19 -20 July 2014
The Bay Classic started well this year with nice weather and reasonable winds. After loosing out on the upwind legs last year by going up in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, I was determined to try the gap south of the south tower. It was a bit tricky to pass to the lee of the south tower without dropping off the plane. I made it ok and the option paid off reasonably well, although not as spectacularly as it did last year. The water was very choppy in the south gap.
After rounding the red nun buoy, we were off to the buoy just east of the north tower. It's always really windy there with a lot of chop. I was expecting it though so rounding the mark went ok. I was in second place, chasing Tom as we were heading back to the pin end of the start line near Crissy field. I was pushing hard, trying to overtake Tom on the reach. I reached the pin end in first place and started the second beat.
This time, I thought I had the south gap strategy mastered but it didn't work out. I tacked close to Fort Point but not close enough to reach the Red Nun Buoy in one tack. The flood was really strong at the Red Nun and pushed me east of the buoy so I had to double tack and give myself plenty of margin. The wind was light there and with a strong tide you can easily end up tacking and tacking without reaching the mark! |That allowed Mike Percey to pass by from the middle of the bridge.
That pushed me to accelerate towards the North Tower and I reached Anita Rock back in first place. Tom had made up for the lost ground and he was back on my heels as we headed for Harding Rock.
The wind was reasonable near Harding Rock. Sometimes, it howls there! This time, the rounding was ok.
We were now heading for the Blossom buoy near Bay Bridge. I decided like most of the other riders to pass North of Alcatraz. There course the Bay Classic is magical! Thanks to the pioneers who set it...
As we were approaching Alcatraz, I caught up with a group of kiters on hydrofoils. Some of them were falling in occasionally but they seemed to recover quite quickly. I rounded the buoy near Bay Bridge in good shape. Now we were heading towards Blunt on a beam reach. The wind always goes crazy there! On the beam reach, I made gains relative to the kiters. I managed to jibe around Blunt without losing it in the chop and the wind. Now we were heading to the mark near Treasure Island (R2 or R4 - I can't remember!). I was chasing Erica Heineken on a hydrofoil kite. We rounded the mark together. Now were back on a port reach heading to the buoy a few miles west of the top of the Berkeley pier (R2 or R4!). I was pushing hard and managed to overtake Erica before we reached the mark. Now we were on the down wind run to the top of Berkeley pier. I was ahead of the group of hydrofoil kiters at that point. I did ok on the downwind run and stayed ahead until we rounded the mark at the top of Berkeley pier. Now we were on a port reach towards the center of the Berkeley circle. At that point, the wind eases off a bit but you have to be vigilant as you can easily lose it on a rogue piece of chop and they are frequent in this area. I kept pushing hard to stay ahead of the group of kiters. I reached the mark at the center of the Berkeley circle without trouble, jibed and stayed flat out on the starboard reach. That was the last leg to the finish line near the east most gap in the Berkeley pier. I stayed in that position to the finish of the Bay Classic. I thought I'd done well although the top group of hydrofoil kiters were far ahead. I finished 7th overall and first windsurfer.
As soon as you cross the finish line of the Bay Classic, a new race starts called the Ultra Nectar Challenge. It's the race back to the St Francis Yacht Club near the Golden Gate Bridge. It's hard to know where you are in this race because even if someone is behind you, it's the time it takes each competitor to sail back to StFYC which counts. This race is upwind. I was quickly overtaken by some hydrofoil kiters, including Erica. The hydrofoil kites are really efficient upwind in the Bay chop. As I was heading upwind east of Alcatraz on port tack, the wind was getting stronger and the water choppier. A few miles east of Blunt, I decided to tack and pass Alcatraz to the South to reach the SF city front. In the last two years, that route had worked quite well. Unfortunately, this year it didn't! The riders who went all the way to Blunt got a massive northerly lift as they tacked on starboard to head back to StFYC. I didn't realize until approaching StFYC from the city front. All of a sudden, I saw Eric Christiansen and I realized that the northern route had paid off big time.
Well, that's the nature of racing, you win some and lose some! The Bay always has surprises...
This year we had a good number of Formulas relative to the kites so I hope to see more Formulas next year!