Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 by the numbers

I try to keep track of my sessions every season with the help of twitter and daytum.  Looking back I can see how many times I used a particular sail or board or even performance in races over the course of the season. Like all data its how you use it. 

By all means, 2014 will be remember as another stellar year of windsurfing and kite boarding on the San Francisco bay with 150 windsurfing and kite boarding sessions over the past 12 months.
It was the 1st of 2-3 rebuilding years as I learned how to ride and try to get the kite race board around the course as well as have as much fun as I can on the windsurfing boards. After 25 years of windsurfing, I don't tire of it but am always exited to learn something new.

I did not meet my goal of getting around the course in time to be officially scored for the St.FYC Thursday night series with the front of the fleet on foils and sailing almost 30% faster around the course this season, it was a hard nut to crack. Part of racing is just showing up and paying your dues. 
There were plenty of crashes, burns & rescues- all very character building. There were small successes like finally making the windward mark, then the leeward mark- and finally the finish line as well as sore muscles in places I never knew had. 

Notwithstanding, I did get 100+ sessions under the golden gate windsurfing in one of my favorite places to make up for any potential loss of fun that kite boarding might kept me from having :/  88% of my sessions were on the windsurfer with the other 22% on a kite board with all but 1 session on the San Francisco Bay sailing off Crissy Field.

I'm still not hooked on kiting like I am windsurfing but old habits die hard. Sometimes it was just easier to go out a get a good session on the slalom gear than it was to get beat up on the kite course board on a windy, ebb tide raging day. 

The 89cm custom mikes lab board proved to be the most versatile in the quiver- proving itself on the formula windsurfing course in the medium to high wind as well as providing a great platform for swell riding in light to medium conditions just outside the golden gate bridge.

2014 will be remembered as the year the wind kicked in early in the season. By the end of May I already had scored 65 sessions with the majority on slalom/7.7 and 6.3 in the early spring.
The city front course was the majority of my racing this season with 6 Friday night races and 8 Thursday night races hosted by the St.FYC + 2 long distances races to Berkeley and back.

Although I missed too many Friday night races for the overall season championship, I never managed to finish outside the top 2 but the winner is always the one who shows up most and sails the most consistent. More often than none, it's not about your best races but your worst races when competing in championship or season series. Too many DNS's will always trump a few bullets for the season.

I used the Avanti 10.0 more than any other rig this season with 49 sessions under my belt.  It's got the most range of any sail in my quiver with the benefit of having 3 crew grommet positions to choose from for light, medium and high wind settings. The avanti 7.7 was the next most used sail with 36 sessions over the course of the year. The same clew design give it a tremendous range and was my go to sail to sail for most of the season. 

The majority of my kite sessions were on the ML course board and 9.0 kite (19 sessions)in mid to upper teens. The SF bay often requires a smaller kite in the summer months when it's windier and the chop becomes more difficult to deal with. In the spring and fall, my biggest 11.0 got used more (11 sessions) as the wind can be more flukier and less reliable.

In all my years of sailing, seeing a foiling gybe performed well is the most beautiful sailing maneuver I've ever witnessed. I'm in awe and can't wait till I get comfortable enough to pull that off. In all good time!

Mid September and early October saw the beginning of the fall swell arrive and for a period of just of 1 week, I scored 5 of the best days under the gate riding huge swells pumping through the golden gate, quite possibly reaffirming my love for one of the most beautiful places in the world doing one of my favorite things. I can not be more grateful to live in such a wonderful setting.

The wind left abruptly in October and November and almost all together in December where I realized the foils had the advantage once again scoring sessions while I missed out.
Nonetheless the best accomplishment of the year came in December. Despite not being water related, passing my final architectural licensing exam was better than any session of the year. I've been working on it for the past 5 years with 11 exams since 2009.

With a new foil and board forthcoming in, the next months, 2015's goals are to become proficient at foiling and get comfortable with a new discipline- and of course- not forget about windsurfing! More slalom racing is planned for the SF city front.

