Friday, December 30, 2005

2005 Formula World Championship

Thursday December 8th-
I arrived todayafter a 13 hour flight from San Francisco into Melbourne. After the long journey, I was ready to let my body rest for a day before I went out to practice. My equipment arrived in one piece after much repacking at the airport to bring the weight down and lots of hassling to even get it on the plane. You'd think, it was the first time the airline had dealt with oversized windsurfing equipment. I met up with a few other sailors and got some food before I checked into my hostel with Yugi from Japan. The regatta site is well laid out with storage area in the Elwood sailing center and storage crates nearby for easy access to the beach. It was already blowing 15-20k and lots of sailors on the water getting tuned up. I decided to check in early and get some needed sleep. I will provide updates when I can here and you can also find more info at the site and

Friday December 9th-
The wind was considerably less on Friday afternoon when I arrived at the sailing center. A few people were out in the marginal conditions and after registering for the event and getting my equipment measured in, I rigged up my 11.0 and hit the water for a hour or so before the wind really shut off. I managed to get things dialed in and line up with a few people. I think with a little more wind and power, I will be at my best performance. The warm up regatta starts tomorrow and will run for two days before another days rest and the world championships on Tuesday. I fell ready and confident! More to come later!

Saturday, December 10,
Warm up regatta started today with around 30-40 boards. Most of top guys still tuning with each other or team mates. I decided to sail regatta as I hadn't sailed much in the past 2 months and needed some race experience and to get a feel for the course next week.
We had 5 races total today but I think only 3 or 4 counted as the abandoned a few due to the fluky winds. By the afternoon things had heated up and it was a good 18k on the course with a decent swell coming in. I finally got things dialed in by the last race where I was finishing in the top 25%. The starting line was set really tight so the fleet was pushing the line and we had a few general recalls due to the anxious starters. I got stuck in at least 2 starts in the 2nd or 3rd row and got gassed off the line. In light wind, clear air and speed are king! You can go anywhere without them. The breeze was really patchy in the morning and early afternoon with big holes and puffs coming down. I started off on my 10.0 as it was blowing a good 15-20k when we started but I was soon underpowered and wishing I had taken the 11.0. The next race was immediately after the first so no time to change sails. I was doing a little better but hit some deep holes and got caught drifting as boards on the other side of the course flew by and rounded well ahead of me. During the last downwind leg, my harness line blew out and I managed to stay out of the harness and pumping the rest of the leg to the finish and even caught a few boards. Funny how that works! By the next race, I had come in and switched to the 11.0 and felt better and in more control. We had at least 2 more races as I remember and by the last race, I was really dialed in, passing people both upwind and downwind, I had a great start the last race at the boat getting clear air and speed. With the Kashy fin, I found if I had clear air, I could really wind it up and get good angle. Off the breeze, it was really fast and I was trucking on my nearest competition.. A few things, I learned today: always climb if you can especially on the last beat to the windward mark, As they say, save your money in the bank, so you can use it later. I had laid the windward mark early by going to the right corner and was coming in strong with a lot of boards coming from the left side. Some of them tacked in front of me and by the time we got to the windward mark in a group of about 20 boards, I got hosed out the back door and had to round the unfavoured gate.
Next lesson was to be aware of what the rest of the fleet is doing- especially after the start. Keep your eyes open and look around!
Another day of racing tomorrow before a day of rest on Monday and the big regatta on Tuesday. Ive got everything measured in already so no waiting around. Ill stay clear and rest up.

The formula worlds finally started after a long afternoon on the beach. The wind was teasing us up and down all day with puffs coming in and staying for 10 min butt never really built until after 5 pm. With 10k on the course, they sent the men out for the first start. 87 men on one line with 10 knots of wind. This would challenging o say the least!

I wasn’t able to get of the line but neither did ½ the fleet. I struggled to get going for what seemed like eternity and finally went out to the right side where the breeze was stronger. I was deep in the fleet but I managed to reel in a few at a time. I know I finished deep but without a decent start, that’s all you can expect.

2nd race- same seranero with 10 knots of breeze, a big fleet and a small line. Again I struggled to get off the line and get going but most of the fleet was in the same position. Its hard to tell how things went as it was very spread out but once I got some clear air, I found myself going well- climbing upwind with speed. The Kashy fin has a lot of potential but lacks the grunt off the line. Its hard to have a fin that will do everything well but I am finding sometimes you have to compromise.

One big lesson I learned today was to overstand the layline in a crowd. In the 2nd race, I understood the top mark and had to double tack to get around the gate. I lost quit a few boards here which could have been avoided. Next upwind, I had clear air on the layline and actually understood as I banged the corner upwind and came in strong pinching a few people off who overstood. Well again the big lesson today is to get off the line clean in a big fleet. Everything else is secondary. You need big sail and a big fin in this light stuff to get going.

Tomorrow should be windier but you never know as the winds change here like the four seasons.

Wednesday day 3 worlds championship: still waiting for breeze today as teaser winds are up and down. RC sent girls out for their first race and they planned marginally around course. Men are on standby. Fortunalty there is a decent clubhouse where there is some shade and relief from brutal sun and flies. A few broken mast already with the inrense sun down here. Most people don’t rig until just before they go out. Lots of interesting and new equipment on beach: new north warps look really good as well as NP.

Another day at the office….We got off 2 races in the early afternoon and then came in for lunch. It was the waiting game from then on. I did however manage 2 better races breaking into the top 40. There was actually some wind early in the day from the north which made it really gusty. In fact, it was well in the upper 20’s and most people were lit on 10.0s. I started on port both races getting over to the shore where the wind was the strongest. I was early to the layline and a lot of people came up and tacked infront of me giving me some real bad air, but I stuck with it and squeezed around the windward mark in the middle group. Off the breeze, there were a few holes outside but inside- well lit even in the chicken strap. I rounded the bottom mark with a group and managed to squeeze up to some clear air. Its amazing what a little determination will do for you. I wanted to go over to the right side so I sucked up some bad air at the beginning to get to the favoured side of the course. It was a parade on the top reach with not much changing but I did make one mistake costing me 5 or 6 boards as I stayed on starboard and didn’t gybe right away while the other group got better breeze by going back inside. I did move up a few positions today and my sailing improved so I am quite happy with the performance. There was a bit of luck involved in today’s racing and I was on the lucky side. We should be getting a discard soon so Ill manage to throw out my 60th place and perhaps move up a few more. With 2 more days left, I have to move up to 44th place to reach my goal for the regatta.

Friday evening update:

Well another day of waiting…we almost didn’t get any racing in today as the wind failed to materialize until later in the afternoon and then in marginal conditions we had the race abandoned after the wind dropped to 0 near the finish. I was really lucky as I got the short end of the stick and finished near the back of the fleet. We had multiple general recalls leading up to that race and a lot of people black flagged- since we re-raced race 6, those who got black flagged could not race. We ended up starting at around 7:30 in a building breeze. I had my 11.0 and r13 68. It was a little too big as I got passed on the reaches but found it grunty upwind. I prefer the new Kashy in terms of speed but it lacks a little grunt overall- similar to the c3s I was using a while ago.

So we finally started. I was in bad air so I tacked over to get back to the right side and clear air. Most of the fleet was there already so I was catching up. Off the breeze, I was in a big pack and not feeling as strong as I did before with the big fin and fighting it out in the middle of the fleet. Back upwind, I rounded with a big group and fought my way to the right layline where I caught a few people. Off the breeze, it was a little sketchy as things were light and gust were coming down randomly. I kept my position but just near the leeward mark, I feel into a big hole. Nothing you can do but wait for the wind to fill in. Meanwhile 10-15 boards came screaming in from the other side and rounded in front of me. On the last leg, I climbed high and shot down to the finish, getting a few of them for a 41st place. I sailed a much better race but didn’t finish through at the end. Well that’s what counts. I m leaning a lot here and hopefully, it will show later.

