 3 morning report

2 races set for today before the fleet divides into gold and silver
for the championship series.
Each fleet will finish their course before the next fleet begins.
11am postponement flag up
5 knots and building
Sent from my iPhone

Formula Europeans Day 2

A quick report from day 2 racing- more to follow later...
Each fleet did 4 races in 10-14knot breeze, dying to 8-10k by the last race of the day.
In the front of the fleet, Dennis Littel- NED 13 finds himself in the pole position tied with Gonzo- ARG 3. The two guys are riding new gear for the regatta and are setting the pace already.
Gonzo switched to the Exocet board while Denis got an early release of F2 2nd formula board for 2008. With an even wider tail, Denis is using a cut down 83 cm kashy fin to find some amazing angle upwind. Steve Allen and Ross Williams, just behind, found themselves getting tangled up at the windward mark thinking they were still in PWA no rules slalom!
I got off to a slow start- literally left sitting on the starting line of race 1 with no power as the fleet sailed off. The rest of the starts were better and sailing smart- catching boards when ever I could. I made a big effort to finish strong every race pumping to make the finish as it was a real tight reach 20 meters off the beach.

At the moment Im sitting mid fleet and will need some under 30 races today to make the gold fleet.
Nonetheless, I made a big discovery today by moving my back footstraps forward to get some better angle upwind. It made a huge difference and now am in the game more. Of course, no fin in the world will get you out of dirty air!.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Formula euros day 2 afternoon update

4 races complete in 10-14k
Finishing better each race in mid fleet.
More updated tonight
Check for race results and photos

Formula euros day 2 morning update

11:30 am update
Postponement flag up
Fleet is on shore waiting for breeze to build,
Currently 5-6 knots onshore light breeze

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Formula Windsurfing European Champiobnship, Leba Poland

The trip:
After a 14 hour drive from Amsterdam with 2 other dutch sailors and a trailer filled with 3 sets of formula gear, we finally made it to Leba Poland 2 days in advance of the Formula European Windsurfing Championship. It wouldn’t be an adventure if the trip went according to plan.

So it started, before we even left when the trailer lights would not sync with my Renault espace. Well at least we were driving in the day light but for the first hour and a half we stopped at every service station looking for the transition piece allowing us to drive legally across Holland, Germany and Poland. Finally we were able to get the piece and our trip continued but not before another emergency when we found the trailer door falling off the hinges and our gear beginning to spread out over the road. A quick collection of our stuff and an application of some duck tape on the trailer door fixed the problem. Finally we arrived in Leba to find the camp site closed for the night. A bit weary eyed, we booked into a hotel for the first night only to regroup in the morning and get a fresh start.

Training- Monday July 28:

Once we finally got our gear down the long road and across the beach to the event site, it was time to get out on the water to test the new fins I brought back from San Francisco.

Ive been having some trouble in the light wind so I though Id add some new fins into the quiver to see how they perform. First up was the new CRAD fin based from the former C3 design. My first impression is it really rails the board up nicely and once I lined up with a few people it was evident that it was going well – especially in the lighter stuff on my 11.8.

I also put in the new light-wind finworks fin which felt solid but not as quick upwind as the previous CRAD. Off the breeze it was flying very quickly.

Training- Tuesday July 29: With one day left to test 2 other fins, I put in a solid 4 hours on the water trying to see where my fins would fit into my final 3 I had to register for the event. First up was the finworks light wind fin again for the 2nd round of testing. Although it had more grunt and was very slippery, I couldn’t seem to make it go upwind well enough to hang in there with the top guys. The angle the top sailors are making is really incredible and I havnt found a fin yet to hang in there. Next up was the IFJU lightwind fin which certainly a had comparable low end but in my previous experience became quickly overpowered in the chop. Luckily not much chop out there besides some rolling swell which made it a great ride. Finally back to the CRAD fin for another test but alas not enough wind towards the end of the day to get any decent testing in.