Onward and upward to another great season.

Below are some of the best moments from the 2004 season via twitter:







Sunday, December 14, 2014

The next chapter

Change is inevitable.
No matter how hard you try to keep things the same, there comes a time when you must move on.
The harder you resist, the more difficult the change.

Sailing classes come and go- especially windsurfers where the sport has evolved for the past 45 years.
I got my first windsurfer back in 1987, as a 12 year old, after having sailed dinghies around the mid-west and seeing a lighting fast windsurfer blaze past me.

At that point. I knew stand up sailing was for me.
Little did I know where it would lead me.

From 1992 to 2004 I campaigned the mistral one design sailing 3 Olympic trials, 4 world championships and countless local, regional and national events. I got a taste for international competition while living a nomadic lifestyle- chasing the wind at every opportunity I could get.
Good friends were made as we shared the same challenges, victories and setbacks on and off the water.

In 2000, after graduating college, I moved to San Francisco where the local fleet was transitioning to the formula board and I began the next chapter of my sailing career.  It wasn't an Olympic class but that didn't matter as we had one of the strongest race scenes in the country right in my own backyard and the gear was the fastest, most high tech thing around.
For the next 12 years, the class and our fleet grew as we hosted championship regattas on the San Francisco Bay and the fleet traveled to Florida, Texas and Hood river like a band of gypsies. I made even more friends racing across the world from remote islands off the coast of Brazil, to European lakes to magnificent Canadian rivers. The formula windsurfer fit the bill perfectly.

I reveled in the constant evolution of the sails and boards and fins but it grew too fast. Soon the gear was almost foreign to most sailors as we were sailing $1500 carbon fins, 100cm wide boards and 11m rigs and updating our kit every year. Luckily there was always a new sailor coming along to buy your gear and grow the class until it slowed.   I tried going back to one design with the advent of the RSX board but quickly realized the gear was outdated a year after it was produced.  I stated this sport as I wanted to be the fastest on the water, not just on the water!

Around 2006-7, something else began to happen. Kite boarding was becoming of age and the San Francisco local kiters were leading the charge, introducing course racing to the scene.  I was a bit skeptical at first, seeing the dangers of kiting but in constant awe of how the sport was evolving- much like windsurfing did the previous 45 years.

Soon the formula fleet and kiters began sharing the course in our long distance races and it wasn't long before the kiters got the advantage and began beating us at our own game.

The nerve!

More recently, the kite fleet began to grow while our local formula fleet began to decline. I couldn't deny it as the writing was already on the wall.

I finally took the plunge a few years ago learning how to kite in Baja with an experienced group of local kiters helping me along the way. I wasn't hooked like windsurfing but it sure was fun having other people to share the stoke.

With windsurfing, I had the best gear you could buy and could win local and national races and finish respectable at major championships. With kiting, I was still a kook, barely able to make it around the course.  The transition was harder than I imagined; more so in the sense of unlearning all those years of windsurfing.

All the meantime, the kite fleet was evolving with the introduction of foils.
I knew this time, I wouldn't be left behind.
photo credit- prerssure drop

Last month, I got the opportunity to sell a whole lot of my formula gear, which doesn't happen all too often.
So it begins, The next chapter of my sailing career- kite foiling and foil racing.

Im scared as hell but more excited than I've ever been in a long time.
The goal in 2015 is to become proficient at foiling so I can begin to be competitive on the course again. With an abundance of local racing and a strong group at Crissy field to help along the way, I'm looking forward to the next challenge.

Mind you, Im not giving up on windsurfing, just the light & medium wind formula racing which seems to be better suited for foiling anyway. Im keeping a slalom kit as well as my ml 89 & 10.0 so as not to miss anything at all.

Onward and upward!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Swelltember at the Gate

Sometimes it all comes together and for 4 out of 5 days last week- it did.
A big ebb tide, the first big swell of the season + great wind. 
Its lucky to line up 2 of these things- but 3...A real treat!

