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.

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