So it stood, after 2 days of testing, I still did not have enough time to thoroughly understand all my fins but had to choose just 3 to register for the regatta. 2 light-wind fins and the trusty 70 cm kashy if the wind ever comes up. I had to choose what I knew so I made the hard decision and had to eliminate the finworks because I simply didn’t have enough time on it and feeling for it while the other CRAD and IFJU fin perfermed well enough to make the cut.

After registering my 11.8, 11.0 and 9.0 sails with my 2008 F2 board, I was ready for almost any condition the weather would throw at me. The other 128 sailors in nthe mens fleet would simply be obstacles to be finishing the fastest way possible.

Thanks to 'Coach deJong' for the photos

Day 1 Formula Windsurfing European Championships:

With 140 competitors rigging 2-3 rigs on the beach, the beach venue quickly filled up, especially with the crowds of Polish families making their summer vacations everywhere on the beach. As usual with the most European, we started off with the postponement flag barely flying off the flagpole on the beach. With updates every 30 minutes, the announcer was beginning to feel like a broken record….” Currently 5-6 knots but nothing more.” The fleet waited till 6 pm before we were set free for the day but the rest of the weeks forecast looks as dismal as today’s so its going to be a waiting game and trying to stay out of the intense Baltic sun.

Below are the hourly updates from the first day my send from my iphone via the wifi from the beach site:

5pm afternoon update

Still waiting for wind to develop but nothing significant above 5-6
knots. Class ruled call for 7 knots at start of race. Last possible
start 1 hour before sunset. Its going to be a long event with the rest
of the weeks forecast similar to today .

Day 1 morning update:
10 am skippers meeting... Still waiting for breeze to arrive!
129 board mens fleet

As always you can check the formula class web site for updated daily info

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

2008 SF Classic recap: Searching for the ‘Camels back’ in the Berkeley Flats!

With a smaller formula fleet than previous years, this year’s SF Classic was still an exceptional race for the 19 board windsurfing fleet and 17 man kite fleet and as usual experience pays off with fleet veterans Steve Sylvester and Mike Zajcek taking 2 out of the 3 top positions in the weekends’ race.
Conditions never ramped up like most expected for Saturday’s long distance race but that didn’t make it any less of a race for all those trying to get around the 40 mile + course taking competitors out the Golden Gate Bridge and down and across the San Francisco Bay to the Berkeley Pier and then back again.
Since it's start in 1979, the original Oneil/ Marui Classic was one of the premier windsurfing races in the world drawing 100+ competitors with the likes of Robby Naish, Ken Winner and the orginal windsurfer rocket. To give you a perspective, it was a tremendous feat even to get across the Bay in those days, nonetheless make it down to Berkeley on gear that looks similar to the original model T. In the early 80's, competitors were making throw-away daggerboards that they released at the top of the course before the headed downwind on the 30 mile + ride.
Now even with the some of the best modern gear and amzing fast speeds pushing 30 -35 knots, you cant get yourself around the course fast enough! That was the case, when I found myself in an early lead but ended up sailing towards the wrong mark early in the race and was never able to catch up after that.
With variable conditions near shore, most of the fleet got caught under-powered near the top half of the course-with just a few of the leaders getting away and off to a sustainable lead.
After rounding the first upwind mark behind Mike Zajcek, Sylvester and Percy we made our way back under the Golden Gate where this years ‘north tower buoy’ was set much deeper than previous years. With the ebb kicking in at 1k and the light breeze, it was a slow rounding if you gybed 5-10 seconds too early. That mistake cost me a good 30 seconds as I drifted downwind around the mark as the 3 leaders reached across the Bay towards the presidio shoal. Years ago, I would have been yelling profanities given the situation, but I have since realized the energy spend on anger is not worth the effort.
Better to focus on getting past the next guy in front of you.
Luckily for me, Percy stopped at the shoal in a light spot and we were able to get going in the same puff and work our way up back upwind for the 2nd lap. I tacked early to take advantage of the ebb while Percy struggled to get through some San Francisco voodoo chop and went down hard. Rounding the top mark again, it was only Zajcek and Sylvester in front of me as we worked our way down in the light breeze. With a sail size bigger I was able to real them in and passed Sylvester and Mike Z at the gybe mark.
Unfortunately as soon as I found myself in the lead, it was over like that. The next mark, I thought was rounding the presidio shoal but actually it was deeper towards Anita rock. That mistake cost me losing the 3 guys I has just worked so hard to pass and then some as Wells and Eric went flying down the middle of the course with a decent puff. I was biting my tongue to stay cool.
Anita rock was another ‘cant get around this mark fast enough’ situations as I watched the 5 guys in front of me sail away as I drifted painfully around Anita rock in a light patch. Once reaching again, we were up to speed but the damage was done as the next hour of the race was simply spent following the leader which was Wells who was well powered downwind on his finworks fin.
I looked back and saw the rest of the 19 board formula fleet scattered across the top of the course struggling to get going. It could have been worse, I thought to myself as I enjoyed the rest of the underpowered but painless ride down on my north 10.0, ML7 and kashy 70 xs fin to Blossom, Blunt, R4, R2 and finally the Berkeley Pier to finish in 6th place. At least it was a beautiful day searching for the ‘camels back’ along the Berkeley flats!
For those who have raced the Classic before, the ‘camels back’ is a landmark on the distance shore you can line up the final mark of the race with. Once rounding the Berkeley Pier and heading towards Brooks Island, mark X magically be found after only sailing what seems like an eternity with out a soul in sight.
Back upwind for the UN ‘Challenge’, the key was to stay out of the building flood but in the wind. Zajcek was able to find the best route as he worked his way up the Angel Island coast and through the middle of the Bay to finish in 46 minutes and change. Fighting the traffic and flood coming up the city front was not the best idea despite what looked like better breeze.

