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.

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