Saturday, June 25, 2005
My approach for racing today was to get clear air and stay in the wind. Don't fall off a plane at all! First race, winds were light and I wanted to get set up towards the pin so I had room. A few guys like Ben and Eric were going to dip starts which seemed to go well through out the day. We went planning on the line and it was only the top guys who got off while the rest of the fleet struggled to get planning. I immediately tacked over the right side to get going and carried it over to the land but came all the back to the left side -putting on some major distance. I should have just worked the right side and got the shift once I got up to the island. When its windy, going right always pays off on this course. For the rest of the races, it was a parade to the layline both upwind and downwind. I managed to pick off a sailor here and there to finish in 5th or 6th. I n the next few races, I did the same thing- getting people at the bottom corner of the downwind, where I gybed inside of them and worked my way down to the leeward mark, either ahead because of the getting the wind first or with an overlap for a decent rounding.
In the 3rd race, I didn't carry over the layline far enough and had to double tack with Crad and Ben. Off the breeze, same situation- drive them to the layline and gybe inside!
The next start, I was just below Devon at the start but couldn't drive away with enough power and speed but luckily he had better angle and sailed clear away to windward- leaving me unobstructed to get to the port layline in decent shape. I was sparring it out with Ben most of the time for the 5th spot behind Devon, Mike Z. Steve S and Mike P. We did have some good sparing on the line with Alan vigorously defending his space to windward as I tried to roll him with 10 sec to the start. He was forcing me up and shot me up over the line and I came back to duck the line and clear myself. If your going to put yourself into that situation, be sure to realize the risk and have an escape plan to get out. The same thing happed the last race, when Eric left a big hole to windward of him and I stuck in there. By the time he started to come up, I was over the top of him and back down on the line and under him, forcing him up. Interesting how that played out. Don't get yourself caught in personal battles as they will probably take you out of the game.
Percy and I were duking it out in the 4th race as he rounded just in front of me at the windward mark and we gybed together but I had the inside overlap at the leeward mark and tried to stay high to force him to tack over so I could continue. I was going up and up and grinding as he kept the pace, I could tell we were both well above our normal course and with out decent batten tension, I didn't know how much longer I could hold him back. Finally e got up on me while I had a little spin out and by then, he has gone. I followed him around the rest of the course but finished 5th again.
Not a bad day of racing. I made some good tactics that got me some places and didn't make any major mistakes.
In the words of the Grateful Dead- what a long strange trip it been! This weekends San Francisco Classic and UN Challenge was an enduring marathon of windsurfing racing that made this 2 day regatta seem like a 5 day championship. I was well worn out by the time it was over and welcomed the rest on Sunday night.
The Classic started with light conditions and the postponement flag flying till close to 2pm. I went out early on my 10.0 and 63 cm r14 fin thinking it would be ripping on the outside like it had done for the past week in the bay. Immediately there were a few holes on the inside and I knew it was going to be a challenging race as the flood was starting to kick in. My objective was to stay with the leaders and not let them get away under any circumstances.
I lined up well on the start getting a good start at the pin end on port with speed to cross everyone. Mike Z was just below me and it took a few minutes for us to untangle as he was grinding up for angle and I was footing for speed. An outbound freighter was approaching and we were forced to tack. With Bill going early and leading us back to the light inside, we got knocked and Bill pulled ahead. Mike and I both tacked back as we could clear the passing ship and Bill continued left. Crossing once again just outside the gate, Bill was ahead of us both. The flood was strong and we all realized we couldn't make it outside the south tower with the strong voodoo chop. I got stuck on the tack back and nearly missed the south tower by a few feet. The rest of the fleet was getting stuck as well in the 6' boiling chop. A few people snuck by and got to the flat water towards fort point and came in to round with speed. Once there you needed to navigate straight downwind through the voodoo chop. Again, it was a graveyard with fallen formula sailors! There were now a few people in front of me after the second mark and Jean and Percy just behind at the north tower. I decided to stay high on the next reach while the other 2 behind me drove deep first and came up to the mark with speed. At the Presidio shoal there was light wind and current with most of the fleet either stopped or really spread out on the course already.
