Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring line up

The first race of the year is always a good chance to see where you stand after the winter off season. Sure enough- after a few months break from formula racing we lined up to find we were in the same pecking order as where we left off last summer.

This year the kites and formula boards were invited to the Spring Dinghy regatta at the St.FYC along with 5 other dinghy classes.

Xavier, Al and I traded spots throughout the 3 windward-leeward races on Saturday along the city front course with winds in the mid teens and a viscous 4 knot ebb tide ripping across the course.

Unfortunately a work commitment on Sunday, left me unable to sail the last 3 races but Xavier finished the series with 5/6 bullets- a solid showing.

All of the formula fleet is still on last years set up and top 3 remain extremely tight. The biggest gains I made were on the downwind where Avanti 10.0 & starboard 167 really came alive. The 64 kashy fin set up, I was using really works in the breeze and chop but I suffered a bit upwind in the lighter stuff.

Thanks to Chris Ray for the photo- Full spring dinghy gallery here
Also- Lryah's photo here

On 2 out of the 3 upwind legs I got ground down by Xavier on the long port tack upwind.
I think he's just being a bit more efficient with the fin pressure as he's using the starboard 167, 61cm kashy and NP 7.8 rig and makes that combo go very well!

It left me scratching my head on how to improve my upwind performance.
Most of the time- we rig for the gust while racing on the San Francisco Bay. You need to survive. The water texture over a typical course can give you anything from voodoo chop to areas of smooth flood tide. Traditionally a smaller fin, like a 64 kashy allows you cope with the conditions a bit better but Im beginning to rethink things.

Back to a bigger fin, seat harness,softer battens, or  higher booms???
Time will tell on this one as I try a few things over the next few weeks.

Al was sailing a strong series as well on his ML-12 board, F4 fin and NP 10.0 grabbing the bullet on the 1st race after virtually no time on the water since last October. It goes to show you that maybe all this practice time is just for show.

Race 1 started off with starting line set up just in front of last chance beach near the harbor mouth. We all started on port taking the long beat 1st. As we got out to the middle of the Bay, the ebb increased and it was a real challenge to call the layline, Sure enough Xavier got to the top mark 1st followed by Al and myself. We had a great southerly riding the puff all the way down past Anita Rock before gybing. At the leeward gate, both Al and I decided to return to the shore and got a substantial lift on the next upwind while Xavier opted for the outside. We crossed ahead and extended the lead on the last downwind leg finishing 1-2.

Race 2 and 3 started with the entire fleet on starboard going for the big geographical lift at the shore. The first short beat proved to the most important as it put you in a position for the long beat up the course. You wanted to be the inside boat  lining up on port tack in order to gain on the lifts.
After that,  it was a bit of a race track following the leader around the course.
Sometimes you just need to wait for the guy in front of you to make a mistake and capitalize on it. Al went down hard in some ferry chop downwind and I was able to sail right over him grabbing 2nd in the 2nd race behind Xavier

I managed 2 2nds on Saturday and had a really good 3rd start- in the front pack with Xavier and Al after the 1st rounding and then gybed through what I later remembered as a restricted area of the course and subsequently retired from the race after the 1st lap

The Sailing Instructions had Anita Rock and its buoy as restricted area.
Lesson learned- read the race instructions and don't take anything for granted.

Oh- and for the client who scheduled a meeting on a Sunday- the 'wind minimum clause' in your contract just got lowered from 20k to 15k !