Sunday, August 31, 2008

Z question

To Z or not to Z?
That is Z question.'The Zed' I am referring to is the 2nd Formula board F2 registered in the beginning of 2008 when the class rules where frozen- to limit the board manufacturers cycle to every 2 years instead of every year. F2 made and registered 2 boards for the 2 year cyle. The catch was F2 released their first board early in the year while the Z just appeared before the Europeans in August. Until the last day at the Euros, Denis Little- the lone sailor on Z was untouchable. Its light air performance was phenomenal!
But...yes there's always a but. The thing that makes this board so good in the light air might give up that advantage when the breeze is up. Think Chubacabra- the code zero light air jib the US Tornado team registered in the Olympics that failed to perform in anything over 12k. The increased tail width of the board requires an insanely powerful fin. At the Euros., Denis was using a cut down 83 cm fin to basically walk away from the fleet- that was until the breeze came up and the board had more control issues.

Call it part marketing hype, part obsession of an development class sailor!
I have never been the fastest sailor in the light breeze. Hell its my weakest link in the chain at the moment but the beauty of an open development class like the formula class, lets sailors pick and choose form a variety of equipment. Some more available than others. If you can get a hold if it, use it!
With the Worlds just over a week away, I have to register 1 board for the regatta. I will take 2 and continue to test the board with all my fins to see if the advantage is worthwhile. Otherwise I will register my 2008 F2 board that Ive been sailing all season- its light air performance, not terribly impressive but a good overall board that performs well in the light, medium and big breeze. My most impressive result so far has been in the breeze at the last day of the Euros.
The board was made available to a handful of sailors in the Netherlands going to the Worlds. I was able to get a hold of one earlier this week and sail in in the first day of the Belgium Formula Championships on Saturday.
The outcome so far was impressive. Better angle than Ive had all season once I found the right fin. The light wind IFJU was going well in the 3rd race of the day where I finished 3rd behind Denis and Dirk. The first 2 races, I used the CRAD fin with decent results but it felt like I was not getting than most angle out of the board. In my past experience, the IFJU fin became easily overpowered once the chop built significantly.
Now the tough decision must be made: to register the Z at the Worlds or not.
Ive got another day of testing in Holland before the equipment gets loaded up and makes the drive down to Portugal and then another 3 days of testing to decide.
I certainly have learned an impressive lesson watching the America Tornado team going from Olympic hopefuls to DFL but then again how often do you get chances like this.
Would you have done anything different in their case?
At the moment, the risk outweighs not having a good board in the light wind.
Outside of San Francisco and Maui, Ive never sailed a regatta where over half the races were in 18+. It doesnt just happen that much. Believe me, Ive been waiting for it all my life!
Time will tell on this one...up until the very last minute!

Monday, August 25, 2008

THE MISSION: 5th Edition

To truly understand European windsurfing, you have to attend an event like 'Le Defi' with 800+ windsurfers on the water for a long distance marathon or The Mission- which was held last w-end in Brouersdam, on the Dutch- North Sea coast. Both events attract industry sponsors for a carnival like event- showcasing the multi disciplines of the sport- from beginner instruction, pro-freestyle and slalom racing, plus a semi-trade show of new products for windsurfing enthusiast to try.
The emphasis of The Mission event was on the juniors and having fun!

With 400+ participants- over 55 slalom heats were run over 2 days and the hundreds of spectators lining the shores got to see some of the worlds best freestyle talent in an extravaganza billed as the 'Battle of the Giants.' With an announcers booth towering overhead, the judges scored the young energetic international free-stylers with point based on audience approval. The juniors on the beach were really getting into it, seeing their idols perform willie-skippers, e-sliders and vulcans just meters from the shore- sometimes crashing into the rocks!
The big show, however was the RED BULL ramp which riders got towed into from a rigid inflatable dinghy - rocketing them up the ramp for some spectacular crashes but finally later in the weekend for an event winning double forward loop performed by Kevin 'Meev' Mevissen, local dutch free-styler.

