Friday, October 31, 2003

2004 Olympic Trials

First day of the Olympic Trails today with 9 men competing for one spot on the Olympic Sailing team. Today's conditions were very challenging - light and shifty winds. This is not my best condition as I am the heaviest sailor here at 170 lbs. The course was set just south of the sailing center near the least shore of the river to accommodate the east winds. By the time the one o'clock start rolled around the winds were up to 6 or 7 knots max, and even less in the lulls. My pre race strategy was to go right as there looked to be more wind there as I was sailing the course before the start, but with 20 minutes to go, the puffs starting coming in stronger from the left side. My start was not so good and I was forced to tack over and go right immediately. The rest of the fleet was playing the left middle as I banged the right corner. It looked like I might come out well but as I got to the starboard layline and got another left shift - exact what I didn't need and rounded the top mark in 7th. Downwind it really got light and I didn't make any progress on the guys in front of me. On the 2nd upwind, most of the fleet went to the left side again and all I could do was follow. The light guys ahead were starting to gain as I was hoping just to maintain my position in this race and use it as my throw out later in the regatta. Not much changed the rest of the race as I struggled to keep railing upwind but made some gains downwind with some powerful pumping technique. Not the best way to start the series with a 7th place!
We had a 30-minute break in between races and I got mentally prepared for another tough battle, as the wind was just as light. Luckily later in the race it did pick up some but no more than 10 -12 knots. I managed a better start near the pin end just under the crowd and worked my way to the left side and got to the top mark just behind the top group in 8th - but within striking distance. Downwind the wind again was going left and it was almost a one-gybe run. Back upwind I played the middle left but didn't really gain on anyone. Actually I felt pretty slow as I must have had weeds on my fin. It was only on the last downwind by catching the puff from behind that I caught up over the 2 guys just in front of me. I was pumping as hard as I ever have and thought they would head me up as I passed them to windward but I had much better speed that I just rolled them and was gaining on the guy Alf in 5th place but too little, too late as 2 minutes later I crossed the finish line in 6th. A better effort but still not where I need to be. After the first day of racing I am in 7th place - just 3 points out of 5th and a few more out of 4th. Peter Wells is in 1st; Kevin Jewitt; 2, Dan Kerkoff, 3; Ben Barger, 4; Alf Imperato, 5; Phil Meuller, 6; and myself 7th. Tomorrow's forecast is 10-20 knots so a better day is expected for me.
Day 2 of the trials was somewhat better for me. I was able to sail in the game more and was in the front of the fleet but failed to finish the same way I was sailing. I made some small mistakes that defiantly set me back but did take advantage of the breeze and sailed smart. We had a decent breeze today from 16-18 knots directly from the north down the river. The course was set to the east of the inter-coastal waterway, near the east shore of the river so it was impossible to really take advantage of the right side. Luckily that wasn't the favored side, as the left was looking better as I sailed the course before the race. Actually I observed 2 other guys sailing the course (one up the right side, one up the left side) before the race and noted that the left side was indeed favored.
Again my start was pretty bad. I was lined with a nice hole to leeward and pumped off the line well but fought to get into my harness and lost the distance the leeward and the Dan popped out in front of me. All I could do was sail in his bad air to get to the left side of the course. A few other sailors peeled off and there were 3 of us headed to the left corner. As we tacked back on the port layline we looked good headed in the leeward mark. I rounded the top mark in 6th and was closing in on the guy in front of me on the top reach but never really got him the rest of the race as I held my position sailing somewhat conservatively. I didn't feel like I had as much advantage downwind in the breeze as I did yesterday going track forward with the powerful pumps. Once back upwind though I was able to really sail higher and really closed the distance on Peter going upwind on starboard. Unfortunately the legs were quite short and I wasn't able to capitalize on it long enough to really make a difference. Back downwind, the fleet all continued off the windward mark on starboard to the middle of the inter-coastal and gybed directly onto the layline. I thought I might catch up some here, as I was pumping pretty hard. Overall I finished 6th. I just need to get a better start and I will be in the game more.
Race 2: breeze holding out at 6-18. Left side favored. I went for a start just above Peter and below Phil but didn't pull the trigger soon enough and immediately had to go below Peter and start to foot. This wasn't the best way to start but I was going in the right direction at least. I sailed to the left side again and rounded the top mark in 5th, really close to the 2 guys just in front of me. On the top reach we all held our places and got somewhat more spread out on the downwind leg. USA 111 was just in front of me within reaching distance. All I needed to do was really be aggressive on the downwind with my pumps and sail smart upwind and I could catch him. USA 68 was far enough behind me that I wasn't really worried about covering. We rounded the bottom mark and again the fleet was playing the left middle up the beat. I felt I was gaining somewhat upwind but again the legs were pretty short to really take advantage of it. I was kind of settling into my position thinking I wasn't going to get the guy in front of me but them down wind, one of the leaders fell on a gybe and another opportunity presented itself to catch up. Less than a few minutes to go in the race and I was pumping hard to catch the guy in front of me. Not enough time for me to really make my move and I finished in 5th - getting better, one position at a time. Overall I felt I had a better day today and sailed smarted but just didn't nail the start to really get up there and take control. Tomorrow's forecast is for the same wind so expect a better flight from me. After 2 days of racing I am in 6th place- looking to move up to 4th by tomorrow!
