Tuesday, July 28, 2009

US Windsurfing National Championship Final Report

4 days of epic racing on the Columbia River Gorge was enough for local Bruce "It's my river" Peterson to claim both the course and slalom disciplines for the 2009 US Windsurfing National Championship in Hood River, Oregon.(Hood River, Oregon: windy enough to blow the dogs off the chains)

With 83 competitors registered, it was an event to be remembered as the Gorge delivered nuclear winds on the first day of slalom racing to 10-12k on the final day to test competitors ability in all conditions.
In what seemed like a huge junior contingent from around the country, the 22 strong junior fleet held a 2 day clinic before the event, tuning in the racing skills with the help of local Sailworks guru Bruce Peterson. The juniors were sailing the Bic Techno 293 board (with some of the older fleet already on the formula boards) which provided an excellent platform for racing. Im sure in a few years, we'll see their results of hard training and will be nipping on the heals of the formula fleet.

Equally impressive, was the huge turn out from the San Francisco fleet with almost 20 sailors making the trip up and pushing at the top of the fleet in both disciplines. Up and coming SF junior racer, Marion Lepert took both the slalom and course title for junior girls while David Wells, Eric Christanson, Jean Rathle, Chris Radkowski, Mike Percy, Al Mirel and myself, Steve Bodner all made the podium on Sunday!

Days 1 and 2 saw the fleet running 11 slalom heats in conditions that can only be described as challenging! On the opening Day, the Gorge went off with gust pushing into the 40's and sailors overpowered on their traditional slalom rigs and switching down to smaller wave gear just to survive! Bruce Peterson dominated the slalom racing with bullets in 9 out the 11 heats. Carbon Art maestro James Dinnis from New Zealand was in the heat most of the races sticking some sick laydown gybes at the marks making it look easy. The rest of the fleet struggled to get around the unique 'Gorge Box slalom course' and found their crash tacks to be the best solution getting around the top mark in the course.
On day 2 the fleets were broken up into gold and silver fleets with the top dogs fighting it out around the course. Of course, the event site proved an excellent venue to watch the races as well as well as hear all the comments from the peanut gallery. Everyone on shore can always gybe better than the guy on the water!
Doc Doolitle provided the commentary to give the event a positive vibe and onlookers a clue to what was going on - on the water.
On day 3, the winds lightened to a gusty15-20k and gave the fleet a chance to jump into course racing. Again, a unique course was set up to take advantage of the Columbia River's long and narrow site. 4 races were run for the 3 fleets with most sailors setting themselves up on port tack to start and get out to the favorable wind and current along the Washington shore.
Finally on the last day on competition, 2 more formula course races were run in 10-15k under the black flag as the fleet was anxious to gain any last opportunities. Eric Christanson slipped into 2nd behind Bruce Peterson while I held onto the 3rd place podium finish overall.
The competition at this event couldn't have been closer but local knowledge and experience always seems to pay off with Peterson cleaning up in both disciplines. Next year's nationals will be back in San Francisco and the bragging rights start all over again!

Monday, July 27, 2009

2009 US Windsurfing Nationals Day 4

With a 1 pm deadline for the last possible start, there was some pressure to get more course racing off. Sunday's forecast was less than stellar but eventually the breeze filled in enough to start. I sailed the course early with my 10.0 and decided there wasnt enough pressure so quickly came in and bumped up to the 11.0. The fleet was anxious and immediately had one general recall before the black flag went up. I got off clean on port and around the top mark in the heat with Al and Bruce. Downwind, the key was to stay in the pressure and like yesterdays previous 4 races, I was able to gain significantly by gybing early and pumping my way down to the leeward mark.
At that point, at the bottom of the course, the winds were less than plane-able and the fleet piled up. Race Director Darren Rogers made the right decision to abandon the race.
20 minutes later, he had the course set up a 1/2 mile upwind in the wind line and we were racing again. The fleet was well set up with the top 5 guys rounding in front. I was clawing my way through the fleet and pulled off an amazing last downwind leg going from 8th to 4th by splitting tacks after the windward mark and catching a nice puff and finessing my way through Percy, Eric and David just before the finish.
Again, kudos the race director for realizing the time crunch and running the next race back to back. One general recall pulled the fleet back after an anxious start and the last race was run under the blag flag.
The pressure was on. Bruce looked like he had things wrapped up and I was sitting 1.7 points in front of Eric for 2nd.
Again a port tack favored start to get out to the pressure on the Washington side and the favorable current. Al nailed the start and was out to a quick lead in front of Bruce. Eric went down hard on his first gybe so it looked like I had the opportunity to sail safe but on the 2nd upwind I managed to find some weeds and struggled to shake them. Eric was working his way up the middle of the course with pressure as I got caught on the sides. At the top mark, it was Al, Bruce, Eric, Chris and myself
One more move to make, if it worked I could catch Eric and Chris Prior in 3rd. I split tacks again but this time when I came across Chris and Eric were riding a nice puff down from the inside but it didnt look like they had the layline to the finish line. I overstood and came in with the pressure just behind Eric and Chris in 5th- just not enough to hold on to 2nd as Eric slipped in there.
That left me on the podium for 3rd overall behind Bruce and Eric- 2 well deserved places by great sailors!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

