Tuesday, October 31, 2006

2006 Olympic Pre-trials

Pretrials day 1"2 races in light to marginal conditions 7-10k, then dropping below 7. I was struggling upwind with my angle. Lighter guys are able to point a bit higher and maintain speed. Both races I was far back in 5th and it didn't merit even worth pumping.Up in front Ben in sailing away with Mark and Bob further back. Seth, in front of me in 4th. 4 women are competing to make the US RSX fleet at 9 boards total.
Pretrials day 2: Is there success through failure?
Sub marginal to marginal conditions today on the racecourse.3 races in diminishing conditions: choppy 7-11, then 7-8 the finally in race 3- under 6 knots. 5 men in the course in 2 lap windward leeward races. In first 2 races today Ben, Seth and I got off the line on port tack with track back planning conditions then the wind died and back to track forward displacement mode. In the last race, it was light- light and I was in there within striking distance for 4th. My back was in a lot of pain – upwind no pumping but downwind I was doing the butterfly pump at a good rate and caught Bob for 4th- otherwise 2other races today I was too far behind in 5th to even merit trying to pump to catch up. In the front of the fleet, Ben got 3 more bullets, Seth moved up to 2nd.Pretrials day 3:Somebody please put the wind back in Olympic windsurfing!
2 races in very light conditions in 3-5 knots of breeze. It was critical to maintain an upwind pump to get any angle at all- without it, I found my angle was way off and not in the game. For me this just isn't windsurfing – more like airs rowing with a giant paddle but these are the conditions similar to the next Olympics in China. This is one of the first times I'm ready to walk away from a challenge. My heart does not seem to be in the game nor am I interested in pumping the course and calling it windsurfing but my respect goes out Ben who is going for it all the way and walking away with 7 bullets so far. I think I've got a chance for 2nd or 3rd but at this point it's not worth it seeing the amount of time and effort required and the diminishing returns I am seeing. The other 3 guys have stepped it up a level but aren't yet close to Ben in first. I'm finding it hard to let go of this Olympic dream but sometimes better to do what your good at than what your not!
Pretrials day 4: The End is near
The light wind streak continues. I got out the racecourse for a 1 pm start only to find 3-5 knots on the course. Now instead of racing to the south of the harbor entrance like the previous 3 days, our course was position a ¼ mile in front of the entrance causing a lot of confused chop around the course. I got off to a decent start near the pin with Mark just on my hip to windward. I was able to hold him off by pumping just with my upper body but the whole motion just wasn't there, as I couldn't get by back to do what I wanted. Mark tacked off but soon it was apparent the right side was favored. So much for protecting the right side! I was in for a bit but soon enough got shot out the back door into 5th where it was apparent I wasn't going anywhere fast. Back up wind, Ben was leading the race for his 8th victory with out much challenge. The real battle was Seth trying to hold off Mark and Bob for 2nd place. Despite being a good 25 lbs heavier he's really working his ass off for 2nd place. Hopefully it will pay off for him the long run. As for me, all I needed was one race to know I was finished. I told the RC I was retiring and heading in.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Surfing the Kona on Anita’s Ghost Wave

Sunday 2pm January 21st and Crissy Field is lighter than light. Both Jean Rathle and I missed the morning breeze, procrastinated and arrived to find the SF city front that's not even worthwhile of a 11.9 and a formula set up.
A quick call to Berkeley to see if the old men are out on the water today.
No answer on Sylvester and Percy’s cell: probably means they’re on the water now.
Wait a bit more to see if the wind comes up….nothing.
Jean suggests breaking his Kona longboards out and go paddle boarding.
Well, I thought, at least it’s a way to get wet
We suit up and paddle out to find a swift 4-knot ebb on the inside of Anita Rock.
I lose my balance a few times and take a plunge.
The January San Francisco Bay water is colder than I remembered and I’m back up on the board quicker than I can say uncle!
Standing and paddling a 12”+ long board with a lightweight carbon paddle takes more coordination that I expect. My attention goes back and forth from paddling to balancing.
I find the rhythm of it and Jean and I racing against the outgoing ebb towards the B mark in front of St. Francis Yacht Club. My course is erratic veering to the right 30 degrees than off the left 30 degrees as I switch hands to paddle. Jean is able to keep his bow into the current and make a steady progress.
We finally turn around after getting around hearts racing at a good pace. Both of us agree this is more work than windsurfing!
Paddling with the 4k current is a breeze and we arrive back at Anita Rock in no time at all. To my surprise, its like a river flowing around Anita Rock and the ebb is throwing up a standing wave. I’ve seen this a few times on a big ebb day at the north tower. Some have compared it to a magic carpet ride. The experience is unbelievable as you can ride an overhead standing wave with out much effort and with out moving at all.
Despite the Anita ebb wave maxing out at 24”, it did provide several good minutes of stoke for both Jean and I as we both paddled and found the Anita ghost wave. If you got your bow outside the current line- you got shot out the side door and ended up 50’ downstream before you knew what was up. A quick paddle back to Anita and it was surfs up again.
The session ended with us paddling back to Crissy Field and practicing 360’s by sinking the tail paddling as fast as we could turn. This ultimately ended up with a few more dunkings but oh so worthwhile on a beautiful sunny San Francisco winter day.