Tuesday, May 30, 2006

2006 US Open, CC Texas

I've just returned from the 2006 US Open in Corpus Christie, Texas.

The regatta was held in conjunction with the Velocity Games- combining freestyle skateboarding on ½ pipes, kite-boarding, formula windsurfing, slalom windsurfing and speed sailing. It was a unique way to promote our sport- in conjunction with action and excitement of other 'board sports.' There were several thousand people on the beach and boardwalk just south of downtown Corpus Christie watching the different venues throughout the day.

Six sailors from San Francisco attended (Mike Z, Steve S , Mike P, Ivan, Seth, and myself) with 5 in the top 11 spots in the most competitive formula fleet-a good showing for our local SF Formula fleet as well as several other US Sailors taking the top spots! I would guess there was close to 40-50 sailors in the formula fleet with 7 international professionals attending. There was enough prize money to keep most of the pros happy and even went into the amateur fleet. We got 3 races in on Friday and 4 more on Saturday before the weather became too much on Sunday and the regatta was called.

The formula races were run in the late morning before the breeze picked up- even then the 10.0 was almost too much to handle in the choppy Corpus Bay. Steve S. proved sometimes you don't need to go big to win- making the most of his 9.0 slalom sail every race to finish 7th overall. The event was won by professional Jimmy Diaz followed by Gonzalo Costel-Hovel in 2nd, Devon Boulon in 3rd, Wilhelm Shurman in 4th, Phil McGain in 5th, Seth Besse in 6th, Steve Sylvester in 7th, Mike Zajicek in 8th, BRA 25 in 9th, Mike Percy in 10th and Steve Bodner in 11th.

In the mid afternoon on both days we had an hour break before switching to high wind slalom sailing. The wind was side-onshore so the marks could be set close to the shore with the finish line off the beach- making it exciting to watch! Not everyone had slalom equipment but enough was there on the beach so everyone who wanted to sail could- thanks to F2 sponsor and importer Eduardo Owen for providing the extra equipment. Phil McGain went onto win the slalom discipline after 2 days of racing with Jimmy in 2nd, Gonzalo in 3rd, Wilhelm in 4th, Seth in 5th, and Devon in 6th. There were 6 other locals competing rounding up the rest of the fleet.

In the early evening, the excitement was moved over the marina where a speed course was set. All that separated 4-6' gnarly chop with 20-25k in the outside bay and a smooth speed course inside was a 5' break-wall- making ideal conditions for a speed venue. You couldn't ask for anything more! The course was set on beam to broad reach with no distant limits except the extent of the marina. Arm mounted GPS units were provided by the organizer and each sailors' top 2 speeds were averaged for their score. You could take as many runs as you wanted- the only requirement was to show your speed at the beach and clear the GPS unit for your next run. Most guys were getting in the 33-38mph on their first runs on small slalom boards and 6.3-7.6 slalom sails. The top speed was set by Jimmy Diaz with 40.5 mph. I managed a top speed of 36mph with a few runs but was outpaced by the pros who were hitting 39+ mph on each run.

Overall, it was great event that showed windsurfing is still alive and healthy and when held in conjunction with several other disciplines can be a great spectator event as well.

Day 1

Practice day today before racing starts Friday.
While rigging my 10.0 on the beach I snapped my 520 just above the boom.
I stuck in my 2nd 520 mast and again it snapped just above the boom.
2 masts, and I hadn't even been on the water.
It must have been damged on the way down here as they broke in the same spots and never any trouble before!
I found a way to calm myself down after a few minutes and decided maybe I shouldn't go formula sailing today before I break anything else.
I borrowed up some slalom gear and got a decent session on my 6.4 in a 20+ breeze.
I 'll sail formula tomorrow using a 550 in my 10.0 and do the best I can with what I have.
Day 2 :
Luckily with the help of my great sponsor- North sails- I was bale to get 2 replacement mast deleivered to me over night so I could race today. Thanks alot guys!
3 formula races in morning then organizer decided to switch to slalom racing then more speed sailing in early evening. By 8pm, I was dead tired and its only day 1 of 3.
First formula race I started mid line but got rolled by devon above me. I didn't seem to have angle or speed but rounded in top 10 behind Percy and Steve. At bottom mark I was in same position but closing in on Percy. Again upwind he had better angle but I went low for speed and made up some but going to the right side there wasn't much room to pass. The chop was building but still the 10.0 and kashy fin felt ok. On the downwind, I was on Percy's tail and he gybed first and I continued a few board lengths longer. At the leeward mark, it got a bit lighter so I was able to come in with speed and pas him at the leeward mark and finish behind Steve.
2nd race- things heated up some and I got off to a better start to the left side and rounded by Steve and Mike. Off the breeze I had good speed and managed to catch up some but really got in a bad position at the leeward mark and had to go for speed again.
A few people started on port and got over to the right side early where there was flatter water and got to the top mark first.
By the last race the breeze had heated up and the swell bigger and I was getting tired. In the same position just behind the pros and Steve and Mike, I went to round the leeward mark and jammed my windward rail and fell in. I took a minute or so to get going again but by that time I was in the middle of the fleet and sailing fast.
Slalom racing was up next but I had an unexpected surprise when the board I was using had an unexpected malfunction. That was it, after 1 race, I was out. My luck had to turn for the better after this!
Next up- speed sailing in the marina where it was blowing 20+ and I got p 36 mph. Jimmi got the top score of 40.

