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 http://www.formulawindsurfing.org/
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

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