Sunday, May 31, 2009

SF Formula racing in full swing again

As if 6 out of the last 7 days powered up on formula gear wasn't enough...
The last 2 days saw 10 more races in the Friday night series and a competitive day of formula racing at the Calcup in Berkeley.
The quiver is beginning to get more dialed in as I put more time on each sail, fin and find the best settings. So far, Im really happy with the results and performance just needing to capitalize on calling my laylines better and of course nailing every start.
With the development and progression of F4 fins, the SF fleet is really pushing again.
Locals, Al Mirel, Chris Radkowski and Ben Bamer have been getting the fin line up to speed with some good results.
Al kept the heat on friday night with consistent 1, 1, 2, 2 results while I had a series of 1, 1, 2, 3 to finish 1 point behind Al for the night. Eric was right up there with his custom Mike Z fin but decided tried to make a quick switch down to 10 in race 4 which saw him late for the start.
In race 1, I was hot off the blocks, getting a good start but overstanding the top mark with Al and Chris in tow. Eric, always keen to nail the laylines- got a jump with David and Jean to lead around the course with a close finish of the top 5 boards within 10 seconds.
Race 2 -4 saw a constant battle back and forth between Al and I as we both had similar angle upwind. After the 3rd race I moved my mast track back a 1/2" and found a bit better upwind performance. I seemed to have an advantage downwind with the bigger sail - especially as we came in side where the wind was lighter. I still believe the kashy fin has a more advantage downwind in terms of speed but its the guy who gets around the course fastest that winds the race.
racing photos by Arnaud Lepert,
The Friday night series is more about board handling, transitions and calling laylines than anything else. You may be the fastest but if you can't nail the start, and make every tack and gybe with consistency, you'll be left wondering what happened as the fleet sails by.
The final race saw the RC putting the kabash on any chance I had for a decent start with a call of 'USA 4 over early.' I quickly made my way back for a dip restart and powered back through the fleet to round the top mark in 5th and make my way downwind with a nice puff at the beach that the leaders were too early for. As we gybed around B, Al and Eric were out in front and I almost overtook them off the breeze but simply ran out of room on the last upwind leg with no options left.
Saturday was the 2nd CalCup series of the season after the last attempt was skunked at Coyote.
The best part of the day wasn't necessarily the racing but seeing the St. Francis junior windsurfing program being run off the Berkeley docks. There's a new generation of young kids taking up the sport with the help of the St. Francis Yacht Club. They've now got a trailer full of Bic Techno's and trainer rigs and are on the water at least 1-2 time s a week. It was also great to see several new faces and sailors taking part in the B and C fleet.
As we waited for the tide to come in and allow the formula fleet to launch off the docks, it looked like the wind was coming up to a decent 15-20k around the corner.
Almost all of the fleet was on their 10's as the Berkeley chop adds another dimension to board and sail handling.
Race 1 saw Chris and Al and at least one other sailor try to port tack the fleet. I had a really great timed start at the boat with not much competition as the rest of the fleet was a bit late.
As I worked my way up the left side of the course out in front, I kept looking over my shoulder trying to find the top mark. I knew I was getting close but realized I had overstood some when the guys below my tacked and laid the mark. There went my lead but still, I was able to come down with speed and round in first and keep control of the rest of the race. Sylvester caught up to 2nd and put some pressure on the last leg but wasn't quite enough.
I thought Id give the port start a try in Race 2- only because it eliminated the chance of overstanding the top mark as you have to tack 3/4 of the way up the port beat when you hit the Berkeley pier. As Al, Chris and I ducked the starboard tackers, we all made our way up the course with similar angle. Downwind though is where I pulled away and tried to reel in Steve and Eric in the lead. I positioned myself for a good leeward rounding and started to climb well to windward. Eric, Steve and myself all came into the finish pretty close. Eric was the first to tack and nailed a port end finish grabbing the bullet from Sylvester and putting myself in 3rd.
Race 3: I beleive I rounded to top mark in 1st again with a sizable lead after a good starboard start and good 1st 2 legs but overstood the layline for the last bottom mark and Sylvester capitalized from behind and we were coming into the leeward mark and were pretty close and well lit. I was the inside boat but didn't quite have the overlap yet so had to back off to give Steve room to gybe on the last mark rounding. In doing so, I tried to carve sharply and dropped the rig. Fortunately, the rest of the fleet was 20 seconds behind and I got up to finish 2nd.

Race 4 was a bit fuzzy and I cant remember any details except some excitement on the first layline when I tacked onto port and immediately realized Percy was coming in hot on starboard just as I got up to speed. We both slammed on the breaks to avoid a collision and as quickly as I could, sailed a 360 to clear myself from the foul and was on my way again. Putting myself that far back, I didn't have much a chance to catch up with the leaders and simply joined the parade around the course. Noticeably absent was Eric who was TKO as he went over the handle bars and broke a batten and had to sail in to make a switch.
Finally Race 5 saw action from the Bay areas most famous footer- Ben Bamer. As many recall, Ben is smoking hot on the course but as luck would have it- usually has his share of disasters to deal with. Earlier in the day, he was set back with a broken mast.
Not to be put down completely, he managed a clean start in race 5 in the middle of the line and footed to the left with better speed than everyone above him. As you would expect, Ben had to overstand the top mark somewhat to compensate for his lack of angle. Now with the top 4 guys tacked and laying the port layline, Ben makes his way over all of us and just kills us with his bad air. One by one he sailed over us and gassed us and was able to just squeeze around the top mark. Eric was the only other one to make it around the top mark as he was the first to get gassed and immediately went into pointing mode. Al, Chris, Steve and I all had to double tack to make the starboard rounding. After that it was simple a parade but think I managed to pick Chris off to finish 4th.
That should have been enough to put me in 2nd or 3rd for day- depending on Al and my throwouts.
Overall though, Im happy the way the season is progressing nearly 2/5 of the way through it already. At this point, Im not necessarily looking for victories (although they are nice) but still trying to find every opportunity to improve and make advances in my setup. The goals for the season are to finish strong at the US Nationals this July in the Gorge and hopefully make a better performance than last year at the World Championships in Spain this September.
Thanks to Emmet for CalCup photos

1 comment:

bry said...

Nice puctures Emmett!