Day 3 of the trials got windier. We stated out with 18-20 knots but by the second race the puffs were defiantly in the mid to upper 20's. A lot of my success came with capitalizing on other people's shortcoming. A few people got slammed upwind and including myself for a brief dunking upwind after the start of the second race. I was hoping to get better starts today but only really had one half way decent start in the second race. Both finishes were extremely close and I narrowly missed getting a 3rd and a 4th and had to settle for a 4th and a 5th. This put me a few points closer into 5th but the real star was Ben who got 2 bullets (1st places) today. I have to really give him credit as he really got ahead and beat the rest of us by at least 30 seconds. I started just above him the first race and he continued pumping off the line and really popped out in front of the fleet. I had a bit better angle than him and was starting to climb but he had much better speed going up the first leg. Dan was right to windward of me and I managed to pinch him off so I could tack and get over to the right side. The 3 guys who went right earlier got a nice lift over on the right side and crossed in front of me on the starboard layline. I got to the windward mark in 5th and started to gain downwind with some pretty powerful pumps in the puffs. I rounded the bottom gate and went to the left middle again and was a bit closer to Kevin who just crossed be on starboard on the layline. Downwind we held our places but I think he slowed down on the mark rounding and I was able to cross him upwind. At the top mark he was in front of me as he capitalized on the right shift but I powered over him on the top reach and was ahead going downwind. It felt like I was gaining but just at the leeward mark he gybed and got the inside mark rounding and I had to give him room. In hindsight I should have gone a little bit deeper and slower to prevent him from getting in there. We pumped to the finish line but he was able to hold on and I finished a close 5th.
Race 2 was windier and the puffs stronger. I got off the line cleanly with Ben just to leeward and slightly ahead and Kevin above - between the 2 I was getting sandwiched. Kevin couldn't hold my angle but I didn't have room to get any speed with Ben right below and ahead. I held out for as long as I could but decided to tack away to get clear air. A few seconds later I got slammed to windward but water started out of it and lost maybe 10 seconds. In retrospect I should have had my booms a bit longer to make my sail flatter. Around the top mark I was in 4th behind Ben, Peter, and Alf. I held this position all the way downwind and went up the right side with Peter as the other 2 went left. It was an even split as we rounded the top mark in the same order and distance. Meanwhile I noticed a several dark clouds approaching from the right side and decided to go right again upwind. It paid off and Peter and I both rounded closer to Alf in second. Downwind he continued off on starboard but we both gybed off and headed towards the clouds. Peter got to the wind first but we bit gained a lot on Alf who sailed towards the other side. When we came to the leeward mark Peter crossed in front of Alf and I was close behind. Alf stumbled on his gybe and I was closing in but rounded inside me at the mark and had the upper hand to the finish - another close race but I finished 4th.
Overall it was a better day but I just have to start doing better on the starts so I am not playing catch up the entire race. I had much better angle than most of the guys, as I was able to pinch off a few and really gain a lot when I was in clear air and a long tack. Tomorrow's forecast is for 15-20. Another chance to move up!
It was another tough day on the water today - 5 days of sailing are taking their toll. We had 10-12 knots from the north in the first race today with shifty conditions. The second race slowed way down to 6-8 knots and many lulls below 5 knots. I did manage to get off the line cleanly in both races today but still not sail a good first beat. During the hour before the race things looked decent on the right side, as there was a shift off the land but more wind on the left. The key would be to stay in the breeze. In race 1, I got off the line smoothly in mid line and sailed towards the breeze to the left. At the same time most of the fleet went right as there was a decent puff coming down the shore. I had to tack a long header back to the right side and duck several transoms along the way. I arrived I at the windward mark in 8th and caught one board downwind and with Peter processed up the left side again towards the breeze. This would be the ticket as I passed 2 more boards and was working on 4th place. Down wind I again tied to stay in the breeze gibing and pumping the whole way down the course. I was just trying to cover the 3 boats behind me up the next beat and preceded the play the shifts conservatively up the middle. Once I got around the top mark again I really took off in a puff on the top reach and was catching up to Alf in front of me. I split gybes with him downwind and was much closer at the leeward mark but just not enough time to pass him on the last leg. Finishing in 5th puts me now in 1 point out of 5th place 11 out of 4th.
Race 2: Things really lightened up for the second race today. We were still sailing the double inner loop course and it took 47 minutes of pumping to finish. I really didn't feel in the game as my light air speed wasn't there and I fell back to 7th and stayed there the whole race. It was disappointing but I knew I couldn't stop pumping as things might change as they always do in these light and shifty races. You can never count your self out but after 3 laps I wasn't going to catch up with the guy in front of me and just covered the 2 guys behind me for the remainder of the race. Finishing 7th put me back a point again from 5th and am now in the same spot as where I began the day today - 2 points behind Dan. Tomorrow's forecast is for stronger winds 15-20 knots and I am looking forward to some track back conditions where I can use my weight to its best advantage.
From bad to worse. I had one of those days today where nothing seemed to go right - even the forecast for 15-20 was off today, way off! It was 5-10 knots on the course today. Both starts I failed to get off the line and struggled right from the beginning. I couldn't seem to get any off the shifts today and even in the puffs my board speed was just not there. I tried clearing my blades several times through out the race in case I had weeds but to no prevail. It was only after the race ended that I flipped over my board and found a 6 foot long piece of plastic wrapped around my centerboard. I tried to forget about it but race 2 went even worse. It was light, very light and the puffs avoided me like the plague. I managed to catch up some downwind with powerful pumps but lost it again upwind in the light stuff. My finishes of 6 and 7 today put me back 4 points behind Dan and with 4 races left in the series, I will have to beat him every race to beat him overall.