It started Tuesday- Sept 23 with the swell starting to arrive early in the day.
I got a great session in at the south tower the late afternoon in 18-24k on a rare butter smooth ebb.
I had the mikes lab 70cm slalom board, 42cm Z fin & avanti m-2 7.7 rig with the clew in the outside grommet and clew tied shut for best control in overpowered conditions. 
Sailing under the golden gate bridge at the South tower on a big ebb is a real hoot.
The swell can move backwards as if standing on a rug being pulled out from beneath you. 
Big troughs form on the south side of the south tower- craving out a sweet spot to gybe down the face of the incoming swell. 
On the far side, near Ft. Point is really where you can move into the wave before it makes a big right turn into the no wind zone- aka the surfers line up.
The circuit- as its known is a short run between the south tower and fort point with gybes every 30-45 seconds to stay on the treadmill of moving ebb. 

Do this for a few minutes and you really get into the groove.
10-15 min and then you begin to recognize the sets coming in and their timing.
After about an hour of sailing, you're in the zone. Nothing even phases you.

Wednesday Sept. 24th
The swell was huge- coming in at close to 20' at times. Big sets all the way from the run nun buoy across the bar. All I could see were huge rollers coming in from the Pacific but hardly a breeze at all.

@waves_sf said it best:
"Big ass whitecaps, like a-frames, but made of awful"

With the wind only at 10-12k, it was an obvious choice for the big board & rig.
The ML 89cm board was built for these exact conditions- huge sleigh rides under the gate.
The smaller 59cm kashy fin really settles the board down for good control.
I had the avanti m-2 10.0 rigged with the clew in the middle position.

Just outside the gate was a minefield of huge rollers and mini mountains of pure delight, depending on your point of view. 
The ebb sucks you well out past the red nun and that's when you sheet in, aim the board downwind and hold on tight! 

I had some the biggest rides of the season thrusted down the face of massive swell before gybing out at fort point and doing it all over again and again and again. 
Tons of people enjoying Wednesday peak with David Wells getting some huge sets on his SUP on the outside set,  the usual array of foilers- making it work in any condition and the surfers on the inside.

Thursday- Sept 25th- skunked! Not only not enough wind for me on the last Thursday night race night of the season but not enough wind to even get up to the gate on the big windsurfing gear.

Friday- Sept 26th. Score- another huge day of big bombs under the gate!

This time- fully lit again on the ml slalom/7.7 in  epic 25-30k of breeze, big ebb and big swell.
It might as well been a party wave because everybody and his brother were there.
A bit more crowded in the line up but stoked to see so many people having fun from wave sailors, slalom sailors, kiters on surf boards,  kiters on foilers and surfers.
By the 3rd day- I was starting to get it dialed.
Id make a huge run in on starboard tack- riding downwind across the incoming swell and making a huge bottom turn on the first trough at the south tower, stalling mid way- but keeping going down the wave. Big sets were still coming through but it was more the huge mountains of butter ball A frames just outside the south tower that made it great riding. It was comparable to the best powder day I ever had in the mountains.

After 3 hours of hard sailing- I couldn't even feel my arms or legs but the smile across my face was ear to ear. I went to been crusty and happy.

Saturday- Sept 27th- Firing again!
For the 4th out of 5 days, I scored big, hedging my bets and getting another huge day of swell riding.
I rigged the 10.0 as it was starting to die when I arrived but of course, rig a big sail and the wind comes up. 
 I reriged and was completely wound on the ml slalom/7.7 in 15-25k working my way up to the gate in midfields of voodoo chop in n the outgoing river of ebb. As it settled back down to 15-20k, I let the outhaul loose on the 7.7 and gained huge amounts of power driving down some big left over swell.  There were still some heady nuggets of fun out there to catch!

