Monday, May 26, 2008

Begium Formula and Slalom Championships

I didnt have to travel far for the Belgium Formula and Slalom Championship as they were held in the Dutch Delta at Grevelingen Strand- a mere stone's throw south of the industrial port town of Rotterdam on the Dutch coast. The dutch delta is an amazing feat of engineering created after the devastating floods in the 1950's. Since then the Dutch government has created one of the most extensive engineering projects in the world cited as the world's largest flood protection project with over 10,250 miles of dikes. Source: Wikipedia.
With relatively shallow water, plenty of open water, beaches and wind, the Delta Works have created their own little a windsurfing paradise least in the dutch standard ;0
The Belgiums seem to enjoy it enough to have part of their national series here.
The first day of the competition turned out to be a spectacular day with the breeze building to 15-20 knots by mid afternoon.
4 formula course races were run in gusty shifty conditions before the fleet switch to figure 8 slalom racing for the rest of the afternoon. On Saturday evening, a storm rolled through causing persistent showers the next morning which killed off any chance of the breeze building on the 2nd day of competition. Nonetheless, on late Sunday morning, the fleet got off 1 more course race in 8-10 knot marginal conditions with most of the fleet on their 12 meter rigs before returning to the beach and waiting the rest of the afternoon out under the postponement flag.
It was another valuable weekend of racing in a mixed fleet. As usual the strong dutch contention was pushing the front of the fleet with the Belgiums not far behind. I found myself near the top in 4th behind Markus Bouman NED 6, Dennis Littel NED 13 and Adri Keet NED 34 but not quite in contention for the top spots. In this w-ends course races I sailed the new 70 cm Ifju fin with better success as well as finding some better angle with the use of the waist harness. Still though I managed to lose several small battles on the course in terms of upwind speed angle which send me back back just behind the top group. In the conditions on Saturday, the mast track felt good further forward but on Sunday's light-wind racing, I think the mast track further back might be better in terms of riding a powerful fin. I went out and tested the track back after the first race on Sunday with BEL 2 who just beat me in the previous race. The result: angle better- but the speed - almost but not all the way there.
Saturday's program started with 2 back to back formula races in 14-16 knots. I got off the line well in both starts- working my way to the left side of the course with the leaders. It was evident, the breeze was stronger in the middle but there were some great lifts on the outside to bring you back to the top mark. Although getting greedy doesn't always pay and some sailors were left stranded in the corners riding the knock back to the middle of the course. I choose to take advantage of several of the lanes down wind, gybing down the middle of the course catching a few boards along the way.
On of the biggest lessons learned this w-end was no matter what tactical moves you make each leg - it's the last one of the leg that counts. With the wind still up and down, it paid to be somewhat conservative on your laylines. Dirk Doppenberg NED-51 got the last laugh on the downwind leg of race 3 as I was able to pass him just after the windward mark but then he waited another 100 m after I gybed for the layline. As I struggled to pump the board and go deep to make the mark, Dirk came flying in on port tack and in front at the final mark rounding.
On Sunday, I got the better half of an upwind battle with Pieter Bartlema NED 113 as we both choose opposite sides on the upwind course but the final advantage came with me having the starboard tack advatage on the upwind port rounding.
Slalom racing on Saturday was just as exciting with close to 50 boards on the line. There were still some big holes around the course and plenty of chop to contend with as the fleet stretched out and crossed paths on the 2x around figure 8 course. I started off on my F2 medium 105 liter board and 7.3 north warp with good results in the top 6 or 7 boards but later switched to the larger F2 130l slalom board with even better success. I was really amazed that the bigger board had as good speed and even better range. The payoff came when you need to climb on the reaches to get through some traffic and especially through the gybes.
In the slalom races, I really pushed hard at the start as it's all or nothing in these races.
I was black flagged in one race and send back to the beach with 4-5 other sailors as the fleet started the next race without us. In 2 of the other races, I had great starts just at the boat as the gun went off- keeping me in the hunt but it was Ben van der Steen NED 57 taking the show with a string of bullets. Amazingly enough, Ben raced his 80 cm wide slalom board and 9.0 on Saturday during the course racing while the rest of the fleet was on 11.0's and had great success placing near the top in the days racing. It wasnt until he ran out of wind on the downwind legs that he seemed to get into trouble.
Overall, another great w-end of racing and getting to know the fleet here.
Enjoy the photos from the beach on Sunday.
As of Monday evening, I couldn't find the results but they should be at