There was light wind today on the course and the race committee kept us onshore until 2:30. Once we went on the water, the wind never got above 5 or 6 knots and racing was cancelled for the day at 3:30. The first start will be at 12 tomorrow and they will try to get in 3 races if possible. I am still 4 points out of 5th so I will make a big push tomorrow for some strong races.

We started today at noon in a 8-10 knot breeze with an incoming tide with the plan to do 3 races if possible. That's what I needed to get a head of Dan but it turns out he was the better sailor in the light breeze and he ended up 4 points ahead of me at the end of the regatta. We had quite a battle the regatta back and forth for 5th place- defiantly out of the top battle between Ben and Peter but that's what makes regatta so fun- the competition through out the fleet - over an 8 day regatta you really get to know the sailors who are most near you, their strengths and weaknesses as well as yours!
Overall, Peter was the best sailor among us all and will be representing the U.S. in next years Olympics in Athens. Ben was next, then Kevin, Alf, Dan, myself, Phil, Mark and Fenn.
The first race I failed to get off the line I the front row and struggled up the first beat. Once behind I just should have taken some risk and separated from the fleet but the right side just looked more favorable. That's one of the biggest lessons I learned here: you have to take risk to get ahead, but once there its really important to cover the fleet. The saftest place in osellating winds are up the middle of the course and that's where I failed to go and lost out to Dan, Phil and Alf who were just infront of me during the race. I finished in 7th right behind Dan.
In the next race, I got off the line and immediately tacked over to go to the right side, Both Kevin and I got over there and were up to the top mark in 4th and 5th. If I could hold out to the end of the race and Dan was 7th I would be one point behind him and only needed 1 more race to beat him. Downwind I kept the pace but failed to consilidate on the upwind leg and let the other 2 get too far to the right and pick up the next shift. I was able to get Dan at the end but the RC didn't want to do a 3rd race for the day so that's was the end of the regatta. So overall it was 6th place for me- not bad considering 6 out of the 8 days it was marginal track back conditions. The 2 days we did have wind, I was in the hunt.
Regatta post mortem
1,) Starts: overall my starts went good at all. I wasn't able to get off the line with speed. Then I would fall back into dirty air and be catching up from the first beat on. The few good starts I did have in the breeze, I got off the line, found my lane and went off with the same speed or better angle. Once you start to get bad air its generally better to tack off and find a clear lane rather to fall behind right away in the game.
2.) Pre starting: check the line, wait at the pin end on port to someone on starboard at the boat comes across close-hauled. Arrange to test line with partner.
3. Sail the first beat with someone and one board goes one way for 2 min, the other to the other side, tack back at same time. This should tell you what side of the course is favored at that time. If you can't find a partner, watch to see if other people are doing this, especially sailors who tune up with each other.
4. Get a sight on the line wherever possible. With this you will have confidence to jump out in a mid line sag.
5.Sail all out, all the time. You never know what will happed to the guy just in front of you, if he will fall or make mistake.
6. Never give up. No matter how far out of the race you think you are, things happen, holes appear, shifts happen on one side of the course and not the other. You can never count your self out
.7. When you can shut the door on your opponent, do it. Take advantage of their weaknesses. Exploit their faults. , If they can't point for instance, squeeze them out early.
8. Cover when you ahead.
9 Most likely you wont beat someone by following him or her to one side of the course. Split tacks if necessary when behind but don't obviously do the wrong thing just because the rest of the fleet is doing the opposite.

10. In shifty conditions, sail the middle of the course.
11. Make sure you are prepared for everything. Look at the weakest thing in your entire program and try to fix it. Have spare equipment ready. Replace lines, hardware or anything that can break.
12. Be aware of current around the course. Before the race measure the effects of the current at different places on the course. At the start, the windward mark, both sides of the course. When and where does it change? How will affect you by going to one side of the course or another. 0 usually upwind you will have to foot or can pinch if the current is one side of your nose.
13. Sail you own race. Don't be worried about any individual sailor in the fleet. The pecking order is established early. Don't subscribe to the idea that one sailor is always better than another sailor. Sailors make choices in races that affect their outcome. Any sailor is capable of winning a race if they are prepared with the right equipment, mind set and information about the wind, current and knowledge of what the wind will do.
14. Read the sailing instructions. Know them in and out.

15. Draw course diagrams on your sail if there are many
16. Get sticker of international flags and codes on sail.
17. Have enough water on the course as well as power snacks.

18. Always have clear air.

19. If you are close to an opponent in points for a series, know what you have to do to beat him. Determine the number of sailors you need to out between your self and him.

20. Details count. Racing is all about one little thing after another, whether it be making fast transitions, to sanding your board, having minimal drag, maintaining the right form.

21. Eat a good breakfast before the race. Make sure you have enough energy for the races.
22. Stay positive. A bad attitude will lead to poor decision-making.
23. Keep it simple. Don't have extra stuff on your board, rig, sails and body that slow you down and can be replaced with some more efficient.
24. Keep in mind that you're doing this for fun. Sailing competitions are a game. You should leave their outcome on the course and not get worry about their results back on shore. Don't associate your results with who you are.
25.Try to think about what will happen 2 steps ahead of the next move. Think ahead and pro-act rather than react.
26. No matter what you do, do it with your full effort, don't just give a half ass effort to make the gesture - this applied to everything in life from littlest detail to overall broad plan.

