US Windsurfing Nationals

2 - 5 August 2017 . Berkeley


I had high expectations for the Nationals after finding good speed on the foil during the preceding weeks and spending 9 days in Maui for the Slalom Race Series.

There were a few glitches like getting four stitches in Maui after cutting my finger on my fin during the Hawaii State Championships and hurting my back while loading my kit at the airport.
In the end, cut finger and bad back healed quickly and it was down to the business of competing to the best of my ability.

We started the Nationals with three course races.
I went out early to practice on the foil.
The wind was pretty light and I should have been on a bigger sail but I just focused on making the most of the kit I had.
I started on starboard and that worked quite well.
I had good angle upwind so I focused on racing steadily from the front without making mistakes.
First race, first bullet so that was a good start!
The wind was still pretty light so I started the second race on port to get more pressure on the right hand side of the course. That didn't work!
The starboard starters got a good lift going to the weather mark in port.
I had good speed so I managed to regain the lead shortly after.
Again, I just kept everything steady till the end and got another bullet!
In the third race, I started on starboard again and everything went smoothly.
The wind had picked up quite a bit but I was still in control of the rig and the foil to get a third bullet.
That was a faultless start but there was no time to celebrate with slalom lined up just after the course racing.
Thanks to my wife Lyrah, everything was rigged up and ready to go so I was back on the water shortly after putting the foil away.
The wind was pretty decent and I was well powered up on the slalom gear.
Unfortunately, I had a bad start, backing off just before the line not to be over early. That didn't work at all!
I was seventh at the first mark and worked my way back to fourth.
I was determined to do better at the next race but the wind didn't cooperate and died soon after.
That was the end of Day 1, three bullets in course racing and a fourth in slalom.
Pretty good but definitely room for improvement in slalom!
Again I must thank Lyrah for helping me to pack all the gear. It makes a huge difference when you are tired at the end of the day!

Day 2 started promising with good breeze as I was heading to the start of the course race on the foil. Unfortunately, I realized I'd left my race watch shortly before the start. I also made the mistake of not coming back after the individual recall went up just after the start. I should have realized that getting it right without a race watch is just too difficult.
Anyway, I was over early so got disqualified from that race after finishing first.
The wind didn't cooperate either by being constantly up and down with big holes.  We didn't managed to finish another race that day despite the best efforts of Darren Rogers, the Race Officer who tried very hard by giving us several starts.

At least , we got a discard after four races so I kept the top spot in course racing.
The wind stayed iffy on Day 3.

The Race Officer tried pretty hard to get us to race by doing quite a few slalom starts. In the end one of the slalom races was windy enough to count and I came third in that one. Good enough to finish in third place for the slalom discipline at the Nationals. 

Day four was the long distance race .
This race was organized by the St Francis Yacht Club. The start was at the St Francis. First leg was upwind to a buoy close to the presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, we would go downwind all the way to the western end of the Berkeley Pier and back to the St Francis Yacht Club. The wind was not too strong, about 15 mph when we arrived at the StFYC but it picked up to 20-25 mph 30 minutes before the start. I changed down to the smallest sail I had rigged. I had a reasonable start and good angle upwind so I round the weather mark in first place. Downwind, it got windy and choppy close to Alcatraz. Jesper caught up with me so I went a bit faster. A bit later, Eric and Mike passed me. Eventually, I rounded the downwind mark in second place behind Eric. Upwind I had good speed so I soon passed Eric. Back I first place, I sailed reasonably fast but not too aggressively back to the StFYC and win with a 3 minute lead ahead of Mike and Chris. 

The long distance race was awesome.

It's very special to race all over SF Bay in 25 mph wind!
The win in the long distance also secured the overall National title this year with another first place in course racing and a third in slalom.
A big thank you to Weyman Lundquist and the Berkeley Yacht Club for organizing a great National this year!


July 8. 2017


Calcup 3 started windy and finished even windier!

I started well with a good lead at the first windward mark but lost it downwind while I was looking for the leeward mark. I recovered a bit in the last upwind to finish the first race in second place behind Tom Purcell.
The next race was a different course with two laps and a gate downwind at the end of the first lap. I think that course suited my foil and I won comfortably.
I also won the third race although by a small margin as the Formulas of Tom and Eric were catching up downwind. 
The fourth race was again course 3 (the same as race 2) and I won this one by a good margin.
The last race was over the top of the pier and back.
The wind was blowing about 26 mph at the top of the pier.
Chris Radkowski was going really well upwind but I tacked early and made it to the top of the pier.
I was really overpowered at that point!
Downwind, I was fully sheeted out at times trying not to breach.
In the end I won that last race with a good margin.
That was a momentous occasion!
It was the first time a foil had won a Calcup .
A huge thank you to the Berkeley Yacht Club and the volunteers for running the event!


 May 27. 2017

There was a lot of excitement for the first Calcup of the season. 

A lot of people had got a foil. There was a good selection of those on the carpet (rigging area).

I had brought the Starboard foil. 

There was a lot of interest in it!

I had never raced it before so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

 I went out first to try the course.

I was reasonably comfortable upwind but not sure about my speed downwind.

