Monday, January 28, 2008

winter training

While there was a break in the winter storms pounding the west coat, I got out for an hour on Saturday @ crissy field- catching a light south easterly breeze. More importantly I lined up with several high tech racing multi hulls who were out for the 3 bridge fiasco race for a photo-shoot for windsurfing mag Look for the article later this spring or summer!
As usual, Shawn Davis was on the beach to capture the action.
Its amazing to see the similarities between the trimaran rig and the formula board.
The fat heads and deep twist.
I wasnt quite able to match their angle of the D cat upwind but had a few knots of better overall speed in the 10-12k puffy offshore breeze.
Here's an idea of the speed big cats and formula gear can achieve:

The new North 11.8 has some real impressive pull at the low end. Im contemplating to going to the on the water downhaul system form north. I think it could add a lot of range to the sail- especially on the water.On Sunday, we hit the slopes at Kirkwood to find some of the deepest powder this year. With almost 5' of fresh powder this week, it was just EPIC. Half the mountain was closed to high wind but you could traverse from Solitude or the Ruet to find great some unbelievable tree runs. My heart rate was off the hook from the adrenaline factor + the effort it takes to ski in powder.
The grin was ear to ear @ the bottom of each run.
Good training indeed!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Formula class rules

With last weeks Alex Cavillica Blue Water regatta in Miami, it made me stop and think a bit about our Formula Windsurfing class rules.

We had a 3 day race with no racing on Friday and marginal conditions on Saturday and 4 decent races Sunday in 15-20k knots.

Obviously the formula class has a certain wind range that works best- somewhere around 8-25 knots. Below that range and you’re not planning on a formula board- which really takes the tactics and strategy out of racing. Formula boards barely move upwind when not planning.

Sure you can do it and racing in 6-10 knots take a certain skill set just as racing in 20k+ as Vincent pointed out in his comments from Day 2’s report but where’s the line for “suitable conditions” as determined by the race director.

Obviously this is a grey area as racing in Florida differs than racing in California.

The class guidelines suggest the following:

Wind Speed , its measurement , and 'suitable conditions'.

  • the Race Officer is advised to calibrate his wind speed readings on the anchored start boat from a drifting boat to windward
  • if the wind speed is less than 7 knots in the starting area at any time during the last minute prior to the starting signal , the start should be abandoned
  • wind speed readings should be taken from approx 2 metres above the water surface
  • the Race Officer should ensure that the wind is measured over as much of the course area as possible ( at least start , windward mark , and middle of course )
  • if pumping becomes the main method of propulsion the race should be abandoned
  • the decision on ' suitable conditions ' rests with the Race Officer

The championship rules go on to say:

2.2.4 Racing shall take place in suitable conditions, and

the decision on suitable conditions shall be made

by the Race Officer , and where appropriate the

Class Race Supervisor .

In several races on Saturday, the majority of the fleet stopped planning for several minutes on one or both sides of the course. On the last race of the day in conditions under 8 knots, only a handful of sailors got off the line planning.

Should this be an example of when the race director should abandon the race due to lack of suitable conditions?

Part of what makes yacht racing and racing boards so interesting is that the conditions are changing all the time. There’s a strategy to figure out what side of the course will have more wind but if it drops to non plane-able conditions for the majority of the fleet, should we be racing at all?

Id like to hear your opinions on how the class rules can be improved, if at all or other suggestions to make racing more fun and fair.

The Aussies arnt worrying about too little wind at the moment with the Formula Oceanic and Australian Championships with the first day of racing postponed due to 35k+ wind. On day 2 or 3 things calmed down to 18-24k. Steve Allen on the new gaastra formula board is still dominating

In other news- it’s great to her the IWA is considering the Formula class for the 2012 Games. See Bruno’s 2008 New Year Report. The vote on what equipment to choose for the 2012 Games comes this November.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Day 3 Bluewater regatta

