Sunday, July 26, 2015

3 day bender on the city front

Thursday - July 23rd: beer can kite racing in 'fukitsnukin' conditions.'

25-30k is not helping my kite foiling campaign one bit, but I make do with what I can and head out on the surfboard & 7m kite to get more comfortable in the big breeze. I survive the night but don't get anywhere close to getting around the course. Its blowing the dogs off their chains. Foiling in anything over 20 knots still comes with unexpected results at best and bodily or equipment injury at the worst.   Do no harm is my mantra.
I've gotten about a dozen or so sessions in 25k+ conditions & direction board this season and am getting more comfortable kiting in strong winds. Like most things, it's time on the water that gives the most opportunity for improvement but I really got back the basics this week with some kite lessons from Gebi on the beach. It's amazing what a few hours of learning better kite control on the beach can do for your riding.I'm down looping now through my light wind gybes and pulling more from the center lines to power the kite.
Soon it will be time to face my demons downwind on the foil but for now it's building the basics up on the surfboard in the big breeze. I got 2 hours on the water perfecting some new skills and building up my confidence. I got in to watch the last race of the night in the StFYC BlueRush Thursday Night Series as the fleet was on their 6-7m foil kites and foil board in 25-30k making it look all too easy. The international foiling fleet is arriving slowly with the top dogs already here for next weeks Foil Gold Cup  In all good time, I slowly remind myself.

Friday July 24th: St.FYC Slalom windsurf racing.
This was the 3rd Friday night slalom race of the season with another evening of big breeze in the city front course. I'm stoked just to have gotten to the starting line this week as my board was in 2 pieces at the last slalom event in June. Local board builder extraordinaire Mike Zaijeck was able to work his magic and reconstruct everything back together again. While she won't be winning any beauty contest, she's still fast as hell and just 1/2 pound heavier. #inmikewetrust

The high wind course was set with 5 gybes from Anita rock to a finish off the St.FYC race deck.
The key to slalom racing is getting a good start and coming out of the 1st mark in good position with speed. If you can stay out of trouble the rest of the 2 min race, it's all good.

Race 1: I sailed conservatively knowing the fleet would make mistakes and I could capitalize on them. I may not be the fastest in the pack but making your gybes and not swimming around the marks goes along way to getting to the finish line in as little time as possible.
Al, CRad & Soheil all led pack on the 1st race but eventually they all went down and I was able to pick up a position at every rounding and grabbing the 1st bullet if the night.

Race 2 saw CRad  in good position again as he kept the lead to the 3rd gybe mark where he took a wide gybe and I was able to sneak inside with a tighter rounding.
Always be ready to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.

By race 3 Xavier had shown up and was in full control with better board speed and nailing his starts. I had to up my game if I wanted to win. I rounded every mark just behind him for the next 2 races and never got any opportunity to even get my foot in the door.

Race 5-the breeze was still up to 18-22k and I was well powered in the 7.7 avanti m-2 rig & 42cm z fin. The fleet was early for the start and Xavier took the bait going over early. I seized the opportunity and led around the course getting the last bullet of the night and winning the evening.
Huge thanks to the St.FYC the the volunteers who mad the event happen.

Saturday July 25th- Crissy Field Slalom Series.
The 3rd Crissy Field Slalom Series of the season went off in epic conditions with 22 A and B fleet windsurfers taking to San Francisco the city front course in a building breeze and tide. By the last race it was blowing 25-30k+ with big ugly voodoo chop all over the course-perfect for slalom racing!

I was still on a high from winning the previous night and went in with the same strategy but with 22 boards on the line it would require a different approach. We ran the A and B fleets together so as to get more racing in.  PRO Robbie Dean set a 5 buoy down wind course from Anita Rock to the H beam set just west of the St.FYC with 10 Heats run from 3pm to 6pm

Race 1-I rig the avanti 7.7 and 45cm F4 fin and ML slalom board  rigged for some extra power but I didn't quite have the top end to get off the line well. As a result I was stuck in the middle of the fleet and got took out by someone not quite up to par on the mark rounding rules. While it's good to know the rules, it's better to avoid the collision. Sailing is always faster than swimming. I take my 1st throw out of the day on the 1st race.

Race 2 - out of the corner of my eye I saw a few people go down at the start near the pin end and immediately realize I'll have a few less to deal with at the 1st mark!
If you can come out with speed and power you can always gain a few positions here. I managed a good gybe and powered over 1-2 guys who took it wide but Jason Voss  had a good lead and control of the race baring any disaster. Chris Radkowski and I battled hard but I was beginning to feel the effects of the big fin. I couldn't quite put the hammer down on the reaches as Chris stayed in front of me to the finish and I get a 3rd.

