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!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Racing 2008

With still a bit a chill in the air, the Dutch Formula Race series began with the Regio Cup this past Sunday at Almere Haven. There were approximately 25 Formula sailors from around the Netherlands and as far as Germany for 3 races in a dying breeze. Towards mid afternoon with just 1 race complete, the wind (or lack there off) got the better of the fleet and crapped out for the day.
Nonetheless, racing in a shifty breeze with massive holes and periods of no planning- are whats to be expected in the upcoming European race session.

Thanks to Tom Voss for the photos
It felt great to get lined up with some fast sailors again as Id been sailing on my own in Almere during the past week. You never can tell if you angle or speed up is up to par unless you have a sparing partner or are racing along side the fleet.
I did manage to sail smart and stay in the breeze on several occasions- even amazing myself as I rounded the top final mark in 3rd after rounding in 7th at the previous mark. Even so, in light air, speed is king! I just didnt feel enough power from my fin to keep in the hunt upwind. Several times I lost out on the small battles that at the end of a leg- you ask yourself- how did I get in this position?
Im going to be fine tuning my equipment this spring to find the right settings.
There are so many variables- especially with new equipment and learning to switch my technique from over power sailing to underpowered sailing.
Ive been experimenting with several different techniques upwind to keep the board and rig powered up. First off railing the board slightly seems to help the new F2 board upwind. The board seems a bit sticky with the mast track at the center of the track so Ive been edging it further back with better results. Boom height also makes a huge difference. My having your booms up high around your nose or eye level you can hang off the rig more when starting to pump onto a plane and even while going through lulls.
Furthermore Ive been trying learn to sail with one hand on the uphaul upwind to keep the rig more upright and powered up. It seems to work but keeping and changing the angle of attack is critical. It's all a fine balance and will come with more time on the water this spring.
In other good news- it looks like the Formula Grand Prix circuit is gaining much momentum this spring and summer in Europe and South America. There are 6 stops planned for the 2008 season: (for more info see the class website at )

GP 1 - Sines, Portugal6th > 10th May

GP 2 - Sopot, Poland - 4th >7th June

GP 3 - Leba, Poland - 29th July > 3rd August (Europeans)

GP 4 - Rio de Janeiro,Brazil - 15th to 19th October

GP 5 - Sao Paulo,Brazil - 22nd to 26th October

GP 6 - Fortaleza, Brazil -24th to 30th November.

Ill be planing on attending the European events as well as the World Championship this September in Portugal. stay tuned for some exciting race reports in the upcoming months.