Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2012 Elvstrom Zellerbach regatta report

 This past weekend's Elevstrom-Zellerbach regatta at The St. Francis Yacht Club will be remembered  by some as the supermoon regatta. For the formula boards and kites who started later in the day during max ebb, racers got the full brunt of the San Francisco voodoo chop & 15-25k sea breeze; For the foiling moths- a smooth flood tide and low teen breeze made for equally impressive racing.

Sharing the same course as the lasers, radials & kites made for some close encounters around the race track and our formula fleet had some of the tightest racing we've had in years. We we're overlapped at almost every mark and finish and despite Xavier taking 7/8 bullets- the local SF fleet pushed pretty hard both days. Soheil showed the most consistent taking 2nd just in front of me & proved you dont need new equipment but rather to have your equipment dialed in.

The ML 10 is still a very competitive board
The Prydes rigs are still proving to be the benchmark as Xavier, Soheil and myself grabbed the top 3 spots while Al, Chris, Tom and Lyn were sailing their north rigs a bit behind.
Percey is still forging his own path on his Hansen designs.

I got some valuable feedback from sailing the 167 in the breeze.
The first day I was on the new Z F 71 S- fin but it proved to be a bit to much in the chop.
I depowered by lowering my booms but that left me in vulnerable position upwind giving up any angle I had.  Downwind the board is flying although not the most comfortable in the double chicken strap and heel cut outs on the 167.
Meanwhile Xavier on the 167w depowered a bit differently by immediately choosing to go down to a 9.0 after the 1st race and using a 61-63cm fin.
The lesson than became clear the second day was the booms had to stay high on the 167 for upwind performance. During the last race I bumped my booms back up to 90% in the boom opening vs the 60-75% I was running earlier in the day on my 9.5 and held my lane upwind quite well finishing the series with a 2nd just behind Xavier.
I never really got the chance to rail the board to look for more power as I was just trying to keep things moving in the big chop upwind. On Sunday after the 2nd race I switched down the the 67 kashy with more control. 

Both days saw conditions build from 15k up to 25k and 4 races were run back to back to back to back making for a very exhausting series. Its important to stay hydrated while on the water and the camel pack with some goo or cliff bars would have made a welcome addition. Instead the cramps set in both days 1/2 way down the downwind leg. There's nothing quite like your calf freezing up while flying downwind across the chop in the chicken strap.
Camelpack and energy bars go on the regatta check list next time!

After overstanding in the ebb in 7/8 races, I finally was the 1st to tack in the group of port tackers when we neared the layline on the last race of the series. Sure enough it looked disastrous but I got ebbed up right to the mark. 

Another golden opportunity came just when I thought I was out of the game completely reminding me again never ever give up. I blew my tack at the layline at the top mark while still in the hunt but immediate was DFL as I struggled to uphaul and clear the sail in the chop. For the next 3 legs I split tacks with the fleet ahead, took some chances and managed to just miss 3rd by a board length.

There was a lot of pleasure boats on the course all weekend with the ferries, commercial fishermen, freighters and kites to deal with. All you need to do was keep looking around and be aware of what was going to be in your path the next min or 2.  For one brief moment, I lapsed and forgot to look downwind 2 min before the start. It wasn't until about 30 sec that I realized I need to high tail it down the line to avoid being run over by a red and white ferry making his way right through our starting line and cutting the fleet in 1/2.
"Keep your eyes out of the boat" as they say!

A great warm up to an exciting season ahead.

Loscocco posted some great photos of the kites & boards available here.

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