27. On your way out to the course, as well as while your presailing the course keep your eyes of the boat. The other boats may tell you or reconfirm things you already know or need to confirm. Which side of the course is favored?28. Avoid the big bummers. Don't take risk you can't afford. Avoid catastrophe at all cost.29. Always are prepared to change things. If you are going slow, find out why. Right before regatta, I found sail range to be much smaller than I actually thought and sailed my sail much flatter than I did the previous weeks before. The same thing with the harness lines in Cadiz.

30. Change gears when ever conditions change.

31. Learn to be flexible with your plans. Things change and you should be capable of changing your plan once things change

32. Keep your eyes out of the boat and on the course and competitors. Keep an eye out and know where everyone is - before and after the start as well as upwind and downwind.
33. learn to keep pressure on the foils, especially the fin. You need to tell the foils what to do, i.e. by railing the board you want stall out as easily in the lulls and the pressure will remain on the foils.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

2003 IMCO Worlds- Cadiz Spain

Day 1 of the 2003 World Championship. First a few notes about the great venue. We are having our world championships with the 10 other Olympic classes. It is an incredible venue we are at with approximately 1800 sailors. Are there 120 IMCO men and 75 IMCO women but there are just as many in the other classes – the fleets are huge. It is really amazing to have so many talented sailors in one place at one time.

“Les Ventes” has finally arrived bringing 20-30 knots of offshore breeze. The puffs were coming from the right as well the incoming tide. The fleet was stated in 2 groups so we had 60 men on the line for each start. I got stuck in the 2nd row at the start but stuck to the left side of the course. There was a big left shift near the shore as our windward mark was set a ¼ mile off shore in puffy shifty conditions. I came into the mark with speed approximately in the middle of the fleet, rounding in a big pack. Downwind I didn’t quite have the same angle and seemed to loose a few boards. Back upwind I stuck to the left side because it seemed I could hold my lane on starboard. On the top reach I was able to pass a few more boards and managed to finish 35th out of 60.

Race 2: I started in the middle towards the pin end but failed to pull the trigger early enough and got beat off the line. At the upwind mark, I went to gybe and buried by nose and lost the rig to leeward. From that point it was catch up and I finished 43rd

Day 2 saw similar conditions with the wind building 20-25knots. I got a second row start and immediately tacked over to find a lane and made my way to the right side. I tacked a little bit below the layline and got a great lift coming in. It looked like I might make it but there was a left shift and a drop of velocity the closer I got to the windward mark. The guys who went left were coming in strong. On the top reach I managed to catch a few guys but really blew it as I carved too deep on my gybe and really lost it. Confidence is an important part of racing and I was thinking about it too much. There went the middle of the fleet sailing by as I uphauled my sail! Down at the leeward mark I was on the outside of several boats coming into the mark at once so I took a wide turn with speed and really foot off to the right side. Downwind I gybed a bit too early and got caught behind a puff. Although it seemed like I sailed a decent race, the fall at the top put me way back in 49th.

The 2nd race I went right again off the line and gained rounding the top mark in mid fleet but downwind didn’t play the shifts all to well and finished 44th.

Upwind my speed seemed good but perhaps trying to squeeze out too much angle. A better sailing day than yesterday but results didn’t show it.

The breeze was a bit lighter than the previous days but building to 20 knots by race 2 There were big shifts to be found near the windward mark from both the left and the right, so it would be a gamble to get to the layline too early. In race 1 I immediately tacked over and got a clear lane to the right side where I tacked to understand the mark but still got a 20 degree shift and came into the top mark with a group, all sailing with our tracks back. I immediately gybed and got back to the left side downwind in pretty good position. I still didn’t have the same angle downwind as it seemed I wasn’t pumping as hard as the others. I again rounded the bottom mark with a big pack and was forced to the outside where I ended up footing and making my way to the right side. Upwind I really felt in the groove and rounded the top mark in 28th just behind my teammate Ben. The wind really shut off on the top reach as we went track forward. I gybed immediately after the mark to get any new breeze that was coming but went too deep track forward as the wind wasn’t there yet. A group of 10-15 boards came planning over me as I was just outside the new breeze that was coming in. I managed to get track back and start going and by the time I got to the bottom mark the entire fleet had ridden the puff down and there was the biggest group of boards at one mark rounding I have ever seen. One more reach to the finish – another 1 minute of pumping but with 40 boards making their way to the finish. The only way to go was up to get clear air and I crossed the line with 10 other sailors. How the Race Committee ever got the finishes would have been a miracle and I ended up 46th. Not the result I wanted but I was really sailing a better race.

Race 2: Not a good start at all as I had to get 3 tacks to finally get clear air and a lane to the right -middle. Upwind I was playing the shifts in the middle trying to protect the right side. This worked but I again lost a few boards downwind as I wasn’t sailing the same angle as most around me. The 2nd upwind was again really shifty but I played it safe and really didn’t gain or lose anyone around me. I finished 41st but think I could have been in the low 30’s if I would have worked harder downwind.

Tomorrow is the lay day and the fleets will be broken up into gold and silver according to the positions after 3 days of racing

Day 5, IMCO World Championships, Cadiz, Spain. I was a bit frustrated over my results in the past few days but after yesterday I had a chance to rest and really think about things better and put it all in perspective. This is a chance to challenge myself-pushing myself to my personal limits- not basing any personal satisfaction on whom I beat or how I finish in the fleet.

Today things were a bit lighter that the previous days with a 15-20 knot off shore breeze. The wind was very gusty and oscillating throughout the course. I did manage to sail a much better race all together with a clearer head and no expectations. I also lengthened my harness line after my coach’s repeated suggestions and was able to really keep the rig upright upwind- improving my pointing, something that really gave me trouble the previous week of racing here.