The big sets, today, were under the center span running towards the north tower with the most south we've seen all week.
Unlike the Ft Point circuit, you can ride these giants for longer as they have time to open up and gain momentum under the gate. I carried a few all the way down to Yellow Bluff past Horseshoe Bay and Ft. Baker on the Marin side.
I pretty much melted into my bed that night, knowing for the past 4 out of 5 days, I scored some of the best sessions of the year in my own backyard.

Monday, September 22, 2014

1 week and the tale of 2 beer can races

My Thursday and Friday night beer can races on the SF city front could not be more different.
This is my 14th year of doing the Friday night windsurfing series and only the 1st one of the Thursday night kite board series.

In one, I'm able to finish in the top 2 consistently in every bi-weekly race;
In the other- I'm still not able to get around the course within the time limit!

Its a tough year to join the kite racing fleet racing as most have switched to the foil class, who now set the time limit about 30% faster than what it was just a year ago. While it might have been better just to have jumped to the foil, I wanted to build some foundations by learning to tack and gybe the race board this season. By no means has it been easy but it surely has been fun.

To be fair- things have been getting progressively better in the kite racing on Thursdays.
This past week I made it across the finish line before the start of the 2nd race- just a minute shy of the 15 min. time limit. A few weeks ago- I was just barely able to make it to the leeward mark when the fleet passed me for their 2nd race.

For those that say, kiting is easy- obviously haven't tried racing!

We had complete white out conditions last week where for most of the race, I didn't see any other kites or marks- except at the start. I was stoked to have made it in own my own with out getting rescued.
So far this season, I've broken a line and been picked up twice in a dying breeze and flood tide. I've been racing on a Cabrina 9 and 11m with the ML production board- none of which seem to make any difference at all at this point.

I've begun to attempt to roll tack the board and OMFG loop the kite through a gybe.
These 2 maneuvers are unlike anything in windsurfing.
Needless to say I haven't made any yet!

So far after 5 or 6 races, Im still all DNF's for the season and with 1 race left- I'm hoping to get at least a number on my season score.

On the other side of the fence is the familiar Friday night series.  Just like the kite fleet- we've got 5 or 6 guys who can win races if you're not on your game. But unlike the kite fleet who has another 40+ sailors in their fleet, the local formula windsurfing fleet is 10 racers deep.

I love racing formula windsurfing boards on the city front course. Our local race course is on permanent buoys so you can run it any day of the week. 5 quick races are run each weekly series with 1 through out for the night. The races are quick with an emphasis on board handling and calling lay lines. The RC on the St. FYC race deck can call any of 5 courses which last 6-8 min depending on the tide.

This past week saw Soheil's run come to an end. He's been dominant on the new Gaastra Vapor in light air. I made some changes to my rig and tried another mast and finally things came alive with the avanti 10.0. In the first race, I started low and got ahead and stayed ahead. In the flood tide you've got to be a bit conservative making sure not to have to double tack Anita rock. Off the breeze, in course A, I had the starboard 167 running very deep with the Z F 70 fin got the 1st bullet of the night.

In the 2nd race, it lightened up considerably so I relaced my outhaul to the outer grommet to get more low end from the rig. I started low at A, getting out in front early but this time however, Eric and Al were right in there as we rounded Anita Rock together and in 1 puff, they walked away. Luckily, I got the next puff from behind, this time right into B and able to jump into the lead again!

Never, ever count your self out of any race. 

With a flood tide and dying breeze, its best to tack away after rounding X to get back to the pressure- this way, you can over stand the finish line and come in hot on starboard in the flood. I just managed to squeeze Eric out, jumping up onto a plane a few seconds sooner as we crossed the finish line overlapped.

2 bullets were enough to take the night as the breeze fizzled uncharacteristically for our last race of the season. Unfortunately, you've got to show to all the races to win and this year, I missed quite a few but never finishing outside the top 2.
Eric edged out Tom for the top spot overall in the season score with Al and Soehil just behind.

