Tuesday, July 31, 2007

no wind so cal

So I made another trip down to southern California for the SoCal Cup
but alas there was no wind- or not much of it compared to the summer we've been having in the SF Bay. I havn't had much success with sailing in Long Beach with last years Olympic pre trials and this years no wind calcup.
Makes me realize how good we have it in SF with a great organization and plenty of wind!
Nonetheless with just the slightest breeze near shore- we had to sail up to the breakwater- nearly 3 miles out to get to the wind-line with 11.0s.
There was plenty of motorboat chop in and out of the harbor and the moored freighters provide a bigger wind shadow than you would expect. I did get a chance to test out a new 70 cm soft fin and also got a chance to find out some light air settings on my 11.0 which I havn't sailed since May!
Some light air settings that I found useful were:
higher booms,
mast track back 2-3 cm,
outhaul on upper clew grommet,
longer harness lines ,
a forward raked fin,
as well as a really loose outhaul setting to get going when beginning to pump.

These are all things you can do before going out and on the water to get better low end from your kit. Of course having a broken batten doesn't help at all. After realizing this I came in and de rigged and watched a handful of so-cal sailors- along with Eric Christianson from the Bay area sail 2 laps around a set course in marginal conditions. Oh well- sometimes you've got to learn the lessons when you can!
Meanwhile back in SF, the kite fleet held their first national championships with 59 kiters racing 16 races over 3 days and a big air day and boarder cross on the w-end! Local crissy kiter Anthony Chavez took the honors while all around waterman- Seth Besse- placed a respectable 26th in the gold fleet. A complete report can be found here on Kimball's Sail magazine blog site.
Well at least nobdy was killed- a plus for the kiters in their 3rd season of kite racing on the Bay!Thanks to Chris Ray for the pics!
For results- check out the StFYC site or here
Also some great videos of the kiters in action at crissy during their nationals:

As well as the new all time record for hang time- nearly 12 seconds:

For more kiteboarding racing check out the video section at www.myhuck.com

With one more week before the US Nationals in SF, the pressure is on.
Several top notch sailors will be coming from around the US, South America and Europe.
Looks like the action will be in Formula and slalom but several RSX sailors will be there in preparation for next year Olympic games.
If you cant make it down to crissy field to watch- check out the action on the exploritorium web cam

Monday, July 9, 2007

SF Classic/ UN Challenge Day 2

Sundays course racing on the San Francisco city front was another lesson is endurance, pain and hopefully some lessons learned at the end of the day. If theres one thing for sure in this fleet- its to make sure and leave your ego ashore. Windsurfing is a humbling sport but you just have to remember- if your hurting that bad- just imagine what the guy next to you is feeling!

I should have taken note when Steve S only rigged his 9.0 Sunday morning. My legs were still like jello from yesterdays 45+ mile jaunt. It was still borderline 9.0-10.0 when we left so I decided to take the 9.9 again with the 70 cm fin.
Race 1- Pin end favored with more wind on the outside so I decided to start on port and go right. I should have gone for the cross but decided to duck a few starboard takers and take their sterns in the beginning as to get to the favored side early. I ended up finding a lane to leeward of the rest of the port starters and began to climb with David Wells on my leeward hip and Al just above to windward. Al, Steve and I rounded the top mark and all headed downwind near the San Francisco city front. I was in the position where I could put on the heat going into the bottom mark and have a close rounding with Al or ease up a bit and stick my bow up a the rounding and go for the inside lane. The later worked as I was able to climb on Al and by the time we got to the layline was up 10 board lengths to windward. I waited for him to tack so I could cover and headed to the windward mark for the 2nd time around. I'm not sure if I was just too overpowered at this point but in hindsight I had my sail fully flattened to de-powered to deal with the gust coming down the course. I lost all my angle while the rest of the fleet made it around the top mark. I double tacked and somehow salvaged 3rd passing a few boards off the breeze before coming to a photo finish with Ben across the line. Steve S took the bullet and Al got a safe 2nd.
Race 2- the breeze was building, the chop was increasing, my energy was running low. I decided on the same strategy to go right and start on port. This time around I was getting worked to weather as I didnt have the strength to muscle the 9.9 and 70 cm fin upwind. I was in damage control and rounded in mid fleet- having to double tack the windward mark again! Racing in the pack is always fun as it keeps the pressure on. Percy and I had some runs off the breeze where I thought I was going to blow up if I pushed any further. I had to pass him to make salvage what ever was left. Up front it was Ben who worked the fleet with his great speed to take the bullet with Steve and Al close behind. I crawled across the line in 6th- trying to save face for the final race ahead!
Race 3- This time around I knew I had to pull something out from deep inside of me. I really wanted to finish strong to prove to myself that I had it in me. After all that's why we race this silly sport. Its not bragging rights or trophies, its a test of one will, determination.
The pep talk worked as I got off the line clean on starboard- heading in towards shore and the lighter (relatively speaking) breeze with the rest of the fleet in tow. Percy was putting on some serious pressure and I had to temporarily duck him to get clear air but soon enough got it back near shore. He was the first to tack as Steve S and I took our course as close to shore as possible. Meanwhile Ben was working the outside fully wound. He rounded to top mark in first while I lead the rest of the fleet coming into the top mark fully wound. I looked back to see 5 boards on the layline fully lit and out of control. Off the breeze I thought it would be safe to stay inside but really should have learned my lesson from the previous downwind legs where the guys who gybed early where coming in strong at the bottom mark. Eric did exactly this and rounded in 2nd a the bottom. I had to again keep some serious angle to work my way back upwind. At this point Ben was gone in 1st so all I had to do was not mess up and cover the fleet. Upwind I grinded with my last ounce of energy - fully wound on the outside. Immediately rounding the top mark in 2nd I gybed so to get the better breeze outside and held on to 2nd.
The fleet was so mixed I wasn't sure where we finished but it was Al who edged me out for 3rd by 1 point and Steve S grabbing 2nd and Ben getting honors again. I'm looking forward to some rest the next few days to recover before making it my mission to train hard for the upcoming US Nationals in San Francisco next month.
For all the photos of Sundays course racing, click here
Thanks to Chris for an amazing eye and lens on the water
Thanks to another stellar race provided by the StFYC and John Craig managing the RC solo.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

