Saturday, November 17, 2007

Miami Pro Am

Light wind has always been my demise.
One can look at a challenge in 2 ways: either back down from it or learn from it.
Even with failure, some of the biggest lessons can be realized.
At my last regatta in Holland I learned that I needed an 11.9 to be competitive in the light stuff.
Here in Miami I got the chance to test it all out.
Arriving a day before the event was good as it allowed me to get out on the water to test my new fin as well as some of the new north formula sails. Jimmi Diaz arrived with a some protos for the 2008 sails and wow- what a great feeling. The 11.9 had a solid pull- lots of low end grunt and easy to handle. I lined up with the rest of Team Miami for a few upwind and downwind runs. The Mikes Lab L7 is still comparative with a big sail and powerful fin. I was pleasantly surprised at its light wind performance.
Day 1- With just a slight breeze on the water- the fleet shlogged out to the starting line from the US Sailing Center on Biscane Bay. The RC immediacy put up the postponement flag to everyones relief. Finally around 1:30 the breeze filled in to 12knots. I was sailing on Jimmi's production 11.9 while he took out the 08 proto. Sylvester got the chance to sail the 08 11.0 proto-type. Just a few people planned off the line and I was not one of them. I decided to check out the anchor line on the pin end while the rest of the fleet started. I immediately tacked over and banged the right side arriving at the top mark in first. Sylvester was hot on my tail. I knew I might have the horsepower to stay head of him downwind but I sensed there was better breeze where I came from and immediately gybed back to get back to the breeze while Sylvester kept going to the right. I stayed powered downwind and got the bullet in the first race. 'Yes Ive still got it'- I though but dont let this get to your head.
Race 2 was started in the same 12knot breeze- this time though another obstacle would present itself- the famous Miami weeds. I got off to a decent start just above Jimmi and was able to keep my lane upwind. As we tacked over it was evident Jimmi's speed was a bit better than mine as we reached across the course to the right side. I kept going quite a bit past the layline thinking the breeze was dying up top but incidentally let Fernando and Steve by below me. I rounded the top mark in 3rd or 4th and worked my way back downwind only to be dead slow. I just couldn't get going. Almost 50' from the finsih I looked back and found I was dragging several strands of weed- making it possible for Ed, Ron and Brit all to pass me just before the finish. AHHH!
Race 3: The wind was getting a bit shifter and in the light stuff our angles were getting worse. I got off the line well with Jimmi again but as we approached the top mark the shifts were getting to be 10-20 degrees- making it necessary to start tacking and playing the shifts. The problem is- once you get out of phase you get screwed. One bad shift and I was toast and spent the next 10 minutes trying to get around the top mark. Most everyone was playing the same game so nothing to get too frustrated about. I rounded in 4th or 5th and kept my position to the bottom finish mark with Fernando taking the bullet. The big news was Jimmi breaking a mast just after the finish. Bad luck!
Race 4: I knew this one would be played out between Fernando and myself but as usual you can never count 'the professor' out- Sylvester started just above Fernando and myself and was able to climb. As we approached the shore it got light and Fernando was the first to tack. I struggled to get going again and Fernando got a jump on me. Fortunately for me he was going a bit slower due to the weeds and I was able to sail below him as he backed down to clear his fin. He and Steve tacked back to the left while I continued on port to the right side. I was out there alone and called the layline too early and came back on a knock. I was able to cross the 2 as the came across on port but continued to the left just short of the mark. This is where I made my mistake. If I would have tacked and covered I could have stayed ahead and even protected the right side- which I knew was more favorable. Instead I continued and let Fernando pass me. I was able to fend off Steve by pumping to the downwind finish. Nothing like a little grunt to get earn a 2nd place.
So it stands at the end of Day 1- Fernando in the lead, me in 2nd and Sylvester in a close 3rd.
Sundays forecast looks similar-and all I need to do is sail smart. Hopefully if all goes well- Ill get another chance to test the new F2 Formula board and 08 north warps. Ill try to post some photos of the new gear tomorrow. As usual the Miami hospitality was stellar with Alex and Simona throwing a great party at the US Sailing Center.

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