Lap 2 saw more of the same scenario outside the gate but now there was an incoming freighter splitting the fleet in ½. I tacked to avoid the huge wind shadow and went far right over-standing the mark so I could come in with speed. Once in the voodoo chop, everything changes and I wasn't able to make any further forward direction. Slowly I made my way around the red nun for a second time and got around the north tower and down to Anita Rock where Peter rounded just in front of me. We were shlogging coming in, well behind the leaders who had already rounded and were planning in the middle towards Harding. I go to gybe around Anita and the support boat waves me off the course saying I had not made the 10 min. gate from the first sailor. I knew there were at the most 6 sailors in front of me with the rest of the 25 board fleet behind me. Certainly there was some mistake. I continued on pushing ahead on the rest of the classic course. I managed to get Peter on the bottom half of the course, just as we rounded Blossom rock. Now there were only kiters in front of me and this was there first attempt at the classic. I'm not sure if they had a different course but they were going all over the bay. I finished the classic ready to forge onto the UN Challenge. With no competitor in sight, this was going to be a long upwind beat to the StFYC. My classic time was the longest it had ever been, almost 1:40. Going back upwind by yourself makes it seem like even longer. Alcatrez- only ½ way up the bay seemed like an eternity off on the horizon. I knew the flood was getting stronger and I sensed I should stay away from the city front and it would be stronger there. I worked my way up in the lee of Alcatrez. The Angel island side seemed lighter so I was forced to go back up the city front in the flood which really slowed me down. I made it back to the beach after close to 3 hours on the water. I was spent.
I found out later I was not scored for the UN Challenge as you needed to finish the Classic in order to start it. I was rather upset knowing the afternoon didn't really matter after all. Well I knew I did it, gave it my all and finished. After all you're racing against yourself and the other boards are just obstacles around the course. Day 2- Again we waited for the breeze to fill till around 2pm but managed to get 3 course races off in 11.0 conditions. I used a 70 cm fin today feeling better on the upwinds. With finishes of 3, 2, 3, I finished 1 point out of first. Bill and Soheil tied with 7 points as we all battled it out near the top of the fleet. Al and Eric were up there was well, mixing it up but it came down to some luck getting around the top mark. Soheil found out that being out in the lead gets you more clear air and you able to squeeze the mark more. With the rest of the fleet following on the starboard layline, we all fell down in the flood and had to double tack to make it around more than once. It was a parade to the middle both up and downwind as the only real wind was there. Soheil tried going inside on the last downwind and got passed by 4 boards. I managed to pump down and get Bill at the finish as we was on his 10.0. Next race, the majority of the fleet started on port again. I was getting really decent starts with Soheil but he was climbing and holding his lane. Eric and Al didn't seem to have the angle with last year's north sails- perhaps the fins but Soheil was well tuned on his 64- cm fin. I would get close sometime upwind in the lighter stuff but never managed to get him upwind or downwind. On the last race, Soheil and I started on port again and crossing the fleet at the starboard layline but having to duck most of them at the start. It came down to Soheil extending his lead on the last leg and Bill, Al and I coming into the finish line together. Al and I gybed early as a 50' recreational sloop sailed upwind in our course. We both we outside strap sheeted in going all out to the finish line. I didn't look back at Bill as all my effort was going into passing Al. We had been in this scenario before last year at the Elvestrom regatta. It was the guy who worked harder who won. I got out of the harness and started pumping. At first, it wasn't any faster but I was able to go deeper and as the boat end of the line was favored and Al and I were headed towards the pin end of the downwind finish, I crossed a few seconds in front of him while Bill came in with speed and finished at the favored board end.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Calcup returns to San Francisco for city front racing. StFYC set a line and a windward mark and had an rc boat for a great day of racing. Its always fun to race on the city front as it gets 'survival' by the end of the day and there are lots of tactics to deal with with the flood and the ebb, commercial boat traffic, and of course a hundred other windsurfers and sailors on the bay enjoying the SF fog free weather. By 11 the wind was starting to fill in and I already de-rigged my 11.0 and went out on the water with my 10.0.
