Sunday, April 25, 2010

1st CalCup of 2010

Things looked sour from the beginning with a 5-15k forecast.
We met at Crissy Field Saturday morning hoping to sail down to Berkeley for the Calcup but with the wind not even filled in, we hopped back in our vans and made the trip over the Bay Bridge just in time for the skippers meeting.
More waiting at "pebble beach" untill the wind finally came down the Bay and filled in the Berkeley circle.
Thanks to waterhound for the photo

Next challenge was the launch.
With an unusually low tide, and 70 cm fins, we had to carry our gear through the muddy flats out a few hundred meters past the dock to get into waist deep water.
I took a few practice runs with Mike Z to get a feel for my speed and angle as I hadnt lined up with him since last season.
Angle- good
Speed- good
Lets get racing!
With a double windward leeward course set in 1o-15k, it looked like it would be a battle for clear air. I choose to start at mid to pin end of the line for clear air as I knew this would be a parade with not many tactical options with the Berkeley pier on the right hand side of the course limiting the right side upwind. I got off the line clean and managed to get out to the port layline but a few guys including Mike Z, Soheil and Sylvester all got a nice lift under me on port tack and rounded in front. Off the wind, it was a race to the pier- literally seeing who could get the closest to gybe and still make it out alive with an array of angry fishermen and their cast lines cursing at us.
I dug extra deep and stayed out of the harness in order to round the leeward mark in 1 gybe while a few others had to make a double gybe as things got light at the bottom end of the course.
Back upwind for lap 2.
With a required pass through the finish gate, I was able to call the layline before Mike Z and Soheil and jumped into the lead although overstanding the top mark I let Soheil briefly back into the hunt. As we both came into the windward mark on starboard for a starboard tack rounding and Soheil just a head and to leeward, I called for room knowing that if he'd tack right at the mark, he would leave me with no options. Gracefully, Soheil obliged and left room for me to tack.
Downwind for another leg- this time not getting to close to the pier and the angry fisherman. I rounded the leeward mark in 1st but had Soheil hunting me down with some really good angle. As I tacked for the final beat to the finish I saw Soheil go down in a tack and crossed the line, taking the first bullet of the series with Mike Z, Sylvester and Soheil rounding out the top 4.
Race 2 saw similar conditions with the same scenario.
This time it was Eric in front with with a great start at the boat and Mike Z and newcomer Xavier from GBR trailing behind.
I made the same option to go as deep as I could on the downwind to the pier and caught Mike Z on the 2nd lap but Xavier put the kabosh on any tactical rounding at the leeward mark by shutting the door completely. I tried to foot for speed below him but not enough time to get by him before the finish.
Race 3 started but ended quickly as the wind died and left us all spewed across the course. I knew things were bad when I led Mike Z and Xavier to the left corner and the guys who we squeezed off right at the start came blazing back from the right side. I was running out of options on lap 1 and decided to take a gybe away from the fleet to try to gain anything. Sometimes when you're deep it pays to take risk. This time I ended up in the same spot I started- right behind Mike Z. Slowly on the next upwind I was able to get some leverage and climb on him in the light air but at the top mark we all stopped planning and the RC put up the abandoned race flag.
Game over.
With a 1-3, it was enough to take the first Calcup but more importantly- give me some extra confidence knowing Ive got the right gear. The NP 10.7 is working very well with the ML 10 and Z fin. Ive finally got upwind angle this year and speed at the starts to give me more options.

Thanks to Mike Percy and his crew for running a great series- more @
Always great to see new juniors involved- especially with the calcup lending library.
If you want to race but dont have gear- check the lending library out!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Season opener

The 2010 Racing season opened up last night with the first Friday Night Series at the St. Francis Yacht Club. The fleet of 13 local sailors only had the chance to sail 2 races in the dying breeze before the 3rd race was abandoned.
The RC kept the racers on their toes with the first start being recalled as most of the fleet was over early with the ebb tide. After a quick turnaround, we started again.
This time, I went for the breeze- shooting down the line and out at the pin with speed. I got a good jump on the fleet and was first to call the layline at the top mark. Eric tacked below me, taking advantage of the ebb and squeezing in at Anita just behind me. We gybed and headed outside to the breeze. Thinking I had the layline for the leeward mark I gybed again but really had to work deep to get to the mark while Eric came in a little hotter with better angle. Knowing my rounding would be weak at best, I tried to close the door on Eric behind me but he found a hole and we both began to grind upwind on the last leg to the finish.
I had the better angle and was able to squeeze him out and forced him to tack. Meanwhile Soheil sneaked up into 2nd while I got the bullet in race 1 and Eric taking 3rd.
Just behind the top pack was the rest of the feet fighting it out with the likes of Al Mirel, Tom Purcell and Marion Lepart trying for the top 5.
Thanks to Arnaud for the video
Race 2 saw similar conditions with a 10-15k SW breeze. The puffs were coming down randomly on the inside and incredibly shifty. I opted again for a mid line to pin start to get clear air. I was the first to tack and had Soheil to battle with as we worked our way towards Anita Rock. Luckily with some new technique Ive been using, Ive found some better angle in critical situations like this. By holding the uphaul with your front hand, you can effectively stand the rig up and add more power and increase your upwind angle. Its a hard technique to master (with only 1 hand on the boom)but once you get the hang of it, changing your angle of attack with the leading edge of the sail becomes a lot easier.
As we worked our way downwind, I made sure not to repeat the same mistake that caused me a slow rounding at the leeward mark. This time, I let Soheil gybe first and I came in hot with better speed and sailed below and past him to take control of the last leg. As we made our way towards the seawall we got knocked and knocked again on the new tack. Thinking I only had Soheil to cover to the finish, Eric was able to one tack it up to the finish (in a completely different breeze) to take the bullet. The lesson here is to always keep your eyes on your opponents. Had I known Eric had even a remote chance of squeezing in, I would have pushed harder to make the finish in 1 tack but sometimes being in the right place at the right time is all you need- as was the case for Eric.
Race 3 started with hardly enough breeze to make it across the line and only the top 3 sailors escaping. I had to tack back to starboard and was well behind at this point. I opted to take a bigger risk and sail well beyond the layline as things looked really light up at Anita. Eric rounded in front with Al and Chris just ahead of me. As we worked our way downwind, I slowly began reeling in Al and Chris but the race got abandoned and we all headed in.
With a 1-2 for the evening, I took the first race of the series with Eric and Soheil pushing hard in the top 3. It looks like the NP sails have a bit of a early advantage this year but the north guys havnt got their new sails in yet. I was happily surprised with the performance of the NP 10.7 and even more surprised how Soheil (on the same set up) improved his standings from mid fleet to pushing the top. Most of the fleet is already on their L10s with a few guys still waiting and riding their L8s. The Z fin I was using had great speed and even better angle- something I'm hoping to improve on this season.
Photos from Shawn Davis
Waterhound report