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Southern Spars - North Technology

USA 4 Windsurfing Campaign - Blown off the water

by Steve Bodner on 8 May 2013
2013 USA Windsurfing Campaign - St. Francis Yacht Club wind scale. St. Francis Yacht Club
Steve Bodner provides an update on USA 4's windsurfing campaign which is currently underway:

San Francisco Bay has experienced one of the windiest springs I can remember. Last month we saw a week of 25k+ topped off by two days of 35-45k inside the golden gate.


I should have learned my lesson and just left the whole quiver of sails in the van as the sail you need most is always the one you've left behind in the garage.

That was the case again this past weekend at the Elvestrom Zellerback regatta at the St. Francis Yacht Club where it blew 25-35k on Saturday and most of the fleet, including myself got blown off the water.

I'd been practicing on the smaller formula set up the past few weeks but more or less wrote it off as it wasn't performing upwind against the formula board. On three different occasions, Percey, Soheil and myself lined up against the formula fleet on the ML13 and either 7.8 rig or 9.5 rig. The result always came back the same- great control in the breeze, flying offwind, good transitions but just not up to par upwind in terms of angle. The board is wicked fast at 89cm wide and a 71cm OFO. It performs more like a big slalom board than it does a formula board. I've never been so comfortable downwind, flying through the voodoochop than I have on this board. It seems to fly right over the chop staying in fifth gear longer and going more efficiently. It's really a pleasure to sail and when it wasn't coming up at the top on race days, I was a bit bummed.

I decided not to even pack the 7.7rig for the Elvestrom regatta as I knew it wasn't working and the forecast was only calling for 15-20k westerly.

Ha- big mistake.

My first run out 25 min before the first start saw a quick return to the beach to put on the smaller 64cm fin. The voodoo chop at the leeward gate was harrowing!

Just before the first start I went in to last chance beach to add another 1/2' of donwhaul when my downhaul pulley and webbing blew out form the sail.

I spent the next 20 min derigging and rerigging the 9.5 just to make it to the start of the second race.

The wind had picked up from 20-25k and was now 30-35 with a solid sea state of swell and chop.

The dinghies still racing on our course were going down like flies.

Making any transition was almost out of the question.

It was pure survival sailing.

I wasn't as much trying to sail but trying to get back to the beach faster!

After just one upwind leg and failing to make the windward mark and having to quadruple tack the windward mark in a raging flood tide, I was done.

For one of the few times in my racing career, I simply gave up.

I wasn't the only one as more than 1/2 the fleet in all the classes had one or more DNF's on their scorecards on Saturday.

You've got to have your kit tuned up to sail well in conditions like that, otherwise its a horrible experience- fighting the rig and constantly trying to depower.

If only, I had packed the ML13, 7.7 rig and a small fin- it would be another story!

The race is sometimes won before it even begins.

On the course side, Xavier was showing great form with his starboard 167, 60cm kashy fin and 7.8 NP RS racing rig. Tom and Al- both on North 9.3s and ML12s were also charging at the front of the fleet- looking comfortable on their smallest rigs.

Sunday- I showed up to the beach with every race sail in my quiver form 7.7 to 12.0 but didn't even get to use even one as the wind never cooperated and the sea breeze failed to materialize leaving the dinghies to be towed back to the dock and the boards never off the beach.

You win some.
You lose some.
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