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USA 4 Windsurfing Campaign - Blazing saddles on the AC course

by Steve Bodner on 27 Aug 2013
Ron and Sue Kern.
Our formula windsurfing fleet had been invited to race on the Americas Cup course as part of the AC- OPEN- a showcase of different sailing, windsurfing and kiteboarding competitions run in parallel with the Americas Cup and Louis Vuitton race series this summer on the San Francisco Bay.

Race one - beautiful start!
Just ducked below the one starboard tacker on the line and squirted out in front of the pack on port with a good lead. The ML 13 has superior speed upwind though the chop and the Avanti 10.0 feels as light as an 8.0. You've got to have an efficient set up if you want to go fast!

Unfortunately I overstood Anita rock and let Tom Purcell, Eric Christanson and Jack Lundquist sneak in there to round in front of me. We charged downwind and I was able to peel past Jack on the first gybe. That kid is really sailing fast and consistent for a 18 year old and the youngest kid in the fleet. We had a quick reach from A buoy to B buoy just in front of the St.FYC where there where still hundreds if people at the club cheering us on.

Time for the hero gybe! Luckily I didn't blow it.

Tom Eric and I all charged deep downwind through some if the roughest voodoo chop Ive sailed in all summer. I went down but made a quick recovery and then saw Tom go down just at the mark. I caught up again and narrowly avoided the collision as I tried to pass Tom to leeward and at the same time Eric came into the leeward mark rounding the wrong way!

I rounded just in front of Tom and called room to tack at the sea wall and we both grinded upwind on port tack keeping pace with each other. Tom's got me by a good 30 lbs so he can hold down his own and with the north 9.3 he's wicked fast. I lost track of the finish line and let Tom tack and failed to cover as he took the win while I got second and Eric in third for a nice recovery after re-rounding the leeward mark.

Always stay between your opponent and the next mark. Simple rule but easy to forget especially at the end if the race.

Race two start caught the fleet by surprise including myself as I was still trying to adjust my boom height on the starting line and didn't completely engage the cleat so 30 sec after the start my inhaul line let go. Pro tip- always tie a knot at the end of the line so it doesn't slip all the way out. I did a quick fix during my tack and lost a few boards in the process but had it set for the rest of the race.

It was time to play catch up so one by one I picked off the middle of the fleet until I found myself in the top IV again by the slalom leg in front of the St. FYC. Two good gybes and I was back in the game!

The advantage of the smaller board through the chop was huge- It's got way better handling than the bigger formula boards; even upwind as I had the mast track pegged almost all the way forward, it tracked extremely well and had superior speed through the chop.

Even if you sail a bad race and have good speed- you're going to end up ok!

At the leeward mark I had my eye on II more boards to pass upwind. The opportunity came as a ferry came through the fleet splitting Xavier off and he tacked back to the city front. I worked hard to grind Jack down with a bit better speed upwind on port tack but he hung in there and made a great call to the layline. I was able to just edge Xavier out across the line coming in on the starboard favored tack for third while Eric took the bullet and Jack in second.

Last race- time to get serious if I wanted a place on the podium. I knew the race was close in points between Eric, Tom and I so I had to stay in front of them. With no throw outs it could be anyone's game if any of us made a mistake. Tom already had a sixth in the second race so he had no room for error.

It's important going into the last race knowing where you stand and who has what to gain.

Good start on starboard tack but Al and Eric were right there as we all tacked over from starboard to port tack. We were all overlapped within a board length of each other. Who ever let up the slightest would get shot out the back.

Al to leeward, me in the middle and Eric to windward.

We stayed overlapped for a good 30 seconds before Eric fell back a bit. It was now Al and I grinding hard to weather. I had a slight advantage to windward and started to climb with the better control of the smaller board.

Tom reached the top mark first and we pushed hard all the way through the two slalom marks not letting up an inch. Gybe for gybe we matched each other. I was on the verge of exploding several times but kept it together. I know Tom on the bigger board and fin must have been wired. Heading downwind on port tack past the GGYC there were minefields of voodoo chop. It took every muscle in my body to keep from getting catapulted over the front of the board- even on the smaller board.

As we approached the layline, I gybed first knowing the flood would help and one could understand and still make it. What I didn't account for was running straight into the chop. It was the pounding of a lifetime as my leeward foot barely stayed in the double chicken strap. My legs were absorbing the chop like the front suspension of a mountain bike.

I had the line laid but just needed to keep it together. I rounded in front of Tom and covered until the finish gaining a few board lengths on the long port tack upwind. I made sure to not to make the same mistake again and called the layline to take the final bullet of the series and the days racing.

We had the awards ceremony at the AC Village on the same stage the Americas Cup and Louis Vuitton trophies will be awarded to the ultimate winners of this summer's AC circuit.

Overall- a huge success at getting to showcase our class and our sport to a wider audience. Many thanks to Cort and David at 101 surf sports for organizing the event; the Americas Cup Event Authority, the AC- OPEN and the many volunteers that make it all possible.

As promised, I told the editor at Sailing Anarchy Id get some SA shwag up on the podium.

Pics or it never happened, he said.

Here you go Scotty-

Steve Bodner website

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