No matter the night, nor the fleet, there's no place I enjoy racing more than on the San Francisco city front course. Big thanks to the St.FYC for putting on both series!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

changing gears

Im spoiled, I'll be the 1st to admit it.
I live and sail in one of the most consistently windy spots on the west coast.
San Francisco is blessed with a sea breeze almost every afternoon from march through October from 15-25 knots funneling though the golden gate.
But when it gets light, I sometimes forget even how to sail.

I had one of those weekends where nothing went my way.
For Saturday's long distance SF Classic- I simply choose the wrong gear.
I was set up for the light breeze with a formula board and 10.0 + 70cm fin
I should have known.

10 minutes into the hour+ race I was stupidly overpowered and pulled out knowing how painful those reaches can be when your overpowered. I packed it up and watched the rest of the race from  the beach as Johnny Heineken dominated on a foil board and foil kite breaking both course records with 48 min downwind and 28 min coming back up beating the windsurfers by almost 35 min around the course!
It was a close race between Xavier and Tom for the Classic with Xavier getting the top spot for the formula boards and Eric clinching the upwind Ultra Nectar Challenge for the boards

Sunday-somehow I couldn't get it into gear when the wind was 10-15k.
My up wind angle just wasnt there.
I moved the track forward, tried a waist harness, but finally realized it was too much downhaul.
Once I eased just a few mm, the top and bottom of the sail became connected again.

Once you get the right settings dialed for the conditions, things are golden.
Searching for those settings is the challenge.

You've got to ease up 1-2mm on the downhaul, pull the tack strap tight and even go to the outside clew grommet to get more power into the rig. A few other tricks to gaining more power on the formula rig are to move the booms up higher- which brings the harness lines back. Moving the mast  track back in the box will also free up the board.

Its a fine line between being overpowered and trying to get more power.

Normally, by this time of year, Ive got the small 89cm board and 7.7 dialed in for super overpowered conditions. This year, however, we've been stuck in a SW pattern for the past few weeks as the strong sea breeze has failed to materialize like it did for the spring and early summer.

Meanwhile Ive been trying to master the kite course board which is a lot more work than I thought it would be- but the adventure is 1/2 the fun. Im going upwind and downwind, gybing but not quite tacking just yet. Making it around the Thursday night course is my goal for the season.
One leg at a time, I keep reminding myself.
The biggest challenge has been unlearning all the skills Ive developed as a windsurfer for the past 25 years and relearning them as a kiteboarder.
Im no longer 1 unit with kiteboarding but rather have to keep the board and kite going independent from one another.
Oh yes and the youngest has started walking.
I look at those tiny feet, which just began to crawl a few months ago and think if a baby can do this, I certainly can.


Friday, June 20, 2014

25 years on the SF Bay Challenge

It all started back in the mid 80's with Berkeley Windsurfing organizing a race from the rocks in from His Lordships restaurant- at the base of the Berkeley marina up to Anita Rock, on the San Francisco city front AND BACK! 

To remind you, windsurfing had just exploded internationally and California was the birthplace and one of the epicenters, hosting events like the windsurfers world championships in 1983, The O'Neill Classic and the Stroh's Pro-Am slalom tour- all drawing hundreds of competitors in what was the biggest largest one design sailing class of its time! 

At the time, windsurf racers routinely sailed upwind with the dagger boards firmly in place beneath their boards. Once around the windward mark, they pulled the dagger out and carried it around their shoulder with a strap- regularly bouncing off the waves and knocking them overboard.

The SF Bay challenge became so successful that it quickly outgrew the capacity of a the one person RC sitting on the rocks raising the start flag and recording the finishes 2-4 hours later.  

Enter- The St. Francis Yacht Club. With additional resources like safety boats, starting boats, race management and and international jury, The St.FYC stepped in to host the regatta. Only now- it would be sailed from the city front down to the Berkeley Pier and back. 

