CalCup Berkeley Windsurfing Series 2011 second event wrap from Multpile US Windsurfing National Champion Steve Bodner.
The second Calcup for the season kicked off in Berkeley this past Saturday, 14th May, under what looked like dismal conditions. A late winter storm was moving in and causing some abnormal patterns to the regular SF Bay sea-breeze. Nonetheless we got an up and down 12-14k of breeze and three races after several abandoned attempts when the breeze died off to below planning conditions.
As with most light wind racing, patience was the key to finding success.
I had forgotten my race watch so I was relying on how the fleet lined up for the start to judge the time. I kept Xavier to leeward near the pin knowing that I had a bit better angle and the puffs were coming in from the right tending to veer. Inside board always gains on the lift.
The two of us got a good jump on the fleet and I gained some separation to windward climbing by keeping my rig upright and holding the uphaul with my front hand. This technique works great when you need to add power to the rig and takes some pressure off the front of the board. It also allows you to control the angle of attack better by making it possible to bring the entire leading edge of the rig to windward and climb. Having a very powerful fin also helps in carrying the momentum. I was using the Z 70 - much softer than any other kashy I have sailed. The NP 10.7 with high boom and a tight tack strap ensured my rig was as powerful as it would get.
We both tacked at the same time with Xavier nailing it and me coming down with speed.
The course added a new twist with two immediate gybes required just after the top mark. I realized the inside of the course near the pier was the lightest area so it made sense to try to avoid that area as long as possible. I carried my second gybe out as far as I could to make it on the required side of the starting boat and went just a bit deeper than Xavier ensuring I could round the bottom mark with speed and power. Sure enough, on our approach the leeward mark, Xavier was forced to go deep and slower while I made a clean rounding and off to the second upwind. I sailed to the left corner again making sure to nail the lay line as Xavier tacked off in search for clear air. I had to duck Chip on his kite just near the top mark but managed to squeeze back up and round in a puff and was gone. Wasson and Koch both motored downwind on their big kites while and took the line honors while I hung onto the top position for the formula boards.
As the flood increased, it made it harder for most of the fleet on their 11.0's to get going. The key was to stay near the starting line at all times making sure you could get a good approach run for the start to built up the necessary speed required for light air racing. The kites were right in there on the first beat but had a hard time making any moves to windward given the space they required to fly their kites. Xavier tacked first but I held out knowing the wind was lighter up top and the flood was building. Never underestimate the flood tide- especially in a light breeze.
I got around the windward mark in first and stayed there played my cards right ensuring I stayed in the breeze the entire race. The kites fell out of the sky near the pier as the wind dropped below 10k. On a formula board, that no problem. You shlog, pump and get going again. For the kites, it was game over and a long swim in. While I have a lot of respect for the kite racers who are pushing the limits of the sport with new technology and hard training, it seems their biggest pitfall is still light winds. When they fail, they fail big. Xavier finished second while Sylvester and Marion were battling it out for third.
The third race started after a big set of dark and stormy could rolled by and eventually killed the wind. S3 and I made it up to the top mark shlogging the last few minutes. Downwind S3 got the jump and was off but fell off a plane again near the bottom of the course. The race was abandoned at that point and restarted.
A big starboard tack knock on first beat gave Xavier who was most leeward board a big advantage as the rest of us got driven down below his stern. With only one lap, it was going to be hard to catch up. I saw a chance on the last beat to windward as I saw Xavier underestimate the layline to the finish and as a result, he had to double tack. Even though I carried my line further than him, I still struggled to make it across on port tack and had to tack just at the line and barely made it across in front of S3. Luckily starboard tack trumps everything else and Steve had to duck below me to finish.
A 1,1,2 gave me the top spot for the day and some confidence for the rest of the season. Light air used to be my biggest weakness but now it’s become strength. Steve Bodner website Calcup website