Monday, May 21, 2007

SF double header

While the Giants and the A's were playing an inner-leagues series on the Bay this w-end, SF racers got a double header with a classic heavy weather survival twilight series at the St. Francis and some lit up calcup racing at Rio Vista on Saturday afternoon.
Conditions have been off the wall all week with 25k+ almost everyday on the city front.
Friday night was no exception. 9.0 was the call if you could hold on. By the5th race- there was just 3 racers left standing. Seth dominated with 5 bullets while I took 2nd with Al and C-Rad battling it out for 3rd and 4th place. US Windsurfing president Jim Mcgrath managed 1 race with his 10.0 and had enough before packing it up and heading home. JK rigged, started but didn't even make it around before coming in and rigging slalom gear. By he looks of it, he was a much happier camper with the small gear.
Soheil tried something new last Friday by racing his course- slalom gear around the course. Despite being off the pace of the formula boards he got around the course. Maybe he's got the right idea. He sure looked more comfortable on a 6.8 and 105l board than most of the formula racers. Last year most of the fleet raced course slalom in Maui at the US Nationals while 5 raced formula. There's was some talk at the US Open 2 weeks ago to promote both formula and slalom at events with a 20k cut off between disciplines. More info at

Thanks for Chris for providing the photos on Friday from the race deck- additional photos from Friday nights racing can be found here

Saturday the 1st calcup of the season kicked off in windy and warm Sherman island in the Delta. By 9am when I looked at the iwindsurf sensor, it was already blowing 25-30k. Alan Prussia gave a clinic regarding line and purchase and showed the fleet some good rigging tips. If you haven't already gotten some formula downhaul line from him- do yourself a favor. Its low stretch and works especially well for the high load of Formula downhaul tension. Word is hes got some even stronger more durable stuff in the works.
By the 1:30 start, the wind had died off some but most of the fleet rigged their 9.0's knowing what Rio Vista was capable of. It's not an easy launch from the docks so coming in between races was not an option. I tired out a new set up Saturday with a 70 cm fin and a 9.0. Typically you would fin down as it gets windier but with the wider tail of the ML7, you can get away with a bigger fin. In fact, its becoming necessary. I sailed with a 64cm fin on Friday and my upwind angle really suffered compared to Seth.
Race 1-Boat end extremely favored. Big crowd. Mike Z was able to escape 1/2 way down the line and get clear air. I got bad air and tacked over to avoid trailing the fleet to the left. Meanwhile with clearer air and a more favorable current, I worked my way back to 3rd at the top mark behind Steve and Mike Z. Off the breeze we all had similar speed with positions staying the same. Steve rounded close behind Mike and got bad air and had to foot for speed. That left a hole for me to stick my nose into and climb. This worked a few times throughout the day and I was able to catch Steve at the top mark. We rounded overlaped but he managed to get a smoother leeward mark rounding and beat me to the finsh.
Race 2- OCS but keep going knowing I would get more out of racing than restarting in such a short course. I was gambling here hoping I could take this as my throwout. Another close finish 10 seconds behind Steve in 3rd
Race 3- Same deal- I tacked immediately after the start and worked my way to the right side for clear air and better current- arriving at the top mark in 3rd behind Steve and Mike. This time, Eric and Percy were all breathing down our necks downwind as they caught a nice puff from behind and rounded tight with the top pack. What ever you can do to give yourself clear air while rounding- do it. It was a long battle back upwind and I was able to climb some with a 70 cm fin and get Steve at the top mark and stay lit downwind with Mike Z just ahead in first. Better finish- 2nd place.
Race 4- Breeze was building steadily and the 9.0 felt lit. A few more sailors ventured to the right to get out of the flood but ultimately it was Mike Z, Steve, myself and Eric for the top 4 again.
Race 5: breeze was up to a solid 20-25k now for the final race. I started midline with Ben just above me. I felt him trying to get by upwind and knew he would have better speed with his 200+ lbs . I pinched as to not give him an option and he dove below me going for speed footing to the corner. We tacked at the shore and headed back to the middle together. He has much better speed but I was holding him with better angle. At the top mark Ben rounded in 1st with me close behind in 2nd. Steve was just behind me in 3rd. Downwind Ben sailed too far past the layline and Steve was the first to gybe calling it right. I split their difference and had a good rounding with clear air. Steve and Ben both footed for speed wile I came into the top mark on starboard forcing Steve to slow down and almost hit the mark in the 2k flood. Ben got away clean while Steve and I fought downwind. I had to let up on the trigger a few times I was was getting really over powered back upwind. Another close finish with Ben in 1st, Steve S. in 2nd and me in 3rd. Right behind us was Eric and Mike Z.
Noticeable absent from the top of the fleet was Percy who was preoccupied with racing and race management. Kudos to him and his race crew for setting up great racing for us. Despite a few problems with the boat we got 5 races off and results up the next day. Good show calcup crew! Click here for results.
Additional photos from Friday nights racing can be found here