US Windsurfing Champs Day 3

The winds backed off even more on day 3 of the US National Championships from the previous 2 days blow out!
An unstable westerly made it's way through the gorge corridor to deliver a 12-15k breeze for 4 formula course races on Saturday.
I managed a strong start with 2- 2nds in the early day but struggled to find my stride as the afternoon progressed. A few costly mistakes took me out of the top spots and into the middle
pack of racers. Luckily with some smart sailing I'm still sitting in 2nd overall behind Bruce Peterson.
Race 1 started with me being caught on the course with my 10.0 in a dying breeze. By sailing smart I was able to hold onto 2nd but barely as the pressure was one from the fleet behind.
Race 2 was pretty much the same getting around effectively on the 10.0.
I called my downwind laylines well enough to pick off CRad and Wells on the last downwind
for another 2nd behind Bruce.
Race 3 saw things lighten up and I took the 11.0. I was looking very strong coming into the top mark and 2nd or 3rd behind Eric who nailed the start but things come to an abrupt halt with a port/starboard collision with Wells. I was on the port layline, not thinking I could cross Wells who had the right of way on statboard. I went to duck but so did he and fortunately we both bailed and the last minute and our boards went crashing into each other.
Realizing we were both ok, I went on to round and did my circles but couldn't recover enough to
place well. Thank god for the throw out!
Eric's lesson in the previous race didnt go unnoticed and in Race 4 I nailed the starboard start and got to the port layline just behind Prior and Bruce. Then on the 2nd upwind, I made a
series of costly mistakes that set me back to 7th. My upwind angle just wasn't there as I got stuck in some bad air and miscalled the top mark and had to double tack to make it around.
With some fast sailing downwind, I managed a 4th just behind Bruce, Prior and Eric.
That did it for the day as the winds lighted up and we were unable to race anymore races for the day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

US Windsurfing Nationals Day 2 report

5 more slalom heats run today in epic gorge conditions.
By late morning, the breeze had filled into 20-30 and plenty of sunshine and 70 degree water temps. What more could you ask for!
The fleets were divided with the top half of yesterdays racing bumping up to the gold fleet.
With a bit of creative redress from yesterdays on the water fiascoes, I managed to sneak into the top half- but barely as yesterdays sad attempt at racing in 40k put me just shy of the top half of the fleet. Yesterday, Soheil and I got into a port/starboard collision while rounding the top tacking mark of the slalom course. There wasn't much either of us could do to avoid the collision but like any altercation on the course, if your in the right, it's always best to follow through with a protest and redress.
Once in the gold fleet things got progressively better with a 2nd off the bat in the first race behind Bruce and bullet in heat 4 where the top 2 were DSQ with the black flag.
Heats 8 and 9 saw me fighting in the group just behind the leaders. I had some great opportunities to pass on the short gybing legs and stayed well powered on my 105l F2 slalom board with 42 cm fin and 7.3 north warp
The final race was almost perfect.
Dennis from NZ and I peeled off from the fleet on the first leg in a solid 20-25k breeze. I held off Prior and Bruce with better speed around the course just up until the finish where I blew the last tack and they passed me.
Overall a great day of racing with a solid performance and improvements throughout the day. Now if I can just learn to close the deal!
For all the races, I was on my 105l F2 slalom board with 42 cm fin and 7.3 north warp. I made the most gains on the upwind leg where I eased off on the outhaul and used my leverage to crank on the fin. The other guys in the fleet seemed significatly off on this leg and I used everything I had to take advantage of that.
The course was very technical with 6 gybes and 2 tacks putting a favor on board handeling skills. Speed was essential off the line with the first leg a long drag strip towards the event site.
3 quick gybe marks with plenty of carnage made for some exciting mark rounding.
As Race Director, Darren Rogers started- it's a "mostly slalom course" but puts emphasis on the whole package. If you were weak in anything, this course found it and you had to deal with it somehow!
Saturday and Sundays racing will be Formula favored with lighter winds expected and no course racing yet in the Nationals.