As the gun went for the first race, I noticed I had good angle upwind.

So much so that I managed to round the upwind mark in first place. 

The downwind leg was a different story.

I was struggling to deal with the chop.

Lack of skills I guess as I'm still learning how to foil in those conditions.

I fell in three times on the first downwind leg!

I caught up quite a bit during the second upwind.

I decided to take it easy for the second downwind and it was less disastrous than the first one!
I made sure I kept things steady in the second race. I didn't fell in too many times in this race.

That was good enough for fourth place.

The wind really picked up for the third race.

I had a good start and rounded the weather mark with a good lead.

Mike Percey passed me towards the end of the downwind.

I put my foot down for the last upwind leading to the finish line.

That worked and I regained first place before the finish.
First time winning a race on the foil!
In the fourth race, I tried again to keep everything neat and tidy. That was good enough for second place behind Eric Christianson.

The fifth and last race was around the top of the pier and back.

I had a good lead at the top so I worked extra hard to keep it during the downwind .

In the end, I could hear Tom Purcell who was right behind me but I managed to keep the lead to the finish.

What an event that was!

Three different winners (Eric, Mike and myself).

It was always open and competitive.

Many Thanks to Berkeley Yacht Club, Weyman Lundquist and all the volunteers who made the event possible.

CFSS - Crissy Fields Slalom Series

13 May 2017 - Round 1

The season started with a bang!

The wind blew a solid 25 mph for the whole slalom with gusts at 30 mph.
It was Crissy Field Slalom Series at its best, complete with strong wind and hard chop that the Bay is famous for.
Race Officer Robbie Dean got us going without delays as usual. 
Jean Rathle was pretty fast off the start line and overtook me on the way to the first buoy by Anita Rock.
I focused on keeping my gybes smooth and close to the buoys.
Eventually, that paid off and I got in the lead all the way to the finish.
Jon Herr was flying at the start of the second race. He got to the buoy first. I was trying to do a tidy gybe behind him but somehow I bounced off an unexpected piece of chop and crashed pretty bad. I water started, got back in touch with the lead group but crashed again just before the finish line, next to Jean Rathle.

That was a race to forget!

I focused on keeping everything neat and tidy in the gnarly conditions and that paid off with three bullets in a row!
The wind really picked up in races 4 and 5 so I decided to change down during the break after race 5. I picked the Isonic 87 with the Vapor 5.8.
The wind had really picked up at that point so I was quite comfortable with that combo.
Unfortunately, lulls started appearing, especially at the gybe buoy number 3 which was right next to the beach. The 5.8 and the 87 were just a little too small for the fading wind. Steve Bodner won race 6 and I finished second.
I jumped back on the Isonic 97 with the Vapor 6.4. That combo was perfect to glide through the lulls which were beginning to appear here and there along the course.

I finished second in races 7 and 8 behind Jean Rathle who was doing really well at that point. I just tried to stay consistent and not make mistakes.
I stayed focused right until the end and got two bullets in the last two races.
That was a nice way to end such a tough event!
Back at the beach, the organizers and volunteers had put together a great buffet with Pizzas, beer and little cakes. What a feast for a bunch of hungry windsurfers!!!
Prize giving was really cool with prizes given in reverse order of finishing. That's a great way to encourage participation!
I won with a 10 point lead but 4 people won at least one race so the competition was pretty open.
A big thank you to the volunteers and organizers of the CFSS for putting together such an amazing event.
You guys rock!


Round 5
September 10, 2016


There was a lot at stake for this final round of the 2016 Calcup!
The first round was cancelled due to lack of wind.
Eric Christianson had won round 2 and 3 where I’d come second.
I had won round 4 so it was down to the last round to decide the winner of the 2016 Calcup.
I had to win the last round to win the series.

The first race started well as I completed the first lap in the lead.
Eric tacked early during the second beat to go to the North side of the course.
That was a good move as he rounded the windward mark with a comfortable lead.
I wasn’t able to catch him downwind so he won that first race and I came second.
Race 2 was the long distance race, counting double and which you couldn’t discard.
It started well as I was leading the fleet upwind after a port start to go straight to the North side of the course. I’d never done that course before, all the way to R2 and back downwind to the South side of the pier.  The issue was that I was struggling to find R2.  I ended up overlaying the line so much that I went from first to fourth, way behind Mike Percey in the lead on the foil, with Tom Purcell second and Eric third.

I was going well downwind, catching up Eric slowly. We passed Mike quite quickly. Tom was tougher to pass but eventually, me and Eric worked our way passed him. I had a good advantage as we got closer to the eastern most gap in the Berkeley pier and the wind was getting lighter.  I squeezed in first place as we were approaching the gap and made sure to have a clean run to the finish line close by.

