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.