Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June triple header

Racing on the San Francisco city front course can bring plenty of surprises.
There's the 40k+ gust that hit you like a slap in the face!
There's the 4' voodoo chop that can stop a keelboat in its tracks!
There's the 5k ebb that that makes calling any layline nearly impossible!
There's the ferries, commercial fishing boats and freighters who go right through your course!
I wont even begin to mention the 40 degree foggy & cold summers...

But this past weekend- we had none of that.
For the first time in ages, we had a pretty civil conditions racing on the city front course with a flat flood tide, sunshine & a manageable 14-22k of breeze every day.
The Formula windsurfers and kite boarding fleet had 3 days of spectacular racing from the St. Francis Yacht Club.
Racers were treated to a combined Friday night series with the kites joining the windsurfers for a make up race on the outside course; a combined long distance race to Berkeley and back on Saturday afternoon and 5 more course races on Sunday afternoon.

Overall- pretty stoked with podium finishes every day!
I introduced a new sail (err..Technora fiber loadpath membrane) into my program the last 2 weeks and finally got a chance to race with it for 2 out of the 3 days
The avanti 10.0 performed really well right from the start. Despite being built as a light wind slalom sail- it's got great stability and control in the puffs and great range.
The biggest difference from my other formula sails is the weight- almost 1/3 lighter!
Oh yea- its pretty dam sexy too- in a twisted carbon, laminate polymer kind of way...


The Avanti website gives a pretty good explanation of the technology involved in membrane sails.
I was impressed right from the beginning.

Avanti Machine M-1 from Avanti Sails on Vimeo.

Despite starting strong on Sunday and finishing a bit slow- I learned a lot about the new sail.
Unlike most other formula sails that have 1 downhaul setting, the avanti 10.0 has a 1-2" range.
The big mistake I made was not to add more down haul as Sunday's breeze increased.
But any negative you can turn into a positive is worth it's weight in gold in your long term performance!

Friday night began with a roar.
Literally as the wind was 20-30k
I opted for my NP evo 3 9.5, 67 kashy and starboard 167 for the best control around the course.

At the start of race 1 I had my booms set 1/2 way down in the slot just to keep the nose of the board from flying around
As it lighted up to a reasonable 18-20k, I raised them back up and subsequently got better angle.
The starboard 167 has great speed downwind.
It's the quality Im most impressed with on that board.
If I'm behind the pack, I'm usually able to pick up a board or 2 on the downwind legs with better speed.
In the 1st 2 races, the north crew on their 9.3's showed really good form.
That sail works really well in op'ed conditions and Al and CRad pulled ahead.
However as it lighter- the NP evo 9.5 and starboard 167 combo pulled away with better speed.
I managed to get the last 2 bullets but with a 2nd and 3rd in the 1st 2 races, I was tied for 1st with Al who's throw out was a 2nd and thus got the tiebreaker. It just goes to show- at the end of the day you're fighting for your best finish even if it's your throw out.

Saturday's Ronstan Challenge was a combined start with 24 kites and 16 formula boards for a 24 mile windward leeward course from the San Francisco city front to the gap in the Berkeley Pier and back. The conditions were light at the start with 14-16k of breeze and a flat flood tide running all day but the forecast was for big winds later in the afternoon.
I choose to use my new cut down kashy 64 and 10.0 avanti so that when it got windy, I would be prepared. Plus you want to be comfortable for a long distance race.
I opt'ed for a port tack start with most of the fleet but got shafted out of a front row start by a flurry of kite lines all around me.
It's a long race I thought to myself- settle into it.
I rounded the windward mark behind  the top 5 kiters and Xavier and Tom who managed a great start pulling away from the rest of the fleet.
As I looked back, it could have been worse and a lot of the fleet was double tacking to make the top mark.
I settled in for the long ride down to the Berkeley pier passing Tom just above Alcatraz and trying to pull in Xavier.
The 64cm fin made the downwind ride almost a pleasant experience.
Really-  it's a whole different game when you're not fighting the fin for control.
I was pleasantly lit but not over powered.
The avanti 10.0 was really stable pulling like a truck despite being a flatter light wind slalom sail.
I pulled the track strap pretty tight to put some draft in the lower 3rd of the sail.

Mike Z was putting on the pressure from behind as I saw him a few times but never let him pass me.
At the leeward mark- set just north of the gap in the pier, I rounded with a group of kiters and Xavier with a 30 sec lead.
The top kiters were dominating with Johnny pulling a horizon job heading back up the city front.

Photos by Chris Ray www.crayivp.com
As I made my first split form Xavier, my game plan was starting to develop.
I tried to stay in the lee of Treasure Island and Alcatraz to avoid the flood tide.
Xavier choose to go up the north side of the Bay so I opt'ed for the city front as thats the only was I knew I could beat him.
I was having a good tacking battle with Tai on his kite up the city front and lost track of Xavier on the other side of Alcatraz.
My heart was racing knowing that I might just take the top spot for the boards.
Soheil was making up some distance from behind in 3rd so I had to put my efforts into covering him and not loosing the left side of the course.
As I made my last approach to the finish line set in front of the club, I saw Xavier come flying across the other side of the Bay from what seems like nowhere but the kid's got some real speed. He crossed me on the last tack and got the bullet for the windsurfers while I held onto 2nd and Soheil in a close 3rd.

I didnt feel as fast upwind with the smaller fin in the medium breeze as Im usually a pincher but the small fin takes a different sailing style.
You need to get the flow around the foil first and then come up for angle.

Sunday's course racing started off great. I got an early start and sailed the course and developed a strategy for the day.
The flood tide was building all day- stronger on the inside early then building in the middle of the bay as the day went on.
However- the breeze was pretty weak on the inside.
It would be a gamble to go there downwind unless it was filled in.
My plan was to stay in the breeze at all cost and take advantage of any inside port tack lifts and flood tide I could.
I started off with the avanti 10.0 and Z F 71 fin. The fin is soft and allows great angle when pinching- especially in a flat flood tide. In the ebb, I find it easier to use a smaller fin when the chop is more of a factor.
Race 1 started with winning the pin end on port and holding my angle upwind well. I rounded in 1st but carried it into the shore too long while the rest of the fleet immediately gybed out for the fresh air. I was able to grind them down one by 1 and grab the bullet. 
That's the way to start!
Race 2 was similar but I had Xavier on my hip 3 out of 4 legs. I was able to pinch him off on port tack 2 out of the 3 upwinds and just missed calling the top layline and let him get an inch which he turned into a few feet. Downwind I noticed the 167w he was on was going a bit deeper in the lighter stuff and he put some more distance on me and I finished 2nd.
Race 3 is when I came in and switched down to the 67 kashy as the breeze was up to 18-22k.
My mistake was not putting more downhaul on and switching gears on my sail like I did with my fins.

For the next 3 races I felt really over powered - especially on starboard tack.
Its the tack you need to foot more on as the flood tide is 90 across your bow vs right into it on port tack.
Soheil was able to pass me on the last 30 sec starboard beat the the finish to grab 2nd.
He subsequently sailed a very consistent series while I struggled to pull it together and just managed a 4th and 5th as it got windier.
He's got his ML12 and NP 10.0 dialed and that allowed him to sneak into 2nd overall while I held onto 3rd overall.
Meanwhile Xavier walked away with the rest of the bullets.
A solid performance on his part.

In the kite fleet, Heineken continued his domination with 5 more bullets.
Final results can be found at the STFYC site 

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