9 am skippers meeting puts me to bed early tonight.
Be sure to check out the photo links at windsports mag and more photos from Bryan
and results at Vmgevents.com

Sent from my iPhone

US Windsurfing day 2 morning update

1 round of slalom racing so far for all fleets in 20-30k. Windy on
outside at the starting line and significatly lighter at marks near shore.
I took 2nd in first race of gold fleet behind Bruce Peterson in a tight competitive fleet.
RC is adjusting the course now to put the gybe marks in the wind line!
Possibly formula racing in the afternoon.
Be sure to check to photo link in day 2 comments from Bryan.
More reports later.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, July 23, 2009

US Windsurfing Nationals Day 1 Report

It was one of those epic days today that everyone will talk about for years to come. The Gorge went off as big as it gets! Possible the windiest day of the year and to top it off there were 70 competitors registered for slalom in 3 different heats

By the time the first slalom start rolled off at 12:30, the winds were 25-30 knots with huge gusts coming down the cooridor. By mid afternoon, the 3 fleets had run 3 heats each and the wind was still cranking in the mid 30s with gusts touching 43k!

3 more heats were run in crazy conditions where it seemed I was doing more swimming than slalom sailing. The carnage was spread across the course with sailors blowing up on every leg and corner of the course. I came blazing out of the gates on the first race keeping in 2nd until
the first of many knock downs around the course. I managed a few decent races but was still consistantly in the middle of the 24 strong mens fleet.
The gorge locals showed us how it was done with amazing technique and speed around the famous gorge box course. Most sailors were able to leave the beach at the 3 min gun and make the start in time. The 1st leg was a broad reach into 3 quick gybe marks set in front of the
event site and then around a leeward mark and back close hauled to the starting line where you had go tack across the line and then go for a second lap!
I never had too much control even with a 5.8 and 6.3 race sails. The locals switched down to 5.2 and 4.7s making it look easy. In those conditions, its all about being comfortable on your set up.

To top the day off Andre cooked us a beautiful meal at Jeans cousin place in White Salmon overlooking Hood River. An amazing view after an amazing day of racing!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ronstan Challange Day 2 Course Racing

With 2 days of racing already under their belts, the SF Formula fleet lined up for another day of Epic day of racing on the San Francisco city front. The 19 board fleet was joined by 20 kiters for 4 more course races in conditions that ranged from 10-12 knots gusty winds and a strong, flat flood tide in the morning to ridiculous 20-25 knots overpowered conditions in the afternoon.

Preparation was the key to Sunday's racing where the race was won before it even began...on the beach, in fact. With a first possible start at 11:30- a bit earlier than most sailors were used to, most of the fleet was haphazardly rushing to get on the starting line.
I made sure to arrive by 10:15 and had both the 11 and 10 rigged and ready to go.
At the last minute, I decided to take my 11.o as the holes where pretty sketchy on the inside of the course. The flood was ripping as well, adding another dimension to the already challenging conditions. As I sailed the course before the first start, it was obvious that the middle was the way to go as the puffs coming down the city front were less than frequent and certainly not dependable.
In race 1, I lined up on port tack with most of the fleet- getting off the line well to the middle of the Bay. We sailed for eternity- overstanding the layline by what seemed like a mile to over compensate for the flood and light air. Wells and I had a good lead with our 11.0s but Eric was sailing smart and staying in the puffs to keep the pace.
On the 2nd lap of the double windward leeward course, I was in the lead and had to call the layline again with both Eric and Wells putting the heat on from behind. I knew I had one chance as those guys would certainly sail beyond my line to be certain to make the mark.
It looked good but as things lighted up near the mark and the flood pushing my down, I had to tack back and was parked for the next minute watching Wells and Eric sail away.
The rest of the fleet floundered helplessly in the holes near shore armed with only their 10.0's.
I found having the extra power in the 11.0 was enough to get through most of the light stuff and by sailing smart, you could avoid most of the bigger holes.
Race 2 started much the same with the fleet getting off on port tack. I certainly didnt have the best angle upwind off the line but I was able to hold my own- going for speed in the flood tide. Ben looked like he was going to put together an impressive race footing off to the corner but got stuck in a hole and didnt get going again. Up front, it was Wells and I making sure we both overstood the top mark and stayed in the velocity. David got the jump on the last leg and was looking good heading on the finish but things lighted up on the bottom on the course and he had to gybe back for some pressure. Meanwhile I saw it happening and got to the pressure first and rode the puff down to the finish in first.
Sometimes, its all about being in the right place at the right time.