In the late 90's Ronstan became the official sponsor with an official name change to the Ronstan Bay Challenge. 

Sometime in the mid 2000's the kite boards were invited to race with the windsurfing fleet as the new sport was becoming of age. The windsurfers held onto the record for as long as they could- coming close to breaking the 1 hour mark for a 25 mile + tour of the Bay.

This year on a foiling kite board, Joey Pasquali obliterated the record  by 17 minutes with a new pace time of 54 minutes flying 3' above the water the entire race. To say- that foiling kite boarding has changed the sport- would be an understatement. They are absolutely killing it- almost 25 minutes in front of the first formula windsurfer.

A huge thanks to the St.FYC and their crew of volunteers, 35 competitors and Ronstan for their continued support of high performance sailing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ronstan challenge.

Omfg what a race!
13-16k at the start & 25-30k at the finish just over an hour later and 20+ miles in the GPS. 
It was indeed a challenge to hang onto the same gear the entire race. My 10.0 was a bit too much as I was doing everything to depower most of the race

I sailed the top of the course and had a good idea of my plan for the race. Immediately gybe after the top mark and get into the flood for the long haul downwind. 

The mixed fleet of foiling kites, kite course boards & formula boards started on starboard & immediately out of the gates the foiling boards were off like a blur.

I had a good start just by crad and we battled the rest if the windward beat with him slowly getting the better of me with the bigger 68cm fin as the wind as at it lowest point of the day.  

I was set up for the breeze to arrive with my 64 Kashy but this was only the opening moves... Crad tacked 1st with Tom following quickly. I waited another 20 seconds as I knew the flood tide was still raging. We all understood and had to double tack and finally when I made the mark I immediately gybed away going for the stronger flood tide in the middle if the bay as Tom and Crad played the city front. This paid off for me as I crossed Crad 2/3 of the way down to Alcatraz. 

Once past Alcatraz things got heavy and I moved into the double chicken every few minutes as to maintain enough energy for the entire race. 
The foil boards were well off in front as Crad & I continued to cross each other while I maintained the slightest of leads blazing downwind through the Berkeley circle.  Going deep downwind past the end of the pier things continued to get rough but the avanti 10.0 was pulling like a truck with great power. I had the outhaul eased with the outhaul in the middle grommet.  
At the leeward mark I rounded just behind Headington on the 1st kite course board and we began the long haul back upwind. Crad was on my hip grinding hard to weather while Heady was just to leeward as we got into some pretty heavy conditions. 
Point Blunt was reading 28-32k as we passed through. 

All I could do to maintain was to pinch and try to keep the board moving as we headed upwind against the flood tide. Crad was able to do it just a bit better than me and slowly ground down my lead. 
The beat was long and painful as I was struggling if find a comfortable position to hike out. As I approached the leeward side if angel island things stated to lighten up so tacked and headed back to the pressure. 

Once there it was an effort just to keep the board moving through the gusts and chop. 
I had the 10.0 as flat as it would go and pinching just to stay upright in the gusts off point blunt. Crad had kept the pressure on the whole time and never let up a bit. I made a huge effort to grind upwind and give it everything I had but knew my back was the weak link. I tacked back to go to the north side if Alcatraz and thought I called the  layline to the finish but as I made the long beat across the bay I got flooded down and Crad made his final move getting me on the last tack to the finish just in front if the club. I knew I had given it my all and sometime that's all you've got. 

Win or lose it's how you play the game that matters.  I managed 10th overall with the top 8 being foiling kiters. Tom was in hot pursuit just behind us bringing up the top 3 windsurfers while Headington in the course board has a significant set back. 

There's still some pleasure beating the kites- even if it is the course boards.

In the front of the fleet, Joey kept the lead the entire race as Heinekin broke a bridle on his chronno foil kite while Chip took 2nd. Joe set a new course record of 54'- a whopping 17 minuted faster than the previous record.

Finding 5th gear...