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

US Wind and Water Open- Day 3 regatta report

Day 3 of the US Wind and Water Open didn't bring any additional wind and the results stood from Fridays 3- 10 minute races.
Never in the 4 or 5 times Ive races in Corpus have I ever been skunked for that long.
Despite the lack of wind, I did manage to learn a few things from the event about my new sails and better pumping technique. The 70 cm kashy soft fin really has a good grip in the lighter breeze. All you need is some flow to get it going but sometimes the 11.0 just wasn't enough to pump up onto a plane. The top 2 sailors both used 11.8's for more low end grunt to get going and maintain their speed in through the lulls. I managed to hold off Percy and Sylvester but the one time I got lined up with Mike Z he was able to hold a better lane for longer with his new ML 70cm fin.
As we repacked the Hansen Sails van and trailer for the trip home, I began to realize how gear intensive our sport really is. Heres the numbers:
6 west coast racers (Mike Z, Percy, Sylvester, Doug, Steve B and Seth)
7 formula boards
5 slalom boards
18 complete formula rigs
9 complete slalom rigs
25+ fins
+ bases, universals, harnesses, wetsuits, extra rigging, tools, etc...

None of us got the chance to get on anything under our 11.0's and big fins despite being ready for 3 displines and strong winds. Sometimes you can never have enough gear. When in doubt- pack it and take it to the beach!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

us open day 2

No wind for the second day of racing. at the US Wind and Water Open
A long day at the beach with only 1 start at 5pm- that was immediatly abandoned.
I got off well again and was the only board planning off the line.
Otherwise results stand as of yesterday.
1.Gonzola ARG 3
2.Wilheim BRA 999
3.Seth USA 64
4.Mike Z ML
5.Phil AUS 3
6.Steve B USA 4
7. Percy US VYV

no throwouts yet.
Tommorows forecast looks dismal.


Friday, May 11, 2007

day 1 2007 us open- corpus christi texas

Light winds plagued the first day of racing at the 20th US Open windsurfing regatta in Corpus Christi Bay. The kiteboarders never left the beach while the formula fleet barely got around 3 races with one other being abandoned 1/2 through.
The day started off the postponement flag right off the bat. In the meantime slalom heats were set. Nobody rigged till around 1pm as the Texas heat has been known to snap carbon mast left to bake on the beach. The event this year is being run off mcgee beach which makes rigging and derigging a snady experience. In true Texas style everyone drives their pick up down on the beach and rigs on tarps.
With the wind barley up to 8 knots the race director took down the postponement flag and within 5 minutes started race 1. Most of the fleet was still trying to get off the beach at the start. I made up to the line and looked like I would be the only one with a planning start. I took off the the left side where there was just a hint of breeze and building chop. Seth followed a bit behind and it looked like we might take the 1 lap race. A few others got off the line late and headed right and caught a puff coming down. I rounded the top mark in 4th but BRA 999 was able to go a bit deeper and get me downwind. 5th place finish with quite a gap behind me as the rest of the fleet barely planed to the finish.
Race 2: A rain squall was approaching just after the start which killed the wind and the RC abandoned the race after the first downwind.
After a long wait the 2nd race was restarted in marginal winds. I got off the line well in the middle of the line pumping over Steve S and Mike Z on the line. Unfortunately I didn't take it far enough left and tacked back too early and caught a right shift coming back which put me a few boards back. Mike Z rounded just in front at the top mark with Seth a few board lengths ahead in 4th. By the bottom mark the wind was getting really light and I thought I might get Mike Z as we were pumping to make the bottom mark. Seth gybed early and came back to round just in front of us but was able to hold onto 4th with Mike Z in 5th and me in 6th. As I looked back up the course most of the fleet wasnt planing coming downwind. It was an ever longer wait till the 3rd attempt at racing and an ever lighter breeze. It was below the wind minimum but the RC started anyway in 3-6knots. Lots of holes up the course. I got off the line near the pin with Mike Z just below me. I was able to hold my line for the first minute but as it got lighter and we got headed I had to dive through his wake to search for air. I came off a plane and a few other sailors who were still planning came over to the left. Meanwhile most of the fleet got stuck on the line. Back and forth we went reaching across the course with no upwind angle. Most of the race was spent non planning and I managed to finish way deep in the fleet. Back ashore most of the fleet agreed it was too light for racing so I filed a protest which was disallowed. RC has final word.
So 3 marginal races today - 2 decent finishes with 1 horrible race. 1 more race to get a throwout. Tommorows forecast doesnt look any better with slalom and a speed event scheduled.

