With just 2 points separating the top 3 racers after 5 races, last Friday night's twilight was as close as they get. So close, that it came down to the last tack on the last beat.
Eric looked like he had things wrapped up as he rounded the last leeward mark in front with myself and Al in close pursuit but Al's countless years on racing on the city front course paid off as he called the lay line to the pin and jumped from 3rd to 1st in the last seconds of the race edging both Eric and I out to take the final bullet and series.
I made a few sloppy calls- overstanding marks, getting called osc and even getting tossed like a little girl in race 3- which set me back a few points and grasping for anything I could get.
In this fleet, you need to sail consistently and smart to finish on top.
Most everyone started on their 11's as the inside was still not filling in completely and with Jean on the RC calling the course, we knew we would be running some old school multi gybe courses.
In race 1, I scored the first bullet edging C-Rad out on the last leg. He had some amazing acceleration upwind with his F4 D series fins, squirting out from the fleet at the start but I managed to get the tactical advantage, with inside lift on the first beat upwind. On the downwind, we saw some big puffs roll through which sent Al and Chris back to the beach after the race searching for the 10's. Eric stuck with his 11- which would be the right call as the night progressed. I managed to squeeze out everything I had with my 10 but in the light stuff, it just wasn't enough.As they say, rig for the lulls, survive the gust!
Race 2 saw more close action at the front of the fleet with Eric, Al and I finishing 1-2-3.
I over- cautiously overstood the top mark thinking it would be light up there again but in doing so, lost my chance to stay in the top pack. I clawed back through the fleet with some good sailing, staying in the breeze the rest of the race.
Race 3 saw Eric and David got to the top mark in the lead with the 11's. By overstanding, I cam in hot- edging out C-Rad and Al but as I turned the corner, I had nothing to pump with and Eric and David sailed away with their bigger rigs. Nothing to do but wait for the next puff and finish 3rd.
Race 4 was the craziest of them all with the wind up in the high teens and bigger southerly puffs coming down from the Presidio hills. I thought I had the perfect start- fully powered at the gun and the mark but Jean with his eagle eyes on the race deck called me over early and I had to dip back through the line to restart. Clawing my way back through the fleet, I found myself at the top mark in 5th but as luck would have it, Al and I scored a personal southerly puff which drove us straight downwind along the shore as the rest of the fleet gybed to the outside. As we gybed over towards the outside as we were sailing course C, Al went down hard as a classic SF puff took him out.
Thinking to myself, "ok, Ive got this wrapped up" (from last to 1st in a matter of 1-1/2 legs), overconfidence struck and I went down harder than Ive in a long time- getting catapulted over the front- ending up fulling twisted hooked in my rig upside down.
Shaken, I got up fast and managed to squeeze out another 3rd by sailing smart the last leg and tacking immediately after the leeward mark in search of the breeze and catching a few boards in the process.
Determined to finish strong, I put everything I had into the last race, but again again made 1 too many mistakes to get into the lead. By overstanding the top mark, I let Al really catch up. Eric had a nice jump but coming down from the last gybe mark, it was getting lighter and I almost sailed right over the top of him but with the layline quickly approaching and Al riding the next puff from behind, I hesitated on the gybe and let Al sneak in there. I backed off giving the 2 some room and myself an opportunity to pinch up and go for angle the last leg. I was eeking as much as I could out of my kashy 70 and bagged out 10 for plently of climbing angle but Al made the first tack. I held off for another second but he managed to get going just a hair faster and was on his way. Trying to determine the best VMG with Al a few board lengths to leeward, I went for the angle again but just not enough as we finished within a board length of each other.
Another great night racing on the SF city front...no place I'd rather be!