Tuesday, May 6, 2014

City front racing

The St. Francis Yacht Club played host to another great weekend of racing at the Elevstrom-Zellerbach regatta hosting 84 dinghies, cats, windsurfers, kite boarders & foilers on 2 courses with 6 races for each fleet. Saturdays breeze pushed into the mid 20's with a building ebb tide on the city front course while Sunday's racing were a more relaxed 14-16k and flat water flood tide. 
The formula fleet saw a good turnout with 10 boards on the line and the final race determining which of the top 4 sailors would take the series. The kites- who raced just after us on the same course had 21 foilers and course boards combined.
Saturdays breeze built early and strong but by the time we started near 2:45, it was peaking at 25k.
I rigged the avanti 10.0, starboard 167 and kashy 64 fin

The course was twice around the windward mark set near the Presidio shoal and a downwind finish set next to the starting line off last chance beach. With the fleet starting on starboard- its a short beat before you hit the sea wall just at GGYC. Just like Friday night racing- if you can be the inside boat near the shore you'll capitalize on the fleet below you and be able to climb on the geographical lift coming off the shore.
It works every time-(except when it doesn't.)

Thanks to Lyrah for capturing the photos from the seawall!
More photos here.
Tom, Xavier and myself all arrived at the top mark together and remained even almost the whole race till the final lay line call to the finish mark. I split the difference between the 2 and nailed the lay line perfect- getting the 1st bullet of the day.

Race 2- a bit shiftier at the top of the course as the puffs were coming in with less frequency.
We all got caught and had double tack the top mark which put me back in the cheap seats and dirty air.
It was Al USA-882 was positioned well and walked away with the bullet calling the lay lines perfectly.

Race 3- Xavier finally found with groove sailing the 7.3 slalom sail with his new starboard.
He's super efficient on that rig- especially in the wound city front conditions.
Most of the fleet was on 9.3s or 9.5's while Percy sailed the ml89 mini formula board and 7.8.

Tom and I were pushing hard in 2nd & 3rd  flying downwind through the chop and puffs before I pushed a bit too hard and went right over the front in a spectacular catapult that left me hooked in under the sail to leeward. Ouch!
Al was quick to jump in there and took 3rd while I ended up just behind Eric in 5th.

If you make 1 mistake- there's always a group just waiting to pass you.
Super tight and competitive racing!

Sunday's conditions were flatter so I put in the Z F0 fin which absolutely flies in slightly under powered conditions. I came out the gates with a good advantage and climbed on the fleet on the long port tack beat up the city front. I made it around the mark just as a huge shift hit the fleet behind me and they all had to double tack while I got jetted downwind like a rocket in a private puff. I  had a comfortable lead but nearly gave it up as I went to the outside gate and got stuck in some very light wind on the right side while the fleet behind me sailed right up the city front and almost crossed.
Time to protect the lead.
Xavier and I both sailed downwind towards shore and as it got lighter, I was able to get some distance back and took advantage of going as deep as I could knowing he was on a big slalom sail.

Sometimes that extra horsepower comes in handy.
Race 1 for the win!

2nd race of the day was another hard fought battle from the start. Eric and I pushed a bit too hard to win the start and we were both called OSC. I dipped back and took a flier to the right corner which got me back in the game. Slowly I reeled in Xavier on the 2nd long upwind as we rounded the gate together and had some boat traffic to deal with.  Tom and Al were gone but 3rd would have to do.

Going into the last race- either Xavier, Tom, Al or myself could win the series with a bullet and some mathematical luck .
It all came down who would make the least mistakes.
The fleet came into the sea wall in a tight pack

This tack is just critical to keep your position for the next long beat upwind.
You give up an inch- you loose a mile!

3/4 of the way up the leg- Tom, Xavier and I were all still tightly grouped.
Who's going to call the layline?

Too early and you've given up the race.
Too late and you've given up the race.

I took my eyes off them for 2 seconds and missed the opportunity as once they tacked they were gone-on the lay line and around the mark
I never got another chance as they both sailed flawlessly.
I held onto 3rd but with Al just behind in 4th.
He took the final spot on the podium with Xavier in 1st and Tom in 2nd.

It couldn't have been closer- and that's the way I love it.
Huge thanks to the St.FYC and all the competitors.
Results here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Surviving the gusts

Week 3. Stfyc Friday night series. 
5 races in up and down gusty city front conditions. Gusts up to 25k & 5k holes on the starting line. Rigged 10 avanti,167 starboard & 64 Kashy. 
Good speed, acceleration & board handling around the course. In SF, it's all about surviving the gusts. On the Friday night course, it's all about board handling & calling the laylines. 

Race 1-course A.  Off the line well with Tom on my hip. He rounded just ahead at Anita and gybed first to get back to the breeze. 10.0 really trucking & good control in building ebb.  I finally caught up on the long port tack run to X & called the layline while Tom went down in the chop.  Bullet 1. 
Race 2. Good start but had Crad in my windward hip and had to duck below him with 64 fin in light start. By the end of the 2 min. beat and building breeze, I made it back up and tacked to cross on starboard and took the lead at Anita & never looked back. Bullet 2
Race 3 - great acceleration off the line and holding angle well in breeze & chop.  Spastic gusts along city front w/ SW breeze kicking in hard. It payed win B and be the inside board getting lift off the shore. 3 gybes down wind for course E before I went down hard on the last upwind & blew the lead. I saw the gusts & went to pull in my outhaul before I got lifted out if the water & slammed down hard. Slow recovery for 5th place out of 7 or 8. 
Race 4. Bumped booms up for more leverage as breeze was lighter on inside. 10-15 at start. Good start at b & called the layline early in ebb tide. 1st to round & quick gybe to get back outside to breeze for course C. C is a bit off a slalom course with 3 quick gybes & board handling skills put at a premium. 64 fin pays dividends in these conditions. The avanti rig gybes effortlessly. It's all about knowing your kit & maximizing the positives & minimizing the negatives. Stayed clear ahead for bullet 3. 

Race 5. Lighter on the inside while big puffs still on the outside. I started a bit down the line in a crowded start with everyone pushing. Slow acceleration as I had sailed pulled flat. I finally found my lane as the breeze built near the top mark. Again 1st to tack for layline in ebb with Al chasing hard just behind. Gybes were a bit conservative barring disaster- just trying to keep it together. I stayed in front and called the rest if the laylines for the finally bullet. 
Great lead up to this weekends Elvestrom/Zellwrbach regatta.  Hope to carry the momentum forward.