Downwind things also changed for the better as I was sailing near the top of the fleet and working much harder to keep my position. My downwind angle was on par at least half of the time and I pumped more and tried to stand the rig up right as much as possible.

Race 1: Not off the line as well as I wished but managed to hold a lane and tacked over about a quarter up the windward leg. I got a nice left shift that took me right to the layline and rounded top mark in the top 20. On the first reach I managed to pass another guy who went low while I stayed high for the breeze to come down. Immediately I gybed at the mark to stay in the wind but faltered somewhat as the rig got away from me. Downwind I was working hard but couldn’t quite get the same angle but I got a few of the boards I lost downwind back by playing the shifts smart up the middle of the course. On the last reach into the finish I rounded with 3 other boards who got caught up with each other and both sailed high while I went for speed towards the finish line and crossed in front of them both. I think I finished somewhere in the low 20’s.

Race 2: Finally a good start off the line with speed and a lane. I played the middle right side of the first upwind leg and rounded the top mark in 6th. I probably lost that many downwind as the guys at the top are really working hard and are a lot faster but I’ve never worked so hard like that leg when I was up in front. At the bottom mark there was a group just in front of me so I tacked over and went to the left side early where ITA 2 and myself got the left side first. This was the way to go as we got a nice lefty and gained all those boards I lost downwind. I rounded the top mark in the top 5 and again was really motivated to stay out of the harness and work my ass off like I never have before. I stayed in the breeze but lost a few boards that gybed immediately after the mark and got a nice puff coming down. On the bottom reach to the finish I pumped past one board to finish in 9th place. Best finish yet all because I sailed smart and had a clear head today!

The last 2 days of the Championship turned out to be very light wind with only 1 race in the silver fleet. The race was run in under 7 knots of breeze and I really struggled to keep it going. It an anti climactic way to end the regatta but I knew I sailed several decent races was capable of finishing strong with the right preparation and mindset. At the end I finished in 90th place ouut of 120 boards, 4th amoung the American sailors. Overall I learned much in the past month racing and training here in both light winds and in heavy. It was good preparation for the upcoming Olympic trials next month in Florida. Before I leave Spain, Alex- my wife and I will travel and get to see some of southern Spain and do some of the tourist things you never get to do when training and sailing a regatta.

Friday, August 15, 2003

2003 SF Classic

SF Classic course racing Day 1: 18-24k gusty conditions with strong ebb outside and more breeze outside.
Race 1:Starting line was boat end favored but right side of course was significantly favored. I won start at boat end but sailed too far left towards the beach. Majority of fleet either started off on starboard and tacked immediately or port tacked and ducked the fleet at the start. Either way, the guys that went right first got to the upwind mark earlier than Bill and I who sailed to the left first. I immediate gybed around the windward mark and got back out to the middle where the breeze was. Coming into the bottom mark in good position I took my gybe a little too tight and wiped out, losing 4-5 boards in the process, UHHH not a good way to start regatta. Finished 8th
Race 2: Same strategy except don't fall at leeward mark rounding! Another decent start at boat end but just lost the jump to Percy who squeezed me out 10 seconds before the start. There was big knock 1 min before the start leaving a significant gap at the boat. Except for those who came in high. Most of fleet was down at middle of line. I was able to tack back to port 30 seconds after the start and worked my way up to a decent rounding in 2nd with Mike Z, Brian and Ben hot on my trail. We all caught a puff and rode it as far as we could downwind when we has to gybe at shore. Rob and Bill rounded behind us but gybed immediately after mark and also caught big breeze outside and caught us all at the leeward mark. I was looking golden coming into mark 4th but again blew gybe and fell in. Mentally I didn't have it together. I was doubting my gybes and thus I ended up falling. It really takes a lot of confidence to not think about your gybes and to just do it. Obviously I need a little bit more work in this department. I again finished pretty deep in 10th place after almost having 4th in my pocket.
Race 3: Determined to do better, I jumped gun 2-3 seconds early and was called over early and has to restart. I was sailing through all the bad air of the fleet but still managed to dig a 10th place. Not bad for starting last!
Race 4: Good start at the boat and immediately tacked over to right side. Rounded top mark in top 5 but got stuck in a hole downwind close to shore with Ben. You defiantly have to keep your eyes open and be constantly looking around to see where the wind is. Good bottom rounding but upwind lost speed battle with Ben as he footed to middle and passed me at finish line, I should have tacked sooner to fetch the pin end of the line.
Conclusion: Be more aware of laylines. I could have gained 1 or more spots in race 1 and 4 if I called the layline better.
Day 2 SF Classic: Breeze was building early in the day and it looked like it might be a windy race. At the start we had 18-20k in strong ebb. I chose 9.0 and r14 fin. My start was at mid line...a bit too conservative as I t wasn't able to hold my lane upwind with the guys above me starting to foot off in the ebb. I was forced to really dive down and lost out immediately. First tack outside the bride I fell and spend 20-30 sec uphauling...seemed like forever as 5 or 6 boards sailed by. Outside the gate near red nun there was really big swell with 3 knot ebb going out! Alan and I rounded mark together and but collided on tack. Anytime you can avoid collision do it. This is the fundamental rule of fair sailing. Avoid collisions even if you think you have the right of way. You can get thrown out in the protest room if you fail to avoid a collision even if you are right to begin with.
Next we sailed down to Presidio shoal where breeze was lighter and fleet came together again. Like most of the fleet, I had to gybe 2 or 3 timed to get down to the mark in strong ebb. Back upwind to Nun and down to Anita. Breeze was light on inside and those who stayed in middle for longest gained the most. Once I rounded Anita with Jean and David, we has nice reach across the bay to Harding where wind was completely dead and leaders were struggling to round in ebb tide. I had a close situation as I tried to cross a ferry coming upwind and the ebb pushing me downwind. Luckily I made it around but struggled to get around the mark as I tried the butterfly pump to go straight downwind. Once again the fleet came together and we struggled to round mark for good 2-3 minutes. A lot of the guys behind us never rounded and dropped out at this point. Those who escaped caught a puff and rode it down below Alcatrez. I rounded above just behind Jean and came to the next mark 20 seconds behind David. From there it, the fleet was spread out and it was hard to make any significant gains, I maintained my position and finished with a time of 1 hour, 18 min and 32 sec. finishing 11th overall. A little off the pace from the leaders but I had UN Challenge to prove myself.
Back upwind I chose to come back up the city front in the stronger breeze. This proved to be a pretty good plan as I was always powered up but with out anybody really close to me I wasn't able to judge my speed. My time back to the finish was 50 min. 12 sec- 9th overall just 11 seconds behind Brian. If just would have made a few of those tacks a bit faster. Next time!the starting line I would have been in 3rd overall. But it doesn't matter what could have happed, only who crosses the line in front of you.