Day 3 -
4 course races this morning into the early afternoon before switching to slalom in the afternoon and then more speed sailing in the late afternoon.
I got dialed in the first 2 races today during the formula event but lost the pace in the last 2 when I had a bad start then switched to a sail I hadn't used since last season.
During the windy races I kept it together and rally felt good with my speed and angle. I still have not figured out why I am not up to speed but when I am sheeted in 100% and pulling with my back hand, I really feel good. Although my angle still isn't up there compared to Steve and Mike on port tack but compared to the rest of the fleet, I feel good. With 7 pros I am just behind the SF guys but in the hunt with then. I managed to beat Steve and Mike Z in race 3 today when it got windy which was a confidence builder.
My starts have been good but some how by just being in the right place at the right time- but that's part of sailing. In race 1 I got caught up in the mass at the boat- thinking I would get a bad start but was right at the boat when the board to leeward went down for speed which left me room to get off the line with speed and angle. I popped out with Steve s on my windward hip and kept him there for some time until I when down for speed and he eventually got free and sailed his own course.
In the 2nd race things were similar going into the start but I got hosed off the line when I didn't accelerate off a big piece of chop that hit the starting line. I caught up somewhat but was never really back in the hunt. How you recover form disaster is the real sign of a victory.
In the 3rd race the wind was still up. I got a decent start going off to the left side in decent position just behind Steve and Mike Z. We rounded the leeward mark with Percy on my rtail. Up in front, the fleet was getting knocked near the shore and was taking over before the layline. I looked back and Percy was climbing on me but I decided to stay with it and sail out to the layline. Percy tacked then I tacked. It looked like we would both make it while the rest f the fleet who tacked early got caught on the outside in a lighter patch. Percy and I rounded in front of Mike Z as we all headed down wind. Steve was just infront and I was matching his speed. Then we gybed and I rolled Steve to the leeward mark with a bit more speed and finshed just behind Percy in the race.
The last race- I made the big mistake of going to my 9.0 with out having sailed it since last fall. I was rushed out to the starting line. The cams were not rotating well and the boom sliding down. I just wasn't in the groove but I kept with it and finished the race just to get some points because after all - its all about the points.

Day 4
No racing today as thunderstorms were all across the area. So results stand as of yesterday. Top pros in top 7 spots with Jimmi at the top. Then it was Steve S, Mike Z, and myself in 11th.
Check out the photos on the link to the left of the speed event- some cool action shots!
Here's alink to some other shots of the event as well

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Calcup May 20, 2006 Berkeley

The forecast didn't look so good going into Saturday but eventually the wind came up and just as fast went away! During that brief time we got 4 races in with a fleet of 16 formula racers just of His Lordships in Berkley.
I managed to get 3 really good starts where I squired out and got clear air and a lane.
The first start, I was a little thrown off thinking we were going to start with the RC boat at the starboard end but it was the reverse so I got off the line in the middle while the rest of the fleet was near the pin end. I did have a clear lane and managed to work up on the fleet. Mike Z and Percy rounded in front of me with Steve S and Eric rounding with me a few board lengths behind. The 3 of us were overlapped going off the breeze with Steve to leeward. Steve realized Eric and I were rolling him and headed up. Unfortunately Eric got caught off guard and went over the bars and Steve and I escaped. I saw Steve fumbling with his hat and knew I had to make my move. We both gybed at the same time and got out in front of him keeping him behind me for the rest of the race. The next upwind things heated up some as we were all overpowered on our 11s and big fins. I found myself going upwind quite well with the big sail but the fin was a bit too overpowering. I managed to hang on and finish 3rd behind the 2 Mikes. We all went in to change down and got 2 more decent races off before the wind lighted up again.
The 2nd race I started well again getting a jump on the fleet but didn't quite have the speed to hang on for the rest of the race. I rounded 4th and kept my position to the end. Next race- same thing: good start off the line banging the left corner. It wasn't much of a decision as it was short 15 minute course and going left was the only choice. Mike tacked off after the next race after getting gassed but it didn't pay off too much. The 4 of us were sailing well in front of the rest of the fleet but there was still a strong pack fighting it out for 5-10.
I really only we thought we had 3 races but everyone swore we had 4 so no report on race 3.
The last race, things had lighted up to the point where a lot of the fleet wasn't planning during the race. I managed to get a real good jump on the fleet but it was too good as I was over early. I found out after rounding the leeward mark but kept going as it would be my through-out.
Overall a good day of starts but still need to work on my speed. I felt my angle was much better when I had a clear lane with the Kashy fin