As if the previous 30 mile+ day of overpowered racing wasn't enough- the RC decided to do 3 marathon races across the San Francisco Bay for the 2nd day of the Ronstan Challenge.

The course was a start near the St. FYC to a quick upwind mark near the Presidio shoal- across the Bay to a boat stationed at yellow bluff, straight downwind to Harding Rock- then across the bay again to a buoy at Ft. Mason and finally another quick upwind leg to the finish.

Since there was a lot of reaching and the wind was supposed to come up quickly- I went for the smaller ml89 formula board and 60cm kashy fin with my 10m avanti m-2 machine.  Both Mike Percey and I were on the smaller boards while the rest of the fleet was on normal formula boards.

There's a huge advantage with the smaller board when the wind comes up but at the same time- if you get into any lighter winds, it goes right out the back door.
Race 1- Wind- 12-18k.

Soheil sailed a clean race- staying ahead on his JP formula and NP 10.0 while I got stuck in a few holes that put me back in the cheap seats. The Ml 89 lost its edge upwind as the fleet sailed by in the light stuff.
Coming back across the bay on the bottom reach- it felt more like an upwind with the flood tide ripping down at 4k.

Race 2- increasing breeze from 15-20k. This time I made sure to stay in the breeze and really over stood the upwind mark in the flood tide and came in strong leading the pack on the 1st beat across to Yellow Bluff. This time- there was no boat and no mark.
Maybe its just my eyes playing tricks on me, I thought.
I turn back to see the rest of the fleet heading way downwind of me.
I put it in over gear and went to the chicken strap blazing downwind through some nasty swell around Harding Rock getting Percey as he rounded wide. It took me almost the whole leg to get above a mid fleet foiling kiter on the same beat but lost it just like that as it got lighter near Ft. Mason. I tacked as soon as I could cross the mark and Percy continued in the hole.

Back in the lead but not for long.
Soheil made a quick tack after the mark and was closing the distance.
He tacked back but was well short of the finish line.

Never ever underestimate the flood tide.

I had to make the perfect layline call or else...
I tacked and just made it across the pin end a 1/2 board length in front of Soheil who was shooting the line at the boat.

A quick break onshore only to return to the last race were it had picked up significantly- very significantly.
I made a big change to the avanti rig by moving into the inside grommet on the leach. This pulls the leach even more and depowers the sail.

I dropped my sail on the 2 tacks but held it together the rest of the rest of the race in some of the heaviest conditions I've experienced. I crossed the first reach to yellow bluff where I just kept sailing into richardsons bay to find a less chaotic place to gybe. Surely I'd overstood Harding but I was spot on.  Percey went down hard behind me. No on else was in sight. It was a solid 30-35k at Harding when I rounded with 4-6' breakers all around me. I did everything just to keep the board moving while hardly trimmed in at all. The next beat across the bay was  a real leg burner. No easy way around it.

I got the bullet in the last race by a few  minutes and took the days racing.

While I probably would have been better off on the smaller sail, Im stoked to have learned about the extra gear with a few small changes in the rig.

The foil kites had their handful for sure getting around the box course in that breeze. Heineken took the top spot followed by Joey and Chip in the top 3.

Thanks to Erin  Loscocco for the photos.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Night Slalom

The St. FYC has put together a new downwind slalom racing format to be run on windy Friday nights in lieu of the normal upwind, downwind courses, the formula boards usually sail.

On Friday, June 13th we had our first slalom race of the season.

10-12 racers on the line-our biggest turn out yet for the year as we usually have 5-6 formula racers for upwind/downwind racing. 
We had 18-22k and 5 back to back races. 
Race 1 was won by Soheil who had the perfect start at Anita rock squeezing out in front of the pack at the 1st gybe mark. Meanwhile Jason, Jean & myself battled for the next positions around the next few marks before I was able to get past them and put the pressure on Soheil on the last leg but he held on strong for the win. 