Day 1 racing photos from Jan deJong

The pure beauty of the event was seeing so many people having fun on what ever gear they had.
With marginal slalom conditions, the old school longboards found themselves at the top of several heats on the slalom course. Others in the pro fleet were racing formula boards and 12 meter sails while the light wind slalom enthusiasts- such as myself- were struggling even with large and Xl slalom gear through out the w-end. Other heats, we were lit up around the 4 mark downwind slalom course finishing 10m from the shoreline and crowd! In the 36 man pro- fleet, I finished 8th overall using the north warp 9.0 and F2 SX Large slalom board in all the races. More importantly, I spend my birthday -Saturday- on the water doing what I love best with hundreds of other people enjoying the same moment!
Saturdays BBQ and party were well attended with dutch juniors charging the dance floor till 4 am!
Breakfast was served on Sunday morning at the event site- with most rolling out of their campers spread across the natural harbor of Brouwersdam groggy eyed form the night before.
Sundays forecast of more suitable slalom conditions never arrived despite several rain squalls, and typical dutch gusty, shifty lake sailing. Nonetheless 2 more heats of downwind were run for all the divisions- including a final of the top 50% in each fleet.

Day 2 racing photos from Robert Hardholt

In mid afternoon, the Battle of the Giants continued with the rigid inflatables pushing the pro riders up and over the ramp . Others were getting towed and lauched into a freestle smorsgasburg of moves.- just in front of the crowd. The red bulled infused juniors were still wide eyed on day 2 for an autograph session with posters of the pro riders.
(I can remember my bedroom as a 13 year old filled with posters and magazine cut outs from WIND RIDER and WIND TRACKS magazines. To have them signed by the pros would be the icing on the cake for any young windsurfer.)

Battle of the Giant photos form Robert Hardholt

All in all, a great event for the sport of windsurfing showcasing its diverse talent and all around fun for the juniors. We need more events like this in the US to keep the enthusiasm alive.
Check out the online magazine the event organizer put up- just one day after the event:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 5 Report: 2008 Formula Windsurfing European Championships

Sundays first race was run in very unstable conditions as the new weather system proceeded make its way across Leba. Still side/ offshore, the 8-10knot breeze was oscilating in no particular pattern. Still though, most of the fleet was quick to pick up the big left shift after the 2nd general recall of the day. I found myself setting up for a port start with just 3 other sailors. Peter
Eliens NED 538 managed to cross the entire fleet with Sean OBien AUS120 and myself ducked through the first of the starboard fleet charging the line. As we worked our way to the right side, it was evident, the shift off the land was the better option. Getting to the layline too early, we all failed to make the top mark as the rest of the fleet came across from the left side. At that point, the fleet was beginning to fall off a plane downwind. The guys that did get around, were sailing wider angles and coming in hot to the leeward mark. I rounded with a pack of 3-4 boards immediately ahead and could only tack to clear my air. Working my way towards the shore, it was a hopeless struggle of getting knocked on both tacks! Finally on the last upwind, I really over stood the top mark and rounded while 10-15 boards sat parked below me. Unfortunately, the leaders had gotten around a lot faster and started the time window. I finished just outside the limit with 25 other boards and was stuck with a DNF! Some very questionable calls by the RC in terms of abandoning the race but at the end of the day, thats racing!

AllegroCup 2008, Report 5.1 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

The silver and gold fleet were not able to get off any racing and had their races abandoned and the fleets limped back to shore.
The afternoon was spent waiting for the new weather system to arrive.
The silver and womens fleet started in 10-12 knots but as the gold fleet got ready to go out, the breeze picked up a notch to 18-22k with building seas.
I made the choice to rig down to the 11.0 and 70 cm xs kashy but just before the start, moved my mast track forward 2cm to settle the nose as well as lower my booms form XL/L to L/M on the north boom cut outs.
I was just a hair shy on pulling the trigger at the start and was eating bad air off the start. I tacked a good 30 seconds out and found a clear lane to work my way back. You could tell a lot of the fleet were struggling with their big sails upwind. I nearly avoided a port tacker trying to cross me as the end of his booms scrapped across the front of my board in a very tight crossing.
At the first mark, there was carnage. All I could do was sail around the mess and dive deep downwind in the chicken strap.
The swell at that point was a good 1-1.5m with the gust pushing into the 20's. Amazingly, the north 11.0 was still stable but gybing it was a handful and I rounded up, getting the beast to settle again and down to the leeward mark. I rounded well and climbed considerably on the boards below me. A lot of boards were still struggling to make the starboard layline through the swell and chop and had to tack again. The top reach was real test in skill keeping the board under control and I was some big catapults in front of me. Going deep we had 2 more gybes before a deep reach to the finish. I was plying it a bit conservative, avoiding disaster at all cost as the finish was so close. I looked back and saw alot of the fleet behind me - so a good sign! 26th place.
Event leader NED 13 wasnt so lucky and returned to the beach after a collision with a Polish sailor.