The swell was beginning to build and the wind was stronger on the outside. There was still a lot of flood on the inside but it was particularly tricky as it was sometimes quite light on the inside as I found out. As I warmed up, I realized it was going to be better to get to the right side early and out of the flood up wind. If there was a puff I could ride down off the breeze, the inside might be favorable. Of course, if there was wind on the inside there is always a nice geographical lift from the shore, but always a risk getting there.
I don't remember a lot of the particulars throughout the day as we had slalom racing just after course racing and it was a long day on the water. What I do remember is getting a nice starts the 1st race and rounding in the top 3-4 and keeping my position from there, With 2 laps around the course, there was some opportunity for strategy and finding your opponents weak areas and taking advantage of them. At the top, most guys are very proficient and not a lot of weak areas to take advantage of, but once you get stuck in the middle of the fleet, you can either grind people off or simply sail faster than them. Upwind on the first race, I tacked just behind and below Bill with Eric just in front. I know Bill is a footer and always goes for speed so I antcipated the squeeze and simply went for speed myself and sailed above Eric and was catching up with Ben. I really felt fast upwind with this set up. I had put on a bit more downhaul, which seemed to help the top end
In the 2ns race, it was Eric who was the lone port tacker. He looked doomed at the start, barley getting off the line having sailed under all the starboard boards coming down the line. But a the top mark, he was really out in the lead, having gotten out of the flood for longer in the stronger breeze. We all understood the windward mark and had to double tack. Just a bit further and I would have been golden. Off the breeze I made the mistake of sailing too far into shore near Crissy and got stuck with no breeze at all and really suffered as 4-5 boards sailed by well powered on the outside. Live and learn!
Don't remember much on the next race except the rest of the fleet caught onto Eric's lesson from before and there were about 10 port tackers. I had thought about it but at the time thought the current was too strong and wind too light to take the risk of not being powered up and staying up on the line to be worth it. I started on starboard sailing off the line with Mike Z and Steve. I decided to tack back early but going up the middle was just the wrong choice. You needed to pick and side and be totally committed to it. Mike Z and Steve both got the inside lift and came out on top. I struggled to make my way through the fleet down wind and got Al by gybing inside him at the last layline and pumping across the finish line. Nice strong finish. I'll take the points where I can get them.
Last race- we all came in and took a few minute break thinking that racing was over but they called us out again. The swell was big, the wind a steady 20-25k and everyone was powered on their 10.0's It was more of survival racing and not falling as that takes you out of the game. I decided port was the way to go and Ben, Jean and I all lined up on the left side taking a good run at the line. Those 2 cleared everyone but I decided to play it a bit safe and duck. Well better safe than sorry but sometimes you need to take the big risk to win. The 3 of us went to the right side while the rest of the fleet went to the shore. Ben and Jean rounded 1-2 while Bill, Steve and Mike Z slipped in just in front of me. We were all well lit going off the breeze. I felt Bill just below me coming up for speed and Steve just above me breathing down my neck. You know how close they are by the slight noise of the hull against the water without even having to look. Steve gybed first and but was forced to round wide and Bill and Mike Z had a tight rounding. I slowed down a bit, not to get in their bad air and set myself up for a tight rounding a lane to pinch up on the long beat ahead. I stayed up with Mike Z as long as I could but finally bleed off and went for speed. We had still climbed well above the Bill and Steve below. Jean and Ben were out in front going to the left side. Ok wait for the others to make mistakes! Steve was too powered up and got launched to leeward. One less to worry about! We all tacked on the layline and soon enough Jean fell to windward but was quick to water start out of it and slightly ahead at that point. Off the breeze we went on a big swell. I looked behind and there was enough of a gap for me not to worry and I just sailed conservatively not to make any falls. Bill, Jean and Mike Z were going deep and little out of control. I sailed a bit higher and let Jean make the next mistake of falling again and I picked him off and finished 4th.