Saturday morning update:

Still waiting for wind. They say its coming in strong but we’ve got a 4pm deadline for last possible race.
Saturday evening update:

Wind finally came up and was gusting 30-40 mph. At 3:40 when the RC pulled down the AP flag from the flag pole, the shore-break was well above my head. There were several wave sailors in front of Elwood beach- entertaining to see next to a formula board and 9.8 heading through the break! I launched with my 9.0 and had some troubles with my outhaul from the git-go when I had to retie the line in the water with some decent sets pounding on me 200m from the shore. I sailed through the startling line to get some points but I was a bit late as I wasn’t scored. If the RC had scored me I would have moved up a few positions but as it stands they didn’t and I kept my 51st position from the day before as I used this race as my 2nd throwout for the regatta. Big lesson learned- always be prepared to race no matter how late it is or what the conditions are.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

2005 RSX Pac Coast Champs

The first new olympic class equipment made its American debut with 40 charter boards arriving in San Francisco one day before the Pacific Coast Championships. I picked up my charter rs-x on Thursday afternoon and finally got set up and on the water by 5:30 for a quick session. My first impression was that this was going to be a big challenge. There are still many issues to be worked out with the board and rig design as we are finding out but you have to work with what you have.It was quite windy on Thursday so getting to know the board was rather interesting on a first impression. I spent some time in the water after getting slammed multiple times upwind. Getting the board to turn off the breeze was also interesting and I was using the way leeward strap to get going. One thing I learned today was that the centerboard has a tenancy to come down.

First day of racing included 37 competitors on the water, most of them for the first time on the board. When I arrived at the site on 10 on Saturday morning, it was really windy: 25-30 with no sign of relief. I rigged up and went out to practice , knowing I would need as much time on the water as possible. We delayed the start till after 3pm when the wind was still howling. Only 10 or so people made it out to the first race and it was too windy to race for the majority of the fleet. They were struggling all over the bay just to get down to the starting line. I sailed the course, figured out what side I wanted to sail as there was a big flood tide coming in on the inside with the ebb building on the outside throughout the day. I was on the line at the start and managed to go well upwind. I found myself pointing well with my booms low and track 3 forward from the back.

At the top of the fleet was William Sherman, Sam Ireland, Seth Besse and Alian Buldoc. Also up there was our own SF heavyweight Jean Rathle making it around the course without a knockdown. I blew up once upwind on the first beat and struggled to get going again. Downwind, things were a bit easier but still scary as it was 25-30k. Rounding the leeward mark was a challenge and I struggled in the water for some time with a few other guys around me as well trying to get the board going again. Frankly at this point, I was ready to call it quits but kept the train going. Back upwind, I got launched again but was still around 5th. Off the breeze for the last downwind run, I gybed but the cams didn't pop over so it was a struggle to the finish fighting the sail.After a brief struggle to get back to the beach, I had a rest of 30 minutes before the next race where the wind had died down to 18-20k. I managed a good start and first upwind, rounding in the top 5 and staying there and actually gaining 2 boards around the leeward mark and Zac and Jean struggled to make a tight rounding and I took it wide and tacked in front of the club and got in front of them. Next up was a good breeze and the ebb tide upwind. Unfortunately it wasn't that easy as I climbed my way back through the fleet. My harness line broke and I re rigged something on the water to finish 11th. Oh well, racing is all about disaster recovery.On Friday evening, we had a christening celbration with the new board and MR Neil Pyrde giving a speech and one of the juniors breaking a bottle of champaign over th enew board. Good times!

With only 2 races, here are the preliminarily results after 1 day
1 Willheim Shurmann
2 Sam Ireland
3 Seth Besse
4 Jean Rathle
5 Alain Bulduc
6 Chris Radkowski
7 Steve Bodner
8 John Davenport
9. Zach P
10 Mike Percy
11 Gal Fridman
12 Randall Barna
13 Elon Wing
14 Mark Borsma
15 Eric R
16+ 2 DNS's
Day 2 RS-X Pacific Coast Championships:
With another day on the water, I was getting a more comfortable feel for the new board and rig. We got a chance to start in non planning conditions but things heated up to classic San Francisco conditions with 15-20k by mid afternoon. By 8-10 k, it was possible to bring the centerboard up and the mast track back to formula type racing; everything leading up to that was somewhat difficult to transition the board from a non planning displacement hull to full on planning board.
In the light stuff, there is a time when you need the centerboard down and mast track forward. Then the centerboard comes up 50% to balance things out as you lean the rig further back. Finally, with enough wind and pumping, you can get the heavy board up and going. It is my impression that the new equipment covers the range of 3-30k, as the Olympic requirements ask for. Unfortunately, it doesn't too anything too well within that range. It is not a specialist set up like the formula class for light to medium air racing, nor is it strong in enough in light winds to be comparable to the long board class, and in no way would it make a good slalom class s it is quite hard to sail on a board reach with 9' and 50 lbs in front of out. BUT it is the new one design Olympic boardsailing class so everyone must deal with the same situation. The best sailor will end up wining and that's what's happening here as we are getting the range of conditions.

With 7 races complete, Shurman, from Brazil is leading the fleet with Sam Ireland from Canada close behind in second. I have been consistent with top ten finishes, putting me in 6th overall going into the last day of racing. When were all out there racing on the bay with the fleet tacking up the city front, the racing is quite intense and I am really enjoying it, despite the equipments' shortcomings. In all but the first race, we have been starting in a typical formula fashion- planning to the start with tracks back and boards up. From there, the strategy was to stay in the wind, first and foremost and then think about the current. In the first race, it was the racers who tacked early and got to the middle of the bay where the wind was who really got out in front and out in the lead, while most of the fleet sailed towards the shore out of the flood tide. We were running a double windward leeward course finishing downwind with lots of boat traffic to deal with throughout the course. In spectacular fashion, one of the red and white ferries came across our starting line just after the start of the 5th race with the whole fleet on starboard heading directly into its path. He managed to do a 180 degree turn and avoid the fleet but scared quite a few people in the process. Next up was the 'Lovely Martha'- a commercial tour boat who I managed to cross with 2 or 3 feet to spare and knocking a few competitors in the water. Other distractions were a fleet of 20-30 classic wooden boats stating just below us as well as a plethora of short boarders once the wind picked up in the afternoon. So you can see it, it always interesting sharing the city front waters with everyone else and racing requires your full attention to make it around the course.

I was feeling more confident as the day went on but a little tired as well from 4 hours in the sun while racing. The last few battles of the day, I had to give up as pumping to the finish required that extra 5% that I just didn't have. I let a few people go by when I should have pushed it, but I thing everyone was feeling the heat as even Gal, the current gold medallist from Israel didn't race the last race. The rest of our fleet was showing better standings with Bill Wier finishing in the top 10 as well and Steve Sylvester and Mike Percy all battling it out together as well.

After 7 races here are the standings:
1.W. Schurmann

2.2. Sam Ireland

3.Seth Besse

4.Alain Bolduc

5.Zack Plavsic

6.Steve Bodner

7.Mike Percy

8.Gal Fridman

9.Chris Radkowski

10.Jean Rathle

11.Steve Sylvester

12.Peter Bonello

13.Bill Weir

14.Mark Borsma

15.Chip Wasson

Day 3 RS-X Pacific Coast Champs-
With time something's become easier. By the 3rd day of the regattas, sailing the new board and rig was a bit easier and more comfortable. It didn't seem as foreign as the first day and with 2 more races today, the board was actually fun to sail in the fleet. I really like the idea of one design sailing, especially with in windsurfing where the gear is in unlimited and keeping things in perspective is sometimes difficult. There is plenty of fine tuning to do in this class and a lot of physical training to be done to get to the top of the class. I'm sure by the next Olympics, the best sailor will come out on top. Until then there is a tour planned in the US for 2006 with 6 stops as well as charter boards available. I'm sure the class will draw some talent from the formula fleet as well as some new up and coming sailors.