Monday, May 7, 2007

spring racing on the city front

Despite a mini heat wave in San Francisco this past weekend (that blocked any chance of a strong westerly developing) - there was just enough wind on Sunday to get 4 races off for the Elvstrom Zellerbach regatta at St. Francis Yacht Club. The Formula fleet sat ashore most of the day Saturday while the other fleets raced in choppy, confused conditions in 4-8 knots of breeze. It was frustrating even to watch the 29ers, lasers and Finns work upwind in a 3 knot flood and holy conditions. Boats would just stop while 20 feet away, others were planning by. We finally hit the course late Saturday afternoon but abandoned racing after 1 lap as most of the fleet wasn't planning.Sunday looked the same as the northerly was evident in the am as the heat was building.
Finally around 2:30 we hit the water for some windward leeward courses. Most of the fleet were on their 11.0's and L7's. Quite a few new north sails on the course this yearwith a few new Hansen sails as well. Seth and I got off the line clean with Percy just behind As we worked our way upwind, it was evident the puffs were the place to be-even if it meant sailing much further to get there. Percy was able to stay planning a bit longer as I fell into a hole near shore and he and Seth rounded the top mark. Meanwhile while double tacking the windward mark in non planning conditions, Al came screaming in from the outside and rounded just in front of me. Off the breeze, I stayed in the middle and caught Al as he gybed early and tried to ride a puff back inside. Rounding the bottom mark, I saw Seth and Percy tacked early and were headed back to the pressure outside. No choice but to follow them back to the breeze. Percy was first to tack but I stayed on port tack for another 30 seconds - overstanding so as to be safe. Just like the previous windward mark rounding, it was Percy who got caught on the inside with no wind. Seth saw this happening and tacked back just enough to round 2nd behind me. Off the breeze though he killed me walking away with to the downwind finish 10 seconds in front of me. Percy was a close 3rd with Al and Soheil in the top 5 as well.
Race 2 - much of the same- stay in the breeze. Seth got out in front while Percy and I had battled it out some more. This time neither of us got caught on the inside. We all overstood- me by too much and let Percy get in front of me on the last windward leg and sneak in for 2nd place. Lesson learned- be smart but don't get too greedy.
Race 3- The breeze was filling in on the inside more so we all started on starboard and rode whatever puff we had up to the shore then worked our way out to the middle of the bay. Percy was able to get a bit better angle as we grinded upwind and was able to close the door on me again and rounded just behind Seth at the top mark. Off the breeze though Percy had an outhaul failure and dropped out of the race. I was able to stay in 2nd with Al and Soheil coming in strong just behind. Soheil had an amazing crash at the finish line where he t- boned a laser. Neither saw each other and fortunately nobody was hurt besides Soheils smashed board. Its always a challenge to race on a course with other fleets. I had the pleasure of rounding the windward mark in a pack of 10 Finns. Watching them all luff up and wait as I dropped my rig at the mark was fun as they had no place to go. Then I got my sail up and was surrounded by 10 finns with no room to accelerate- like being in rush hour traffic in a Porsche.
Race 4- I was going for the start- 100% committed. I had just dove below Seth and was driving down the line with full speed. I could feel Seth just above me. 3-2-1- gun the immediately a call of usa 4 and usa 64 over early. The line was small enough to do a quick gybe and head back out on port. Seth had a bit more speed and by the end of the leg he had several board lengths on me and rounded in front. Mike was able to call the layline perfectly and get me again. As we went back downwind and turned the corner, Mike and I sailed to the inside with a just a few board lengths between us. We got to the shore and tacked. I immediacy realized we were about to enter the restricted area of the H beam just west of the club. I bore down and went below the post while Mike- sailed right through the restricted area. Although he stayed in front of me the rest of the race, I got him in points as there wasn't a throwout with only 4 races. If it were a longer series, I think the best thing to do would be protest.
Despite sailing better than me, Percy beat himself out of the race for 2nd with a broken outhaul and not reading the SI's. Its the small things like that- that hopefully you don't have to learn too many times.
Overall- a decent showing in 2nd place. I still think I can get a bit more speed of the 11.0 with more downhaul. The kashy 70 cm fin felt solid. I could actually hold a lane upwind where as earlier this year, I was struggling to hold any angle.
More photos here and here