Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 by the numbers

I try to keep track of my sessions every season with the help of twitter and daytum.  Looking back I can see how many times I used a particular sail or board or even performance in races over the course of the season. Like all data its how you use it. 

By all means, 2014 will be remember as another stellar year of windsurfing and kite boarding on the San Francisco bay with 150 windsurfing and kite boarding sessions over the past 12 months.
It was the 1st of 2-3 rebuilding years as I learned how to ride and try to get the kite race board around the course as well as have as much fun as I can on the windsurfing boards. After 25 years of windsurfing, I don't tire of it but am always exited to learn something new.

I did not meet my goal of getting around the course in time to be officially scored for the St.FYC Thursday night series with the front of the fleet on foils and sailing almost 30% faster around the course this season, it was a hard nut to crack. Part of racing is just showing up and paying your dues. 
There were plenty of crashes, burns & rescues- all very character building. There were small successes like finally making the windward mark, then the leeward mark- and finally the finish line as well as sore muscles in places I never knew had. 

Notwithstanding, I did get 100+ sessions under the golden gate windsurfing in one of my favorite places to make up for any potential loss of fun that kite boarding might kept me from having :/  88% of my sessions were on the windsurfer with the other 22% on a kite board with all but 1 session on the San Francisco Bay sailing off Crissy Field.

I'm still not hooked on kiting like I am windsurfing but old habits die hard. Sometimes it was just easier to go out a get a good session on the slalom gear than it was to get beat up on the kite course board on a windy, ebb tide raging day. 

The 89cm custom mikes lab board proved to be the most versatile in the quiver- proving itself on the formula windsurfing course in the medium to high wind as well as providing a great platform for swell riding in light to medium conditions just outside the golden gate bridge.

2014 will be remembered as the year the wind kicked in early in the season. By the end of May I already had scored 65 sessions with the majority on slalom/7.7 and 6.3 in the early spring.
The city front course was the majority of my racing this season with 6 Friday night races and 8 Thursday night races hosted by the St.FYC + 2 long distances races to Berkeley and back.

Although I missed too many Friday night races for the overall season championship, I never managed to finish outside the top 2 but the winner is always the one who shows up most and sails the most consistent. More often than none, it's not about your best races but your worst races when competing in championship or season series. Too many DNS's will always trump a few bullets for the season.

I used the Avanti 10.0 more than any other rig this season with 49 sessions under my belt.  It's got the most range of any sail in my quiver with the benefit of having 3 crew grommet positions to choose from for light, medium and high wind settings. The avanti 7.7 was the next most used sail with 36 sessions over the course of the year. The same clew design give it a tremendous range and was my go to sail to sail for most of the season. 

The majority of my kite sessions were on the ML course board and 9.0 kite (19 sessions)in mid to upper teens. The SF bay often requires a smaller kite in the summer months when it's windier and the chop becomes more difficult to deal with. In the spring and fall, my biggest 11.0 got used more (11 sessions) as the wind can be more flukier and less reliable.

In all my years of sailing, seeing a foiling gybe performed well is the most beautiful sailing maneuver I've ever witnessed. I'm in awe and can't wait till I get comfortable enough to pull that off. In all good time!

Mid September and early October saw the beginning of the fall swell arrive and for a period of just of 1 week, I scored 5 of the best days under the gate riding huge swells pumping through the golden gate, quite possibly reaffirming my love for one of the most beautiful places in the world doing one of my favorite things. I can not be more grateful to live in such a wonderful setting.

The wind left abruptly in October and November and almost all together in December where I realized the foils had the advantage once again scoring sessions while I missed out.
Nonetheless the best accomplishment of the year came in December. Despite not being water related, passing my final architectural licensing exam was better than any session of the year. I've been working on it for the past 5 years with 11 exams since 2009.

With a new foil and board forthcoming in, the next months, 2015's goals are to become proficient at foiling and get comfortable with a new discipline- and of course- not forget about windsurfing! More slalom racing is planned for the SF city front.

Onward and upward to another great season.

Below are some of the best moments from the 2004 season via twitter:







Sunday, December 14, 2014

The next chapter

Change is inevitable.
No matter how hard you try to keep things the same, there comes a time when you must move on.
The harder you resist, the more difficult the change.

Sailing classes come and go- especially windsurfers where the sport has evolved for the past 45 years.
I got my first windsurfer back in 1987, as a 12 year old, after having sailed dinghies around the mid-west and seeing a lighting fast windsurfer blaze past me.

At that point. I knew stand up sailing was for me.
Little did I know where it would lead me.

From 1992 to 2004 I campaigned the mistral one design sailing 3 Olympic trials, 4 world championships and countless local, regional and national events. I got a taste for international competition while living a nomadic lifestyle- chasing the wind at every opportunity I could get.
Good friends were made as we shared the same challenges, victories and setbacks on and off the water.

In 2000, after graduating college, I moved to San Francisco where the local fleet was transitioning to the formula board and I began the next chapter of my sailing career.  It wasn't an Olympic class but that didn't matter as we had one of the strongest race scenes in the country right in my own backyard and the gear was the fastest, most high tech thing around.
For the next 12 years, the class and our fleet grew as we hosted championship regattas on the San Francisco Bay and the fleet traveled to Florida, Texas and Hood river like a band of gypsies. I made even more friends racing across the world from remote islands off the coast of Brazil, to European lakes to magnificent Canadian rivers. The formula windsurfer fit the bill perfectly.

I reveled in the constant evolution of the sails and boards and fins but it grew too fast. Soon the gear was almost foreign to most sailors as we were sailing $1500 carbon fins, 100cm wide boards and 11m rigs and updating our kit every year. Luckily there was always a new sailor coming along to buy your gear and grow the class until it slowed.   I tried going back to one design with the advent of the RSX board but quickly realized the gear was outdated a year after it was produced.  I stated this sport as I wanted to be the fastest on the water, not just on the water!

Around 2006-7, something else began to happen. Kite boarding was becoming of age and the San Francisco local kiters were leading the charge, introducing course racing to the scene.  I was a bit skeptical at first, seeing the dangers of kiting but in constant awe of how the sport was evolving- much like windsurfing did the previous 45 years.

Soon the formula fleet and kiters began sharing the course in our long distance races and it wasn't long before the kiters got the advantage and began beating us at our own game.

The nerve!

More recently, the kite fleet began to grow while our local formula fleet began to decline. I couldn't deny it as the writing was already on the wall.

I finally took the plunge a few years ago learning how to kite in Baja with an experienced group of local kiters helping me along the way. I wasn't hooked like windsurfing but it sure was fun having other people to share the stoke.

With windsurfing, I had the best gear you could buy and could win local and national races and finish respectable at major championships. With kiting, I was still a kook, barely able to make it around the course.  The transition was harder than I imagined; more so in the sense of unlearning all those years of windsurfing.

All the meantime, the kite fleet was evolving with the introduction of foils.
I knew this time, I wouldn't be left behind.
photo credit- prerssure drop

Last month, I got the opportunity to sell a whole lot of my formula gear, which doesn't happen all too often.
So it begins, The next chapter of my sailing career- kite foiling and foil racing.

Im scared as hell but more excited than I've ever been in a long time.
The goal in 2015 is to become proficient at foiling so I can begin to be competitive on the course again. With an abundance of local racing and a strong group at Crissy field to help along the way, I'm looking forward to the next challenge.

Mind you, Im not giving up on windsurfing, just the light & medium wind formula racing which seems to be better suited for foiling anyway. Im keeping a slalom kit as well as my ml 89 & 10.0 so as not to miss anything at all.

Onward and upward!