Sunday, November 21, 2010

clearing winds

Every so often, things line up just right.Sunday's clearing NW winds were totally unexpected.
Combined with a big winter swell, it turned out to be one of the best days this fall.
You couldn't peel the smile off my face Sunday evening!

Video via the french connection!
I woke up and like habit checked the wind, explo cam and forecast.
By 11am, there was a solid breeze building and short boarders on the water.
Its Sunday. Change of plans!
By 1:30 I was headed out the gate in 15-25k on my favorite mikes lab 8'-10" slalom board and north warp 7.0 in a 5k ebb. I got the chance to try to the north shox for the 2nd time and wow- what a great tool. It dampens the load and lets you keep sheeted in longer to maintain full power. I had to sail through some viscous San Francisco Bay voodoo chop on the way up and the never felt like I was out of control. I set the SHOX at 80 mm so that it would give me the maximum amount of play in the steep, short SF chop.

Once up at the south tower, the swell was pumping. 10-15' sets breaking just outside the golden gate. Gomes had the place to himself on his surfboard and his purple kite. With the NW wind, its possible to ride the swell all the way into the rocks at Ft Point. I got a few runs with 5-6 bottom turns as the ebb was sucking the water right out beneath my feet. No doubt due to this weekends full moon!

The standing trough at the south tower was sick- just asking for big carving lay down gybes. I did the cycle- gybing every 20-30 seconds between the Ft Point and the South tower for at least an hour before Wells and Darcy joined in.
You can see how big Ft Point can get by the photo above. A few years ago- on a similar day, there was a spectacular wipe out and sinking of a Santana 22 that tried to go through the slot. Enjoy the full photo sequence at Wayne Lambright's page.

By 3pm, there was a full circus of kites and boards and you had to be a bit more selective on where you charged into or face the consequence of wrapping yourself in someones kite lines !
I took the opportunity to explore some other parts of the Bay that were going off.
The north tower had huge swell as well but was covered with a frothy 2-3' boiling voodoo chop as it was on the vortex of the ebb tide's peak. I usually avoid this like the plague when Im sailing formula gear but went in full throttle knowing I had a small board and small sail.
Even in the steepest of chop, charging downwind, the SHOX gave me more control allowing me to go faster. I usually have to let up a bit on the slalom gear knowing that it will take you faster than you can control but not this time.
The only disadvantage I can see is that its a bit heavy and with only a 4:1 downhaul purchase, getting the sail block to block was a challenge but with the integrated ratchet- it's possible. I did rig 2m higher because of this. Notwithstanding that fact, this piece of German engineering seems well built and totally worth any inconvenience. Now for the durability test! Lets see how it holds up over time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Golden Gate Surf

I knew it was going to be a good day when the fog horn woke me up Wednesday morning.
Like an old familiar friend, I recognized its voice cutting through the cold damp San Francisco morning.
The chill hit me when I walked to my van and packed up my board for the day.
Work came and went but my mind was on the water.
By 3;30 I was rigging up at crissy field as the sun peaked in beneath the layers of fog.
The ride up was as smooth as butter. Flat water and 12-16 knots straight from the west.
Perfect conditions for formula windsurfing.
Soheil and I disappeared into the white, dodging incoming freighters, outgoing ferries and this season's first crab boats masking their way in the San Francisco Bay.
Wells and Rathle were already on call paddling their SUP boards in the outer line up- just beyond Fort Point.
In sets of 3s and 4's, the incoming swells would punch through allowing for a decent run up and surf down their faces. At the last critical moment you could gybe off, accelerating as you carved down and shoot off to the left as the wave peels right and enters a windless zone just west of the fort point.
Its a fine line of either or...
If you gybe too late you get sucked into a windless vacuum with the next set looming and the surfers taunting.
Soheil wasn't so lucky and had to swim his gear out twice.
I played it cautious but scored on my first run catching of huge wake of a crab boat and surfing it it for almost a minute into the Bay.
David and Jean were catching wave after wave on their SUP boards and caught a few runs on camera as Soheil and I gybed around them.
Good Times!

We got great runs for at least another 30 min in 12-16k gybing between the south tower and Ft. Point catching the incoming swell. Every so often, a set would come in a surprise me as I looked back to see wall of breaking water.

Time to gybe...

Monday, November 15, 2010

November Bay Crossings

It was one of those rare November days in northern California. 75 degrees in the city and just enough wind to tempt me out on the water for a tour of the SF Bay. By 4pm I launched from crissy field and was planning across the Bay towards Yellow Bluff just below Ft Baker in the marin headlands.
With 10-15 knots and a relatively week flood tide, my light-wind formula set up was well powered in the flat water.
The ML10 finds an edge with a relatively soft fin in those conditions and is easily railed.
The NP 10.7 EVO2 is feather weight light and an ease to handle. 2 pumps and you're off!
I set my base further back in the track - 43" from the front fin screw.
Booms- 100% up in the cutout.
I try to feed the rig as much power in the lulls to keep the drive going until the next puff.

Sebastian Kornum- DEN-24 shows a similar technique for light wind railing.

Luckily it pays off and I'm mid span planning under the golden gate bridge blasting back towards Fort Point. The sun is peaking out from beneath the bridge casting a long shadow as I cross the Bay again.
The flood tide pulls me back inside the Bay- so I decide to run with it.
Bearing off, I immediately accelerate and onto the surging swell.
@buoy46012 says its NW but I swear there's some south in there.
I gybe back and forth- keeping in the windline and the swell as I work my way down the Bay.

The extra 1-2k of flood tide makes gybing in the flat water almost effortless and fun.
I throw the rig around, keeping my speed through the gybe and immediately continue on a plane on the other tack.
No need for any chicken strap today!

I continue downwind making my way towards Fort Mason on the San Francisco city front where things lighten up.
A quick gybe back and I'm back in the windline for one last charge upwind.
This one's a long one.
I make it worth my while as I may not have another for some time
A few minutes later, I make it back to Anita rock where I shlog the last hundred feet into shore.
As if today's crossing wasn' t enough, the sunset set was absolutely epic.
click to enlarge...

Monday, November 8, 2010

changing seasons/changing gears

Daylight savings kicked in today meaning that if your going to score a session, start making excuses by 1:30 and be out of the office by 2:30 at the latest...
Its the time of year, that if its blowing you need to go now as it might not be in an hour or 2 like the summer months where the thermals provide a reliable seabreeze every afternoon on the San Francisco Bay

I actually scored some decent formula session the last 2 days with the westerlies kicking in 10-15k and even 10-20k at the bridge and was quite stoked to see another day where I could get out on the water. After a windless October, I had even considered some SUP to hold me over for the winter months O_o

I got the chance to paddle with the crissy crew during game 1 of the World Series.
Enjoy the video from waterhound

It was dying as I arrived at 3 and actually kicked myself for forgetting my 7.0 as everyone was headed out on slalom gear but got the best session fully lit on formula/9.5 at ft point as everyone shlogged in on their 7.0s. The 5k ebb made a huge trough at south tower but with only 12-16k I managed just a few runs tempting fate. The 6-10' swell was stacking up nicely just outside the gate at the south tower with a few rolling sets making their way through the slot. I got flushed out of one gybe and ended up swimming for my gear past the red nun.
Next stop- farallon islands 12 miles out to sea.
Time to play it cautious!
I made the run back downwind against the 5k current which felt like I was dragging a sea anchor. 20 gybes later I made it back to crissy field where it was already getting dark by 4:45.
Hopefully more of the same later this week...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

the fog chronicles...