The wind finally came up for the 3rd day of racing at the Alex Cavillica Blue water regatta run from the Shake a Leg sailing center in Coconut Grove, Florida. With 4 races already complete, it was a close call at the top of the fleet with Micah Buzianis and Jimmi Diaz battling it out for the top spots. Not far behind and with plenty of practice coming from the Worlds last month was Mathias BRA 5 with several races challenging for the top spot. Not far behind was locals Fernando Martinez and Ron Kern. Still stumbling after 6 weeks off the water I was finally able to find my groove today with a few races in the top 4 and 5.
More importantly this was the first chance to see the new gear for 2008. I got the chance to sail the new north warps and what a difference they had. The 11.8 and 11.0 felt lighter in the hands but really pulled well- especially at the low end. After todays racing in the high teens it was evident the 11.0 had much more top end as well in the upper end of the wind range.
Also present was some of the new 2008 formula boards. Ron and Steve were riding the new L8 from Mikes Lab and showed it really had much more bottom end than last years board and remains a threat in the breeze. You wont see alot of pro riders on this board as Mike builds them custom but all according to ISAF rules. Up next was the F2 FX6 Formula board. It seems an improvement form last seasons double breasted beast but still has many things going on with air pipes and adjustable cutouts. Vincent had the all the Exocet board which looks incredibly like the starboard 162 but very light. This could be an another impressive all around board but probably wont see alot of alot of riders on this board- especially here in the US.

As for the racing today, we had 4 more races in the high teens which saw Jimmi coming out on top in 3 of the races but was an incredibly mixed bag in terms of back and forth action on the course. With an offshore breeze, the wind was very gusty and shifty- especially near the top mark- set just off the shore line. The course again was filled with weeds making it an exercise of luck and skill to try to get around the course.
I had some of my best starts today - getting off the line on port tack and heading to the right side of the course. I felt a bit limited by the 2007 F2 board and now know why a lot of team riders choose other boards for last season. A very technical board indeed. With the new shipment of 08 boards alow to arrive only Fernando and Jimmi had the new boards to race with.
Thr racing was much tighter today with planning conditions around the whole course except for a few holes near the top mark. The best strategy was to avoid the weeds at all cost but easier said than done. I had to back down most legs to remove the weeds from my fin. Overall it paid to go right both upwind and downwind as thats where the pressure was.
At the end of the day, it was Jimmi coming out on top tied with Micah who finished 2nd on the tiebreaker. Further down the fleet I placed 6th- a bit of the game but nonetheless happy to be racing again with such a great group of sailors.
If I learned anything this regatta it was to improve on the small things every day.
For me that was my starts. By the 3rd day I was nailing them. Not much but an improvement form day 2 when I was getting crushed off the line in the light air.
Its back to SF for a month of work and training for me before heading back to Florida again for the midwinters and then back to Amsterdam again.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 2 Bluewater regatta

This will go down as the NOT REGATTA- or how not to race a regatta.
We were plagued by light winds again today- really light winds...variable 4-10knots and weeds- plenty of weeds. I could go on about all the things that went wrong but at the end of the day you can only blame yourself as everyone else had to deal with the same conditions.
The wind never really materialized and the 24 board fleet was marginally planning most of the races and by the 4th race, barely 1/2 the fleet finished.
It really takes a good race committee to know when there are "suitable conditions" adequate for formula racing. Our class rules are quite vague about what is suitable and leaves it to the discretion of the race director. Most race directors come from a sailing background and dont realize the formula class needs planning conditions to have fair racing. Today the last race started with the majority of the fleet sitting on the line not planning. In cases like that its best to abandon the race all together and wait for wind. If it never materializes then fine- we dont race, as its not fair and a tue test in the formula class to be shlogging around the course.
I truly believe its the racers job to educate the race director and we are all guilty of that.
One more thing- be nice to the race committee and mark boats. They are all volunteers. Thank them and even buy them a beer at the end of the day. They are making your fun!
As for some details on racing.
Race 1- I made myself a great hole to leeward on the starting line with 10 seconds to go but then couldn't accelerate and get planning and poof it was gone and so was the fleet as I waddled on the line struggling to get going.
In light air, getting clear air is king.
After that it was just catch up and backing down to get the weeds off my fin.
The leaders stayed to the left side in the breeze but somehow I managed to find myself on the right side wonderinng how I got there. When in doubt- keep an eye on the fleet and dont sperate too much.
Race 2- again struggling to get off the line. I couldnt quite find the groove up wind with the 2007 F2 board and was never on pace. Off the breeze though it flew and I was able to catch up some and finsih around 7th- 4 or 5 places where i should have been.
Race 3- After a quick lunch, it was evident port tack was working well off the line but with such a short starting line it was risky to start on port. Nonetheless I went for it getting a great start just below Micah but the abandoned the race 5 seconds after starting as most of the fleet was over early. After a quick restart I was back in the game rounding in 4th but lost the battle with Fernando and ended up 5th. He had the 2008 F2 board which seemed to have better angle upwind.