Race 2- fleet was pushing hard at the start and as a result 4 sailors over early so the win went to CRAD of F4 fins. Sadly my bullet was a bit premature. Still close racing as Jean held the lead till the last mark where I was able to squeeze in and make a better rounding and take the lead. 

Race 3-good start with the fleet in hot pursuit breathing down my neck at every mark. Avanti 7.7 & ml 70cm slalom board pulled out of the holes well to extend a good lead on the last 2 legs as a few sailors went down at the H beam. Jason was able to beat the rest of the pack for 2nd. 

Race 4- still a good breeze on the course and Anita rock still way favored. The RC called Tim and I over early but we charged on thinking we had the perfect start. Despite the bullet, it was Jason who got the win with the clean start and great marking roundings with CRAD in 2nd. 

Race 5- final race of the night. I held back knowing 3 osc's wouldnt be ideal so I came into the 1st mark in the middle of the pack and went down as I stuffed my nose. Meanwhile Jean held on great at every mark with a tight pack of racers looking for any opportunity to get ahead. Each mark rounding had 3-4 sailors overlapped in tight positions and Jean held on for the wind. 

Such as great format as everyone was stoked. 
A huge thanks to the St. Francis YC and their volunteers for making it happen. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Biting off more than I can chew

I had this grand vision that I'd be kite board racing this season
What I failed to remember was that there's a certain amount of dues that one has to pay- regardless of one's experience...Humbling dues!
While I've paid my dues in windsurfing, this experience is like starting over again.

Sometimes you want to arrive at your destination as quickly as possible, but as I keep trying to remind myself, it's the journey that gets you there.

My goal- the St.FYC Thursday Night Series.
With a local fleet of almost 40 racers and top racers from across the US and World joining the bi-monthly series- this is the place to be if you want to be kite board racing.
Luckily- right in my backyard.

Week 1- Not sure I even ready for the race but I figured it's the best way to push myself and free rescues if needed! I made it quickly downwind in the flood tide to the start and just kept going down wind when things got light and I couldn't relaunch my kite. The safety boat got me somewhere north of Pier 39.
To be fair, I was 1 of almost 20 people who got rescued that night when the wind died and fog came it. I shared the rib rail with Jimmi Spithil on the rescue ride home as the wind knows no boundaries.

Week 2- I was determined to make the start. I timed it so I was about 30 seconds late but didn't account for all the downed kites on the line.  This isnt like windsurfing where you can just weave around people. Lines were everywhere.  I certainly dont know what my lines are doing, nonetheless the guys around me. I  gybe to get out of there ('cause I still cant tack) and make another run at the starting line. Ahh the flood tide again- pushing me downwind. I make another 2 attempts to cross the line in the strong flood only to be denied as the top racers are just about to finish. Luckily I make it back to the beach on my own accord. I call this one a victory. No rescue!

Week 3-another big flood tide, light breeze and fog. This is the curse of  Thursday Night. I choose the 11.0 for the first race and made the start and floundered in the light breeze near the top if the course.  Going upwind is still a challenge especially on starboard tack. After realizing I want going to make the top mark I hightailed it down to the starting line again to make the 2nd start- a bit late but 2 starts for the evening! I'll take the small victories when I can. 

Week 4 -new windsurfing gear arrived last week so no time on the kite board. I set my goal for making the windward mark despite the raging flood tide and light wind on the inside of the course. I get off the starting line and make the long haul on port tack upwind. The leaders are far gone but there's one another newbie just in front of me. I try to chase him down but we both get stuck up in the corner with no wind. I gybe again and go out to the middle of the bay for more wind. I finally make it around the windward mark and begin to head downwind as I hear Johnny Heineken take the bullet of race 1. My kite goes down in the light wind and I spend the next few minutes trying to relaunch and use most of my energy. Making it around 1 mark and back to the beach on my own accord is victory enough for tonight.

One leg at a time, Im going to conquer this course. Next weeks goal is to make it around the downwind mark.