Wednesday's midweek after work session on the SF Bay @ crissy field was about as San Francisco as you can get. A chilling reminder that 4 days of summer heat was more than enough and the curmudgeon - aka the marine layer - was back in town.

Summer in San Francisco from Michael Winokur on Vimeo.

The fog was deeply embedded through the golden gate- leaving only the San Francisco city front and Marin headlands to the north exposed to the brilliant sunshine trying penetrate through thick chilly pacific fog.As I drove into the city from Sausalito, the mid span was a fully engulfed with wind and fog. My van shifted in its lane with the each gust.
The iwindsurf app on the dash was reading 20+.
Peering down to Ft Point before I got the the toll booths, I saw nothing but white.

As I pulled into Crissy field, Tom & Soheil were already rigged their 10.0's.
I followed suite with my 9.5.
3 identical mikes lab formula boards sit aligned ready to take on the Bay.
No chatter. Suit up and hit the water.
Its September- don't forget the winter hat!

A few pumps and we were off blazing downwind at 20k+ in the flat water flood near shore towards the imminent fog bank lurking a few hundred feet away. Once at X- the tide line was amiss with square voodoo chop and random breaking swell.
The sheep were out of the paddock !
I flew over the backsides of the chop and waves with my back foot deeply planted in the double chicken strap for control. A quick scan of the chop in front of me let pick a decent face to carve back on.
Effortless is the only word that comes to mind when gybing a MLab in these conditions. Soheil and Tom are engaged in a gybing duel down the city front as I come fully lit in from the fog bank. Crossing ahead, I gybe in the butter smooth flood and sunshine washing the waters just in front of the GGYC.
The gods are smiling with 15-20k.
We work our way down past the harbor, past marina green and past Fort Mason in the time it takes to down a shot.
Painful but pleasant!
We arrive at the aquatic park which is bathed in a illuminating pink and orange glow as the setting sun peeks in below the fog.
30 seconds later overlapped and grinding upwind on port tack we are back in the fog.
So thick- you cant see the guy next to you 25' away but rather listen to hear if the chatter from his board is getting closer or further away.
I look over my shoulder to see Soheil clearing a set of chop with his 70 cm fin fully out of the water. Tom is pulling to weather with his BB (aka big boy fin) from F4.
I hike harder and rail the board to get an edge and the kashy 70 I am riding finds a 5th gear- matching the angle and pulling ahead with speed.
The fog horns penetrate the marine layer from somewhere to windward.
Time to tack.
We line up again on starboard tack heading back towards the city front and out of the fog.
The voodoo chop is tamer the further we go until we reach the seawall where the flat flood tide is smooth as silk.
It quickly becomes apparent that shifting gears and standing the rig up in the lighter winds becomes advantageous. Soheil and I gain as we switch to our front hands on the uphaul vs the traditional 2 handed boom grip.
10 seconds later it's time to tack.
The last 2 minutes of hard work and extra 2 board lengths of ground that you gained can be wiped clean if you blow your tack.
I'm a bit slow to make the transition and Tom flawlessly flops over to take advantage of the leeward position and is putting the pressure on again.
I dont have the room it takes to wind the fin up so I duck below Tom and begin with clear air.
Its not until we reach the fog bank again that I catch up with speed and angle.
Time to tack!
Our practice continues until we loose one another in the fog.
Tom bails and Soheil and I do another lap down to the aquatic park trading gybes and tacks along the city front while ducking in and out of the fog and tide line.
It doesn't get much better for a wednesday.

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Enjoy the hd fog video

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Despite trying to escape the temptaion of the constant wind that the SF Bay delivers on a regular basis from March to October, and taking a non windsurfing vacation for the past 2 weeks, while letting my back recover, I get this video in the mail...

The locals score another epic session @ the north tower while Im away.
Enjoy the POV action from long time waterman Ian Boyd

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Maintaining control in 25-30k

Its no secret- you're only as strong as your weakest link.
Despite having the best equipment this season, its been my body that's been holding me back this summer. Our local fleet has really stepped it up since the North Americans last month and if you don't nail that last tack on the last beat, you can be assured someone will be there capitalizing on your own weakness.
That's exactly what happened Friday in the latest twilight series.
I had to listen to my body and slow down a bit making sure not to overdo anything I might not be able to undo. The doctors advice was to significantly cut back but with 2 races this week, I just had to just maintain and not over do it.
Race 1 started with a good start off the line and leading around the course.
There were some big gust to deal with but for the most part if you've got your equipment dialed in, it isn't too overwhelming- even in 25-30k and big seas.
I lowered by boom and had good control upwind, not getting stood up at all.
Most of the chop you can absorb with your legs- making sure to keep the sail over the center line of the board upwind and not letting it open up.
It was just on the last tack on the last beat that Besse snuck in there grabbing the bullet form me.
Race 2 started in 25-30k and Al, Besse and I got out to a good lead on course B. Heading downwind after the gybe mark got a bit hairy as Al just about blew up and collided with another yacht starting their sequence at the leeward mark.
I saw it all happening but with just a few board lengths between us there wasnt much I could do but let it unwind. I made the quick call to bear off and narrowly avoided a big collision. In the meantime 2 or 3 board snuck in there and got a decent rounding as I struggled to get back on course and finished 4th.
Race 3 saw Wells eagerly trying to make the windward mark despite understanding it and getting plastered up against Anita Rock. Somehow he made a comeback and squeezed me out for 3rd, again making a faster tack on the last beat. Besse took the bullet!
Race 4 saw some great pre- race tactics between Seth and I as I lured him into the windward spot just above me and drove him right over the line for an ocs. Meanwhile, Tom and David got out to a nice jump and maintained control around the course with great speed.
Race 5 was payback time as Seth was determined to drive me back in the fleet. I hung out near the shore till the last 20 seconds and did a dip start down the line with Seth in hot pursuit. I managed to out run him until the last seconds of the beat when he came down hard on me to windward. We were deeper than usual rounding in 5th and 6th so time for a comeback. I dug deep but the front of the pack had really extended their lead and not much chance.
Sometimes its a race against yourself while the other sailors prove to be obstacles around the course.
Taking 4th place, I think Ive got the series wrapped up with 2 more races to go over the next month so it looks like time for a break.
The radio silence probably means Im laying low and doing my best for a recovery- despite the torture of being off the water.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

2010 Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race

Yesterdays Bridge to Bridge race can be compared to launching yourself full speed down a mountain stacked full moguls- only have the finish line at the bottom of the mountain- 1/2 way across the gravel parking lot!
For 99% of the race, skiffs, kites and formula boards were fully wound in 18-24k and steep ebb chop, screaming downwind across the San Francisco Bay- only to come to a screeching halt 100m from the finish line- set just in front of Treasure Island at the base of the Bay Bridge where the wind becalmed the leaders and a river of ebb tide flowed, making it nearly impossible for nearly half of the fleet to get cross the finish line.
In fact only 33 of this years 57 entrants were able complete the race- but not for lack of skill. It was just that hard of a race.
It all unfolded with the last moves of the game as the skiffs came powered in from the city front and the majority of the kite and board fleet sat in the bubble just west of Treasure Island.