One the final day of the rs-x regatta, we had to wait for the breeze to fill in and it finally came in around 2pm and we got 2 races off for a total of 9 races and 3 throw outs. Wilhelm was able to maintain his lead today with a first and second over Sam and Seth rounding up the top 3. We had full planning conditions in 15-18k and lots of exciting racing. In race one, I had a great start off to the middle of the line and got to the beach and tacked back to get back to the wind. I was looking good coming into the windward mark but got stuck in a hole and had to double tack along with the rest if the fleet behind me. I got around behind Alain and held onto the position for the rest of the leg where Zach and Pierre were close on my tail. We all headed over to the beach where I tacked inside and got a nice puff and got some separation and from there sailed conservatively to finish behind Alain in 5th. Percy was deep in that race so he had a throwout but with one more race left he still had a chance to catch me.

The next race, things lightened up some what and the same situation happed where we headed into the beach, This time Percy was able to tack sooner and get the puff and walk away. I was slow to get back to the right side and rounded the top mark around 10th with some catching up to do. I passed one or 2 boards off the breeze and realized there was more pressure out in the middle so my plan was to tack immediately after the mark. Steve and Percy rounded in front of me and kept going so I gained some ground and kept grounding away. I tacked to soon and was forced back into a hole on the near shore and Zack was able to get in between us and ended up finishing between us to make it a closer race between Percy and myself. We finished 1 point apart for 6th and 7th while the top of the fleet was Sam, Wilhelm, Seth, Alain, and Zach.

Overall, a great regatta with lots of talent. The new class was fun to sail. Always a challenge!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

2005 calcup sept 10

Wind was up to 16-20k. I rigged 10.0 and r13 64 s. I felt good upwind on port but not on starboard. Luckily, I was able to start all 4 races on port and got off with clean air and a good lane. By the 4th race, the wind died on the right side while the left side had the more favorable current. Before the last race, I thought it might have been better to go left early and get stronger air, but the temptation to port tack the fleet was too great and I went for it and crossed everyone but 10 min later got caught in no wind and rounded deep. I came back to 5th or 6th and think I was tied with Ben for 3rd place overall behind Mike Z and Steve S.First race, I was still up top checking out the course when the sequence began. I came down with a 1:30 to start and lined up with Soheil and Steve S on port. We all heald our own upwind with Steve S able to climb a bit higher with his 9.0. You've really got to find your own groove here and jest go as fast as you can. Once we tacked over Steve S had a definite advantage in the stronger flood. Soheil and I didn't have the same angle at all and we let Steve go to round 2nd behind Mike Z. From there, Eric began to catch up downwind he gybed at the same time as me and caught a nice puff to round in front of me. Around the leeward pin, Eric rounded wide and I got nose inside and worked my way up and had better angle to whole way up. At the point, Steve and Mike were sailing their own race up in front going to the starboard layline again. I had built up a bit of a distance on Eric by the top mark and was keeping a closer eye on him for the final downwind leg. We were both going deep and as I went to gybe, so did he and out of the corner of my eye, I saw him go over the top. Glad it wasn't me in that situation. I sailed the rest of the leg, not able to catch up with Steve and finished in 3rd.Next race, same situation: start on port and go the right side early. This time Ben tacked back early and got a nice puff on the port layline and rounded in front of me in 3rd. He kept his position downwind but back upwind for the 2nd leg, he was not pointing as high and I caught up a but with clear air and a long beat. Rounding the top mark for the 2nd time, I wa still a few board lengths behind and I needed to catch him downwind to beat him to the finish. There was only one move left- gybe a the same time but behind and ride the puff down. We gybed ad just like I thought the new breeze filled in and I was able to climb over him and while still 20 board lengths to go, Ben began to jockey for position. He went up for speed and to the pin. I went up. He goes downs, I go down. We continued like this for 4 or 5 attempts but finally the finish line came and I was able to keep my lead on him and finish 3rd.Next race- don't remember too many details expect right side still favored but left side showing more potential and the guys who started on starboard and went closer to the island and came back were looking good on the upwind.Final race- A great start- port tacking the fleet with thither guys on port behind me. I pushed the gun early and got out in front. Unfortunately, I sailed right into a big whole hole and let the whole fleet sail by. Nothing you can do but be more aware of what people are doing on the other side of the course. 200' over guys were fully planning. Ash the frustration of formula! Well I managed to dig my way back through the middle of the fleet to finish 5th behind Steve, Mike, Ben and Eric.

Overall, better performance with only one big mistake in the last race, not keeping my head in the game but with a through out, I was consistent with 3 3rds. Still need to keep pushing the line and every situation .

Saturday, August 20, 2005

2005 Calcup August 20

Light west wind 12-16k with strong flood tide in first race, by 4th race, things heated up to 18-22 and a big ebb. Lots of traffic in the middle of the bay, with fishermen, ferries, and recreational lollygaggers to look out for.

The biggest lesson of the day is something I have learned before and will continue to learn: clear air is king. I got off the line one race buried and ate it the whole upwind. The other big lesson, I learned with to get out early and check the conditions. I was the first one our and began to realize the right side had more wind and better current. After the first race, we came in and switched down to 10.0s and the right side was beginning to ebb already. I started off on a 11.0 with 68 cm fin- just right up wind but by the second lap, I was noticing it a little dragon the downwind. I was 4th at the bottom mark but failed to cover the boats behind me who tacked early. I knew that the boats leading the other to the right side would be ones that would fare well. If you didn't lay the windward mark on the starboard layline, you really sailed a lot of extra distance with the flood up top. 2 times, I was able to pick a board or 2 off by doing this. Marks were rounded to starboard, so while coming in hot on the 3rd race on the starboard layline, I approached Percy who was just laying the mark on port. We crossed just in front of the r2 marker and when he ducked me, I thought he was going right into the mark. Luckily he missed it by inches and we fought it out downwind. I was going deeper but didn't feel my speed was the best/ In the first race, I was in the outside strap, making lots of progress off wind, then as it got windier, I came inside to the chicken strap. Mike Z and Steve have the best angle and speed in the fleet. I lined up against them in the 2nd start and they really got alot of distance on me. Again, get clear air and you will do well.
With the 10.0 up and a 64 cm fin, I felt dialed in and finally got a decent start on the 4th race, starting on port and leading the fleet to the right side. I rounded in 3rd and kept my position behind Steve and Percy. Overall, still need to be a bit more consistent. My finishes were all over the place with a 3, 5,5,6- making it a 5th place for the day. Good practice!

Monday, August 15, 2005

2005 US Nationals- the Gorge

Here's some highlights from the slalom racing on day 2 at the gorge- enjoy

Heres a second video from Brian McDonald on day 3 of the event

2005 us nationals Day 1- no racing. Race Director dismissed fleet at 2pm with no traces of wind on the water. A group of us went kayaking down the white salmon river for a good adventure as well as a decent work out. A word of caution- snow melt is cold!