SF Classic/UN Challenge Day 1

7.7.07- may have brought some unforeseen luck for some sailors but anyone of the 15 windsurfers and kiters who finished this years SF Classic and UN Challenge had been training hard all season for the premier long distance race in the US Windsurfing National Ranking Tour.

A light wind and fog greeted the formula and kite fleet on Saturday morning for the skippers meeting on the race deck of the St. Francis Y.C. Soon enough by 2:30 the breeze filled in for a start just off Anita Rock in front of Crissy Field. The tide would be flooding all afternoon and the race would take sailors on a 45+ mile journey outside the golden gate and around 14 downwind gybe marks before heading through the end of the Berkeley pier and coming back upwind for the Ultra Nectar Challenge. Most sailors choose their 10.0 and ML boards as thats the unofficial SF one design.
The fleet was split at the start with half on port and half on starboard. I opted for port at the pin just above Mike Z and Ben. We crossed the starboard tackers with no problem and headed out to the breeze. Ben pulled away with some amazing speed while I worked my angle the best I could to shut Mike Z out. It was the beginning of a long race but every battle counted. David Wells got away clean on port below us and was out to a good start on his new L6 and finworks fin. I looked back to check the starboard tackers who were getting a nice inside lift at this point and climbing but it was still a bit sketchy near shore. Ben was the first to tack as he ran out of room heading towards the north tower. I carried it out further as I knew there was a strong flood and clearing the south tower was number one priority. As we got closer to the red nun just outside the gate, it was evident, the San Francisco conditions were indeed classic. The standing 4' voodoo chop hit the fleet like a mack truck in LA traffic. Boards were going down left and right...The leaders falling like trees in a storm.
I rounded the top mark with Mike Z in town and Eric just in front of us. Ben was down, Steve S was down, Percy was down and soon enough I was down as I tried to go for the chicken strap and go deep through the chop. With a quick recovery in the crazy conditions I was back up in the race heading down to the mark just inside the north tower- still in 3rd place. As we headed down across the bay towards the Presidio shoal marker, it was evident the flood was strong and the wind light near shore- what to do- come in low with speed or take the high route and work the flood?
Neither route worked for me as I was at the mercy of the puffs coming down the course. Percy , Al and Steve S all came in strong an managed to pass me while I was cursing to myself- standing still near the mark, waiting, just waiting for a puff to come down the course. Its all about recovery I though as I proceeded back upwind with Steve S. and Al just in front. One more time around the top mark separated the boys from the men and soon enough we were off on the reaching part of the race. There wasn't a whole lot of passing here but up in front David Wells was walking away from Eric in 2nd. The rest of us followed in tow zig zagging across the bay from Anita rock to Harding; under Alcatraz to Blossum, back to Harding- over to R4 and back to R2. It wouldn't be the Classic if something exciting didn't happen.
Being out in front gives you a great opportunity to sail your own race but this time Davis forgot to round R4 and gave the race the Eric who was well prepared with sight lines on all the marks. On the reach to Blossum Al, Steve S and Mike Z were all putting the petal to the medal. There wasn't much I cold do with those guys in front of me except wait for them to make a mistake. Not likely as Steve S has only missed this race 2x since its start in 1978. Last year he didn't even stop for a boat load of drowning sea-scouts! The man has priorities! Al had the unfortunate experience of finding some waterfowl to make the leg interesting. He slammed into a bird sending him into a great catapult. I quickly turned on the afterburners to catch up but he hung in there for the next 2 legs until we turned the corner to go downwind to the Berkeley pier. I rounded just in front of him but at this point there was only 2 more legs left to push. Steve and Mike Z were a good 30 seconds enough ahead and Eric and Percy were a decent minute up from me. David Wells snuck in there to salvage a 5th in front of me but was obviously disappointed after leading much of the race.
Nothing to do but forget about the previous hour and ten minutes and concentrate on the next half of the race back up wind. I immediately tacked to port going back to the stronger breeze shooting a gap in the Berkeley pier with David. I was climbing on most of the fleet and by the time I got to the first cross I had made up a lot of distance. My goal was to stay left of the fleet to get out of the flood. Eric took the Angel island shore a bit too close while Percy was getting some great wind just below Alcatraz. The chop at this point was steep and close together. I was just trying to eep the board going with the best VMG possible. I tacked back early once when I could clear Point Blunt and sailed up towards the Tiberon peninsula. It was getting lighter in there but I had some decent separation between the fleet and on the way back managed to cross Percy. It wasnt untill I was coming across the middle of the Bay did I see Steve S who chose the city front side to come up wind on did I realize I had a chance of winning.
I think they key was just wanting it. I knew I didn't have the best downwind race so coming back upwind I gave 110%- even when sailing on my own not in close proximity to the fleet. The 70cm kashy fin points like an Americas cup boat even when overpowered- theres a lot of lift. Off the breeze, its a little hairy in the voodoo chop but Mike Z factored that in with the double chicken strap this year.
It wasn't until later in the evening when the elapsed time came out did we realize that Ben- who rounded the bottom mark 10 minutes behind me- sailed a faster upwind course than me by 73 seconds. He was really flying with his 11.6. I didn't think it was possible but over the long haul it was his better vmg than won. Ben goes for speed. Hes a big boy weighing in at 210-220lbs. Combine that with a fast rig and some serious footing and you've got your upwind champion.
Congrats to him and Eric for showing us how to get the job done.
A couple of hundred photos from the race- can be found here
Thanks again to Chris for enduring a wet day on the water!
Results and Al's gps tracks can be found here