After a planned break on the beach around 1pm, it was still too light for the kiters to race so we headed back out after a 30 minute break. I knew the wind would be coming up. It's San Francisco after all but could I risk the 11.0 for 2 more races in the breeze. Sure enough like clockwork, just moments before I had to decide what to take on the water, the thermal kicked in and the Bay was full of white caps. I knew quite well, the 10.0 was going to be enough so I switched rigs, fueled up and went back out for more racing.
Race 3 kicked off with a squarer line and more of the fleet charging the line on starboard.
Again, I got a good jump and squeezed out hitting the sea wall first and getting a clear lane for the long beat to windward. I held my own but the fleet was charging hard and the top 5 arrived the top mark and got away clean. David and I were in the 2nd pack, back 10-15 seconds but caught an amazing puff driving us almost right down to the mark as the guys ahead got stuck in a light patch and all had to make an extra 2 gybes to get back on course. Eric was deep enough that he got away clean with only 1 gybe and rounded just in front of me at the leeward mark. Back upwind for the 2nd beat to windward, the chop and breeze were starting to come up but this time around the flood wasnt as strong. We kept the same order, with Eric taking the bullet and myself in 2nd while Sylvester snuck into 3rd for a strong showing.
By the time race 4 rolled along, the breeze was well into the mid 20's with some stronger gusts coming down the course. The chop had built from a smooth morning flood tide to a vicious combinations of swell, recreation boat traffic and voodoo chop.
I pulled out everything I had and put it all into the 4th race- nailing the start and leading at every mark to take the final bullet. Upwind, my legs were pumping like pistons, absorbing the chop while trying to keep the sail sheeted in hard with every gust. Downwind was like riding a bucking bronco- flying straight through the chop with my foot firmly planted in the chicken strap- even going as far as putting in in the backside of the leeward strap when things really got ugly. I watched in hidden delight as both Ben and Wells were stuck trying to manhandle their 11.0's in the big breeze. Crad finished strong right behind Eric and 2nd while Sylvester snuck into 4th- never finishing far behind the pack.
With the kiters anxious to get more racing in, John Craig send the formula fleet in while the kiters got 2 more course races in- in prep for their upcoming Worlds next month.
2 bullets and a 2nd and 3rd were consistent enough to take the afternoon win and the w-end overall title for the US Windsurfing NRT.
Overall-very happy with the progress in both light and strong winds.
Although I didnt think I had the best angle or speed in the fleet, but I made what I had work well and got around the course the fastest.
Next up is the US Nationals in the Gorge- starting next Wednesday with most of the SF fleet heading up.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ronstan Challange

Sometimes speed alone is enough to get you across the finish line in first.
Other times, you find yourself tripping over your own 2 feet.
That was the case for Saturday's long distance race- from a start set just off the St. Francis down to the Berkeley pier and back.
The fleet of 20 formula boards and 20 kiters had a 3 knot flood tide to pull them along on the down winder to Berkeley but fought the same opposing flood tide on the return trip.
As I headed out to check out the course 20 minutes before the start, I saw some decent puffs coming down the Bay but the inside was still unreliable- either hit or miss.
Photo credit: Shawn Davis
I decided it would be better to start on port and get out to some steady breeze in the middle of the Bay. That worked best and C-RAd, Mike Z and myself port tacked the rest of the fleet and made our way up the first beat. Mike Z put the pressure on immediately and squeezed me off forcing me to duck and go for speed. As we rounded the windward mark, it was Mike Z, CRad and myself off in the front of with a commanding lead. I was the first the break off and gybe as the middle of the Bay was looking lighter. I found a nice ribbon of breeze and some favorable current along the city front but was weaving my way in and out of commercial and recreational boat traffic and stuffed my nose and went down on the gybe back. A quick recovery and I found myself matched up with Mike Z for the lead again. Downwind Mike Z was able to push deeper but I had more speed. With every puff I was able to make some ground in the smooth flood tide as we blazed downwind towards the Berkeley Pier. Once we hit voodoo chop, I knew it was time to gybe but with my sail bagged out to the max from the smooth water we just came through, I knew I would have my hands full. I tucked the 10.0 in and made a good transition but the powerful sail just slipped right out form my hands as I popped it over to the new tack.
Wells took the opportunity to jump into 2nd as we made last deep reach to the bottom mark- set deep- just to the north of the gap in the Pier.
Back up wind, Mike Z and Wells had a good 30 second jump on me but both had different strategies for the next leg. Wells went for speed, not angle while Mike Z went for angle (but of course kept his speed!) I took the route in between them in what I though would yield the best VMG. As we made our way up towards the eastern tip of Angel Island, I made some real progress with great speed and caught Wells on the first tack. A few more tacks and we made our way up towards Point Blunt where the wind was really howling as it accelerated around and down the towering hills of Angel island. 25-30k with stood up chop directly on the bow of the board made for some survival sailing. I was keeping the pace, evening gaining on Mike Z with speed but I decided to split tacks from him and head back to what I thought might be some back eddies on the coast of Angel Island. Immediately after tacking, I realized I was too far up the coast for any flood relief and was forced to sail in the opposing tide as Mike Z made his way over towards Alcatraz in less tide, immediately putting some distance on me.
In hindsight, I should have stayed with him, knowing I had better speed but got greedy.
If there's one rule to remember in sailing, it's to always stay between your competitors and the next mark.
As I made my way back across the middle of the Bay on starboard tack, Mike Z had a good lead on me and covered for final beat. Meanwhile, out of nowhere, Ben Bamer pulled a horizon job banging the Angel Island corner and had a commanding lead to finish in 1 hour and 16 minutes. Mike Z was next just under a minute behind while I held onto 3rd with the rest of the fleet pushing hard and making up ground on the last leg.
Sunday's schedule is for more course racing on the city front.
Report and photos to follow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

