Sunday, June 19, 2016

Riding dirty & days between...

Its been several season since Ive been riding dirty with both feet in the foot straps but in different fleets.  It used to be that everyday spent kiting meant loosing a day of windsurfing.
Now it seems most of my time is spent kiting with just a few days left for slalom racing as I continue get my kite skills up to par and rely upon my past windsurfing experience to keep me at the top of the fleet.  Nonetheless- there's a lot of overlap between the 2 disciplines from mastering new skills, maintaining a quiver and just getting to the starting line on time. 
I look back at the last months racing, training and lessons learned:

May 19th- Thursday Night Kite Series: Its blowing stink on the city front gusting from 15-30k. I take out the 8m & foil and try to make it around the course without too much damage. Im getting more comfortable in the breeze on the foil and manage to beat a few people people to the top mark. Downwind they all pass me as I take a few big catapults pushing too hard. My starts are still 10-20 seconds behind the fleet as to avoid any tangles. I try to avoid the big bummers and get get around the course as fast as I can. I just miss the time limit in the first race as the 2 kiters in front of me tangle at the finish line but manage to squeeze a 21st in for the first official result of the season. Take the small victories when you can!

June 2- Thursday Night Kite Series: Its one of the sketchier evenings I've spent the the Bay-lit on the 8m kite and foil in 15-25k in an absolute white out. Foiling is a real trip in the fog. There's no sight lines and almost no sound with the foil and board above the water. The fog becomes so thick in the 2nd race, I get lost on the way to the windward mark, not seeing anyone for a few minutes. I bail and come in for my own safety.

June 3- Friday Night Slalom Series:  I finally get to race on my new windsurfing kit. The ml 70cm slalom board & avanti 7.6 prove to be the perfect set up in 15-24k.  The board comes out of the gybes strong and the rig handles the big puffs very well. If you're going to have 1 slalom kit- this is it. 
The key to slalom racing is getting a good start and coming out of the 1st mark strong. After that it's sailing conservatively and picking up any spots where you can.  I take it for granted that I can nail most of my gybes but it does take its toll. Races are only 2-3 min long with 4 quick gybes and quick reaching legs at full power. CAN-9 on an 8.6 rig  and I battle it out in front but he edges me out on the inside when it gets light. I settle for 2nd for the evening. 

June 12- Crissy Field Slalom Series: Perfect conditions with breeze in the mid 20's. Im well lit on the avanti 7.6, ml 70cm board and 42cm Z fin but am edged out by Jason and Xavier who are really pushing hard and take the top 2 spots. I try to compensate by pushing the line more but end up over early twice and make a foul and withdraw from another race. While it pays to be aggressive, it sometimes can cost you dearly. I fail to take full advantage of the 30 min break and postponement and get caught under powered on the course as the breeze dies and flood increases. When its light- always have your big guns ready!  
Another big lesson learned this weekend was that you are never above the rules. I found myself withdrawing from a race after a new racer politely asked me why I shut the door on him at the mark rounding. "Are you allowed to do that? " he asked.  Well, no I was wrong. Even without a protest, when you know you have fouled someone and dont do your penalty turn, the best thing to do is retire. Ironically, I have the same conversation with Xavier after the days racing as he fouled me in an earlier race. Respectfully, he withdraw form the race and ultimately loses the day to Jason but good sportsmanship goes along way. Congrats on setting a good example for us to follow!

June 16- Thursday Night Kite Racing: It looks light and I rig the 13.5m kite but end up well powered as the breeze cranks up to 18-20k. At the leeward mark- its barley 10k and a graveyard in the back of the fleet. I start 10 seconds behind the fleet and am in the pack rounding the top mark only because I've overstood in the flood tide and stayed on the outside with the breeze. Its the small things like this that put me within striking distance but my transitions that keep me back. I make most of my non foiling gybes- especially in the lighter breeze but get knocked down a few times as the 13.5 kite provides to be a handful in the puffs. I make the top 20 for the 1st time but get taken out in race 2 as I get caught in a tangle on the start line. Luckily it does not end in disaster but keeps me from just making the time limit in race 2. 

Days Between: I spent most of my time practicing on the foilboard in under 20k and on the surfboard when its gets windy. In 20-30k, The 7 and 8m kites are just delightful with the surfboard making quick snappy turns in the voodoo chop.  The foil is still challenging in that I can ride without much trouble but transitions are still the death of me. I cant wait to be able to nail some foiling tacks and gybes and play the game fully but it all good time, With every session, I'm learning more control, pushing the envelope and starting to get comfortable in most conditions. More importantly- no matter what- just having fun with the process and not taking things too seriously keeps me coming back for more.