Eric dropped off the plane approaching the gap and Tom squeezed ahead of him.
That result boosted my chance of winning the regatta as all I had to do was to get one second place in the last two races.
Race 3 started well as I was leading at the first windward mark. I made a silly mistake during the downwind though, heading to the wrong committee boat. That cost me the lead at the downwind gate as I rounded in third place. I went on the North side of the course and caught up a little during the last upwind.  I was still third at the windward mark. Tom gybed early to go to the pin end side of the finish line (which was also the start line). I gybed later to go to the boat end of the finish line. That move paid off big time as I managed to squeeze ahead of Eric and beat Tom by a foot! At that point I’d won the event and the series so that last race was going to be for fun really!
The last race was round the top of the pier and down on the south side.
I was battling with Tom during the upwind leg. Tom got his lay lines a bit better than mine at the top and rounded the post in first place with about 100 yards lead. I was catching up slowly as we were going downwind to the south on starboard.  It was close racing and Tom stayed ahead most of the way down. I managed to squeeze ahead shortly before reaching the gap (which is effectively the downwind mark) and stayed ahead until the finish.  I was so happy to win that last round in convincing fashion. Four firsts and a second place was a pretty good score line for the deciding event of the 2016 Calcup series!

Many thanks to the Berkeley Yacht Club, the volunteers and Weyman Lundquist in particular for organizing such a great race series!
See you next year for the 2017 edition of the Calcup and the US Nationals which will be hosted by the Berkeley Yacht Club from August 2 to 5th.

CFSS - Crissy Field Slalom Series

Round 4 
August 27, 2016


The wind was light that day but we got the first race under way soon after 3pm.
I had a good start and rounded the first gybe mark in the lead which is good place to be, particularly in light wind.
I went around gybe marks number 2 and 3 with a good lead.
A boat full of tourists was passing 50 yards from the beach and made a big hole in the wind.

I think that slowed me down quite a bit to get on the plane to reach gybe mark number 4.
That mark was really tight to reach and with the flood tide, I couldn’t make it.
I had to double tack to make it upwind to the mark.
Jason Voss got a gust from behind and made it to the mark in one.
In the end, I finished that race in second place. Not the result I had hoped for as I needed to beat Jason to win the series.
The wind was pretty light for that first race and it wasn’t really picking up. The wind felt quite strong on the beach but out in the middle of the bay it was really light with a strong flood tide.
Eventually, the wind picked up a bit and the Race Officer called for another start.
There was only wind on the course side of the start line. The other side was super light.
We sat on the line until the last few seconds to stay in the gust. When the gun went, I pumped my heart out to jump on the plane first. Whatever I did seemed to work as I raced towards the first gybe mark in the lead.  This time, I was determined to have a clean race, free of trouble and mistakes! I kept everything together to win that race with a reasonable lead over Jason. After that race, I was tied on points with Jason winning the tie by winning the last race.
The wind picked up again a bit and the Race Officer called for a third start.
Again, I had a good start and I was flying in front. However, the Race Officer decided that the wind was too light and he called the event to an end.
That was it! I’d won the last event, tied on point with Jason Voss and the series with 3 wins out of 4 events. It all came down to that last race that I had to win!

The event was concluded by a pizza party with beer and prize giving. The best way to end any windsurfing competition, especially with the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop!

A big thank you to Soheil Zahedi, Jean Rathle, Steve Bodner and all the volunteers for organizing the such a cool slalom series at Crissy Field.


6 August 2016

The Bay Challenge didn't start very well for me as I fell in at the first tack shortly after the start. Eric 
 Christianson had a good lead at the first mark (windward), Tom Purcell was second and I was third.
I managed to catch up a bit in the early stages of the downwind leg but Eric got a good gust south west of Alcatraz and he extended his lead. Eric stayed with that gust for a long time and I followed him. We ended up South of Alcatraz and headed towards Treasure Island. The two of us gybed West of Alcatraz and headed North East on port.
I was going well at that point, slowly catching up Eric. As we passed West of the Berkekey pier, we saw a bunch of guys who had gone North of Alcatraz ahead of us. Mike Percey, Steve Bodner and Tom Purcell had a good lead on us. 
I decided to keep going North to get the stronger wind. Eric must have had the same idea since he carried on too.
We gybed more or less together to head to the downwind mark just North of the eastward most gap in the Berkeley pier.
We were going downwind at a good angle.
I had good speed and I could go deep so I managed to pass Eric at that point.
I also caught up with the leaders and I rounded the downwind mark in third place behind Mike Percey and Steve Bodner.
Shortly after rounding the mark, I overtook Steve with better angle. 
At this point, I caught a nasty piece of grass around my fin so I had to stop and reverse to get rid of it.
Eric overtook me as a result.
I had to work extra hard to overtake him again.
Mike Percey was further ahead but eventually I managed to overtake him with better angle.
Things were looking good at that point as I extended my lead with good speed and angle. However, Eric caught up with me after a couple of good options North of Alcatraz.
He managed to squeeze ahead of a ferry.
Tom Purcell was not so lucky and got badly delayed by the wind shadow of the ferry.

At that point, I realized it was best not to gamble with the Bay tactics so I just covered Eric to win with a lead of 13 seconds.
The prize giving was amazing in the lounge of the St Francis Yacht Club overlooking the Bay.
It was great to win a crate of beer too!

Many thanks to the St Francis Yacht Club and the volunteers for running this legendary race. Many thanks too to ABK beer for sponsoring the event!