Sometimes the race is won (or lost) before you even get to the starting line!
That was the case for the 2009 Bridge to Bridge race which puts kites, skiffs and boards on an all out downwind speed run of 7.5 miles across the San Francisco Bay.
By the time I left the beach to make it up to the starting line- just outside the Golden Gate bridge, I already knew I was in trouble.
I opted to make a last minute switch and go for my bigger 11.0 rig while the rest of the formula fleet choose wisely with their 10.0 rigs. I was gunning for 'hero status' but somehow my instinct noted it would be 'idiot status!'
Enjoy the video from Sailgroove
The pre-start saw mountains of swell and voodoo chop outside the Gate with gust into the mid 20's. Just getting my head turned around for a downwind start was tough enough, despite the 59 other vessels lining up for the start. I got a bit distracted with 3 minutes to go when a Aussie 18 flipped to windward of me and dragged me down. I knew the red nun of the starting line would be favored but couldn't get there in time and had to start in more turbulent waters near the starting boat.
The leaders were off before I could even get going...not that I was ever really going as I was trying to hold onto the 11.0 in 3-4' chop and 20k+ gusts coming through the Gate.
Never give up I thought to myself.
Its a long race.
Anything can happen.
Sure enough the 11.0 was more than a handful on the way down and I never really got the chance to put the pedal to the metal and light everything up.
Up in front there were some dramatic lead changes in the last 100m to the finish.
Crad had a great jump on the fleet, completely dialed on his North 9.8 and ML8 but sat parked- almost able to reach across the line but never cross it. The kiters too had their moments but just in front of the finish line they all dropped their kites when the TI bubble hit 0-5k. Sure enough, like every year, the Aussi 18's with a few hundred square feet of sail area came blazing across the parking lot of stood up windsurfers and swimming kiters to get the bullet as well as 2nd place before Frank Wittke of France, the 1st kiter finally got across for 3rd.
Almost 4 minutes later, Percy was able to cross the line in 9th place and 1st windsurfer in an unspectacular non planning finish.
I managed to finish but it wasn't pretty in 15th place- just ahead of the legendary Ragtime, a 45-year-old wooden Spencer 65 from Newport Beach, Calif.
Then again only 22 out of the 59 boards, kites and boats that entered actually got across the line in the 30 minute time limit after the first finisher.
Ill take the small victories where I can and hopefully be all the wiser for the next race.
And yes, the unveiling of the new L10 by Mike Z. Fresh out of the peel ply this morning with no paint and no grip.