Day 3 SF Classic, Course racing: Longer course with 12 pm start time. Breeze was starting to build but still in the low to mid teems at start of race 1. I went out with 10.9 and started at boat again with Mike Z just below me. We sailed to left side and tacked 200 meters from the shore as breeze was dying. Again those who went right had a little more breeze but Mike and I rounded in top 5. Good downwind leg but lost David Wells and Mike Percy upwind as they sailed with better speed than me. 10.9 was getting to be pretty big!Race 2: I switched to 9.8 and was a little slow off the line with R12 fin and getting to the windward mark but managed to make it up by staying in the breeze downwind and gaining a few boards who went inside. I rounded bottom mark in 4th and held my own to finish.

Race 3: Early to start line and had to come down line with speed but Fernando was there coming up into me. Not enough time to react on my part and we both went in the water. The force of my catapult broke my harness so I was out for the race. Not what I was looking for but I now had my throw out! I sailed in and switched to my R14 fin and got my back up harness

Race 4: Everybody early for the start and numbers were called by the RC. I thought for sure I was over but since I was having such a shitty regatta I decided to keep going and just sail. Fortunately I was not over early as I realized when I came in later. I got to top mark in decent condition. The short upwind leg don't allow for a lot of tactical decision but rather emphasized speed and quick maneuvers. Downwind there were some hairy situations with the red and white ferry as well as a close encounter with Jean in the steep chop. Upwind Ben got me again as he had much better speed. I was hoping for one more race because I knew I was just a few points behind several people and I could move up a few spots with a top 3 finish.Conclusion: Good racing at top of the fleet but still making many mistakes that put me out of contention. Without the 2 falls at the leeward mark and the mishap on the starting line I would have been in 3rd overall. But it doesn't matter what could have happed, only who crosses the line in front of you!

Friday, August 1, 2003

2003 Friday August 1- SF

Everybody's been gearing up for classic next week sailing a lot and tonight we had a big crowd on the starting line. In contrast the last few Friday night races; tonight's tide was a strong ebb! The best strategy is to start at midline and go for speed. It took me the first 2 races to figure this out as Ben was off the line and to the layline first in the first couple of races when he started down by the pin end.
The first race I started off with my 9.8 but came in and switched to my 10.9 and had better speed downwind getting through the light stuff. Knowing what equipment to use is sometimes just as important as going the right way. Another big thing with the ebb tide was overstanding the windward mark. Chris Radkowski seemed to be the first to tack to the layline and got lifted up with the strong inside ebb. By the last race, I nailed the start, was the first to tack on the layline and got the windward mark first. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying and never repeat the same mistake more than once!

Friday, June 13, 2003

2003 Friday June 13- SF

15-24 knots with flood starting on inside eventually stronger outside by the last race. First race saw Bill Wier, Rob Hartman and myself up in front with Rob pulling the same thing at the leeward mark he did 2 Fridays ago. Trailing Bill and myself at the leeward mark, he had nothing to gain by following us up the finish line so he tacked and got out of the stronger flood tide and managed to just cross me at the finish line. Besides the better current he had the starboard tack advantage when crossing. Nice going Rob!
Race 2- I got sandwiched between Bill and Rob off the starting line and fell off into their wake and rounded the top mark in 4th behind Al. Again at leeward mark I sailed inside and lost another boat who went outside and finished 5th
Race 3-Again slow at start as I had no ability to point off the line with my R14 fin and had to immediately foot off putting myself out of any contention for this race.
Race 4-Better start with clear air off the line and I managed to get up to the layline in the top group but as I went around to tack the rig just slipped right out of my hands. SLOW!
Race 5-Wind was getting really light and flood was still strong on inside as a group of us got caught up and had to double and triple tack to make the top mark. Once that happens, it just follow the leader to the finish line but then again you never know if the guy in front of you is going to make a mistake at the last minute. Never ever give up!

Sunday, May 25, 2003

2003 spa regatta- Holland

I arrived in Holland several days before the start of the SPA regatta to get tuned up with the racers who have been on the circuit for the last few months. It was apparent, that my speed was a bit off from the start but I hopefully after a few days, I would be able to find my speed.

