Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sailing smarter

I've been trying to beat one of my arch rivals around the course for the last few years without much success.
He always gets me- even on my home waters.
Today it finally happened.
I was able to best him at his own game by sailing even more efficient than him.

Sometimes it's not about how much sail or board you can hold but how efficiently you can use it.

We had a small mixed fleet of formula boards & kites for the first day of racing at the St.FYC SF Classic. Most of the kite fleet was spent after 16 races over the past 4 days but a handful showed up for more racing.
I rigged both the starboard 167, 64 kashy fin and avanti 10.0 + the mikeslab 89cm board, kashy 61 & avanti 7.7. The San Francisco fleet hasn't always enforced the class rules here of 1 board & 3 sails but would rather progress the sport through trying new ideas.
I had the hybrid board & slalom sail on standby-ready to use if the breeze came up. Sure enough by race 1 it was gusting to 25k & building.
I went out with my starboard 167 & 7.7 but hadn't tried this combo yet but Xavier had been making a similar setup work very well the past few seasons.
Al & Xavier got off the line well but I couldn't quite find 5th gear in the chop. We rounded the top mark in front of the kites and I immediately gybed off with Tom to get back to the middle. Tom went down hard as we approached the leeward mark in some wicked chop while Al & Xavier were able to cross and get the advantage upwind and it stuck in that order to the finish. The avanti 7.7 was easy to handle but the starboard 167 was starting to get overpowered.
I came in and switched to the smaller board and fin and kept the 7.7.
The combo was a dream to sail. I had power, angle and speed and was not overpowered. The breeze was building to 30k while the wind swell was breaking across the bay.
I was able to put the hammer down for longer and sail more efficiently than the rest of the fleet and climbed upwind to get to the windward mark just behind the top kite. Downwind it was a wild ride, an ocean rodeo of sorts with the swell and wind sending the the fleet flying across the bay to the leeward gate. If you could avoid catastrophe- it would be a miracle!
Boards were going down left & right but I was able to keep it together and round ahead at the leeward gate behind the top 2 kites. I split tacks but the 2 kites got me in the end but was the first formula board to finish.
Race 3: same setup but windier. The gusts were coming through in the mid 30s. I was able to get a good jump on the fleet by starting strong but fumbled my 1st tack at the sea wall and let Xavier and Tom gain the advantage on port tack grind to the windward mark. I went below them with speed and rounded just behind Xavier as Tom went down on his tack. Downwind we all charged hard in probably the most trying conditions I've sailed in. My leeward foot was firmly planted in the double chicken strap and the 7.7 was pulling like a freight train. Somehow we all made it to the leeward mark at the same time but Tom left the door open for me to get inside at the rounding and I put the hammer down for the last beat. Partof the advantage of sailing a smaller board and rig are that you are able to make transitions easier and more efficiently.
With 2 kites in front of me I was grinding them down but Adam Vance on a kite board & 7m kite got the bullet as I squeaked by the 2nd kite in the last 30 seconds to the finish line.
That was enough to tie with Adam for the overall lead but after 3 races it was decided it was just to windy to race.
Up next is the 40 mile + long distance race out the gate with 18 gybe marks downwind to Berkeley and then back home.

To give you an idea of how windy it was on Saturday on bay- guys were sailing with 3.7's wound in Berkley where it was 40k+
Windsurfing SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, BERKELEY, June 8th 2013 from alex d on Vimeo.

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