Actually the skiffs had it from the beginning.
All they needed was to avoid disaster and it would be theirs to lose.
And they did exactly that- sweeping the podium with the top 3 positions.
In 4th was local Chip Wasson followed by Steve Sylvester in 5th taking the top board spot- and edging out a pack of boards and kites- all trying to inch their way across the line in the opposing current and light wind.
The chaos even started before the starting gun as sounds of crunching carbon could be heard as 2 skiffs got tangled up in the run to the starting line.
With no protest being heard, per the sailing instructions, everything was going to be settled on the water.
The start was pretty chaotic with kites, skiff and boards all running at different angles and speeds across the line. I made a few quick calls to duck the port tackers (yes- duck the port tackers)in exchange for staying upright and full speed.
There's nothing as slow as being skewed on the front of an Aussie 18's 12' bow sprint.
Port or starboard.
You lose!
I was able to ride some big puffs down the city front before it got too light and gybed back to the outside for pressure. This is where things really heated up and Sylvester and I were still neck and neck. He eventually was able to pull away with better speed on his 60cm kashy, north 9.0 and ML10 as we went past Alcatraz in a a wild array of voodoo chop and swell. I think the difference was just being able to put the hammer down. With a smaller fin in the big chop, you can get more control with less drag.
Even with my back foot fully on the leeward rail in the triple chicken strap, I was barely able to hold on -flying across the backsides of 3-5 swell and chop in 20-25k of breeze. I confess, the 67cm kashy that I was riding was more than enough. Pushing as deep as I could, I plowed right over the top of Soheil- not knowing he was even there until I cleared him. Fortunately just a few seconds of delay but when I gybed to make the layline for the finish line a kiter went down just in front of me - spreading his kite, lines and board in a tangled mess. Another few seconds lost going upwind to clear myself and around the kiter.

Things were looking good with the guys in front not making the line and falling off a plane. I came planing in making my way through a graveyard of downed kites, trying to body drag their way to the finish! A few pumps and the lucky puff and I might have it but then in an all too sudden anti-climatic finish, I fell off a plane and was faced with a river of current pulling me away from the finish line. It took another few minutes of real struggle to make it across the line.
I had to settle for 17th overall in what was a disappointing finish but sometimes it's more about the race than the finishing order.
That's all part of the game.
Win or Lose.
It keeps me coming back every time!
Yhanks to Jean for the head cam video

Thanks to the St Francis Yacht Club and Ronstan for the excellent race.
Photo credit: Eric Simonson @Pressuredrop.
Be sure to check out the video footage of the race @ the i-deenfoodas site
and the additional surfcity photos @

Monday, August 2, 2010

Friday Nite Racing @ the St. Francis

Friday Night racing at the St Francis Yacht Club is a summer tradition for me over the past 10 years. The fleet size is sometimes up to 20. Sometimes down to 5 or 6. But all the time you can bet its going to be a race against yourself- seeing how fast you can make your transitions, calling the lay-lines and nailing the start.

Sometimes you get it.
Other times its like shooting in the dark.

This past Friday was the latter.
But somehow most of the fleet made even more mistakes than me and I was consistent enough for 2nd behind Besse who took another string of bullets.

Video by US 13 Tom Purcell on the race deck
The conditions weren't ideal with a gusty 10-22k shifty breeze and a building ebb tide kicking up some big chop along the outside of the course but everyone was stuck doing the same course D for 3 out of the 5 races-Thanks RC!
Course D takes sailors upwind around Anita Rock, inside to gybe at B, outside to A and then rounding X to starboard and back upwind to the finish. Plenty of opportunities to gain or lose.

With slow starts, slow transitions and sloppy rounding, I wasn't doing myself any favors yet the NP 9.5. ML10 and 70 kashy still wanted to go fast. I had good upwind and downwind speed to get me back in the game. I tried out the north formula boom for the first time.
Its amazing how much difference it makes the whole rig feel. The body and outline are much narrower than the HPL or NP booms so I had to extend the boom out another 2cm beyond the recommended settings to avoid the sail draping over the boom. The body was much softer and think it should probably work better for the north sails with a shallower draft.
Nonetheless some very cool features with an adjustable tensioned head and quick rigging feature on the back end. The clips are also very ingenious. Rather than the tail end sliding in the front end. The wide tubes slide over the body of the booms and the clips are moved independently.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Full tour of the SF Bay

It was a full tour of the SF Bay today with Soheil, Aurilien, Xavier and Sylvester outside the gate for flat water formula training then down for some windward/leeward training between stfyc and red nun.

Shawn Davis was on the bridge to capture some great shots.

After lap 2 we headed downwind for the fully monty- riding the double chicken through some gnarly SF voodoo chop off Alcatraz and finally down to Treasure Island where Xavier and Sylvester kept going back to Berkeley and the rest us sailed back upwind to Crissy via a long port tack under Alcatraz and over Angel Island right into Richardson Bay where we parked and waited for the breeze to fill back over the Marin headland. A quick minute to take in the view as the fog was just starting to fill in through the golden gate and Sausalito was fully engulfed in the summer sunshine.

A few minutes later near Harding Rock, we were fully lit heading back across the Bay in a full flood tide with the waters full of dolphins.

A very grateful Jerry Day indeed!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 5 US Windsurfing Champs

5 days of full on racing finally took its toll on me.
Despite wanting to keep going, the body said no more and I wisely listened.

I sat the final 3 slalom heats out after swimming around the first slalom marks- totally out of energy. Sometimes, when the body talk, you need to listen.
Earlier the day, we got our final 2 course races in.
Determined to get Al and Crad who were just a few points in front of me, I went out early again to get prepared and feel comfortable around the course. I had the 10.7 dialed. The flood tide was ripping and everything felt great. Unfortunately I pulled the trigger 1 second late at the start as CRad got the jump from below me and shot out. I was buried in the 2nd row. With bad air the rest of the race, I never was able to get it going.
For the final race, the wind was up to 16-22k and the chop an ever increasing factor on the course- especially downwind. I got off the very well and was the first to the shore taking advantage of the lift right to the top mark. The guys that started above me all over stood and I was looking in good shape rounding in the top 5
Downwind though was another story. With the marks almost 2.25 miles apart- it was going to be a long ride. The w-end bot traffic was out. The course was crowed with ferries, container ships, fishing boats and pleasure boats. I was already starting to get overpowered with the super soft Z fin and had my foot firmly planted in the double chicken for control until I ran into what seemed like 5 sets of voodoo chop right after another.
On the last one my nose plowed into the final set and I went down hard.
It took me another minute to get it all back together and I fought back on the next 3 legs like I never have before and was just able to overcome Eric a few meters before the finish. I thought I might have gotten S3 as we were overlapped at the finish but he had the advantage being to weather. It came down to the last point and I was able to squeeze S3 out and make the top 10 overall.
Chris and Al both sailed excellent races and got me in the end. I really admire the effort they put into their programs the past years building a brand new fin company from the ground up when they didnt have access to good fins in the limited world of high performance windsurfing parts.
They may not have it all right now but they are certainly doing something right.

