Monday, June 4, 2018

Friday Night Slalom Series- It's all in the start

Friday night- June 1st.  Wind's up
We blaze into the 2nd night of our summer slalom series with 14 boards on the line.
I'm well lit on the ml slalom 70cm board, 7.6 avanti machine and 42cm Z fin as the building ebb & sea breeze pump through the golden gate and down the city front.

photos by Chris Ray
It's a civilized series series, where you can stand at the waters' edge till 1 minute before the start and still make the pin end of the start line. 2-1/2 minutes later, its all over and we line up to do it again.
I take a few practice runs before the start and realize its going to be a pretty heady 1st reach with the 3-4' voodoo chop, breaking swell and 18-22 knots of breeze.
I nail the 1st start at the pin, breaking out from the pack and immediately enjoy clear air down the first leg. The first gybe is hairy with the pack just behind me. I keep it together and lead the fleet to the A buoy. 'Wide and tight' is the rule for mark roundings as I approach mark 2 and close the door on the guys trying to sneak into whats left of "NO ROOM!"
The usual suspects go down as Jean and Soheil are left swimming.
I make it around 2 more blazing reaches and get the first bullet of the night.

Race 2- Wind's up even more with puffs closing in at 25k,  There's some confusion at the start with a late horn but I send it with my back foot in the leeward strap for control down the first reach. David Bernsten puts in into overdrive making the most of his narrower board and flying right over the top of me. He keeps up the pressure the whole race, not letting up and bit and grabs his first bullet of the night while I stay in 2nd. Later, on the beach, we all agree to abandon the race as the RC timing was off.

Race 3- Soheil and Jean are on a mission- getting a clean start and leading the pack. Im in a close 3rd, looking for any opportunity to take advantage of their mistakes but their smaller boards give them a real advantage on speed. My gybes are clean but not enough to make up for the difference. Jean puts the pressure on the last leg and reduces the distance till he and Soheil are overlapped at the finish with Soheil just edging him out. I settle for 3rd

video by Chris Ray

3 races- 3 different winners. This is going to be tight!

I line up for race 4, nailing the pin start again with speed and am immediate out in front. It's amazing what a difference a good start will get you. You've got clear air and able to make your own decisions. I play it pretty conservative and make all my gybes. In a 2 min. race, you really want to avoid any mistakes or else your shot out the back door. I sail to my 2nd bullet of the night.

video by Chris Ray
Race 5- Wind is letting up a bit to 16-20k as I jockey for position in the pre-start. I'm with a group at the pin end. At 10 seconds, I send it, almost sure Id be over early but come across the line clean and out in front. I nearly lose it at the A buoy with Marty Rosse sailing the best race of his life and playing bumper boats at the rounding. I come out unscathed but the fleet is right on my tail.
Soheil keeps up the pressure till the finish but I'm able to hold him off for another bullet.

We make up race 2 and sail the final race of the series in what looks like a dying breeze. I nail the start again getting a good jump on the fleet and nearly make it around the course planing until the final 20 feet to the finish. Soheil, on his larger board, comes in strong and stops in the same spot as me as we drift across the line overlapped. I edge him out for the 3rd time and take the evening with 4 out of 6 bullets. The rest of the fleet isn't so lucky and barely makes it around the course in the dying inside breeze.
video by Chris Ray

All in all, another great night of racing on the city front. The big lessons from this evening are the importance of a clean start. Without that, its all catch up and sailing in dirty air.
Huge thanks to the volunteers and rcers for coming out strong and supporting the series.

Results here

Chris Ray photos here