Day 2 update 10 am- racing postponed till 2pm today with no wind in sight. Event site looks glassy! No wind activity was cliff diving and swimming in hood river at punch bowl. I came back to site around 5:30 and got a decent session on the 11.0 and new r13 70 fin. Things felt good against Yugi when I lined up and down wind. Angle much improved but speed may be a bit compromised with bigger fin. This week will tell.
Day 3- Thursday July 28: The nuclear gorge winds finally arrived this morning. By the time we arrived at the site, the river was full of white caps and 25-30k. The organizer started of with slalom right away and we ran 2 heats of the modified gorge slalom course. Things were a little slow to get going as the fleets were spread out over 2 laps on the slalom course. The pros were noticeable ahead and the rest if the fleet battled among themselves. After slalom racing in the afternoon, the wind had dropped off a bit and we switched to formula racing. We got off 4 races but after the 2nd race got abandoned and the fleet sat on shore and waited for an hour. We continued and raced till 7:30 making it a long day at the site. The organizer will run the same set up tomorrow, trying to catch up for the 1st days of no win.

Running the modified slalom course was indeed an interning feat. The first leg was a normal downwind start and reach then a gybe with all 23 competitors rounding. Next up was a tighter reach and back upwind where you needed to tack your slalom board , run back deep downwind, gybe, come up and gybe around the rc boat and back for lap 2. The race lasted around 6 mins. and I was managing to stay just behind the top group of pros when I inevitable blew a gybe or tack and got shot back to the middle of the fleet. As I said before, getting the job dome is what you need to do. Just when you thing you have it wrapped up, I gybed and fell near the finish. My goal is to sail conservative around the course and not fall. Speed feels a bit off on the slalom stuff as well.
Course racing was a bit better for me. The first race we abandoned after we all stopped planning on the first downwind. After a rest, we restarted and I banged the Washington side and stayed in the air. I was running the 11.0 and 70 cm fin and stayed ahead of Bill Wier just to the finish where he managed to gybe before me on the layline. Good finish- probably around 6th. The next race, I stayed on the same set up and was in a much tougher fleet, with Bill, Wier, Steve S, Mike P, Bruce Peterson, Seth and Jesper. I rounded near the top guys and decided to continue back up the right side again with Bill on the second upwind. We fell into a hole and few guys got by going back up the middle with stronger breeze. Andreas Maake got in front of me and stayed there for a top ten finish. None the less I thing I am in the top 25% which should get me up in the gold fleet. We have 4 more qualifying rounds which we should knock out tomorrow.

Day 4: Another windy day at the event site. Amazingly we started off with course racing first thing as we were behind from 2 days of no racing. 25-30k was enough for me to stay powered on the 10.0 for 2 laps around the course. We are still sailing the qualifying series so the fleets are mixed up and quite confusing. Jean managed to power over on the last reach but after racing realized he sailed in the wrong fleet. I finished around 6th. The next race things heated up even more and they switched to slalom right away. We were lit up for the next 4 hours doing heat after heat. The rc was a little slow to get things going but the break was nice staying in the shade and making comments with the rest of the peanut gallery! The first mark was 100' off the shire so the first mark pile up was exciting and the crowds were in full amazement.
Around 4 pm we switched to course racing again but I had a long break as they ran the two other groups. Around 6 pm I got my first race in with the 9.0 lit up like a fire cracker. The 9.0 is a slalom sail but it was the only thing I could hold onto. I finished around 8th again with Andreas hot on my tail and Bill W just in front of me.
Tomorrow is the last day and the breeze is expected to hold. The question is if I hold up till tomorrow after 2 weeks of racing

.Day 5- 2 final races of qualifying series in course racing. I managed to sail a really good 2 races with a 7 and a 6th place finish. Race 1- I started off on starboard and banged the left shore with Mike Z and made it around the first leg with one tack- pumping and pinching around the top mark and going deep to the Washington side to the breeze. A few guys were pushing from behind but I managed to keep good angle up wind and even get past Mike Z but he sailed deeper on the downwind and passed me to leeward. As we approached the final layline, Mike gybed and I gybed inside him and was working my ass off downwind pumping to the finish but he managed to stay deep and get reach up for speed near the finish.Race 2- Another good finish in 6th as I sailed well up near the top of the fleet. A good start will go a long way if you have speed and clear air.Next we broke the fleets up into the gold and silver and got 2 final course races in for a 4pm finish. Things were a tighter up here with no room for mistakes. I got buried a few times on mark roundings and as a result got shot out the back. The real gains come from recovering from mistakes. The guys up top make few and if they do recover well. These were my 2 throw outs with a 17th and 20th as with most everyone. Still I moved up 3 spots from earlier today to finish 15th overall and 5th US men behind Seth, Bill W, Steve S, and MIke Z- perhaps earning a qulaifying spot to the worlds.

Friday, July 15, 2005

2005 Formula North Americans- Squamish, Ca

Day one- North Americans- 1 formula race and 3 slalom heats. Wind was up to 25k with holes and shifts near upwind mark. 25 racers from Denmark, Brazil, Japan and Virgin Islands- 5 pros! A lot of other decent sailors in fleet.
First race- good start off the line ahead of Yugi and Alan. I went ¾ of the way over to the left with Seth, Devon, and William while several others tacked early and headed towards the wall and more favorable current. We are racing at the mouth of 2 rivers. At 11 am the tide was out several hundred feet and by the end of the racing day at 530- the tide was up to the last 10' of the shore.
I ran into weeds on the 1st upwind after tacking over and just ducking Yugi. I ducked in to the water and cleared them. Down wind there is a big shift in the wind making it easy to overstand the leeward mark- I could have gybed sooner on both legs. A lot more wind near the bottom off the course. It seemed better off to go right early upwind, and take advantage of the geographical lift near the cliff. I headed that way on the 2nd upwind but got caught up in the mudflats on the low tide L. Overall I managed to get around on the course in 25k breeze comfortably with my 10.0. I had my booms set lower for the breeze and it didn't feel so good in the light stuff near the top. After 1 course race we stopped and started slalom.
During the slalom races- there were 3 heats consisting of one qualifying round and one championship round. I qualified in all my heats with a bit of luck as a number of the other sailors in my fleet either dropped out or didn't make it around. I think I averaged around 4th or 5th and them in the championship round I was 7th or 8th. The legs are a bit longer than those in SF with speed playing a big part of it. I managed 2 decent starts but was out sped on the drag way to the marks. My transitions for the most part were ok- getting around clean but I did fall on 2 gybes out 9 as there was a lot of traffic getting around the marks in the championship round. One start I was completely hosed on and got shot out the back. I have been a bit early lining up and the fleet has come screaming over and up me 10 sec before the start.
Best option is to sail out towards the 1st mark once the 3 min gun goes off, gybe back 45 sec. later and cross the line around 2 min. Finally gybe back around 1:10 to 1 min and get a good approach to the line.

Currently in 7th in fw race- need to beat out another guy or 2 to qualify for worlds. Qualified sailors- William, Jesper?. Yugi?
Not qualified- Seth, Devon, Alan, Zak.
Tomorrow's goal- be top 5. Keep eyes open after start. Dial in slalom gear.