A bit further up in the fleet, Seth was battling it out with Aurlien for 4th place overall.
They were practicably match racing up the final beats throwing in tack after tack and totally forgot about Fernando behind them who slipped in front of Seth and Aurlien and eliminated any chance Seth had to pick up 4th place.
Even in the hardest fought battles, you cant forget about the big picture.
And finally at the top, McGain took the final bullet after Paulo sat out the last race knowing he could use throw out and still win. A very impressive regatta by both never out of the top 2 exuding their throw outs!
Final results
Paulo dos Rios crowned the course racing champion.
Phil McGain crowned the overall Formula North American champion and overall champion- placing the best in all 3 disciplines and winning the inaugural Bill Weir memorial trophy.
Finally it was Wilhelm Schurmann taking the slalom after Peter Bilj had an OCS in the 3rd slalom final.
A superb week of sailing hosted by the StFYC.
Thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors and RC that made it happen.

here's some video- about 1/2 through the slalom racing start...enjoy!

Day 4 US Windsurfing Nationals

I finally got things going my way on the 4th day of competition after struggling to find my groove earlier in the week. A few mistakes always put me back in the fleet around 10th place but Friday's 6th place in course racing was due to some good preparation. I got out the the water 30 minutes before the 1st start and sailed the course, tested the line and fingured out a strategy for the day.I knew I wanted a mid to pin end start and to get to the shore first to take advantage of the inside life.
With the wind still light, I choose my NP 10.7, and Z fin for maximum power.
Sure enough I popped off the line well with a good lane and speed squeezing off my competition to weather by holding onto the uphaul, standing the rig upright and getting better angle.
From there, it was just making sure I didnt make any big mistakes and stayed with the top pack. Paulo and Phil were well ahead but the rest of the pack of Wilhelm, Seth, Xavier, Aurlien and Fernando all showed the speed and consistency that's gotten them to the top of the score board.
I really wanted this one and worked so hard to get it, passing Xavier on the first downwind then having to line up behind Aurlien and Fernado at the leeward mark. There was no way I was getting my nose in to find a lane to windward so I just footed off and went for speed, gaining a few board lengthes the 2nd upwind. Finally as the 2 tacked inside me , I held out a few more board lengths to account for the building flood tide. I made it around while the other 2 had to double tack and then downwind concentrated on the next 2. Seth and Wilhelm were in a tight battle but it seemed I had better speed and was catching up. Wilhelm immediatly tacked after the leeward mark so I followed Seth up to the starboard tack layline at the finish and just as we approached the last 30 seconds of the race, Wilhelm came in to plant a good cover on me to get 5th. Migual managed a small comeback after sitting out the last few races die to injury and placed a very respectable 3rd.
With that I gained the points I lost in yesterdays long distance race and now its even closer between Al, CRad, Sylvester and myself. It looks like Saturday's last 2 races will determine the top 10.

Around 3 we switched to our 2nd day of slalom racing and got several more rounds off but not before the freestyles had their expression session. This years freestyle exhibition had bothan old school and new school division.

I honestly had no idea of half the moves they were attempting with names like poncho villas, willey skippesr air gratchos. I think everyone was stoked we included the new discipline this year as it increases participation + got loads of people interested on the beach.
Slalom racing was the most fun Ive had in a long time. A 2 minute heat brings as much adrenaline as racing a 20 min course race. Every mark, I was overlapped and rounded full lit.
Having the 130l board with the 7.0 allowed me to squeeze out of a few light spots and almost qualify for the finals but on the last gybe- having 2nd all but locked up, I let Jean and David slip by and beat me across the line for the final spots.

Thanks to Shawn Davis for the great photos.
Be sure to check out the rest of his photos here

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 3 US Windsurfing National Championships

Day 3 of the US Windsurfing National Championship in San Francisco saw racers spread out across the San Francisco Bay in a long distance race to Treasure Island and back to Crissy Field before 6 heats of slalom were run in gusty but reasonable conditions.

Consistency was the name of the game for Phil McGain who took the long distance race after Paulo des Rios mistook the mid course gate for the leeward mark and started back upwind.
It wasn't long ago that McGain gave up one of San Francisco most famous long distance races- the SF Classic by sailing right passed R4 and let the local fleet slip by. This time, he had his notebook for reference with course diagrams, tides and weather info.
The long distance race started and restarted and finally restarted again under the black flag with the outgoing ebb tide pulling sailors across the line and over early. Finally in the last start, I decided enough - and I would start on port ducking the fleet- making sure to get out the the right side but the inside lift finally paid off at the beach with the majority of the starboard tackers getting upwind first.
From there it was a slow but steady downwind run in 16-22k through multiple lanes of ferry traffic and fishing trawlers and over some short steep chop along the city front that had racers gybing multiple times through some rough waters and then through 2 gates: one stationed in front of the StFYC and the other off Blossom Rock on the north east side of the city and finally down to a leeward mark stationed north of Treasure Island before heading back upwind- in reverse order through the Blossom Rock gate and to the finish in front of the StFYC.
The pecking order was pretty much established with the top 10 staying pretty much in that order.
Finally with an hour rest break, the slalom fleets were established and 6 full rounds of slalom were run in 12-18k before the wind diminished too much on the inside of the course- set just off Crissy Field. I had a 6.0 and 7.0 north warp ready to run with 3 boards to choose from: ml 95l slalom, 105l JP slalom and 125l F2 slalom. After a few practice runs it quickly became apparent I would need the biggest board and most powerful sail to keep the drive in the light patches near shore. I quickly rigged up to the 42cm fin and 125l board and had enough power to keep it lit the entire course just behind Phil McGain take to take 2nd in the blue fleet.

Other winners included Peter Bilj, Wilhelm Schurman. After 5 rounds, the top 2 sailors from each of the 5 - 8 man heats will advance to the final round. Hopefully by tomorrow, we'll have a better opportunity to get through the qualifying rounds and into the finals.
Friday is also the start of the freestyle discipline with old school and new school heats starting as soon as the wind is up.

Racers can expect at least another 3-4 course races and several rounds of slalom over the next 2 days of the event.
Slalom photos
Long Distance photos
Waterhound report

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 2 US Windsurfing National Champs

Despite the persistent marine layer and winter like temps in SF, the 2010 US Windsurfing Championship are getting some quality racing in after 2 solid days on the water.
7 races have been run testing sailors' abilities, tactics, stamina and most importantly- warmth retention.
The 5/3 winter wetsuits came out on day 2 as most sailors found staying warm all day long between was priority number 1. There must be enough warm blood in Paulo Des Rios Brazilian body because he hasn't let up taking a 1, 2, 2 and staying on top of the scoreboard. He did prove to have some human characteristics after all- switching down to the 10m rig for the last race after dominating on his 12m thus far.
Phil McGain is sailing as consistent as ever- even with a 6 year old starboard 159 and proving experience counts in this game!

