Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spring training

2012 has kicked off to be a great year so far for wind in the SF Bay. With just a few powder boarding days in the late winter storms- the afternoon westerly thermals have kicked in earlier than previous years.

To date Ive got almost 40 sessions this season & sailed for the first time in Tomalas Bay- what a treat to sail the big swell that comes in off the pacific in a cold march morning.

 Despite no mavericks competition this season, the swell has been pumping through the gate all winter and spring. Ive had some unbelievable rides in head high to double overhead sessions just outside the golden gate and at fort point this spring. I took it it a bit too far and had to be rescued for only the 3rd time in 12 years of sailing here. My mast broke just at the south tower in a big 4k ebb. By the time I managed to self rescue and get things situated on the deck of my board, I was already 1/2 mile out the gate. Sup'ing my formula board with a broken mast section was not cutting it so I gladly accepted a ride in from a commercial fishing boat returning from their ocean run.

The fog returned in vengeance this spring with a few full white out sessions navigating by the sound of the 2 fog horns at the mid span and south tower of the golden gate bridge. 2 horns every 20 seconds for the mid span horn and 1 horn every 40 seconds at the south tower puts horns at every 20 seconds.
If there's more than that- watch out.
5 long blast means you're in the way of a freighter and he cant change his course!
Without even knowing at the time, the biggest freighter ever to enter under the golden gate bridge came in while I was sailing in the city front. It appeared out fog with an escort of 5 tugs and several coasties.

The spring, Ive gotten the chance to dial in my new mikes lab slalom board in a variety of conditions from fully lit in 25-30k+ &; square voodoo chop to flying across a perfectly flat flood tide with a 48cm fin at 2x the wind speed. Its amazing what that one board does. Ive since gotten rid of my previous 2 slalom boards as its taken the place of both of them. Like any mikes lab board, it feels so comfortable to gybe once you find the right placement of your weight in the turns. Ive found a sweet spot around 7.0-7.8 and a 39-48cm fin range.

Ive taken some of my older formula fins  and given them a new life by repotting hem as slalom fins. Above 40 cm, carbon fins make for a more stable foil and don't breakdown as fast as the g-10 fins. The F4 CRAD fins I also tried were super powerful ideal for light to medium winds and adding the power of an extra  meter of sail.

Also new this spring is the introduction of the starboard 167 into my program.
Here's my thinking- tons of r&d can't be wrong.
Starboard has one of the biggest teams with the top riders on. Their job is to test and develop boards. My goal is to sail it this season against the rest of the SF Bay fleet - who will be sailing the ML12 board and choose the best board for the 2013 season.
We've got the chance to host the 2013 Formula World Championships and I want to have the best equipment possible for the venue.

Ive done some minor adjustments and tweaking but the board is really sailing well out of the box.
It's been a bit of a learning curve to sail that board as its got much more vee in the mid section of the board than what Ive ridden before. As a result you need to really sail the board railed up to take advantage of it's longer rails but once there- its got its own 5th gear. This is harder to do as it becomes windier and choppier but with some more time on the water, Im hoping to find a sweet spot in the rough conditions the SF Bay can deliver.
The other big difference is the rear deck layout at the chicken straps. The deck is recessed so you can apply more fin pressure when you're in the chicken straps off the breeze.

After a few times out, I noticed I wasnt getting any fin pressure off the wind in the chicken strap despite the inverted foot ramps. I mounted the straps as skewed as I could to get the position I was looking for but it turned out the spacing between the rear 2 inserts was way shorter than what I was used to. A quick measurement of the L10 gave me 8-9" between the back inserts. The 167 had 5"
I had Zajicek add 2 new inserts a few inches outboard to get some additional leverage. I also had Mike chamfer the fin bold holes at the deck of the board so to let the fin screws sit flush with the top of the board- much easier on the soles of your feet when getting in the chicken strap!

I'm not entirely convinced the heel cut outs are beneficial as I'm not getting that DDW feeling when I go from the outside strap to the chicken strap. My plan is to fill the void with a temporary hard foam inlay and see if it makes any difference and at what cost.
You never know if you don't try...

For fins this season, Ive got the same approach.
Test as many as I can and go with the best.
So far, not much has been able to beat the consistency of a good kashy fin until recently.

In the lighter and flatter conditions, the Z fins form Estonia seem to have better top end speed and angle. Ive been using both a 71 and 68 F models with a S- stiffness. The 71 performs really well but I havnt been able to find the conditions for the 68 to shine just yet. Ive had limited success with smaller fins but recently tried a 64 and was amazed how easy it was to control in the big breeze and chop.

After 2 seasons of running just 2 sails in my formula quiver, Im beginning to question my own logic. I choose the 9.5/10.7 combo because I wanted to simplify things- 1 sail for high wind, one sail for (SF) light wind. (I say SF light wind as we dont really begin racing till 12k here as opposed to Socal, Florida or Europe light conditions where you'll need a 12.0 to stay alive.)
What this leaves me with is situations where Im over or under powered more often than if I had a 10.0 in my quiver. Almost 50% of out racing is done in 10.0 conditions and Im lacking a rig that shines in those conditions.
Ideally a 3 rig formula quiver in SF would consist of

9.0-9.4 for high wind, OP'ed conditions. Match up with a 54-66 cm fin for more control

10.0- the bread and butter of any SF Formula quiver. Can use either high wind or light winds fins as conditions dictate to power up or depower.

10.7-11.0 Light wind to medium wind rig with more powerful fin to drive board. Must be lightweight and easy to pump!

Ive only had the chance to line up once for racing this season (missing the 1st calcup and 1st friday night race for RC) and was caught jumping the gun quite a bit in last weeks friday night race with 3 OCS's out of 5 races, Either I need to practice my starts more or the RC needs better corrective vision!

Tom Purcell USA-13 showing how to take the bullet in the 1st friday night race of the year.
Photo Credit: Chris Ray  www.crayivp.com
Friday April 13th city front racing from the @StFYC race deck

The goal this season is to get as much time on the water as possible to get comfortable with the best equipment I have access to. 
Up next is this weekends Elvestrom Zellerbach regatta at the St. Francis YC with kites, moths and other high performance dinghies. I cant wait to line up with the moths to see who's faster.
May and June get into the groove with a few Calcups, friday night races and the Bay Challenge.
For the first time this year we will run a CISA clinic for junior windsurfers to be held on June 18-20.
For more info- contact the race office at raceoffice@stfyc.com
July brings the SF Classic, the Formula North American Champs and also the US Windsurfing champs later in the month in the gorge with a big focus on slalom as its the IFCA North American slalom champs.

Im hoping my body will allow me to get through July as August has the Formula World Champs in Latvia. It's on my wish list but so are alot of other things this summer (kiting included.)
Stay tuned, Ill post results, reports and evaluations of the equipment I am using.

And yes- for those doubters (myself included) Ive made it almost 1/2 through the ARE exams and hopefully by the end of next summer Ill be a registered architect!

1 comment:

Matt said...

wow, quite a story with floating past the bridge.

Fishing catch of the day: 6 rock fish, 2 flounders and 1 windsurfer. That must have been quite a site for those on board.