Wednesday May 21st: 8-14 knots with small chop, wind offshore, oscillating closer to shore at the windward mark. Puffs were coming in from both sides so it was a gamble either direction up the first beat, I choose a conservative start at the pin and went to the left side but took a hitch back to find a clear lane. I was feeling really good on port and was able to climb on boards below me but when I tacked back to starboard, my pointing was completely off. Later I determined that it was the mast that was giving me problems and that I was sailing it somewhat differently than before. There were several large shifts at the top of the beat which I got caught on the wrong side of and had to tack 2 more times to fetch the mark. Downwind I was track forward most of the time with some of the lighter sailors getting their tracks back and passing me. Back upwind I held my position, sailing to the right middle. On the top reach I was also able to hold my own but blew the gybe and let the 2 guys close on my tail pass me. Downwind I worked hard and caught one but on the last fetch to the finish line he caught a puff from behind and went track back to edge me out.
Race 2: I started ½ way down the line and immediately tacked over to find a lane with a few boards on my leeward hip. I was able to get good speed and actually climb on the guys but again when I tacked back I had no angle whatsoever. Something really felt wrong with my mast and my rig on starboard tack. I tacked back to port hoping that the right side would be favored. Luckily it was and I made out well rounding in the top 10. Downwind though was another story as I struggled track forward while the majority of the fleet was track back and passing me in great numbers. Upwind I went to right side but it didn’t pay off as much as first time but I was able to hold my position relative to the rest of the fleet. Another slow downwind and I finished 24th.

Day 2: Lighter winds but just as shifty at the top of the course. I tried adjusting my mast but never really felt in the groove in the light stuff.
Race 3 I was over early. Not what I needed at this point in the regatta. My pointing off the line was really suffering. Once I got to the top mark I saw my number on the board with the other 7 boards that were over early and immediately dropped out. I was able to observe the rest of the race and really see how the top guys in the fleet are working hard the entire race. Even the bigger guys were able to get their track back and stay planning the entire downwind.

Race 4: Despite the mental imaging of getting off the line and having a good first leg, I managed to find myself on the wrong side of the course again. The right side was not the way to go. Downwind I really worked hard and was able to pass a few people. This was about the only good point of the race but I will take what I can if it means I am learning something along the way.
Day 3: first race 12-15 knots, shifty offshore breeze. I was really slow off the line and got worked out to the left side. I made a really big mistake and overstood the windward mark, thinking I was going to the other fleets mark. I think I lost 5 or 6 boards this way but never really got the chance to get back in the game. The only really good feeling I had today was off the start in race 6. I was able to squeeze out 2 guys immediately after the start and maintain a lane to the left. Unfortunately I was getting sandwiched in by footer above me and a pincher below me. I had to tack to get clear and thus missed the last 2 shifts up the beat.

Saturday May 24th: no racing due to light wind.
Sunday May 25th: probably the most important thing you can do at a regatta is to read the race instructions. I managed to get out to the course later and miss my start by 2 min. I decided it would be best to race and see how many boards I could catch. I did get a few and but learned the biggest lesson on my own with failing to get the correct start time.

Overall, I made some stupid mistakes in this regatta and never really felt like I was in the game. It is really important to train with the fastest guys in the fleet weeks before. Nonetheless I did manage to learn some things and will be better prepared for the next major regatta.

Friday, May 16, 2003

2003 Friday May 16- SF

First Friday night race of the season! Overall I had really good speed and angle tonight on most of the fleet as I’ve been on the water for the past month or 2 getting my gear tuned up for the SF Formula season. Tuned equipment makes a big difference in these short races, as speed is probably the most important thing here in a 7 min race. I was sailing my Mistral Devil 2 with R-12 Debocheit 70 cm fin with a north warp 9.8 in 15-20 knot breeze and flat water.

Race 1-Good start as I got popped out in front and got the inside shore lift while most of the fleet below me footed out to the breeze outside. I saw 1st 2 boards tack for layline and followed but flood was strong on inside and most of fleet including myself had to tack an extra 2 times to make it around the Anita rock. Downwind I sailed to the shore while breeze was still there. At leeward mark, I was right on US 882’s tail and tried to sail higher than him but with flood tide the better option was to foot. We both tacked at the same time but he got planning sooner and just crossed the finish line in front of me tacking 3rd.

Race 2- Good start with Bill Wier just ahead and the leeward. I had to duck him at layline as he tacked first and was on starboard. Rob Hartman was right up there as well but somehow sailed himself into a hole on the downwind and Bill and I rounded leeward mark close and both sailed on starboard towards the shore. Rob rounded right behind us and immediately tacked, getting out of the flood and managed to beat me across the line for 2nd.

Race 3-Again Devil2 and R12 fin upwind in flat water and medium wind was key. Ben Bamer on same setup as me rounded top mark just in front of me but I was able to get him downwind by sailing deeper and faster and once around the leeward mark covered him to the finish line! Finished 1st

Race 4-Exact repeat of race 2 with Bill and I battling it out. No major mistakes. Finished 2nd!

Race 5- The breeze was dying on the inside strong. The key in this race was going to be to remain in the breeze. My start was way down at the pin end of the line with as much speed as I could get. I immediately popped out in front and stayed in the breeze the whole race, gibing immediately at Anita and tacking back to the outside at the leeward mark.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

2003 Evestrom Regatta- SF

13 competitors in the formula fleet choose to give their Easter for 2 days of course racing on the San Francisco city front. I was a little worried as I only had a 9.8m2 rig to sail with while the majority of the fleet had 11.0m2 sails in the light to medium wind. Despite this I had a great regatta finishing first overall, and learning a lot of rules in the meantime!