The rest of the professional fleet are sailing in a league of their own but the SF locals are mixing it up every so often. Seth Besse is finding his groove and is now with in striking distance of Aurien le Matayer in 4th place.
Fernando Martinez of Spain and Xavier Ferlet of England are also sailing a great series- never out of the top 7 in a very competitive fleet.
Just behind the top pack, the rest of the SF fleet is battling it out amongst themselves with Al Mirel, Chris Radkowski, Steve Sylvester and myself all within 3 points of each other.
I've found myself sailing very fast this series but just havnt been able to keep it together to the finish where it counts.
The first race of the day, I got off the line well and was in the top 6 going downwind, trading gybes with Besse downwind and keeping the pressure on until disaster as i stuck my nose into the chop and had a total yard sale downwind. Taking some advise from my sometimes training partner, Seth, I got mad and sailed faster! One by one I picked off the boards in front of me and finally grinded off Crad on the last upwind leg to finish 9th.
Sometimes it's all about the recovery.
Race 6 saw me overstanding the top mark and letting Crad and Al get me at the finish.
Finally I said, enough mistakes and decided to go for it all in race 7- getting off the line super well by taking advantage of the mid line sag of the approaching starboard takers and finding a clear lane on FRA-105 leeward hip and making our way to the right side.
Downwind I practically sailed with my head looking backwards for the puffs coming down the city front. In great shape, I rode a personal puff right into last chance beach- east of the StFYC only to be stuck there for a good 30 seconds in a completely dead zone as the next 6 guys went blazing past with the puff on the outside. That's the price you pay for sailing to the corners! I wasnt able to recover from that one despite my best efforts and finished 11th.
On a more positive note, I did manage to win my protest and get some redress points- only to have Sylvester move in front of me as my throw outs are as consistent as the rest of my scores. With that in mind, it looks like the new strategy is to take some more high risk moves in order to gain as Ive the room in my scores for at least another throwout if things dont go well.
Looking at the forecast thurday morning, I wonder if its possible to have too much fog in San Francisco as we're stuck with the marine layer overhead again for Day 3.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 1 US Windsurfing Champs/Formula North Americans

Day 1 of the 2010 US Windsurfing Championships in San Francisco started in overcast SF skies with the breeze never really filing into its full potential.
4 races were run in 15-20k and a flat water flood tide.
No voodoo chop just yet but some spectacular racing in very tight competition among the 46 man formula fleet.
Paulo Des Rios from Brazil took control from the start capturing 3/4 bullets while on his north 12.0 while the rest of fleet sailed on 10-11m rigs in the building breeze
Phil McGain stole the 2nd race as BRA333 took a flyer to the shore off the leeward mark and gave up the race.
Aurlien Le Metayer- racing on a mikes lab formula board after good results this w-end- looked like he was going to take race 3 after a commanding lead from the windward mark but took the puff right into shore with out a another puff to bring him back out to the leeward mark. BRA333 and BRA999 took advantage of the more consistent wind in the middle of the SF Bay and passed him to finish out the top 3.
With a small break between race and 4 many sailors took the opportunity to scale down their kits to a smaller fin and rig. I went from the NP 10.7 and Z fin down to a NP 9.5 and kashy 70 but it just wasnt enough as the flood tide got the better of me at several marks and I had to double tack to make the top and bottom marks.
SF sailor Seth Besse is putting in the best local performance - sitting in 5th after the days racing.
phot0 credit: Shawn Davis
Crad and Al are both 1 point in front of me but hopefully with some redress points after tomorrows hearing- things will look better for me. Xavier and I got tangled up in race 4 at the windward mark but both felt we were in the right- so it's up to the jury to decide!
I felt really fast with good angle in 3/4 races always passing the guys in front of me but got set back by some sloppy rounding and bad laylines. It wasn't until the 3rd race when I got pretty OP'ed on the 10.7 and super soft fin that I couldn't really put the hammer down.
So far the fleet has been split on the starts with the port tackers charging the line not backing down for the approaching starboard tackers running the line. I didnt have that much confidence knowing a simple collision could take me out for the regatta- so I ended up ducking most of the starboard fleet but getting off to the right side- which seemed more favored.
phot0 credit: Shawn Davis
Downwind- it's all about staying in the pressure as things got lighter inside but occasionally the gods would be smiling and send down a personal puff taking you right to the mark.
I had some good battles with ESP- 71 but he always seemed to come out on top.
Now- it's just waiting for the breeze to kick in and applying the local knowledge that works so well.
Waterhound report:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Friday night racing July 16

Strange evening of racing as big breeze never showed up but was
present around parts of course.
Big lulls. Big Midwest lake sailing all over again.
I rigged Np 9.5 with base at 36cm and 3.5" downhaul. Mast track at
45" from fin screw. Booms 85% up in sleeve.
Kashy 70 xs.
Fluekey and shifty racing in 10-20k
Missed a few key puffs otherwise good performance. Sometimes it's all
about timing as I rounded top mark in 2nd or 3rd in light breeze and
gybed to outside for breeze while 20 sec later guys from behind get
big puff straight to gybe mark.
That's racing! You try to eliminate the variables but sometimes it's
beyond your control.
I overstood top mark in race 1w/ strong ebb and lost out Al. Bra999
sailed much faster and better angle.
Ocs in race 3 as I pulled trigged too early not accounting for ebb.
Crad and al on f4 going consistantly well. Wells sailing better w/
ML10 and north 10.0.
Others were up and down in the shifts.
I finished strong 2nd behind bra999 in last race when I really put my
mind into it. You've got to really want it to get it!
Speed good.
Still need angle as bra999 was going higher but good on rest of fleet.
Should have had 10.7 in hindsight.
Always rig for lulls!
Finished 4th behind al crad and bra999.
Good prep for upcoming us nationals in SF starting on 20th.


Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 SF Classic/UN Challange

What can be said about the SF Classic and Ultra Nectar Challenge that hasn't been said before.
The longest running long distance windsurfing race in some of the toughest conditions imaginable!
A 40+ mile distance taking the formula boards and kiters out the golden gate and 8 times across the SF Bay, down to the bottom of the Berkeley pier for the SF Classic and back the the StFYC for the UN Challenge.
Seth Besse dominated both races in the 25 board formula fleet with an elapsed time of 1 hour and 46 minutes while kiters Johnny Heineken and Joey Pasquali each took the upwind and downwind portions of their race respectively but still were well off the pace of the top boards with best elapsed finish time by Chip Wasson in 2 hours and 2 minutes

The wind graph off Angel Island pretty much sums it up.
35k at Point Blunt.
I did not sail to win.
I sailed to survive.