Day 2- light to medium winds 10-15k, 4 races. Race is getting to the right side early and taking advantage of the gradient shift along the cliff wall. There is a bit of an outgoing ebb tide as well on the right side to make it a quicker ride to the first mark. The unfortunate thing about going right early on the low tide is the shallow water. I have run around 3x now giving up everything Ive worked for and shooting back to the middle pack.
First race I felt a little under finned with the r13 64 and 11.0. I gave up some angle upwind but really felt decent downwind gaining a board or 2. Ive been around 5-6 then seem to take myself out with low water or collecting some weeds on my fin to finish around 12th for the first race.
Second race- wind was up a bit more to 12-14k- better upwind performance and downwind as well. I moved mast track back to ¾ of the way back and was flying off the breeze. You really need to pay attention to all the crap in the water as there are tree trunks, bark, weeds and mud flats to keep you on your toes. Good first ½ of the race with 6th steady and then more bad luck 2nd time up.
Third race- don't remember much except battling it out with Yugi and Alan and coming up short at the end, Another 9th.
Fourth race- wind was really light and questionable for racing. Wind line was just upwind of the starting line. I decided to start on port with 6 other guys and I got off clean going to the right side. The rest of the fleet was stuck on the line. I had 5th wrapped up by the leeward mark with the next competitor way back. I managed to wrap my fin around a decent size collection of wood and bark and that really slowed me down. I had to jump off to clear them and get on my way. 1 board lost, 1 close on my tail. Back upwind, I kept my position and downwind played the same strategy as before- going deep to the layline and coming in hot to the leeward mark with speed. This time there was a big hole at the bottom of the course and I got skunked. 3 more boards got past me and I had to tack to make it around the leeward mark. Bad luck I guess going from 5th to 11th in a matter of minutes but that's what racing is- some luck and some skill. You've got to roll with the punches. Tomorrow's another day- another chance to move up

Day 3- wind looked like it was ramping up for an exciting day of formula racing. I rigged up 10.0 and went out to check the course out before the first start. While sailing down from the right hand side of the course, I hit something in the water and went over the front. The collision broke my mast and I missed the first race and was back on shore making a quick repair- trying to make it back out for race 2. Luckily I did get out in time and got the next 2 races in - finishing mid pack.
It was a bit different scenario with the wind filling in stronger on the left side. The right side was full of holes as well as a flood tide. I n the lighter stuff, I felt under finned as I was running a 64 r13. I couldn't hang with the top guys upwind but was fin in the middle group- always gaining some off the breeze.
I will try out a r13 70 if it gets lighter in the gorge.

Day 4- Long distance race today up and around the paper mill factory a few miles up the sound. The winds were very inconsistent only making a appearance near the shore. I sat not planning for at least 10 min waiting for the breeze to fill in while other sailors on the other side of the course were fully powered. The view from the top of the sound was amazing coming back towards Squamish. Although the strong breeze didn't stick around in the afternoon for slalom racing, we had our series in and called it a day and a regatta.
Overall a good arm up for next weeks racing. I finished 7th amoung the north American competitors- still room to improve but things are starting to come together. I know where I should be sailing and minimizing the mistakes is the only thing you can do.
The US Nationals start on Tuesday- a few days to rest up and start again.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

2005 Calcup June 25- SF

Calcup Winds were in a light pattern this week so I wasn't expecting anything big today. I rigged the 11.0 hoping to squeeze everything out of the 10-14k and flat water on the course. We had 5 races (6 if you counted the 2nd where half the fleet took off after a general recall.) My performance was right on par finishing just behind the top group of sailors and in the mix a few times. We had a Devon sailing with us who really took off from the rest of us amateurs. He has some amazing speed and angle. I wasn't at all close except for some starts where he rolled me. I noticed through out the day my angle and speed were getting progressively worse and I had some major wrinkles in the batten just below my boom. My last race, I didn't have much angle upwind at all and was suffering. My batten and poked through the end of the pocket and was sticking through the luff pocket…not fast at all! My finishes were consistently 5th with one 7th as a throwout- or so I recall!
My approach for racing today was to get clear air and stay in the wind. Don't fall off a plane at all! First race, winds were light and I wanted to get set up towards the pin so I had room. A few guys like Ben and Eric were going to dip starts which seemed to go well through out the day. We went planning on the line and it was only the top guys who got off while the rest of the fleet struggled to get planning. I immediately tacked over the right side to get going and carried it over to the land but came all the back to the left side -putting on some major distance. I should have just worked the right side and got the shift once I got up to the island. When its windy, going right always pays off on this course. For the rest of the races, it was a parade to the layline both upwind and downwind. I managed to pick off a sailor here and there to finish in 5th or 6th. I n the next few races, I did the same thing- getting people at the bottom corner of the downwind, where I gybed inside of them and worked my way down to the leeward mark, either ahead because of the getting the wind first or with an overlap for a decent rounding.
In the 3rd race, I didn't carry over the layline far enough and had to double tack with Crad and Ben. Off the breeze, same situation- drive them to the layline and gybe inside!
The next start, I was just below Devon at the start but couldn't drive away with enough power and speed but luckily he had better angle and sailed clear away to windward- leaving me unobstructed to get to the port layline in decent shape. I was sparring it out with Ben most of the time for the 5th spot behind Devon, Mike Z. Steve S and Mike P. We did have some good sparing on the line with Alan vigorously defending his space to windward as I tried to roll him with 10 sec to the start. He was forcing me up and shot me up over the line and I came back to duck the line and clear myself. If your going to put yourself into that situation, be sure to realize the risk and have an escape plan to get out. The same thing happed the last race, when Eric left a big hole to windward of him and I stuck in there. By the time he started to come up, I was over the top of him and back down on the line and under him, forcing him up. Interesting how that played out. Don't get yourself caught in personal battles as they will probably take you out of the game.
Percy and I were duking it out in the 4th race as he rounded just in front of me at the windward mark and we gybed together but I had the inside overlap at the leeward mark and tried to stay high to force him to tack over so I could continue. I was going up and up and grinding as he kept the pace, I could tell we were both well above our normal course and with out decent batten tension, I didn't know how much longer I could hold him back. Finally e got up on me while I had a little spin out and by then, he has gone. I followed him around the rest of the course but finished 5th again.
Not a bad day of racing. I made some good tactics that got me some places and didn't make any major mistakes.