We all sailed back to the beach where the shore break was just huge and Mike z was the first to go over the falls and miracuously only ended up breaking a batten despite pitch poling his ear on the shore break. I was pretty cautious getting out as someone was there to help. At that point everyone helped the sailors coming in to prevent any further damage. A real true show of sportsmanship and camaraderie we have here in our fleet.
The breeze was still up so I choose the 6.4 and 32 cm fin. As the heats got closer, I put on my 7.6 and bigger fin as it was starting to lighten up. I watched the first heat go off and headed out to the line. I tried to time my start to get going well and did a few practice runs timing myself. I was the first to get across the line and had a nice lead at the first mark and gybed well enough to stay there and felt pretty comfortable until the 3rd mark just in front of the beach where the rebound chop was just as high as the incoming swell. I dug my bow in and fell into a waterstart. Vlad and Chris went by on the inside and that was the race-3rd- still in the top half to qualify.
I quickly got back upwind as I was in the next heat and this time it was a face off between Bill and I. I lined up for a good run towards the line but doubted that I had the time right with about 30 seconds to go. I was the closest to the line and I stalled and waited then Bill went by below me with speed and led to the finish. Ben was quick to stay up in the front of the pack but fell on the mark closest to the beach where there was washing machine of a slop. I was conservative knowing I just had to make it around the course. Probably not the prettiest of gybes but it got the job dome for 2nd place in the heat.
After that the wind died off and we called it a day with only 4 of the 13 heats run. Bill was first, Vlad 2nd and myself 3rd in short but fun slalom series.
Friday, June 10, 2005
First off was Friday night racing at StFYC. One word- windy! 20-25k on course gear. That's why they make a 9.0 formula sail- for conditions like this. Shore break was big so launching was tricky. I immediately realized I was op'ed and sailed up to Crissy to put more downhaul on and adjust my harness lines. One comfortable, the set up was sweet with a r13 64 fin. I felt fast upwind and off the wind. Control was another issuer as the swell was pretty big.
First race off the line in mid starting line with Ben and we sailed to layline and were over standing the windward mark. Off the breeze, the inside got a little light and I lost Al and Chris here. I finished just behind the pack in 5th.
Race 2- I headed back up to Crissy to lengthen my booms and got back to the starting line with a few seconds before the start. I was coming in on starboard and Robert M was tacking on to port where we collided. I tried to bear off but the speed gained made it even worse. My board had a big slice up the starboard front edge. It was a quick trip back to the parking lot to get tape and make a quick repair. I got back on the water just in time for race 3 where I literally got stuck just below mark B with no opportunity to accelerate unless I wanted to go right into the mark. I had to slowly drift out of the position and get going again, Ahhh! The fleet was gone but I somehow managed to work my way back through and pick off one sailor at a time to finish 3rd. I got Al just on the last upwind by taking at the same time as him near the wall but I was further outside and accelerated quicker to get going. Of course footing a little to keep your opponent down always helps when you've got him pinned. Thanks for the lesson last week Bill!
Race 4- Breeze sill up, swell still strong! I managed to get a decent start and stay up there with Bill to finish a close 2nd. No mistakes, just a clean start off the line and my head up to keep aware of anything.Race 5- a few less people on the line as peoples training was beginning to show. Another decent start in the middle of the line but somehow my angle was just not there, it wasn't until I came in and realized that the tape job was peeling and I had a lot of drag on my board. Of well, at least it was dry and I was racing. Jean got caught up in the mix and was battling it out with Ben and Bill for the top 3 with me just behind. Sometimes you just have to follow and wait for someone to make a mistake. Sometimes they don't make any mistakes and its just a parade. It's the little things that count. I won the tie breaker with Al for 3rd but realized with less mistakes around the course, 2nd and even 1st is achievable.