Multiple blow ups on the way downwind and upwind had me thinking about about stopping to retire at Treasure Island at least a few times as that was our designated safe spot- guaranteed for a ride back to SF with the RC.
Each time, however, I was able to dig a bit deeper and hang on a little bit longer.
It was a respectable 5th for me in the SF Classic and just happy to have made it back home across the finish line for the UN Challenge.
Ive sailed in 8 or 9 SF Classics and can say this was one of the windiest and most challenging Ive ever done.
My muscles are still sore thinking about it.

Anyways- here's my recollection of how things staked up.

With a 2pm start- it still looked manageable with 15-20k at the start set just off Crissy field.
I lined up prepared with my fastest set up- NP 9.5 rig, ML10 and 67 kashy fin.
I'd been running the top half of the course the last few days and felt comfortable - even fast but wasn't pushing 100% with my back still recovering from over training a few weeks back.
I got off the start brilliantly on port tack- getting almost up to the bridge only to realize it was a general recall. I high tailed it back and just made the restart- getting a decent position off the line on starboard tack.
I flopped over taking advantage of the shore lift and set up for the long the first of many grinding legs. Ben Bamer was gunning from the start but over stood the top mark while Seth called it perfectly tacking under the bridge and straight out to the red nun buoy set west of the south tower of the golden gate bridge. I lost Xavier here over standing as well but was in the hunt in the top 4 with Wells, and Purcell in hot pursuit towards the next mark- set just inside the north tower. We gybed in a messy stew of vodoo chop, current and boat wake and in no time were off to the presidio shoal buoy set just off the old coast guard station in from Ft. Point.
This can sometimes be where the race is won or lost as there's a huge opportunity for separation as the wind is much lighter set in the lee of Presidio just out from the wind line.
I was able to overtake Xavier as he showed a moment of weakness coming into the mark high as the rest of us put some money in the bank and heated it up as it got lighter
Seth wasnt able to make a break yet but had a good lead as we headed back upwind to the red nun for the 2nd time.

photo credit: seirra photos
Xavier and I were batteling it out for 3rd grinding upwind as Tom Purcell held his own in 2nd with Well and Bamer not far behind.
Once more out the gate and across to the north tower saw things stay heated up and finally we were off downwind to Anita rock with Seth in first, Tom in 2nd and me holding onto 3rd with Wells and Xavier breathing down my neck.
I let the 2 of the get by me the next leg as Xavier went high Wells went low to Harding rock set across the Bay on the western edge of Angel Island.
As we gybed and made out way down to Blossom rock, things really heated up
The swell below Alcatrez was big and the breeze building to 25k+
I went from running in the double chicken strap to running with my foot in the leeward strap just for control. The next thing I knew I was blind sides by a wave the took my feet out right from under neath me. A quick water start but Wells was able to slip by.
Blossom Rock was a feat to maneuver around with my cams still fully inverted fighting for control as I made a conservative gybe trying not to explode
The next leg was pure hell with no comfortable way around it.
Somewhere between a beam reach and a close reach on a formula board is pretty much the most uncomfortable position you would ever want to piut yourself in. Add 4-6' breaking swell and the wind now gusting above 30k.
I made it around Point Blunt only to encounter more of the same on the way to Blossom Rock set west of Treasure Island.
At that point it was a blur of some of the hairiest sailing I have ever done on the Bay.
Im not sure when Eric went past me as I didnt even see him till we got in.
I tried to reel David in on the way down to R4 and R2 set below Alcatrez and Angel Island but was fighting just for survival. I missed the opportunity to gain more as David extended his lead by sailing well past R2 before gyning and finding some flatter water for better control.
I gybed immediately and stumbled upon the top of the pier.
At that point I was hurting but had enough momentum to keep pushing as Sylvester was now with in striking distance behind me.
I held on the last 2 legs going to the Olympic circle X mark and finally down to the bottom of the pier unable to catch Wells for 4th as top 3 squeezed in a good 2 minutes in front of me. Besse, Eric and Xavier took the honors.
There was a bit of confusion as the finish boat that's normally at the bottom gap in the pier was stationed in the middle of the pier but in any case we were back grinding upwind for the long beat home and the Ultra Nectar Challenge.
With Sylvester hot on my tail and slowly gaining I looked down to see a good patch of sea grass trailing from my fin. A quick back down let Steve get by me but the real test was coming ahead.
Port tack seemed an eternal punishment for all the bad things I had done in my life.
I was getting pounded never able to put the hammer down.
Wave after wave- the board was flying well out of the water across the top of the 4-6 swell.
In hindsight its easy to look back and say- yea another 1" forward on the mast track would have quieted things down. Picking the right direction upwind and staying out of the big stuff would have been another step in the right direction but I was getting all the punishment that was coming to me.
Just as I was making up some distance on Wells in front of me, I got slammed several times and ended up in the eddy behind Alactrez fighting against myself as I got too close to the shore.
50' later it was blowing 25k and I couldn't even get to it.
The fishermen around me must have though I was quite a spectacle, cursing the gods above, uphauling and falling in multiple times in the swirling eddy.
I thought to myself- keep it together and just finish the race.
10 minutes later I made it across the the finish line but well off the pace of the top boards who made the journey in 41 minutes.

Sunday was a blur with my head never in the game for course racing.
Choosing the right sail would have at least got me in the top pack but I struggled with a hangover and being underpowered with the 9.5 rig in what seemed like a mild day of racing in 12-17k.
Besse pulled another string of bullets.
I came ashore and collapsed after 4 races.
1 week to recover before doing it all again for 5 days of racing on the city front for the 2010 US Windsurfing National Championships.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Friday Night Series- July 2

I'm not sure what was worse these past 2 weeks- no time on the water or lower back pain every time I bent from the waist. My recovery was going well and I decided to give it a shot for Friday night racing at the St. Francis YC.
I was still feeling stiff but manageable.

Conditions were 13-17k and gusty so I rigged NP 10.7, ML10 and Z fin.
Most of the 14 board fleet was on 11 with a few on 10's expecting the breeze to fill in.

I got lucky and sailed smart tonight taking 3 bullets.
Race 1 saw Soheil fall just at B leaving me a nice lane to go upwind with no pressure from above. Eric called weather lay-line first and we rounded close and rode a puff 1/2 way to beach. I gybed sooner and got going again as the breeze was steady outside. The NP 10.7 really accelerates well off the breeze from a standstill. I left the other guys behind and rounded the leeward mark in front carrying in to the wind line just shy of the wall and having to make 1 more tack to the finish. Eric finished a close 2nd with Al, David and Crad finishing out the top 5.

Race 2 saw Crad and myself well matched upwind off the line. He had angle while I had speed. I'm finding the Z fin is faster if you let it sail it's own course.
Fins like the cut down F4 BB with a wider chord (that Crad was using) have more upwind grunt and seem to be very well matched with the wide ML10.
After rounding Anita rock just behind CRad, we both gybed and headed to the outside
I got the jump on Crad downwind by calling the layline to the leeward mark and just sailing in enough towards the sea wall to make finish in 1 tack while others has to double tack.
Rounding out the top of the fleet was Crad, Wells and Soheil.

