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!