2005 SF Classic

In the words of the Grateful Dead- what a long strange trip it been! This weekends San Francisco Classic and UN Challenge was an enduring marathon of windsurfing racing that made this 2 day regatta seem like a 5 day championship. I was well worn out by the time it was over and welcomed the rest on Sunday night.
The Classic started with light conditions and the postponement flag flying till close to 2pm. I went out early on my 10.0 and 63 cm r14 fin thinking it would be ripping on the outside like it had done for the past week in the bay. Immediately there were a few holes on the inside and I knew it was going to be a challenging race as the flood was starting to kick in. My objective was to stay with the leaders and not let them get away under any circumstances.
I lined up well on the start getting a good start at the pin end on port with speed to cross everyone. Mike Z was just below me and it took a few minutes for us to untangle as he was grinding up for angle and I was footing for speed. An outbound freighter was approaching and we were forced to tack. With Bill going early and leading us back to the light inside, we got knocked and Bill pulled ahead. Mike and I both tacked back as we could clear the passing ship and Bill continued left. Crossing once again just outside the gate, Bill was ahead of us both. The flood was strong and we all realized we couldn't make it outside the south tower with the strong voodoo chop. I got stuck on the tack back and nearly missed the south tower by a few feet. The rest of the fleet was getting stuck as well in the 6' boiling chop. A few people snuck by and got to the flat water towards fort point and came in to round with speed. Once there you needed to navigate straight downwind through the voodoo chop. Again, it was a graveyard with fallen formula sailors! There were now a few people in front of me after the second mark and Jean and Percy just behind at the north tower. I decided to stay high on the next reach while the other 2 behind me drove deep first and came up to the mark with speed. At the Presidio shoal there was light wind and current with most of the fleet either stopped or really spread out on the course already.
Lap 2 saw more of the same scenario outside the gate but now there was an incoming freighter splitting the fleet in ½. I tacked to avoid the huge wind shadow and went far right over-standing the mark so I could come in with speed. Once in the voodoo chop, everything changes and I wasn't able to make any further forward direction. Slowly I made my way around the red nun for a second time and got around the north tower and down to Anita Rock where Peter rounded just in front of me. We were shlogging coming in, well behind the leaders who had already rounded and were planning in the middle towards Harding. I go to gybe around Anita and the support boat waves me off the course saying I had not made the 10 min. gate from the first sailor. I knew there were at the most 6 sailors in front of me with the rest of the 25 board fleet behind me. Certainly there was some mistake. I continued on pushing ahead on the rest of the classic course. I managed to get Peter on the bottom half of the course, just as we rounded Blossom rock. Now there were only kiters in front of me and this was there first attempt at the classic. I'm not sure if they had a different course but they were going all over the bay. I finished the classic ready to forge onto the UN Challenge. With no competitor in sight, this was going to be a long upwind beat to the StFYC. My classic time was the longest it had ever been, almost 1:40. Going back upwind by yourself makes it seem like even longer. Alcatrez- only ½ way up the bay seemed like an eternity off on the horizon. I knew the flood was getting stronger and I sensed I should stay away from the city front and it would be stronger there. I worked my way up in the lee of Alcatrez. The Angel island side seemed lighter so I was forced to go back up the city front in the flood which really slowed me down. I made it back to the beach after close to 3 hours on the water. I was spent.
I found out later I was not scored for the UN Challenge as you needed to finish the Classic in order to start it. I was rather upset knowing the afternoon didn't really matter after all. Well I knew I did it, gave it my all and finished. After all you're racing against yourself and the other boards are just obstacles around the course. Day 2- Again we waited for the breeze to fill till around 2pm but managed to get 3 course races off in 11.0 conditions. I used a 70 cm fin today feeling better on the upwinds. With finishes of 3, 2, 3, I finished 1 point out of first. Bill and Soheil tied with 7 points as we all battled it out near the top of the fleet. Al and Eric were up there was well, mixing it up but it came down to some luck getting around the top mark. Soheil found out that being out in the lead gets you more clear air and you able to squeeze the mark more. With the rest of the fleet following on the starboard layline, we all fell down in the flood and had to double tack to make it around more than once. It was a parade to the middle both up and downwind as the only real wind was there. Soheil tried going inside on the last downwind and got passed by 4 boards. I managed to pump down and get Bill at the finish as we was on his 10.0. Next race, the majority of the fleet started on port again. I was getting really decent starts with Soheil but he was climbing and holding his lane. Eric and Al didn't seem to have the angle with last year's north sails- perhaps the fins but Soheil was well tuned on his 64- cm fin. I would get close sometime upwind in the lighter stuff but never managed to get him upwind or downwind. On the last race, Soheil and I started on port again and crossing the fleet at the starboard layline but having to duck most of them at the start. It came down to Soheil extending his lead on the last leg and Bill, Al and I coming into the finish line together. Al and I gybed early as a 50' recreational sloop sailed upwind in our course. We both we outside strap sheeted in going all out to the finish line. I didn't look back at Bill as all my effort was going into passing Al. We had been in this scenario before last year at the Elvestrom regatta. It was the guy who worked harder who won. I got out of the harness and started pumping. At first, it wasn't any faster but I was able to go deeper and as the boat end of the line was favored and Al and I were headed towards the pin end of the downwind finish, I crossed a few seconds in front of him while Bill came in with speed and finished at the favored board end.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

2005 june 11 calcup

Calcup returns to San Francisco for city front racing. StFYC set a line and a windward mark and had an rc boat for a great day of racing. Its always fun to race on the city front as it gets 'survival' by the end of the day and there are lots of tactics to deal with with the flood and the ebb, commercial boat traffic, and of course a hundred other windsurfers and sailors on the bay enjoying the SF fog free weather. By 11 the wind was starting to fill in and I already de-rigged my 11.0 and went out on the water with my 10.0.

The swell was beginning to build and the wind was stronger on the outside. There was still a lot of flood on the inside but it was particularly tricky as it was sometimes quite light on the inside as I found out. As I warmed up, I realized it was going to be better to get to the right side early and out of the flood up wind. If there was a puff I could ride down off the breeze, the inside might be favorable. Of course, if there was wind on the inside there is always a nice geographical lift from the shore, but always a risk getting there.

I don't remember a lot of the particulars throughout the day as we had slalom racing just after course racing and it was a long day on the water. What I do remember is getting a nice starts the 1st race and rounding in the top 3-4 and keeping my position from there, With 2 laps around the course, there was some opportunity for strategy and finding your opponents weak areas and taking advantage of them. At the top, most guys are very proficient and not a lot of weak areas to take advantage of, but once you get stuck in the middle of the fleet, you can either grind people off or simply sail faster than them. Upwind on the first race, I tacked just behind and below Bill with Eric just in front. I know Bill is a footer and always goes for speed so I antcipated the squeeze and simply went for speed myself and sailed above Eric and was catching up with Ben. I really felt fast upwind with this set up. I had put on a bit more downhaul, which seemed to help the top end

In the 2ns race, it was Eric who was the lone port tacker. He looked doomed at the start, barley getting off the line having sailed under all the starboard boards coming down the line. But a the top mark, he was really out in the lead, having gotten out of the flood for longer in the stronger breeze. We all understood the windward mark and had to double tack. Just a bit further and I would have been golden. Off the breeze I made the mistake of sailing too far into shore near Crissy and got stuck with no breeze at all and really suffered as 4-5 boards sailed by well powered on the outside. Live and learn!
Don't remember much on the next race except the rest of the fleet caught onto Eric's lesson from before and there were about 10 port tackers. I had thought about it but at the time thought the current was too strong and wind too light to take the risk of not being powered up and staying up on the line to be worth it. I started on starboard sailing off the line with Mike Z and Steve. I decided to tack back early but going up the middle was just the wrong choice. You needed to pick and side and be totally committed to it. Mike Z and Steve both got the inside lift and came out on top. I struggled to make my way through the fleet down wind and got Al by gybing inside him at the last layline and pumping across the finish line. Nice strong finish. I'll take the points where I can get them.

Last race- we all came in and took a few minute break thinking that racing was over but they called us out again. The swell was big, the wind a steady 20-25k and everyone was powered on their 10.0's It was more of survival racing and not falling as that takes you out of the game. I decided port was the way to go and Ben, Jean and I all lined up on the left side taking a good run at the line. Those 2 cleared everyone but I decided to play it a bit safe and duck. Well better safe than sorry but sometimes you need to take the big risk to win. The 3 of us went to the right side while the rest of the fleet went to the shore. Ben and Jean rounded 1-2 while Bill, Steve and Mike Z slipped in just in front of me. We were all well lit going off the breeze. I felt Bill just below me coming up for speed and Steve just above me breathing down my neck. You know how close they are by the slight noise of the hull against the water without even having to look. Steve gybed first and but was forced to round wide and Bill and Mike Z had a tight rounding. I slowed down a bit, not to get in their bad air and set myself up for a tight rounding a lane to pinch up on the long beat ahead. I stayed up with Mike Z as long as I could but finally bleed off and went for speed. We had still climbed well above the Bill and Steve below. Jean and Ben were out in front going to the left side. Ok wait for the others to make mistakes! Steve was too powered up and got launched to leeward. One less to worry about! We all tacked on the layline and soon enough Jean fell to windward but was quick to water start out of it and slightly ahead at that point. Off the breeze we went on a big swell. I looked behind and there was enough of a gap for me not to worry and I just sailed conservatively not to make any falls. Bill, Jean and Mike Z were going deep and little out of control. I sailed a bit higher and let Jean make the next mistake of falling again and I picked him off and finished 4th.