Race 3 - Ebb was increasing so I made my approach with enough room below the line to get going at 2-3 seconds and not be over early. It was a good start- winning the pin end and climbing on those below me with the inside lift. I rounded just behind Crad in light breeze.
We both immediately gybed only to have fleet sail over us and finally get going.
As we headed out to the middle of the Bay- it was apparent we were going higher and higher just to keep in the fading pressure so I looked behind and saw Wells riding a nice puff down the middle. A quick gybe to get back in the pressure and that was enough to send me deep in the puff right to the mark and take the final bullet.
Racing called for night as things lightened up too much.
A wise call by JC on the race deck.
5 minutes later there was no wind at Anita but the fleet took off for some upwind training.
Below is Al video from post race training.

Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 US Windsurfing National Championships is the official website for the upcoming 2010 US Windsurfing National Championship and Formula North American Championship.
The regatta will be hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club from Tuesday July 20th to Saturday July 24th.
Disciplines include course racing, downwind slalom, long distance and freestyle all at Crissy Field on the San Francisco waterfront.
Registration, NOR and a who's coming list has been posted.
Don't say we didn't warn you....
It's gonna be EPIC!

I remember my first US Nationals like it was yesterday-1994 Lorain Ohio- 2nd place in the IMCO heavyweight division. A right of passage!
Every year, a different location.
Always a great time.
Ive always tried to make as many as I could- each year gaining a few spots in the ranks
We had at least 1 Nationals in Georgia in prep for the '96 Olympics- huge swell as I recall.
Kent with his flaming booms! Long-boarding was still king
'98 was the first year I sailed in SF at the Nationals.
Rounding Alcatraz in the long distance race seemed like a huge feat!
3 years later I was here permanently!
After 2003, the formula class gained momentum with some unbelievable racing at the nationals in Corpus Christie, the Gorge and SF.
2004 saw 80+ formula boards on the line in SF with classic conditions.
2005 was epic in the gorge. Slalom at its best!

2006 saw the US Nationals In Maui in 30-40k. 5 of us ran formula in 30-40k w/ 7.0 slalom rigs. Somehow I took the bullet

2007 was the last time we had the nationals in SF. Besse cleaned up. I held onto a respectable 2nd.

2009 saw great racing in the Gorge with local Bruce Peterson claiming rights to his river!
2010 is shaping up to be huge with several top international pros coming to SF for the first time.
Freestyle is back on venue with Wyatt and crew putting on the show at the beach.
Doc Doolittle will be back as the announcer.
You wont want to miss this one.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 2 Ronstan Challenge

Day 2 of the 2010 Ronstan Challenge saw another day of epic San Francisco conditions for the the 16 board formula fleet and 12 board kite fleet racing on the San Francisco city front.

If racers felt cheated from the lack of a full long distance race on Saturday, the course more than made up for it on Sunday with the windward mark set near the presidio shoal buoy and the leeward mark set off Pier 39.

3 races were run for each fleet with no throwouts- meaning everything counted!
That didn't bode so well for me as I came barreling into the first start only to land in a heap above Al Mirel as the gun went off. Not a fast way to start the series!
Al however recovered quickly and followed the fleet left to the shore and caught the inside lift up the course and kept 2nd to the finish.
After spinning my circles, I reviewed my options and went right concluding better odds than following the fleet from behind.
In the middle with 3 other racers, the water was clearly greener- a clear sign of the flood tide. Not somewhere you want to be when going upwind.
9/10 times when racing on the city front you want to take advantage of the lift at the shore when you've got the chance. When there's an ebb there- you go there no matter what!

The video shows the example well with the ebb tide starting near shore and building later in the day in the middle of the Bay.

Looking back I made the mistake all weekend while the leaders constantly played the inside.
Downwind was a wild ride through the tide line as the breeze freshen up to 20k+.
Seth had a huge margin of victory in race 1 extending his lead around the course with Al and Crad putting in solid performances in the top 3.

Race 2 saw the breeze building even more with most of the fleet on 9 and 10m rigs
This time though, a more conservative start on my part in mid line.
Unfortunately sandwiched between Besse and Crad.
The speed demon and the pincher.
I found myself immediately ducking below and going for speed to the wall.
The NP 9.5 and 67 kashy fin seemed to go well in the breeze but I never really managed to put it all together this weekend. For one reason or another I was out of the top pack.
Choosing the wrong sides of the course- certainly doesn't help!
The rest of the fleet has sure stepped it up a notch with Eric, Sylvester, Crad, Al, Besse and Purcell all going extremely well in the big breeze.
One mistake and you were shot out the back.
The long down winder was brutal flying over the short steep chop at 25K+.
If you could just hang on it was all good.
I kept the pace with Sylvester deep in the double chicken strap all the way to sea wall near the Pier 39 making the last gybe and the final beat to windwind. We were well matched upwind but I let him tack and take advantage of the inside while I worked the outside.
Even with 2 more tacks, he came ahead proving the inside was the way to go.
I rounded out the top 5 with Besse taking another bullet, Al in 2nd, Eric in 3rd and Sylvester in 4th.
By race 3 the wind was up to 25-30k with most of the guys on their 9.0s or 9.5s.
Upwind on port tack was viscous going right into the chop.
If you could settle things down for the long haul you could make some gains.
After the first tack at the seawall, Crad, Sylvester and myself all were lined up well.
It wasn't until the last minute of the beat till I was able to pull ahead squeezing them out but at that point, we were at the layline already.
If you're going to put the kabosh on someone- do it early in the leg!
Downwind was another wild ride.
I gybed with the top pack but immediately went over the handle bars as I accelerated right into San Francisco finest voodoo chop!
I lay spread out like a yard sale in the middle of San Francisco Bay.
I slowly picked up the pieces trying to uphaul, then water start.
2 minutes later and the leaders were gone.
The final beat to windward was a real test.
I saw Jean's 200lb+ body getting tossed like a rag doll as he exploded ahead and the leeward.
Jean's video captures the spirit of the racing pretty well- not to mention my crash with Al in race 1- Brilliant!

Besse again took the bullet with Eric showing some brilliant form downwind through the chaos to take 2nd.

Overall a good weekend of racing.
Sometimes even with a great set up, you can go fast in wrong direction!

Thanks to the StFYC for running a great series and Ronstan for the awards.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

2010 Ronstan challange

The Ronstan Challenge is billed as a comfortable tour of the SF Bay taking the formula windsurfers and kiteboarders down to Berkeley and back to the SF city front.
Unlike its older- the SF Classic- it's a straight shot downwind and back.
The biggest thing you need to take into account is the current.
Line them up correctly and you could be riding a magic carpet straight to the finish while your competitors fight it out in the flood tide.

