Monday, April 28, 2008

Regio Cup Round 3: 5 more knots, please....

I missed last w-ends Regio cup in the north of Holland due to some family engagements but I was back again for the 3rd round of the series that was again hosted by the Almere Surf Club on the 27th of April.
The forecast was for 10-13k from the south but as Ive found before- anything can happen in light unstable lake sailing. There were plenty of gust and holes and shifts to make racing frustrating enough that you want to quit but lucky enough to get you right back in the front of the fleet.
With close to 25 Formula sailors on the line it was a tough call- go to the favored side with the fleet or sail in clear air.

I opted for clear air in race 1 where Ned 103 and Ned 113 and I tried to start on port but just at 30 seconds when we began our planning approach to the line the wind died and we watched the starboard fleet cross the line with wind. It took another good 2 minutes to cross the line but at that point most of the fleet had hit the hole on the left side and stopped planning. I managed to keep my head in the game and keep aware of the wind and pulled a 5th from out of nowhere.
The next few races saw all the fleet starting on starboard and heading the corners of the course. In this light stuff youve got to stay aware of whats going on around the course but as Ive said before speed is king in the light stuff.
Ive been still struggling to find my angle and speed in conditions under 10k. It's amazing what 6 years of sailing in an overpowered venue like San Francisco will do to your light air form. In the wound up classic SF conditions I feel so comfortable racing a 10.0 even in 25-30k. You can depower the sail by sitting down in the harness and bringing the rig to windward. In the light stuff, it's just the opposite where you need to let the sail stand you up and give it as much power as possible. This is achieved through a variety of ways:
NED 103 Mark de Jong has found the groove by using a waist harness to keep the rig upright.
Other sailors use the one handed technique of holding the uphaul upwind to keep the rig upright. Either way, the best way to get better is with the proper technique.
Although a decent light air fin helps as well.
Rene Glasz was showing some amazing upwind speed and angle with his new light-air finworks fins. I was impressed but as usualy youve got to put together a entire package if you want ot finish on top. Rene was stuck with a 11.0 where one needed one more size up to keep going strong in the light stuff.
As the wind picked up to 13-14k, I was feeling better angle and speed upwind but made some dumb tactical mistakes that cost me a few places at the end of the day.
Off the breeze- never follow the guy in front of you to where he thinks the layline should be- especially if there's no one close behind. The better option is to gybe early and ride any puffs down- this sailing less distance that they guy in front of you.
Also be aware of where the finish line is.
I made the mistake of sailing on the wrong side and had to tack back upwind to cross the right way- loosing 4 boards in the process- ouch another mistake that could have easily been avoided.
Nonetheless it was good practice in the lightstuff.
Ill be trying some new form in the next week- namely moving my booms higher and trying to inch my mast track back. Hopefully with a car Ill be more mobile now and can start training in other locations with some of the top guys.
A great thanks the the volunteers at the Almere Surf club. They run a first class race program for only 5 euros for a day of racing! Top notch!

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