Sunday, March 5, 2006

2006 midwinters

Day one- Winds were light and variable today with only one race for the formula fleet. I managed to get off to a decent start near the pin end of the line with Devon just below me. My goal was to get clear air and a lane to the left where there was a bit more wind. I wasn't able to hang in there with Devon's angle but I did get to the left side early and round the top mark in the top 10. Jimmy Diaz rounded just in front of me as it was really light and we had to pump to get around the mark. Once off the breeze, things stayed heated up and I was able to pass Phil McCain but let Seth get by me. At the leeward mark, I was ahead of Peter Bilj, NED 0 as we rounded but he hit the end of my booms with the front of my board and I went down to windward. I was pretty pissed off since I had the right of way but got up and continued. 6-7 boards managed to sneak by as my attention was still at the collision and what I could do about it. Well there was nothing I could do about it at the time so I switched my attention back to racing and picking off one board at time. Luckily, it was still early in the race so I had time to get a few boards back and finish 14th. I was on my 11.9 2005 warp and r13 68 s +6 debocheit fin with the ML06.
I did protest Peter as I was in the right of way and the protest committee agreed and threw him out of the race. My big mistake though was not asking for redress in the protest hearing. I did mark it on the form but did not present it in the argument. This ultimately cost me the potential of a few points- and we all know places are determined by just a few points. A big lesson learned but in someway I'm glad I learned it as to avoid the same mistake in the future.

Day two- typical Florida conditions- light and variable conditions. We tried at 2 races but failed to get anything off as the breeze died both times, Finally around 1pm the breeze started to build as the other fleets were racing. It came up in a big way getting to the high teens and low 20's I switched down to my 11.0 and Kashy 65 cm fin for more control. The 1st race I was well positioned on the line but has some goof drop his sail right on top of me and we both went in the water 10 sec. before the start. I tried to remain calm as there was nothing to gain from a burst of anger. I got on my way on port tack as the rest of the fleet was off the left side. Nothing to do but catch up. I managed to slowly pick one sailor off after another but finished 17th.
Next race- better start but still behind the top guys. I was off the left side with power and rounded well in the hunt. 2 upwind and downwinds later, I pretty much stayed the same with another 14th but ahead of Steve Sylvester!
Race 3- Cant remember much about this one except finishing 14th again. Room to improve. Conditions were picking up with stronger gust in the mid 20's.
Race 4- Ok I knew I had to get a decent start to do well this race. I placed myself well on the line going for a pin end start. Seth was just above me and Dave Kashy just below. We were all a few seconds early and had to stall before running out of room. With around 10 seconds to go, we all accelerated and shot across the line. Dave caught his fin on the anchor line and wiped out while Seth failed to get going with was still looking good in 9th. Off the breeze, I was fighting with a Brazilian sailor who had really good speed. Unfortunately for him, he caught something on his fin and dropped back. I was feeling good with only William Shurman behind me. He climbed on me upwind and had some leverage but I was 5 board lengths ahead. I knew he night have better angle but had gotten slammed 2x already this race. My strategy was play in conservative to the finish. I overstood the windward mark a few board lengths as to not have to double tack as there were a few guys already in that situation. BRA 999 tacked at the same time just inside me and we rounded the windward mark with in a few boards lengths of each other. The top reach was pretty hairy with a 11.0 and I got stood up a few times while Shurman on his 9.8 any speed. I however had a great start and managed to sail a decent race. I rounded the top mark in 7th with Jimmy right on m tail. I held him off till the bottom mark where the guy in front of me had a sloppy rounding and I had to leave a bit off room which Jimmy quickly too advantage of and snuck in there. He had better speed and rolled me to windward as I had to foot to get clear air. Seth too managed to sneak in there as well but I crossed just in front of me. I still managed 10th- my nest race so far of the regatta. As of Sat. Night I am in 4th in the men's fleet with 69 points for 5 races. Tommorow's forecast doesn't look so good but we'll have to wait and see.

Sunday Day 3- The Formula fleet stayed ashore today as there wasn't enough wind to get planning. The results changed some as the organizer recalculated 5 races to include a throw-out. Seth moved up to the pro fleet in 9th place and I moved up to 2nd place in the men's fleet to 13th overall. Sylvester ended up first in (+35) master's class, finishing 16th over all with Ron Kern in 2nd in the class and 17th overall. 51 sailors total in the A-Formula fleet. Overall results at calema website.