Day 1: 3 races on SF city front with 4k flood tide entire day! Winds were 8-12k and built to 15k by the end of the day. First race I got off the line a bit slow but managed to work my way up the fleet by staying out of the current and tacking up the shore the entire beat. Downwind it was a race to get out to the middle where the tide was flooding strong. I rounded bottom mark in 3rd behind Chris Radkowski and Bill Wier only to be passed by Alan Prussia later up the beat when the wind fell to below 10k. Nonetheless I finished a close 4th. The 9.8 m2 rig just wasn’t big enough in the light stuff nor does the Formula board respond to pumping like the IMCO board.
Race 2: After a collision with Bill Wier on the starting line, I was able to get untangled and use the same strategy of staying out of the flood upwind to get ahead of the pack and maintain a decent lead. I managed to stay ahead the entire race and finish 1st. The biggest lesson here was to avoid collisions at all cost, no matter who’s at fault. After a debriefing with the R.C. after the race we came to the conclusion that a protest would have been disallowed,it was unclear who was at fault and that we both sailed into the wind shadow of the R.C boat and lost control of our steerage. The rules for windsurfer can be a bit different than that of traditional sailing and thus need some better interpretations.
Race3: Tight battle again between Bill Wier and I the whole race. Our speed was almost identical and I made 1 small mistake that he capitalized on and beat me by 10 seconds. Breeze was filling in from right side and flood diminishing. I sailed to right corner and rounded top mark in 1st with Bill hot on my trail. Downwind he called the layline perfect and gybed leaving me to gybe a few seconds later. Rounding the leeward mark 10 seconds back I immediately tacked to get back to the right side. I was hoping for some separation but he tacked to cover and never let up to the finish.
Day 2: 10-12k with 3k flood tide. Later in day the breeze built to 15 but still shifty. My pre race strategy was to the right side. Somewhere up the first beat of the first race I got stuck over to the left where the breeze was dying. Another interesting rules incident on the 1st beat with Alan Prussia and JK. I went to duck Alan as he tacked below JK on starboard but in the process clipped the clew of his sail-knocking him in the water. Did he tack too close or did I fail to keep clear of a leeward boat sailing his proper course? The definition of a sailboard tacking is not clear in the rules, again it applies to boats that luff! Regardless it was slow and collisions need to be avoided at all cost. 2nd upwind leg I was able to gain some of the ground I lost by sailing out to the breeze and finished 3rd behind JK and C-Rad.
Race5: Good start with C-Rad right above me. Sailing in SF city front brings on some interesting rules with the sea wall acting as obstruction and calling room to tack. Sailors on port tack actually have the right of way over starboard for a few moments after they tack to keep clear of the wall. Fortunately there was no contact and we sailed on. I was able to get out in the lead again and maintain the lead to the finish by staying in the breeze the entire race.
Race 6: Interesting situation developed after 2nd upwind mark. I was leading and turned to go back downwind to sail remainder of race but the rest of the fleet sailed to the upwind finish line. I was either dead wrong or the one person sailing the course right! I would have to wait to sail what I thought was the right course till I could find out. Luckily my instincts were right and I was the only person to get scored for the race.

Overall my speed and tactics felt good, it was just a few small mistakes that other people capitalized on where I lost out. Good reassurance in the beginning of the season. Great regatta and thanks to St Francis Yacht Club for invited formula fleet at last minute.

Saturday, March 1, 2003

2003 Midwinters-

I've just returned from a bit of cross training in Florida where I competed in the Calema Midwinter Championship in Merritt Island, FL on the first weekend in March. The event was sailed on Formula boards, a bit different from the Olympic class windsurfer, but the same tactics and board handling! The wind was lighter than expected over the 3 days but we got 6 good races in to complete the series with 82 sailors in the formula fleet. I had some new sails and a fast Mistral board thanks to a sponsorship from NorthSports and help from Micah Buzianis.

Day One: 3 races in light rain and wind at 10-12k. My starts have improved much and I was able to get off the line with speed and in front row. Up wind I was just behind the main pack but speed seemed to suffer some downwind with a 10.9 m2 sail-just not big enough in the light stuff. We sailed Olympic trapezoid course with 3 upwind and downwind legs so my position was going back and forth with each leg by a few positions. Only one major mistake the first day at the end of race 3 where I fell on a gybe on the last downwind leg- losing 10-12 boards in the process. Overall my finishes were decent with a 18, 13 and 30.

Day two: the wind never developed to anything steady over 6 knots so they called the racing for the day at 4pm.

Day three: With the wind back, racing started at 10:30. First race of the day saw another good start at the pin end and good upwind performance. I was able to hang in there downwind with the big sails as the wind was around 12-15 k. I finished 20th in a fleet of 82 boards. The next race the fleet was quite anxious and we had 2 general recalls with the black flag up. This means that who ever is over the starting line before the start automatically get thrown out for the race, Needless to say I was a bit more cautious at the start but managed to get off the middle of the line with speed. I played the shifts upwind and was able to squeeze around the first mark in 10th but caught my fin on the anchor line and went over the handlebars, loosing more than a few boards in the process. It was catch up from there and I ended up finishing deep around 30th. By the next race there were more holes in the course than steady wind but managed to pump and sail consistently to finish 22nd. This was good enough to get my 3rd in the lightweight class-as most of the sailors in the formula class outweighed me by 20 or more pounds! Overall I finished 19th in the fleet and was happy with my results.