Monday, May 1, 2006

2006 Elevstrom Regatta

Day 1: 6 boards on the line for the first race. Where
is everybody? Anyways more wind for us as the breeze
was building all afternoon to a solid 22-29k in the
afternoon for the last race. The formula class raced 4
races on the same course as the Lasers, Radials, Finns
and 29'ers. The RC called for the W course which made
some interesting downwind reaching. In the first race,
the fleet was caught by surprise by the starting
sequence. Mist were on the line but with the strong
flood got a late start. I had set my watch to 6 in but
came reaching in and was 7 sec late but won the start
with good speed and racing to the middle of the Bay
where the ebb started. Percy, Soheil, JK and Royce
were all below me and tacked early for the windward
mark but I knew there was some seriously strong flood
on the inside so I overstood and made it around in 1
tack as the rest of the fleet had to double to take to
get around the 2k flood. It was follow the leader from
then on as I made my way around the downwind slalom
back up top to the outside and a downwind finish.
Percy finished 2nd, Soheil in 3rd.
Next race, everybody on the line with decent speed
going strong. Percy had a bit of a jump on me to
windward and stated to gain some angle with the inside
lift. I went for speed to get to the ebb first. He
rounded in from of me and we did the downwind slalom
course again with a typical follow the leader pattern.
Back upwind, Percy had gained a bit as I got to the
layline but realized my harness line had broke. I
tried to manhandle it for 30 sec but realized I
wouldn't make the mark so I quickly put my rig in the
water and re-tied my lines onto the boom and got back
up to stay in 2nd with Soheil and Royce on my tail.
3rd race- breeze was building and strong ebb on the
outside made a tough patch of water to get through. RC
had 'C; course posted for fleet before us and I saw
that and thought we were on C as well. Unfortunately
they switched to A course with our class flag and I
went on to sail the wrong course. Percy and Soheil
battled it out to finish 1-2 in a comedy of errors
that say Percy bouncing off the leeward mark and
Soheil quickly catching up. I was in my own race
thinking I was sailing the correct course until I got
to the finish and didn't get a horn.
4th race- Now the breeze up strong and our fleet was
down to 3 boards as the day was taking its toll on the
sailors early in the season. Both Percy and I were
overpowered upwind on our 10's but very evenly
matched. He made it to the top mark first as I
overstood a bit and came down with speed to round a 10
board lengths behind him. Off the breeze it was a
simple downwind course going as deep as we could- feet
in the chicken or even leeward strap to stay upright
in the gnarly chop. I saw Percy loose his balance and
dig his clew into the water and go down. My chance to
take over! I made it past him did a overly careful
gybe and rounded only to stumble on my transition
upwind. Percy was quick to round behind me as I was up
hauling my sail but he to floundered in his
transition- stalling out- giving me enough time so we
could head upwind overlapped. We were both Op-ed
upwind but the real struggle came when we both tacked.
I let Mike tack early but he struggled to get going
again. I overstood to put some money in the bank and
made it around in 1 tack and continued downwind to
finish first with Percy just behind and Soheil in 3rd.
4 more races planned for Sunday with the breeze
expected to be the same- looking forward to more good
racing on the city front.
Well the battle continued into Sunday with Mike's
promises of showing up holding true. The forecast
looked to be the same but it was lighter to begin
with. Mike P rigged his 10.8 while the rest of us went
for the 10. Mike walked away the first race holding
onto a plane the whole race while the rest of us
struggled in the light conditions near shore and the
building flood.

In the second race of the day, Mike and I lead to the
top mark but Mike make a slow transition which I
quickly seized on and got away on the last downwind
and finished first. JK showed some amazing speed off
the starting line with a near perfect start at the pin
heading off the right side of the course wit the
rest of us in his bad air.
Going into race 7 we now had a drop race and we're
tied with 8 points a piece. Mike switched down to a
10.0 as the breeze was building and continued to
dominate with superior upwind angle. There wasn't much
I could do, I tried all the tricks in the bag- tacking
early to catch the puff, staying inshore to take
advantage of the flood but I just couldn't grind him
down and again we finished 1-2 with Mike in the lead.

On the last race things got considerably lighter on the
inside and we struggled to get going on the start.
Luckily some old imco habits of pumping like a madam
were instilled in me and I was able to get off the
line clear- looking back to see the rest of the fleet
standing on the line. Unfortunately that means calling
the layline on your own and I missed it by just a few
feet as Mike P rounded just onto of me and me missing
the goods and having to double tack and let Mike get
away. Olan slipped in there as well to show a solid
performance as the breeze dying to was 10-15k.

After the race, I asked Mike if I could sail the new
Hansen sail. After a few runs, I could honestly say I
was impressed with the hard work of the past few
months. The Hansen sail had a solid feel- very stable
upwind and off the breeze! I couldn't nail it down if
it was a fin or sail difference but Mike won the
regatta with some serious angle. Congrats to him and
the new line of Hansen sails!
I look forward to the rest of the season where we can
continue to develop and push each other. I hope to
see the rest of you on the line for the next Friday
night race and CalCup next w-end.