It was interesting to see all the new gear on the beach. Most innovative was the adjustable plates in the cut outs of the F2 and Exocet boards. Sailors were coming in changing according to the conditions. It brings up a greater number of possibilities for changing your setup. Now you can adjust the plates in 3 positions as well as the stiffness, rake, size and shape of your fin. Quite an opportunity to find the fastest set up. The F2 still has pipes but were elongated on the deck. Also noteworthy is the fact that the F2 boards have a very shallow Tuttle box with a recessed fin screws. A lot of people were sanding their fins to fit the box as well as finding out the top of the fin box was too thin to over-tighten their fins!

The starboard has smaller and shallower cutouts and seemed to be performing well with most of the top pro riders on it or the F2 boards.

The Fanatic board was really wide at the tail and with other set of extreme cutouts and sharp rails at the back end. Arnon and Peter were having a tough time sailing in the breeze on Saturday on the 06 Fanatic board getting stood up and noticing it took a lot of back foot pressure to control the board.

The new ML seemed almost simple compared to the all the things going on with the other boards. Less things to break or go wrong I say! I didn't find any real disadvantage to it in speed or pointing when I was sailing at the top of the fleet. The 06 ML was easy to control in the breeze with a 65 cm fin. I would guess an even smaller fin could be more efficient in medium to strong winds.

As for the new sails- the NP and North sails both took a step forward with wider luff sleeves improving the wind range of the sail. It's still a personal choice as to what strategy to follow: keep holding a big sail for as long as possible or switch down to something smaller and more efficient if the wind stays steady. Both theories seem to work as Gonzolo and Wotejk and Sylvester used a 9.8 - 10.0 on Saturday while Antoine, Jimmy, Seth and myself stayed on 10.7 - 11.0.

The Aerotech sails took a big change as well with a much straighter mast shape and luff curve. It's a wide sleeve luff with 11 battens! Devon was using his 05 Windwing sails from the worlds last December.

As suspected a few NP mast from last year breaking in the hot weather! The new NP mast seem to be improved but most sailors are now de- rigging their sails between races on shore. It didn't help that the races were getting off slowly with 20-30 minutes between heats.

Also new on the beach this year was the hybrids. The RS-X Olympic class had the most sailors, with a fleet of 25, as there are a lot of young sailors (under 20) campaigning for the Olympics. In the men's fleet, top ranked US sailor Ben Barger won over the No 2 ranked Canadian, Alain Bolduc. In the women's fleet Canadian Dominique Vallee won easily over another young fleet of sailors. The RS-X fleet raced along side the Prodigy class and the Open hybrids. The Prodigy class was mainly the older guys who switched a few years ago from long-boarding when the prodigy arrived in the scene. They are just as competitive but not using kinetics as efficiently as the younger Olympic class sailors.
In the open hybrid class the new F2 lighting looked pretty cool with a raised deck over the centerboard giving you a nice platform to rail the boards in lighter winds. It also had cut outs similar to the F2 formula board but with no adjustable plates.

On Sunday in the light winds, the hybrid and long boards raced in sub planning conditions giving everybody a workout with lots of pumping. I don't think the formula boards would have been able to get up wind like the hybrids and long-boards with the centerboards. Thus proving, maybe the hybrid class is the best thing to race when the conditions are light and you still want to race. I don't find it so exciting to race in these conditions as it is so different from the planning experience of formula racing. Perhaps that's why I ended up in San Francisco with mainly medium to high wind racing,

I wasn't able to re-open my case to get redress for Fridays race. SF rules guru, Brian McDonald coached me through some pointers on the phone on Sunday to try to get the case re-opened but to no avail. The Protest Committee said it wasn't enough to only check the box for redress. 2 SF judges disagreed! The big lesson here is never leave anything to chance in the protest room. Everything is subjective. I could appeal the decision and see what another protest committee would decide but with the added throw-out on Sunday, I wouldn't have moved up any in the fleet.

Overall, a good event early in the year with some chances to line up with top sailors and tune my gear. I feel my sailing has stepped up a notch at this event from the recent regattas Ive done in Melbourne and Miami. Hopefully I can continue the improvements with better results this year. I'm still contemplating more RS-X racing later in the year but will stay focused on formula racing with the start of our SF season soon. It's just a few more weeks before we can start seeing typical SF conditions and hopefully some exciting racing on the Bay.