We had a quick 10 minute break on the beach as the fleet was scrambling to rig down and add chicken straps- what ever they could to survive the last race. I opted to keep the same set up as I hadnt yet rigged my 9.0 (no 10.0 this year!) and I was feeling fast on this set up. I got off the line well and opted to tack early again before getting stuck in the parade at the beach. This worked out well and I was holding in mid fleet at the first mark. Again, there was destruction off the breeze as alot of guys were going down hard as the breeze was now a solid 20k and gusting harder. I managed to keep it together for the next few legs before switching int survival mode on the last few gybes to the finish. Another 26th which improved my overall standing to 45th- a great improvement form todays earlier performance in the first race.

AllegroCup 2008, Report 5.2 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.
The overall result found Steve Allen at the top tied With Ross Williams with Steve winning the tie breaker. A bit of a disappointment for Denis as he was leading the whole event but Im sure it will find him a better sailor!
Here's Denis earlier in the event after winning race 4- check out the tip of the fin about 54" into the video:
Thanks to AUS 120 for the video.
Results online at
Overall- Im stoked at finding some better light air settings earlier in this regatta and finishing strong.
This was a good test for next months Worlds in Portugal where we will see another 100+ board fleet.
For more info about the CRAD fins check out the interview with Ben Bamer of San Francisco here

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 5 afternoon update

Fluky offshore winds made the first race today an exercise in patiece.
After 2 general recals, we started and I choose the wrong side of the
course 2 out of the 3 upwind legs- luckily gaining 15 boards on the
last leg only to finish just outside the time limit with at least half
the fleet. Still waiting for the breeze to fill in . Rain equal
quickly approaching. Silver and womens fleet still need to start
before sending gold fleet goes out again. 6pm last possible race.
Updates at

Sent from my iPhone

Formula euros day 5 morning report

11:15 postponement flag is up.
Waiting for breeze to arrive...

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Formula Europeans Day 4 evening update

With 4 more races today, Denis Littel still stands in first with Jesper close behind. Gonzo has beeb a bit insonsistant today with an ocs and bad starts and put him further back,
All 4 races were run in 10-13k with a confused sea state od seas swell, wind chop and misc. chop from 130 boards sailing around the course. You can imagine how difficult it is to get off the starting line in these conditions. For 2 of the races, I got off the line well but buried on the other 2 forcing me to tack and go to the outside. The CRAD fin is holding its angle well - especially since I moved the back footstraps forward and am really sailing with a powerful baggy 11.8 upwind. There's a lot of tight racing all around the course with opportunities to gain a handful of boards every leg. We switched courses today and did the inside loop with 2 slalom marks at the end of the last downwind leg. An interesting mix up from the usual courses we do and putting a premium on board handeling and transitions. Im happy with my results today- finishing strong in the last race gaining boards on every leg. 1 more day of racing tommorow and another chance to move up- currently sitting right around 50th- hopefully breaking the top 50 by the end of the series.
AllegroCup 2008, Report 4.1 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

AllegroCup 2008, Report 4.2 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

AllegroCup 2008, Report 4.3 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

Formula euros day 4 afternoon update

A new weather system moved into Poland bringing overcast skies and a
decent 10-14k breeze for 3 more championship races. I had 2 decent
starts and got off the line well only to get to the laylines too early
and get buried as the fleet came across the middle. Around 3 pm,
thewind started to die causing the womens fleet to get cancelled.
Still waiting for more breeze to start 4th race.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, August 1, 2008

Made it through to the championship gold series with some room to to spare today with 2 races in the 20's. Both races were well fought all the way to the finish line.
I was sailing on my north 11.8, 2008 F2 and CRAD 73-3 cut fin.
Generally, downwind, the wider boom helped tremendously going deeper.
Up wind, the fin is holding good angle but the guys hanging form their uphauls- Italians and Germans- have found a few more degrees that I havnt been able to match.
At the leeward mark you had to stay as high as you could, other wise you had to double tack for the finish line set 100m off the beach in sub planning conditions! I just made the pin end in both races, out of the harness and pumping to the finish!