Finally after a bit of a break we stated race 4 in 6 knots of breeze. By the middle of the first leg I stopped planning and never regained my composure and sailed in frustrated knowing that I wouldnt be able to learn much on this race.
More photos I promise as they become available....
Sunday looks windy and a chance at redemption.

Day 1 Bluewater regatta

Its always the case- bring more than 20 windsurfers together for a regatta and there's almost a guarantee the wind will be crap.
That was the case for day 1 of the Bluewater regatta in Miami.
The RC sent us out around 2 pm and we waited for the wind.
Without hesitation, the RC put the flag up for the Formula class.
It was obvious we were still shlogging.
A quick conversation with the RC sent the postponement flag back up.

The formula class waited for another hour on the water as the kona class had their first race then we sailed in as it looked as there was no chance for wind.

Nonetheless it was a good chance to see all the new gear with plenty of homemade florida innovation to keep the sport clicking...
For more info go to the miamiwindsurfing page

In other news it looks like Nancy Rios has qualified the US women for the 2008 Olympic by grabbing the 7th spot at the Worlds in New Zealand. Congrats!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

back on the water again

With almost 6 weeks of time off the water, I jumped back into things yesterday- getting my feet wet again. This time it wasnt in the warm waters of Brazil, nor the cold waters of Holland or the San Francisco Bay but in sunny Miami Florida. I arrived to the great hospitality of old friends and quickly we found ourselves lining up on thew water with the new 2008 equipment.
Every year we begin the same cycle again- getting to know and tune the new equipment and its only by the end of the year that you really begin to get things dialed in and comfortable with your settings. This year is no different.
New sails, new boards, cut outs or no cut outs, adjusting things so they work just right.
Immediately off the bat- I was really impressed with the new north formula warps. It was blowing a god 14-20 knots as we lined up the first time and the 11.0 had plenty of power and drive. It wasn't too much- even as the gust were approaching the upper teens. I really love the feeling of a new sail as you pump it for the first time: so crisp and powerful. I was riding the 2007 F2 formula board with a 70 cm xs kashy fin.
Against the other boards I felt pretty fast except for lining up against Jimmy. The 2007 f2 board was going well upwind- a little hard to control compared to the L7 but off the breeze, the thing really flies. I was acting as the constant while Jimmy changed a bunch of settings on his new board and sails. Little by little we found the things that worked and at the end of the day I jumped on the new 2008 F2 board. What a difference- more control, better upwind performance and great downwind performance. By the end of the day, I was well beat after the long flight from Europe.
Thursday is another day to warm up and then we begin racing on Friday through Sunday.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Happy New Year

With a few weeks of rest after the World Championships, it was again time for winter training.
With the Dutch temps hovering around 30-40 degrees and a real lack of sunshine (and cold water), it was time to pursue other options. Despite the Serria Nevada's getting dumped on the west coast and the Bay area getting a storm of the century we headed south east this time to the Austrian, Italian, Slovenian border where some friends just opened a new guesthouse. A perfect get away. Im looking forward to returning in the summer and training with them on road and mountain bikes.
The rest of the windsurfing world has been busy this this winter as well.
AUS120 has set up a new blog about performance windsurfing racing called carbonsugar - some real good reviews on the new 08 Formula boards and putting together a quiver.
Andreas Mack followed this years Formula class from the sidelines at the end of the season but made some rather interesting analysis on his blog about why Antoine dominated the season.
Antoine has also set the new French speed record in the French trench this winter with just one second off the 50k barrier. See windsurfingjournal for a more detailed coverage of the masters of speed. Ejoy the video:
Also noteworthy is Farrah Hall's upcoming arbitration on her appeal at the US Olympic Trials.
The RSX class is having their World Championships in NZ. This is the last chance for the US girls to qualify. A new approach to following the races is being tried with up to the minute mark roundings available via live through
Up next for me is the Bluewater regatta in Miami next weekend then back to SF for work- and hopefully some winter swell!