Monday, May 19, 2008

The case for testing and more testing

With the wind on a seemly endless NE pattern for the past 2 week here in Holland, Ive been seeking out new places to sail north of Amsterdam on the Ijsselmeer. This past week I got up to Mendemblik for several evening sessions testing fins and boards with NED 103 and then again in Monnickendam on Sunday with the local fleet. By changing and testing different settings, I am slowly but surely beginning to dial things in with the 08 F2 board, fins and trim settings.Heres what Ive found so far- with the mast track pegged further forward in the light wind- around 75% forward in the box- the board tracks better upwind. Some guys in the US have been having success with their mast tracks all the way in back of the track but to me that feels too draggy.
Footstrap positions- so far my back feet want to pull forward in the straps- so I inched them forward one position but then back again as it didn't feel like I was putting enough fin pressure on.
Waist harness- believe it or not it seems to be working- a bit uncomfortable but it keeps the rig more upright in the light stuff. I wasn't dragging my ass in any waves at all.
Uphaul: there's some debate on this one. Tuck it in the wide sleeve to avoid unnecessary drag all together or use it to your advantage by sailing upwind with your front hand on it to keep the rig upright.
Wide Tail booms: still waiting on construction of mine this week but the theory here is- especially on the fuller body sails like North and Maui Sails- you can create a smoother airfoil downwind so that the sail isnt draping over the booms when you blow the outhaul off downwind.
The wider end should allow you to hike further to windward as well.
Boom height: higher is better for unloading the weight of the rig off the board.
Too high and you begin to loose control. Ive been running mine at nose to forehead level.
Fins: Been trying as many as I can to find the fastest setup. So far, in the lighter stuff, the Ifju fin is going well. I am playing with different rakes in the box to find the fastest setting.
All these small details add up to a big difference in terms of performance!

Here in Holland, a lot of guys are still using their 05 and 06 boards with much success proving it is nether the Indian nor the arrow but rather how well the Indian can make his arrows go!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

For Sale

Ive got a few items for sale, including 2 kashy fins, a new north warp 12.5 from 2006 and a north warp 11.9 form 2006.
Both fins are 70 cm. xs in flex. One is a 73 cm cut down to 70- better in the the low end- and the other is a normal 70 cm- faster when the breeze is up.
Alternatively, you could wait around 2 years to get a new fin built.
Contact me at for more info

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Dutch Oven Day 3

On Day 3 of the Dutch champs and the Abn Ambro North Sea regatta- racers arrived to the to the beach at mid morning for the first possible at 10:30.
The waiting game begins!

The other sailing fleets were send out and began racing by late morning.
By noon, the sun was amazingly intense with most windsurfers finding some shade on the beach.

Others on the beach, took advantage of the all the sun they could get on this unseemingly like summer Dutch Day!

In old school style, the regatta is run off the beach with most competitors setting up their trailers and rigging area on the sand with the catamaran sailors a 100m up from the waters edge.

A fun race was scheduled for 12:30 with the light shifty breeze still blowing offshore.
(Read massive holes with the occasional 8-10k)

It was a good exercise in patience as it took several attempts to get going in the real light stuff.

By mid afternoon the breeze started to swing around to the NE and increase in velocity.
A windward, leeward course was set with the windward mark just to leeward off the Scheveningen Pier.
The fleet managed a few attempts to start, restart, and restart again with multiple general recalls despite the 1 minute rule on most starts. With the breeze in the low teens, most of the fleet was planning off the line and we got 2 races in. I showed some moments of brilliance, flying off the line, port tacking the fleet at the pin end in race 2. (See first 5 seconds on video link below.) The IFJU fin felt great with the mast in the front 3/4 of the track. I was running it further back on Saturday but things felt a bit draggier. I took note where the leaders were sailing theirs and eventually moved my settings forward. I havnt found the sweet spot yet but think its getting closer.
The rest of the race was a gamble. I managed to sail in several holes around the course and get stuck for few minutes as the fleet passed. Of course, the smart sailors usually aware of things and don't sail into holes! Consistently up in front was Adri Keet, NED 34, Dennis Littel NED 13 and Adriaan van Rijselberghe NED 2

Seems the early afternoon flood tide combined with the opposing light breeze was finally too much and sailors drifted back to the beach again to wait.

By 4:30 the sea breeze finally kicked in and the fleet was sent back out on the water as the wind and sea state increased to onshore conditions. Most of the fleet was still on their light air set ups, including myself with a powerful 11.8 and soft 70 cm fin. I scrambled to make the start as I already de-rigged for the day- giving up on any chance of the wind arriving.

I dont remember too many of the particulars in the last 2 races except that my head was out of it as I sailed around the course overpowered. I made some stupid mistakes at the lay-lines, with the cross currents ,which put me back in the middle of the fleet on both races. Up in front again was Denis, Adri, and Adrien who took the podium at the end of the day.

Still though I was able to learn a lot at this regatta about my equipment and it was a good tune up for next months Grand Prix race in Poland. In weeks ahead, Ill be trying out some wider booms as well as trying to get the light air setup going strong.