Monday, July 2, 2007

June 2007 training and racing

Its been a windy past 2 weeks of windsurfing on the San Francisco city front with lit up slalom sessions after work 4-5 days a week. Soheil, Royce, Bill Wier, JK and others have all been getting their kits dialed in for the US Windsurfing nationals next month- more info here

I put formula training on hold until last Friday when we had another twilight series - and man did it show. I made plenty of mistakes and sloppy board-handling transitions.
Despite getting a good jump on the competition with good starts and weather mark roundings I fell 2x off the breeze in the voodoo chop just outside mark A from the St. Francis YC.
Race 1- I lead all the way around only to sail myself into a hole near the shore on the last upwind and fall on a tack- letting Eric take the bullet.
Race 2- With the breeze up to the low 20's on the outside, Ben gets some good speed off the line and rounds the top mark in 1st. He has been flying with the Hansen sails in the breeze. Off the breeze-its a case of staying in control. Ben goes down hard. I ride the 3/4 chicken strap in the chop with the 70 cm fin just to stay upright. Last upwind I make sure to not sail too close to shore to avoid the wind shadow and tack close enough to make the finish in 1st. Bill Weir gets a good race to finish 2nd
Race 3- JK put the pressure on me upwind with his 70 cm mikes lab fin on the first upwind. No doubt this has given him a better upwind performance despite being on the stiff side. I duck him and search for clear air then having to foot through Ben's bad air. Eric and Ben round clean and get a good distance established and not enough time to claw back. I fend of the rest of the fleet to take 3rd. Weir retires after a broken mast.
Race 4 - breeze is up again. I start at B and get a good lane to climb and be the inside boat in the lift off the shore. Off the breeze I go down hard but a quick recovery to salvage 4th- my discard.
Race 5- pressure is on. I sail solid race leading entire way around to take bullet and series. North 9.9 and 70 cm kashy fin seems to be good set up for most conditions. Booms are set a bit lower this year for more control. Mast base in mid track or just a bit forward in op'ed conditions.

Plenty of good slalom training this year as I'm getting my kit dialed in for nationals and hopefully some slalom 42 racing this fall in Europe. Slalom 42 is another discipline of racing like the Olympic class and formula class. This time instead of formula's 3 rigs, 3 fins and 1 board rule, slalom 42 gives you the option for 4 rigs and 2 boards for downwind slalom racing More people can relate to slalom gear as it isn't as gear intensive as formula racing- but still its alot of equipment!
I added a F2 sx medium 105 l board as well as a f2 large 130l board to my quiver. They both are a lot of fun to sail and aren't as intensive as grinding upwind and downwind on formula big gear. Dave Lasilla from finworks has hooked me up with some good slalom fins as well as finally getting some fast formula fins developed. Look for them at the front of the fleet by nationals this year!
Im finding some really good results with rigging the 6.3 with just a tad more recommended downhaul than suggested. With the mikes lab 95l slalom board- this is the set up for San Francisco voodoo chop and gusty city front conditions.