Finally in the 1st race of the gold series, I got off to a stellar start, sailing above the mid line sag and off to the left side. At the top mark I was near 15th, rounding in a decent 9-10k breeze. However, once down at the leeward mark I got passed by POl1 and FRA 99 where the breeze was really lightening up. The guys rounding in front stalled and tack and the only thing to do was tack for the better breeze outside. I sat, parked, as the rest of the 64 board fleet came sailing down the run. Finally I was able to get going to and held a good angle upwind in clear air to the left side of the course. Back up wind, on the 2nd beat, I had to overstand some as I reached the layline with 3 other sailors and plenty more coming up from the middle later in the leg. I held my course well up the port layline until Jesper tacked right on top of me and just buried me. Luckily, I wasnt punished as bad as a few of the guys below me. I rounded well catching a few boards this leg and could see the leaders a few hundred meters ahead.
At that moment, the race was abandoned!
Our class rules leave it up to the race director to decide upon suitable conditions.
Another 5 minutes and the leaders would have finished but the majority of the fleet had stoped planning at the leeward mark.
Thats racing!
Tomorrow's a new day with more pressure and a possible rain squalls in the forecast.
Enjoy the daily video reports:

AllegroCup 2008, Report 3.3 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.
Getting better with each race..cant ask for more!
AllegroCup 2008, Report 3.2 from AllegroCup on Vimeo.

Also check AUS 120's site for interview with Gonzalo about his new Exocet board.
Results after 6 races

Formula Euros Day 3 afternoon update

2 more races for each fleet today and now we have a break before they split the fleet into gold snd silver. Conditions were light for the first race with the fleet barely limping across the finish line set ast the beach. I didnt think I sailed well the first race as I got stuck on the line in some reeslly light conditions. I managed to claw my way back picking off one boat at a time to finish in 25th with a spectacular finish getting 10-12 boards on the last reach to the finish. By staying high you can make the finish in 1 tack. Ive got another video and will post it at the end of the day.
The second race I was determined to get off the line but with most of the fleet in the middle of the line I got off but not well and again had to claw my way back through the middle of the fleet. Ive been able to hang better upwind and am sailing smarter this series. In a fleet like this its easy to gain or loose 10-15 boards with smart or not so smart move.
Still waiting results from 2nd race but I think I should make it ito the gold fleet.
Up in front Dennis is still getting more bullets passing Steve Allen on the last leg!
More updates later

Formula euros day 3 morning report

2 races set for today before the fleet divides into gold and silver
for the championship series.
Each fleet will finish their course before the next fleet begins.
11am postponement flag up
5 knots and building
Sent from my iPhone

Formula Europeans Day 2

A quick report from day 2 racing- more to follow later...
Each fleet did 4 races in 10-14knot breeze, dying to 8-10k by the last race of the day.
In the front of the fleet, Dennis Littel- NED 13 finds himself in the pole position tied with Gonzo- ARG 3. The two guys are riding new gear for the regatta and are setting the pace already.
Gonzo switched to the Exocet board while Denis got an early release of F2 2nd formula board for 2008. With an even wider tail, Denis is using a cut down 83 cm kashy fin to find some amazing angle upwind. Steve Allen and Ross Williams, just behind, found themselves getting tangled up at the windward mark thinking they were still in PWA no rules slalom!
I got off to a slow start- literally left sitting on the starting line of race 1 with no power as the fleet sailed off. The rest of the starts were better and sailing smart- catching boards when ever I could. I made a big effort to finish strong every race pumping to make the finish as it was a real tight reach 20 meters off the beach.

At the moment Im sitting mid fleet and will need some under 30 races today to make the gold fleet.
Nonetheless, I made a big discovery today by moving my back footstraps forward to get some better angle upwind. It made a huge difference and now am in the game more. Of course, no fin in the world will get you out of dirty air!.