Thanks to Jan deJong for the photos- the originals can be found here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dutch formula and slalom championships

Its been a wonderful week here in Holland with temperature and sunshine in full summer conditions. The beaches at the coast are full. Windsurfers have come from around the country over the 3 day w-end to Scheveningen for the first of 4 Dutch Championships.
The only think missing ins the wind!
With an offshore flow, the fickle breeze has been oscillating 45 degrees and just building enough strength to get the fleet out, start and then die.
After no racing yesterday, the fleet was sent out for an official race today after the 'fun race' near the shore as the wind built in the early afternoon. By 1pm we had out first start but the current was so strong that you could only get across the line on port tack. I was already on starboard making my approach when I found this out.
2minutes later, the whole fleet sat parked half way up the windward let and the race was abandoned.
Race 2 started with a 30 degree right shift just before the start. The whole fleet abandoned their port tack approach and raced back down the line to get lined up on starboard.
I was the last one to go but tacked to leeward of the fleet on the line and got a great start at the pin- not the best place for a right shift but off going the the pressure on the left.
The big lessons today were learning to watch the fleet in the pre start.
You can learn alot by just observing angles and speed around the course as sailors line up.
Not a whole lot of feeling around the course today but getting to know my equipment a bit more with each small session.
Mondays forecast looks a promising 8-10k instead of the 4-6 that we've been getting.
Well, this is dutch windsurfing!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Olympic Class Windsrfing- chapter 5

Evey 4 years, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decides what sailing classes will be in for the next Olympics. Some classes like the Star boat have been an almost permanent fixture in the games. Other times, classes get updated to reflect the current state of sailing.
For example- the 49'er class was introduced as a new Olympic class in 1997 for the 2000 Olympics. It added a new vitality to the Games with in the introduction of a new modern exciting skiff sailing class.
The Olympic windsurfier has also been a class that has changed throughout the years. From 1984 when it was introduced as a discipline in the Olympics, the IOC has chosen to update the class 4 times with the development and evolution of the equipment. This refelcts the ever changing nature of the sport.
1984 Windglider (no harness!)
1998 Lechner D2
1992 Lechner D2
1996 IMCO
2000 IMCO
2004 IMCO
2008 RSX
2012 ??
The vote is up again for the 2012 Games and Starboard- one of the leading manufactures- has proposed a new concept for the Olympic class: the Formula One Design.
Making it's debuet as a class at the Formula Grand Prix in Portugal this May, it proposes the 2007 starboard 162, 11.0 standard rig for men and 9.5 fstandard rig or women, aluminum booms! and debocheit 70 cm fin.
All promised to be delivered through starboards network of dealers around the world for cheaper than the current rsx olympic. It's apeal is its planning board and no pumping.

I applaud starboard for pushing the idea of formula sailing for the Olympic class but what they are proposing is a one design which remains stagnant just like the RSX or even imco class.
In 4 or 8 years who will be wanting to sail a 162 and a 3 camed race sails?
(Who wants to sail a 3 cam race sail now when you have a 5 cam 11.8m2 rig than can plane up earlier!)
Formula works because it is an open development class- just like some of the other olympic classes where sailors can choose from various manufactures in their class.
Why not just push for formula (3 rigs, 3 fins)to be olympic rather than creating a one design fleet?
With one rig you automatically favor one weight. The beauty of formula is sailors from varying weights can compete against each other with different rig sizes
Technology is not limited- nor is the individual!
With a one design fleet you will be sailing equipment that is always second best compared to what else is out there.
Sure this may keep the cost down but the developing nature of windsurfer is such that it is always changing, evolving and developing. This is why the formula class has been such a success.
A home made fin maker from the backwoods of Virgina can futher the class with his innovation more so than a debocheit plant stamping out 5000 identical fins every year
Starboards statements supporting their bid refer to none of the international formula class races that have been canceled due to light wind. This is because the majority of sailors in light wind have and still use a 11.8. If they were on a starboard olympic 11.0 or 9.5 rig planning in 6k is very questionable for the majority of the fleet.
Dont call it formula if its not formula!
And 1 rig from 6-30k - thats more range than Ive ever seen.
Why not use at least 2 rig so light weights and heavyweights can be competitive.
and an aluminum boom?
I thought this proposal was supposed to be more modern!
Next we will be cutting holes in our sails to stiffen the booms with a tie through.
The only think good thing- in concept -about the package is the the board.
Starboard has already proven the can built a winning board for formula but the rest of their proposal is pretty sketchy

Be careful what you wish for.
Olympic status is a double edged sword.
Ask NP how their olympic program contributed to their bottom line.
Lots of good PR but nearly 100% failure rate for equipment the first 2 years.
Just like the RSX is a hybrid board that will sail in all conditions form 6-30k, it doesn't do any of them to well compared to the alternatives.
What makes the starboard olympic formula board any different?
I agree the Games should reward athleticism but Antoine winning the Formula worlds is as athletic as winning the RSX Worlds. Not as much cardio but more strength.
Is the benchpress any less athletic than the 100m dash?

Look for some interesting discussion at the starboard forum.