Monday, January 19, 2009

North american Formula Class Championships Day 3

Day 3 of the Alex Caviglia Bluewater Classic brought challenging conditions to the 30+ formula sailors lining up for the final races of the 2009 North American Championship.

thanks to Miami windsurfing for the photos
With a 10:00 am first possible start I left the dock at 9:30 with plenty of time to spare. I did my usual pre-race warm up, checking both sides of the course, the starting line and any weather patterns moving in. So far, it all looked tame with a 8-12k breeze from the SW. Port tack was favored but I got buried as I ducked a few starboard tackers and was in the lee of Gonzolo up the first beat. I tried to sail to the right side of the course, sparing with Fernando Martinez 42 and Steve Sylvester S3. It seemed whomever got further right and to the inside, got lifted and had the advantage among us as we advanced up the first beat. Sherman, Gonzo and Diaz rounded well ahead with Fernando on the F2 Z following. I knew I had an advantage downwind with the 12.0 as we lined up before the races and I was deeper and faster than Fernando on his 11.0. Slowly I reduced the distance between us and at the bottom gate split tacks with Fernando to go back to the right side up wind. Unfortunately there were plety of holes and Sylvester caught up with Fernando digging for gold in the opposite corner. Sylvester and I battled it out but I let him take advantageous of the inside lift and he got ahead as I had to double tack the top marc. Off the wind, there wasn't enough time to catch up but made sure I covered 42 and finished 5th.
Missing from the action was nearly half the fleet as they left the dock late but amazingly got redress at the end of the day as the dock master stated the AP flag would be up until they arrived but somehow the race started on time without them. Technicalities are always part of the game and not to be taken lightly!

Thanks to the Shakealeg flicker feed!
Race 2 heated up with more wind on the water but the 11.8 north was still the call as the holes were still big enough to need plenty of power. I got off the line well on starboard fighting with Sylvester the whole race just edging him and Kern out on the last leg. Again it was the pros in the top 3 conditions with lots of separation between them and the rest of the fleet.
Finally by the time race 3 got around the wind had increased to 18-22k but was gusting up to 28k. Gonzo was the only one able to sail in and rig down while the rest of the fleet was stuck on the 11,0 and 12.0 rigs. I thought this was never going to work as I struggled with the sail and control of the board. During the countdown, nearly half the fleet was knocked down, trying up uphaul their sails in the pre-start moments. Somhow we managed to start on port with a group of 10 sailors making their way up the first beat. Suddenly, I heard my harness lines stretch and then snap... I was in the water looking down at a broken harness line! Game over.
Well at least it was the last race but I was pretty frustrated knowing that these were the conditions that favored me so much. I hastily made my way back upwind with out a port harness line back to the harbor. (That's the last time I never sail with out spare line in my harness!)
Without a doubt, this was a great regatta that let me realize my light air skills that Ive developed all season racing in Europe had finally made some difference.

I also got the chance to see and tune some of the new gear for 2009. Despite not being able to race with either the Maui Sails or the new North 2009 sails, I was impressed by both during the sessions I took before the regatta as well as seeing them and speaking with the sailors on them. The big changes in then north program include a shorter boom and higher aspect rig- giving a good advantage upwind. The draft is a bit further back and might be a more technical sail than previous years but still plenty of potential once powered. The Maui Sails have jut the opposite feeling with a softer feel and longer boom length. They power up quickly and provide more low end grunt. I think both sails will require plenty of rider input to make them go fast.
Also new in my program was the gaastra vapor board- an all around comfortable design making it easy to sail both upwind and downwind. There were no marketing gimmicks such as removable plates or air tubes to complicate the design- just plane and simple fast! I was equally impressed by the guys who had the Mikes Lab L8- a much improved well rounded version of the 2007 L7. You wont hear anybody complaining about this board and its a shame more people dont take advantage of the wonderful design and craftsmanship Mike Z provides.
Finally, there was the fins. Some of the top sailors are using more powerful 78 cut down fins to provide more lift while others rely on 72 cut down fins for better balance of speed. With the wider tails on the boards, its becoming evident a bigger fin is needed for lighter conditions to keep the board powered. Kashy is still the fin of choice for most but the Ifju fins show some real potential with a few of the sailors going very impressive on Peters design.
Thanks again to the organization as well as the rest of the Formula sailors...without you, it would just be a reach back and forth. Thanks for the challenges- especially from the strong Miami fleet of Formula sailors who have been pushing hard all winter long!

