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.
Long Distance photos