We all sailed back to the beach where the shore break was just huge and Mike z was the first to go over the falls and miracuously only ended up breaking a batten despite pitch poling his ear on the shore break. I was pretty cautious getting out as someone was there to help. At that point everyone helped the sailors coming in to prevent any further damage. A real true show of sportsmanship and camaraderie we have here in our fleet.

2005 Interclub Slalom regatta

Next up was slalom racing after a hour break from course racing It has been almost 11 months since our last slalom race here in SF after last years nationals which was a huge success. I got the bug after sitting on the wall and watching all that racing. Since then I tried a bunch of different slalom boards and sails and finally settled on the SF standard- a mike's lab slalom board from last year and f2004 race sails from Micah!
The breeze was still up so I choose the 6.4 and 32 cm fin. As the heats got closer, I put on my 7.6 and bigger fin as it was starting to lighten up. I watched the first heat go off and headed out to the line. I tried to time my start to get going well and did a few practice runs timing myself. I was the first to get across the line and had a nice lead at the first mark and gybed well enough to stay there and felt pretty comfortable until the 3rd mark just in front of the beach where the rebound chop was just as high as the incoming swell. I dug my bow in and fell into a waterstart. Vlad and Chris went by on the inside and that was the race-3rd- still in the top half to qualify.
I quickly got back upwind as I was in the next heat and this time it was a face off between Bill and I. I lined up for a good run towards the line but doubted that I had the time right with about 30 seconds to go. I was the closest to the line and I stalled and waited then Bill went by below me with speed and led to the finish. Ben was quick to stay up in the front of the pack but fell on the mark closest to the beach where there was washing machine of a slop. I was conservative knowing I just had to make it around the course. Probably not the prettiest of gybes but it got the job dome for 2nd place in the heat.
After that the wind died off and we called it a day with only 4 of the 13 heats run. Bill was first, Vlad 2nd and myself 3rd in short but fun slalom series.

Friday, June 10, 2005

2005 Friday night June 10

June 10 Friday night Wow a lot of sailing over the past week with Crissy blowing almost everyday. Ive been training on the slalom kit for this weekends race but switched back to formula sailing on thursday for a windy afternoon on the 10.0. It was good training for friday nights windfest and Saturdays windy calcup
First off was Friday night racing at StFYC. One word- windy! 20-25k on course gear. That's why they make a 9.0 formula sail- for conditions like this. Shore break was big so launching was tricky. I immediately realized I was op'ed and sailed up to Crissy to put more downhaul on and adjust my harness lines. One comfortable, the set up was sweet with a r13 64 fin. I felt fast upwind and off the wind. Control was another issuer as the swell was pretty big.
First race off the line in mid starting line with Ben and we sailed to layline and were over standing the windward mark. Off the breeze, the inside got a little light and I lost Al and Chris here. I finished just behind the pack in 5th.

Race 2- I headed back up to Crissy to lengthen my booms and got back to the starting line with a few seconds before the start. I was coming in on starboard and Robert M was tacking on to port where we collided. I tried to bear off but the speed gained made it even worse. My board had a big slice up the starboard front edge. It was a quick trip back to the parking lot to get tape and make a quick repair. I got back on the water just in time for race 3 where I literally got stuck just below mark B with no opportunity to accelerate unless I wanted to go right into the mark. I had to slowly drift out of the position and get going again, Ahhh! The fleet was gone but I somehow managed to work my way back through and pick off one sailor at a time to finish 3rd. I got Al just on the last upwind by taking at the same time as him near the wall but I was further outside and accelerated quicker to get going. Of course footing a little to keep your opponent down always helps when you've got him pinned. Thanks for the lesson last week Bill!
Race 4- Breeze sill up, swell still strong! I managed to get a decent start and stay up there with Bill to finish a close 2nd. No mistakes, just a clean start off the line and my head up to keep aware of anything.Race 5- a few less people on the line as peoples training was beginning to show. Another decent start in the middle of the line but somehow my angle was just not there, it wasn't until I came in and realized that the tape job was peeling and I had a lot of drag on my board. Of well, at least it was dry and I was racing. Jean got caught up in the mix and was battling it out with Ben and Bill for the top 3 with me just behind. Sometimes you just have to follow and wait for someone to make a mistake. Sometimes they don't make any mistakes and its just a parade. It's the little things that count. I won the tie breaker with Al for 3rd but realized with less mistakes around the course, 2nd and even 1st is achievable.

Monday, May 30, 2005

2005 south Americans- Brazil

As many of you know, I have just returned from competing in the South American Formula Windsurfing Championships. The regatta was held on a Fernando de Noronha- an marine sanctuary located 300 miles of the furthest eastern tip of Brazil in the Atlantic ocean. It is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The island is undeveloped and host only 400 visitors at time in addition to less than a few thousand residents. Eco tourism is the main industry there with visitors exploring the natural beauty of the island, off and in the water. We managed to see an unbelievable amounts of new birds- all a strange evolution of sorts; sea turtles dropping their eggs on the beach on the full moon; hundreds of amazing colorful fish in secluded bays while snorkeling; schools of playful dolphins swimming in front of our bow wake; and lizards abound on the land. We raced in the late morning from 11am- 1:30 pm and had the rest of the day to make siestas on the beach and explore the island. Alex, and I made the trip from San Francisco where we met Fernando, Eduardo and Ron from Miami. The rest of the south American fleet was very competitive and a challenge and joy to sail among. There was an opening ceremony where I thought I would faint when I saw the buffet spread of at least 20 different fishes, paiai, fresh vegetables and fruits, fish stew, sushi, and an equal yet just as amazing desert spread with fruits, ice cream, chocolates, cakes, coffees and liquors. The race committee as did a great job as well, running 3 races a day 5-10 min off shore. Below is a race report from the regatta. Be sure to check out the photos as well !

Day1- 2 practice races today as all of the competitors equipment has not arrived yet from charter flight to island. At skippers meeting, everyone agreed to wait a day to start regatta….a really nice thing to see especially with a competitive fleet. The true spirit of windsurfing.

I got out and find seas swell and 12-16k light breeze. 11.0 and R13 68 feels good in the conditions! Finish mid fleet. Happy with speed and angle. We are racing on the lee side of the island but the wind accelerates down the slope of the terrain and is quite gusty. Near the right shore, there is a big right light from the land but the air is unstable. The swell is also very particular making it so that on port tack you need to really ride the wave, get speed and climb back up. A lot of the guys aren't climbing back up and it's a chance to climb after the leeward mark at the bottom of the course. The upwind mark is set pretty close and the races are about 17-25 min with 2 laps.

Day 2-
Race 1:Having some trouble getting my bottom cam on my f2005 sail to stay on while rigging on the beach so I decide to sail last years 11.9 at last min. I am the last to go out from the beach and get to the starting line 30 sec before gun. I started with 10 others on port ducking most of fleet. Wind is light. Fleet is anxious. General recall!

Next start, I manage a decent spot ¾ of the way down and sail the first beat with clear air towards the left side. I tack over but am already at the layline. Boards on right look to have gained a lot. Downwind, it's a parade to the right side. My speed doesn't feel great but I pick up a few boards gybing early and working the puffs down to round inside at the leeward mark. Back upwind, I keep good angle on port and sail to right side with a light breeze. Slow to accelerate of tack and loose 2 boards. I round in around 15th. Downwind, things are light again and I get stuck gybing to early and have to double gybe while those who took it wide come in with speed and walk away on the rounding. Last upwind to the finish, I tack sail with a group to the right and tack, thinking start finish line is same but realize it's set to the right of start line. I cross on port but lose 8 boards who came in strong on the layline. First big lesson- look at course diagram before going out!
Race 2: Cant remember much details about the race except that I got the right sooner and that paid off. 68 fin seems a bit draggy off the breeze. Finish better no big mistakes.