Day 3 results

3 races in building breeze
Gusts up to 25k+ in last race with most on 11 - 12 m rigs. Chaos on
the water. Sherman wins 2 our of 3 and takes the championship. Gonzo
takes 2nd, Diaz in 3rd, Bodner in 4th and Kern in 5th. Results pending
protest by several sailors.
A good chance to test the new to follow.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, January 17, 2009

North Americans Championships Day 1...or how to avoid the weeds

3 races were run today in light to medium conditions with close to 30 formula racers on the Biscayne Bay in the lee of downtown Miami.
In sunny warm conditions, racers faced a oscillating offshore breeze but more challenging was avoiding the weeds in the water. It was obvious when you got them as your angle would go right out the door.
How long to justify keep going was the question everybody was asking themselves.
There wasn't much chance to change equipment once racing got underway so the decision was to rig for the lulls with the 11.8 North and 72-2xxs kashy fin on the gaastra vapor board. The Maui sails weren't an option as I only had a 11.0 and 10.0 sails.
The first race was run with the RC setting a very short line that was hardly layable on starboard tack. Combine that with a lull just before the start and half the fleet was stuck not planning on the line. I barely escaped the chaos squeezing through the mess of boards but suffered with weeds the whole upwind having to back down several times to clear my fin. By the time I rounded the top mark, I was deep but sailed smart the rest of the race to catch a few boards and finish 6th. Up in front was Gonzolo with a sizable lead but Sherman caught up enough to take the bullet, sailing smart and in the shifts downwind.
For the 2nd race, I decided to start things off right and got off the line at the pin with good speed and angle. Halfway up the first beat, I tacked with Sherman and Gonzo, playing the shifts back to the right side of the course, It looked good as we were getting knocked all the way over and talked, lifted to the mark. I rounded with Diaz hot on my tail but immediately gybed over to stay in the wind. Sherman went down hard hitting something in the water but held on making an equally impressive recovery back onto his board in no time at all!
Jimmi and I crossed tacks again at the bottom of the course but sailed to opposite corners again for the 2nd upwind leg. This time, I had the advantage going to the right side of the course with Sherman and Gonzo again while Diaz tried his chances on the left corner. Sylvester was pushing up there with moments of brilliance but got edged out downwind with only a 11.0 while the rest of us had power in our 12.0's. I held onto 3rd edging out Jimmi by 20 seconds at the finish with Sylvester rounding out the top 5. Gonzo took the gun with Sherman following closely behind.
Finally the 3rd race was run in lighter conditions with more holes around the course and just 1 lap signaled by the RC. I got off the line well again but missed the first shift and was out of phase while the 3 leaders took advantage of the oscillating breeze. In the mix was Kern and Sylvester but I couldn't get past them with just 1 upwind opportunity. It was Diaz taking the bullet on the last race, sailing very smart and taking advantage of every opportunity- redeeming himself with his first win of the day.

Despite some scoring issues at the end of the day, it seems Gonzolo is in first with 1 bullet, Sherman in 2nd with one win under his belt Diaz in 3rd,- winning the final race, Kern in 4th and Bodner in 5th. So it seems after the first day of racing, the South Americans are clearly ahead in the North American Championship
Sundays forecast does not look impressive at all with all reports indicating 5-10k.

Friday, January 16, 2009

North Americans warm up

With the temps in the mid 70's and no ice in sight, it was a relief to be in Miami again, back on the water, tuning up for the Formula Windsurfing North American Championships.
We've had 2 days of decent breeze, training from the causeway, just to the west of downtown Miami. For those of you who haven't read the www.miamiwindsurfing website, there is a great formula scene down here with lots of enthusiast sailors pushing and promoting the sport. Its an awesome spot to train with good competition and breezes in the low to mid teens almost everyday in the winter.
I decided to try some new equipment for this regatta and showed up with a pair of booms, some bases and a couple of fins. That's all I need as a friend hooked me up with some Maui TR4 sails and the Gaastra Vapor formula board. Right of the bat, the TR4 11.0 and Vapor were easy to use- even after having been off the water for the last 2 months. Its a much softer feel than the previous North sails Ive been riding for the past 5 years.
Also out on the water was Gonzolo with the new TR5's and Jimmi Diaz with the new North sails. 2 totally different concepts going on here with the Maui sails having a long boom and soft feeling and the new norths taking a whole new approach with a much shorter boom length (with a cut back clew) and relatively softer feeling than previous years. I tried out the north 12.0 with really good results on the water in the brief training session I had.
It will be interesting to see what works better but obviously a lot still has to do with the operator driving the bus!
Racing starts Saturday morning and continues through Monday. Ill try to up the blog as much as I can with results and regatta reports from the days racing.

Monday, January 12, 2009

the longest dutch winter

Its the dead of winter, the canals have frozen over here In gear hasnt been touched in weeks. The dutchies have ditched their bikes in lieu of their skates.

Something had to give... a quick trip to Miami later this week for the North American Championships should solve the midwinter blues...look for a report to follow later this week!

Unfortunately our time in Holland is coming to an end. With the job market dismal at best, its back to the west coast in search of a better life (or at least some more wind!)
So for all you European lurkers who read this blog, there is still a bunch of windsurfing gear for sale here, in addition to a great surf wagon- Heres the details:
Maybe youve seen me at your local Dutch beach this summer loaded with formula and slalom gear and even with my feet sticking out from the back while camping.
Its the perfect urban surfmobile with pleny of interior space, tinted windows, and interior shades. Remove all the seats in the rear and even more room! 20 cm bonus length compared to the regular espace! Low road tax with weight of 1650 kg!
Renault Grand Espace 3.0 7 seater 1998
Silver Grey Metalic
Engine:V6 24V, Automatic transmission, Cruise Control,
124,000 km , APK May 2009, Seats 7, Air Conditioning, ABS airbag, CD stereo- 5 disk changer, super towing capacity
6500 euros
Contact me if your interested at