Sunday’s course racing started with some tricky conditions as the unstable
wind, mixed current and weekend traffic made getting around the course a real struggle.
With John Craig moving the pin end back just 30 seconds before the 5 minute gun, starting on port was not an option despite the right side of the course being highly favored. A light patch hit the fleet in the final minute before the start and 4-5 guys including myself were ebbed up over the line and had to dip the line to get going again. After a slow restart, it was playing catch up again over the next 3 lap windward leeward course. I never really felt comfortable as the breeze was so puffy and shifty. I even backed down in the last upwind thinking I had weeds on my foil- but all to no avail.
Finally with the breeze increasing in the 2nd race, I started on port tack, just clearing the anchor line of the committee board to get to the right side of the course early. The port tack parade to the mark was painful in the building flood tide near shore but I was able to keep my lane up and round in 4th. On the final lap downwind, Al caught up with me to apply the final move just at the finish but the good news was we both passed Eric in the process.
The lesson I learned here was to use your advantage whenever possible. I was inside yet behind Al off the breeze- preventing him from making the last gybe. In this position, I was the controlling boat but didn’t seize the opportunity and instead let Al gybe first and followed.
Finally with the breeze up to the low 20’s I was told myself I had to pull it together and win the final race of the series to finish off on a strong note. I used the opportunity to switch down to a 68 kashy for better control. At the start, most of the fleet was on port tack and I stuck my nose between what seemed like a 1/2 board length hole between Percy to leeward and Sylvester to windward. Upwind on the first grind, I used every opportunity to climb with Percy pushing hard from below and ahead. Being the first to the layline is always tough as you have to make a good guess at the layline before anyone else. Fortunately I nailed it and extended my lead the rest of the race sailing conservatively but comfortable. That was enough to get me up to 3rd overall for the day in a very respectable group of sailors.
Its always fun to race with these guys as they have a wealth of experience. Brian McDonald send out an email yesterday with an article written by longtime SF windsurfer Paul Heineken on the first 10 years of the Classic- an interesting read with some of the early pioneers of the sport literally making history as they blazed their long boards across the San Francisco Bay.
You can find the article here and full results at:
Special thanks to the St. Francis Yacht Club and their professional race crew and volunteers as well as the locals like Wells, Soheil and McGrath for lending me some equipment to make it possible to race here!