A 12:30 skippers meeting saw the 1st possible start delayed till 2 and shortened course to Treasure Island vs the full deal to the Berkeley pier and back.
With this in mind, I switched to the 10.7 and Z fin just moments before heading out.
After a rather strange morning in SF with 70 degree temps and a raging north wind, things settled down a bit and the wind switched left. The RC set the line further upwind to accommodate for the lighter winds- which caught a few people by surprise as there were only 4-5 making it on time with the rest of the fleet struggling to get going in the light stuff.
I lined up for a port start thinking there would be more wind in the middle as the inside looked light.
S3 and Xavier got the jump on starboard while Eric and I started on port.
The rest of the fleet sat park below the line in a very light 8-12k
I rounded topark in 4th with Xavier on 9.5, Eric on 11 and S3 on 11 in front.
Quickly I gybed to get control of the outside. Mid bay I gybed back finally overtook s3 below Alcatraz with better speed. Coming into TI I called the layline perfect and pumped into the leeward mark- while Eric, S3 and Besse on 9.5 all had to double gybe to make it.
Thanks to Chris Ray for the great shots on Saturday!
I lead upwind on port tack to Angel Island but tacked too late to cover the fleet behind me. On the beat back to starboard, I collected so many weeds my angle and speed were off significantly. I lost S3 from behind & Eric and Seth to leeward.
In hindsight, I should have back down to clear myself but kept forging ahead in hopes the weeds would clear themselves- wrong move!
All I could do was head back out to mid bay while the 3 leaders played the cityfront.
I never found the groove up wind.
And now I know why.
Sailing to the wrong side of the course and not taking advantage of ebb tide really put me at a disadvantage. S3, Eric and Besse battled it out to the finish and 4th was all I could salvage.
S3 sailed a brilliant upwind in front claiming the gun.
44 consistent as ever - claimed the no 2 spot while Seth- just falling short to take the bullet managed 3rd.
Overall a good day!
Can't get too upset over weeds as it's all part of the game.
Meanwhile the kiters started 25 minutes behind us in a fresher breeze and leader Andrew Koch took the line honors with an elapsed time of 49 minutes and 35 seconds- almost 6 minutes faster than the formula fleet.

Sunday 2pm start w/ 3 course races scheduled.
Thanks to Shawn Davis for the photos- be sure to check out his gallery at

Friday nite series June 11

New NP9.5 & 490 x9 arrived today. Just in time.
Thanks to Shawn Davis for the photo

Booms as high as possible
Tack strap tight to give bottom deep shape
Good upwind drive and angle w/ kashy 70 and mast at 44"
Started low on the line as windy looked iffy on inside.
Race 1 rounded 4th behind Crad, All and Seth all going deep to B.
I stayed out of the harness pumped and got around B in 1 gube w/ Seth
rounding wide.On the exit, I got the jump and was off to X
NP accelerates nicely. Rotates with ease.
I rounded bottom mark with Seth just behind but let him call the layline and he just beat me.

Race 2 saw similar but fading conditions on inside. I went for mid line start again. And overstood top mark to accomdate for flood. Good choice as other had to double tack.
At leeward mark I rounded behind Seth and tacked immedialy as it was dead and flooding hard inside. As we tacked Jean Eric and others came around leeward marknin cluster. I pumped off well below Eric and went for speed and I looked like I would get the win as I tacked to make
the pin and crossed Seth but the flood shut the door as he and others overstood and came down with speed and hooked the finsih.

Race 3 saw just a few get off the line. I was mid line while Crad got the jump at B and the inside lift with Seth behind.
Downwind wind was still squirly and we had to make 4 gybes down to X. Sailing in close proximity to Seth I felt new sail performed well- very easy to handle, draft stable.
I should have pulled off a 2nd but again didn't line up the finish line and got pushed down in the flood.

Overall 3rd behind Crad and Seth for the evening as the wind line was just far enough out to make 2 more races nearly impossible.

After 3 races Seth and I sailed up to GG bridge. Testing angle and speed.
Well matched.
Downwind sail lacked the grunt of north 10 and was a bit higher in the lulls.

Still time to work on this!

Frustrating Finish 6-11-2010 Friday Night Formula from on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Knowing the limits...

Sometimes knowing the limits of your equipment is more important than the equipment itself. I found this lesson out the hard way at this w-end Calcup.
Soheil and I decided to sail down from crissy field to the Berkeley cal cup in order to get some long distance runs in prep for next weekends Ronstan Challange.
Choosing to commit to a sail and fin for 4 hours on the Bay can be a daunting dilemma.
The SF Bay can seriously kick your ass if you are overpowered on formula gear.
At 12.30- the golden gate was still socked in with fog with westerlies at 10-15k and the forecast not expecting anything too much greater.
I chose my NP 10.7 rig and most powerful Z 70cm fin.
The downwinder to Berkeley went well with nothing more than 15k and some good ebb chop.
We made it down about 35 min and were the first sailors on the course with the RC still setting the marks.
As we lined up with a few more sailors, it quickly became apparent the conditions were changing.
10-15k quickly became 15-20k with some bigger gust rolling throughout the day.
The majority of the fleet was on their 10.0's
Berkeley's shallow water make for a short and steep chop- especially on port tack taking you almost directly into the waves upwind.
I was having a hard time keeping the hammer down upwind always having to adjust for the chop. The Z fin works especially well if you can find the groove and lock it in- something I wasn't able to do easily.
The only redemption came as things lightened up in race 2 and 3 and I was able to get things into 5th gear and keep them there and make some good gains both up and down for a 2nd and 3rd place finish.
Otherwise it was damage control- trying to salvage 4th in the other 2 races behind Xavier, Al and Eric.
Race 1 saw some confusion downwind as the leeward mark drifted almost to the far end of the Basin. Al took a good lead with his new BB 67 fin with Xavier and Eric in tow and me following closely behind. All it took was one mistake and the positions changed just like that. Al, Eric and Xavier all swapped for the lead- grinding it out upwind in close quarters for a great battle till the end.
Race 2 saw the 4 of us off the line again but with Tom Purcell to leeward showing some great upwind form. He managed to squeeze me off as I couldnt quite keep things locked down in the chop. Over standing the top mark again was torture knowing I could have made some serious gains and even worse trying to man handle the 10.7 and powerful fin reaching into the top mark.
I managed to stay in the hunt and finally passed Al to move into 2nd as the 10.7 really motored downwind as wind was down to 15k.
Race 3 saw similar conditions with Xavier getting the jump and staying in front the whole race.
There were a lot of holes around the course which provided for some opportunities to gain or lose. I managed to just get Eric at the finsih as we both sat parked near the line in an anti-climatic finish - shlogging across the line.
Race 4 saw the wind up near 20k with the gust coming in stronger. It was damage control from the start for me as I was feeling the pain of my legs absorbing all the days chop. Over standing the top mark again felt like adding insult to injury as reaching down to fetch the mark was torture on the big gear. I made it around in 4th but the real test was what was coming ahead.

As Soheil and I began the upwind beat back to San Francisco, it quickly became apparent the conditions had changed rapidly. What was manageable, now became almost impossible.
The wind was a steady 25k with gust closer to 30. The chop stacked up like rapids with the swell breaking as we punched through. I got knocked down several times before we even made it up the barges. Contemplating the hour journey ahead, we took refuge at the cove at Treasure Island and decided to wait it out. An hour later conditions hardly changed and I decided to take the safe route home- getting a ride back to Crissy with some SF sailors who decided to sail at TI for the afternoon.