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USA 4 Windsurfing Campaign - Changing gears

by Steve Bodner on 1 Aug 2014
Steve Bodner www.stevebodner.com
USA 4 Windsurfing Campaign – I’m spoiled, I'll be the first to admit it.

I live and sail in one of the most consistently windy spots on the west coast. San Francisco is blessed with a sea breeze almost every afternoon from March through October from 15-25 knots funneling though the golden gate. But when it gets light, I sometimes forget even how to sail.

I had one of those weekends where nothing went my way. For Saturday's long distance SF Classic- I simply choose the wrong gear. I was set up for the light breeze with a formula board and 10.0 + 70cm fin
I should have known.


10 minutes into the hour+ race I was stupidly overpowered and pulled out knowing how painful those reaches can be when you’re overpowered. I packed it up and watched the rest of the race from the beach as Johnny Heineken dominated on a foil board and foil kite breaking both course records with 48 min downwind and 28 min coming back up beating the windsurfers by almost 35 min around the course!

It was a close race between Xavier and Tom for the Classic with Xavier getting the top spot for the formula boards and Eric clinching the upwind Ultra Nectar Challenge for the boards

Sunday-somehow I couldn't get it into gear when the wind was 10-15k. My up wind angle just wasn’t there. I moved the track forward, tried a waist harness, but finally realized it was too much downhaul.

Once I eased just a few mm, the top and bottom of the sail became connected again.

Once you get the right settings dialed for the conditions, things are golden. Searching for those settings is the challenge.

You've got to ease up 1-2mm on the downhaul, pull the tack strap tight and even go to the outside clew grommet to get more power into the rig. A few other tricks to gaining more power on the formula rig are to move the booms up higher - which brings the harness lines back. Moving the mast track back in the box will also free up the board.

It’s a fine line between being overpowered and trying to get more power. Normally, by this time of year, I’ve got the small 89cm board and 7.7 dialed in for super overpowered conditions. This year, however, we've been stuck in a SW pattern for the past few weeks as the strong sea breeze has failed to materialize like it did for the spring and early summer.

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to master the kite course board which is a lot more work than I thought it would be - but the adventure is 1/2 the fun. I’m going upwind and downwind, gybing but not quite tacking just yet. Making it around the Thursday night course is my goal for the season. One leg at a time, I keep reminding myself.

The biggest challenge has been unlearning all the skills I’ve developed as a windsurfer for the past 25 years and relearning them as a kiteboarder. I’m no longer one unit with kiteboarding but rather have to keep the board and kite going independent from one another.

Oh yes and the youngest has started walking. I look at those tiny feet, which just began to crawl a few months ago and think if a baby can do this, I certainly can. Steve Bodner

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