Race 3- Xavier Ferlet and Jason Voss came out if the start with great speed and form. If I was going to get them, I would need to be a bit more aggressive but with already too big of gear for the conditions I had to ease off and maintain some control just to stay alive. That was enough for a 3rd place again as the pecking order was begging to get established.

Race 4- things were really starting to heat up with the wind gusting to 25k+ and the sea state getting aggressive. Soheil and Jean had a great race and maintained their place in the top 4 as I had to settled for 5th just behind the top pack.

Race 5. Hot of race 4, Soheil had the best start and mark roundings and maintained good control on the smaller 90l slalom board and 7.0 rig. He got his first bullet of the day as Xavier and I settled into the top 3.

We got a 30 min break and a chance to rig down. I switched to the 42cm z fin, added more downhaul, moved my booms down and laced my outhaul to the inner most position for best control. While I was still op'ed in 25-30k and big chop, I had better control. However there was no question, I would have been better off on smaller gear- just not motivated enough to rig another sail. This series is about finding the fun in racing again.

Race 6- Xavier and Jason got a good jump on the fleet and maintained control to the finish and I was able to hold off the rest of the fleet for another 3rd by sailing conservatively and picking up 1 board at each mark with good gybes and staying upright. The pecking order was beginning to  get cemented, so it seemed.

Race 7- The conditions were getting more challenging with the chop playing a major factor. Jean and Xavier had an epic battle in the leading positions on the last and most difficult leg to the finish with huge mounds of chop and gusty wind off the beach. Jean pushed Xavier deep and he responded by climbing above and the cat and mouse game continued till Xavier went down just before the finish in in epic fashion burying his nose and cartwheeling through the water but not before 5 sailors were able to pass him to the finish line just 100' away.
Jean took his first bullet of the day while I managed a solid 2nd in from of Jason in 3rd. Sometime all you can do is just let the others make mistakes and seize the opportunity.

Race 8-9. It's all a blur as it was so damn windy, choppy and full of confusion on the course with the full range of kiters and rec sailors acting like obstacles at every mark and reach. Not to mention- there was an incoming ocean race with 30-60'ers raging into the bay under spinnaker right through the course. I had to settle for 5th both races as it was getting hard just to get around the course without a major incident.  Jason sealed the deal for 2nd overall with 2 bullets as he looked in most control in those conditions as Xavier did his best for 2nd. Not surprisingly, Olan pulled off another solid race with a 3rd place on his wave gear and 5.0 showing it not about what you ride but how you ride it.

Race 10-  One last race to test the fleet. I gave it everything I had threading the fine line between control and sending it to the point of explosion. Just a few racers were left as conditions turned on more than most could handle.
Racers were going down hard in the last leg to the finish as the chop turned into 4-6' breaking waves and the wind was up to 30k+. Olan again managed to put the petal to the metal with the smaller gear and was gybing in full control. I surprised myself staying in 1 piece and ended up 2nd as Jason was breathing down my neck the whole race but I never gave him chance to make the pass.
Huge shout out to Olan for showing us its not about what you ride- but how you ride it!

All in all, some of the best 2 days of slalom racing we've had in awhile. Overall 3rd for the day behind Xavier in 1st and Jason in 2nd. Huge congrats to the rest of the fleet showing great form both on and off the water. Results can be found here:

A huge thanks to Robbie Dean and Jessica Barhydt  for their stellar effort on the water. You guys exceed our expectations every time!

The fleet was then treated to a post racing BBQ and awards on the beach- but with a new twist. Instead of giving the best awards to the top 3, the back of the fleet was awarded the best shwag donated from Ultra Nectar Clothing company and wind anemometers form iwindsurf.

A huge thank to the series sponsors for making this inaugural season happen: 101 Surf Sports, Adam Darriau Building and Design, Aerotech, Alamo Square SeaFood Grill, BlueRush Boardsports, Boardsports California, Fanatic Windsurfing, North Windsurfing, F4 Fins, iwindsurf, Ronstan, Sailing Anarchy, sb Design, Sports Basement, Ventana Windsports, Streetsailing, Ultra Nectar, WC Magnetics, Soheil Zahedi IT Consultant, Sandy Point Windsurfing & StepStone

I was so spent that I decided to skip Sunday's SF Classic race, one of my all time favorite long distance race so that I can recover in time for next weeks bender- 4 more days of kite foil racing in the Gold Cup hosted by the St.FYC from July 30-August 2nd.  I'm in no way ready for an event like this but all you can is try and hope you learn something and have fun in the process.

Photo credit: Eric Simonson- Pressure Drop