San Francisco windsurfer missing- please help!

Our good friend and fellow windsurfer form Crissy Field- Paul Mann has gone missing.
Its been almost 4 days and no word- even after extensive on the water search and rescue missions by the Hood River sheriff and his friends canvassing the town with photos and signs. Please help by keeping an eye out for him if you're out there!!

Several SF sailors were in the Gorge this past week for a summer trip and wedding.

Paul was last seen with his friends on a stand up paddle board on Friday July 3 at roughly 12:30pm at the Hook in Hood River Oregon in calm, light wind waters. A windsurfer spotted the paddle board floating approximately 150 yards from Jensen Beach. A passing kayaker was able to help get the board (and paddle) to shore return to the rental shop. The police were contacted and a search began immediately.

Paul is 5'4" - 5'5", tan, fit, dark hair (slightly thinning hair...), and brown eyes. He was wearing a black nylon baseball hat, sunglasses with red croakies, no shirt, white board shorts with big blue flowers (old navy). The shorts had a faded orange whistle and keys in the pockets.

The Sheriff and his crew have been in search with boats, divers and a plane. Please help us by keeping an eye out for him if you're out there!!

If you see, or know something please call the county sheriff's office 24 hour number at 541-386-2711.

Paul's girlfriend Michell has started a blog to get out the latest info:


Also see: iwindsurf thread

Monday afternoon update:

Tribute to Paul tonight at Crissy Field at 7:30PM. We will have a raising of sails in Paul's
honor since we'll be at his favorite spot hopefully having enjoyed his favorite sport earlier. So, if you're going to sail today, DON'T DERIG. If you're not going to sail come prepared to rig one of your sails and be ready to go by 7:30pm. At 7:30 we will gather on the sand at Crissy and simultaneously raise our sails in his honor and have our moment of silence and think good thoughts about him.

From Michell

As the search for Paul continues, I think it would be very special if we can all get together tomorrow, Monday July 6th at 7:30pm to share in a moment of silence and to help focus our thoughts on getting Paul the help he needs. So many of you have reached out and asked what you can do to help and now we need you to act. Our intention is to bridge the cap between Hood River, San Francisco and any other place you may be on this earth.

San Francisco - Crissy Field
Bring a candle, a cigar, a guitar, a bong, a bottle of wine, beer, a picture of Paul or whatever you feel would be appropriate to help pray/channel your energy to get Paul back to us.

Meet at Crissy Field for a moment of silence at 7:30pm. Tell your friends and family to join you - we really need all the help and support we can get.

Hood River - The Hook
Bring a candle, a cigar, a guitar, a bong, a bottle of wine, beer, a picture of Paul or whatever you feel would be appropriate to help pray/channel your energy to get Paul back to us.

Meet at the Hook for a moment of silence at 7:30pm. Tell your friends and family to join you - we really need all the help and support we can get.

Tuesday update:

Our search ends

Sadly, earlier this morning (Tuesday July 7), the Sheriff's dept. recovered Paul's body from the Columbia river. He was found near the Event Site.

Thanks to everyone who tirelessly helped with this search. Whether it was by plane or boat or kayak or windsurfer or jet-ski or forming a circle of friends or raising your sails or sending your thoughts and prayers, you helped find our friend Paul. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2009 San Francisco Classic videos

Some great video footage from the SF Classic.
At the start:

And finally form the kiters perspective:

+ SF Kite racing development: