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!