Race 3: Wind had gone right more and lighter. My plan was to go right as soon as possible so I started my line up a bit slower as to start at boat side. Unfortunately, the left over chop from the fleet going by with the wind shadow of the RC boat made accelerating off the line harder to do. A late port tacker decided to try to cross but didn't make it and we got tangled up. Now ever slower death on the line! Second big lesson: Avoid collisions at all cost! I now had 2 choices: Try to get my head back in the game and pass one boat at a time or think negative thoughts and not see the big picture. I managed to pick off a few boards each leg with some smart choices and avoided any more big mistakes. Keeping speed up was key to passing people as well as seeing what was happening in front of me. All the fleet was sailing into a right hole so I decided to stay in the breeze up the middle of the course but got stuck in several holes and stayed buried to the finish in the back of the fleet. Overall, I was happy with performance but think that with less makes I can move up in fleet as there is a big middle pack of 20-30 boards. Finishes are 18, 23, 35 (which I think I have been scored wrong for and file an inquiry)
Day 3- Lighter winds but I decide to switch to r13 64cm fin for better speed. I still missed the downwind layline and a few boards get by. I managed better starts today and get off the line clean and room to tack over to the right side early. Key is to watch for puffs coming down course. Quite a few boards get stuck in the light wind near the shore. Last upwind, I overstand by letting a guy just behind and to windward sail me to the corner and 3-4 boards get me.

Race 2: Fleet is early to the pin and congestion making me tack back and fight trough the fleet on port in bad air and water. A few boards collide at the pin end. Clear air is king and I get stuffed, rounding top mark deep
Race 3: light winds, finish mid pack. No big mistakes.

Overall, getting my head in game…still need to find better place on line and call downwind laylines better and not relay on other boards to gybe.

My best start have been getting around boat around 1:30 and sailing down the line just below the fleet looking for a spot on the line, usually near the mid to pin end. Holding my spot on the line and trying to accelerate hasn't worked well. Acceleration is key. Pinch off the guys around you early and punch out!

Day 4: Still light to medium breeze on the lee side of the island. I decide to go back to 68 cm fin and move mast track back to compensate. This tuning feels better as I have better speed off the wind with less wetted surface. 2004 11.9 feels good but I can tell the difference between this years sails and last already. Next year, I will include a big sail in the quiver for international regattas.

Race1- slow to accelerate off line as only a few boards escape. I immediately tack and try to get a lane out. With a short upwind mark, there wasn't a lot of opportunity to catch up but one board at a time. Let the others make mistakes.

Race 2- Good start off the line and able to tack and clear a lot of the fleet to get to the right early where I find a good rightie to tack on and get me to the top mark in decent position. Off the wind, I am on the pace but hold out to long to gybe on the layline as 3 boards sneak in on a puff to the mark. Back upwind with the strong port swell, most of the fleet was footing for speed. I took every opportunity to stay up and although a bit slower, the extra angle helped at the end of the reach. Ron rounded just behind and climbed well above me tacking in front of me at the starboard layline. It was lighter up there so we really had to work. I had my sail bagged out all the way, hiking out on my toes, and shoulders fully extended. I kept this up for a few minutes and really pumped hard near the mark to get around clean while Ron and the other boards around had to double tack. Downwind, it was just as much of a work out, staying out of the harness and pumping whenever there was a lull. At the leeward mark I was looking well around 7th and kept the pace till the layline where I noticed Ron had climbed to the inside of me and had tacked just in front of me. We both pumped to get up on a plane and crossed the finish line with in a few seconds. The small lesson learned here was no matter if there are no boards around you, sail as if there were and always keep up the pace, finishing just a few seconds behind Ron for 8th pace was my best finish but I could have gotten 1 more sport if I had just pumped a bit harder or gotten around a tack faster. Everything counts in this game!

Race 3- still light with lots of holes, 10-15k here seems much lighter than in the SF Bay. Speed was really important as well as clear air. I got off the line well and managed a 13th- another good performance putting me up a few positions for the day- ending the regatta in 19th place.

Although I would have liked to finished stronger, at the end of the day, you are racing against yourself and no one else. The other boards just provide obstacles for you around the course. You hope to learn a lesson in each race and ultimately not have to relearn the same lesson more than once. This was a great regatta and by the last few races, I had my head in the game and was sailing smart. Now if only I could start off this way and keep going strong throughout the regatta.
Day 5- Long distance race- top 30 finishers were invited to do the long distance race around the island but only 15 choose to do so. We had a safety meeting and were reassured that in a breakdown, other sailors should come and stay near the broken board so that the safety boat could make a rescue. On the windward side of the island there would be 10-20 ' swells making spotting a downed sailor hard to do from a boat. Other obstacles around the island were the reef on the windward side, the large cliff mountain at the far end of the island, making a good ½ mile wind shadow and the current running to across the ocean to Africa! No worries at all I thought contemplating the trip!I decided to play it conservative and rigged the 10.0 as the 11.0 was out of commission and the 11.9 seemed too big in case it got windy for a 2 hour race. We started just outside the port with a large group of spectators on the rocks cheering us on. It was similar to a slalom start were we took off on broad reach. From there it was navigating through the moored fishing and tour boats in the harbor. A lot of guys just behind me failed to clear the excess anchor lines floating on the surface and took and early spill. The top 4-5 boards took off and I was in the middle group fighting around the tip of the island. Once around the swell increased as well as some wind. I found myself moving my harness lines back to a comfortable position early on so I could stay sheeted in with equal pressure. There were a lot of flying fish around me, soaring a few hundred feet at a time just a few feet above the surface. They would hit a swell and either submerge in the ocean or rebound and shoot off another direction. Really cool to see! The swell was getting bigger as we turned the corner and started heading down the long side of the island. I It was actually quite confused as it rebounded from the windward side of the island back at the incoming swell- something I know well from sailing on the city front and under the gate. This time though I was under powered with the 10.0. Better safe than sorry I said to myself as the middle group was slowly slipping away. We got a knock as we approached the reef and I really didn't want any close calls with the breaking ocean wave so I tacked early. I was still around a few boards so keeping the pace up was ok. The other boards tend to keep you motivated. It was then I went over the bars and in the light wind was slow to get going again and the fleet was gone. I was sailing the rest of the race with out anyone close and kind of feel into some lazy habits of going into the chicken strap for control instead of pushing it and staying outside for speed. I was enjoying the scenery of some amazingly rugged cliffs and inaccessible beaches on this side of the island. As I approached the far and of the island, I began to gybe back to get closer and saw Ron struggling near the shore as he had fallen on a gybe. I did a few extra gybes as not to separate myself from him in case he wend down as I didn't see any rescue boats around. We were about to navigate around the tip of the island were there was few hundred feet cliff making a big wind shadow. I saw a few boards stuck further out, not planning but decided to risk it and stay inside. Immediately I passed 3-4 boards and my head was back in the game. Never count yourself out no matter how far you think you are behind. I was ¾ of the way around the island and back in the middle of the fleet. I amazingly planned past the group with my 10.0 and got a head of them and suddenly disaster struck. Well more so I struck disaster as I went flying off my board after colliding with what was something very solid that knocked my fin completely out the box. I reached underneath the board to find nothing there at all. I knelt on my board and waved my arms to dray the attention of the other boards around me. Fortunately Ron stopped and continued to sail around me drawing the attention of the rescue boat. I de rigged on the water knowing that my race was over but that me and my equipment were safe. It was a slow ride in on the rescue boat but I realized its better safe than sorry and not on my way drifting across the Atlantic to Africa!