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Sail-World Christmas-2014

Hydrofoil Pro Tour – Day 2 and 3 – All good things in all good time

by Steve Bodner on 7 Aug
Hydrofoil Pro Tour USA Michael Petrikov
Its hard to imagine having a no wind day on the SF Bay August, but we got skunked. Day two of the Hydrofoil Pro Tour was a wash out of rain showers, a healthy marine layer but no wind and no races on the score sheet.

Racers woke up for day three with a bit more optimism as a light teen breeze was filling through the golden gate but more important, an afternoon seabreeze for the long distance race. Three morning races were held in light conditions with the majority of the fleet on 15-17m kites. The euros still have an advantage in these light conditions as the local fleet doesnt get much time on the water in sub 14k conditions.

The sure awesomeness and level of sailing athleticism and talent is truly amazing when watching Saturdays racing. I am still in awe how the foiling fleet has turned maneuvers like tacking into a pirouetted dance of elegance. There's hardly a moment when the top racers arent getting 110% out of their foils and going upwind at 25k and downwind close to 40k.



My bromance with the foil kites is growing stronger by the day as I get more time on the water with these efficient machines. As wonderful as they are flying through the air, it becomes a whole another story when you the kite goes down on the water.

Saturday's endeavor only lasted a few brief minutes for me as I was scuttled with the 13m kite. My kite went down like a wet noodle in the sub 10k lulls as I tried to make my way around the course. I got my first foil kite self rescue, having to pack the kite up on the water and then deal with the aftermath of untangling a wet sloppy, twisted mess back on the beach. It wasn't as bad as I though but the 13m kite was out of commission and I missed the remaining two course races of the morning.

The fleet got a good 90 min break as the fog lifted and breeze filled in the course. With the windsurfing fleet joining the kiters, the next race would be an all out sprint to Berkeley and back. The SF Bay Challenge has been a tradition in the board fleet for 25+ years with each edition slowly chipping off the elapsed time. This year however, almost 15 min were shaved off the overall time with Nico Parlier finishing in just over 30'.



I had other goal, just to make it around the course for the first time on a foil board and foil kite. I had done the race at least 15x on the windsurfer, winning a few on the way but this was a different game.

I rigged the new 9m ozone hyperlink which had plenty of power for the 25 mile+ tour of the Bay. I got off to a late start but was happily on my way downwind in 15-20k of breeze, happily foiling past Alcatraz before things started to get pretty heady.

The swells were such that if you didn't stay on your toes and adjust the ride height of the foil, you would fly right out of the water in the troughs. I had more than a few wipe outs as I had to adjust my riding style to a less deep and aggrieve approach to a omfg survival mode. The downwind haul past Alcatraz gets a bit monotonous but there's always another kite or two to keep you focused. I rounded the leeward mark off the Berkeley pier and immediately headed back upwind for the beat back to the finish at the St.FYC.



Even with a 9m kite, I thread the fine line of piching and staying on the foil just to survive the 25-30 westerlies coming down the Bay. I though I might find some relief below Alcatraz coming back upwind but immediately got yarded in some squirrely puffs. I lost my board for a few min as the swell picked it up and blew it a few hundred yards down wind. Two steps backward, one step forward.

I regrouped and realized there's no easy way out of this but I had to get to the finish line. Sure enough in just over an hour and change, I crossed the finish line and made it around the course for the first time on a kite. I am just one of three sailors who was done this race on both a windsurfer and a kite.



Despite being in the back of the fleet, it's the small victories like this and figuring out the foil kites that keep me on my toes and coming back for more. After almost 30 years of competitive racing, you begin to realize the real challenge is how far you can push your own limit not necessarily the scores at the end of the day. For me its all about persistence. I may not be the fastest but I'm not going to give up. eventually, I'll get there but enjoying the ride along the way.

One more day of racing and Im stoked to get back out on the 9m foil kite and try to make the time limit.
All good things in all good time.

Zhik AkzoNobelb 660x82RS Sailing BOTTOMSouthern Spars - 100