Sunday, June 14, 2009

Friday night racing at the St Francis

Last Friday night saw some of the closest racing all season with Eric and I duking it out in front and ending the night after 5 races tied for first with 6 points a piece.
Racing started with most of the fleet on the 9.0's as the wind was a steady 18-20 knots but with big gust coming down the course. For those of you who haven't sailed in SF, 20k here is like 25k in other parts of the world. Like the gorge, the wind is denser here- giving a stronger punch. Combine that with a crazy ebb, boat traffic and SW gust coming down hard off the Presidio and most sailors choose to sail on their smaller rigs for better control.
Despite the gusts, I've got my 10.0 dialed in to where I can sail it pretty overpowered- even with a 70 cm fin, pinching upwind and straddling the chicken strap off the breeze. I hold off for the 9.0 until it gets really hairy.

In race 1 I took the lead off the line and rounded Anita in 1st with the pack close behind. Charging the downwind leg with full force, I rode the puff down as much as I could to the beach and gybed when it looked like the breeze was dying off some. At the leeward mark, I still had control but sailed the last leg all the way to the seawall, letting Eric tack first and just edge me out at the finish line as we crossed with both of us overlapped and shooting the line! Sometimes the inside lift works here but sometimes, if you're at the layline- youve just got to go for it and take your chances!

Race 2 started with a bit more pre race strategy as the ebb was starting to kick in stronger. You could no longer just line up to the side of B, hang out for the last minute and charge the line but rather had to make your approach with a bit more caution. This meant, going a bit further downwind of the line and during the last minute, let the ebb carry you up to the line. This approach worked well as the rest of the fleet was having to dive down the line as they got sucked up and were too early in their approach. I was left with a smooth lane upwind to climb and get upwind well. Eric actually called the layline a bit better than me and arrived at Anita 10 seconds before me but I gybed a bit sooner and caught a puff to ride down and get to B ahead and in control. I didn't let the mistake of the last race happen again and tacked as soon as I hit the layline to the finish and took the bullet.

Thanks to Shawn Davis for climbing down on the rocks and capturing some great photos.
The complete collection can be found at his website

Race 3 started with me pulling the trigger 2 seconds late and having both Al and Chris to leeward and just ahead. I went into pinching mode but couldn't stay there for too long and had to dive below them for clear air. This actually turned out well as half way up the beat there was a persistent header which favors the leeward board as we got headed. My speed paid off and I rounded the top mark in 3rd behind Al and Eric but with course C called, I just had to wait for one of them to make a mistake as the tactical options were limited in this multi gybe and reach course. As expected, they didnt make any mistakes and sailed to the first 2 spots while I crossed the line in 3rd with CRad just behind.
Race 4 was another close one with Eric and I but I missed out on calling the top layline and Eric got the jump on the downwind. Pushing hard, I was making my move and looked like I might have a chance but fumbled my gybe just before B and was left man handling the 10.0 and rounding up in a big gust. I got everything in control again and held off Wells who was putting on the pressure in 3rd.
The wind lighted up some race 5 where I had a good advantage with the 10.0 and didnt have much pressure as Eric was caught over early in the ebb and had to restart. I sailed conservatively making sure I didn't blow anything and took the final bullet of the evening to finish strong!
Despite our fleet numbers getting smaller, the level of sailing has gone way up this year. The fleet is on a more level playing field in terms of equipment with most of the top sailors on far better fins than the last 2 seasons. The result is everybody is getting their stuff dialed and going fast. There's no one sailor who has a big advantage anymore but rather its the sailor making the least mistakes thats winning- as it should be!
Also- check out the new race camera mounted at the StFYC with full view of all the racing action!
Adam was there as well to capture som eof the racing on video:

Thaks Adam!

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