Saturday, August 11, 2007

US Nationals Day 4 - Slalom


Brilliant sunshine and building breeze, so the RC called for slalom. It took a while for the breeze to fill in towards the shore, where the course was set, leading some to gripe that we should be running Formula races instead. Mother Nature came through for us, though, and we went into a round robin elimination series, with the fleet divided into 6 groups and everyone racing everyone else at least once. The 13 highest scoring sailors advanced to the final (it was supposed to be 12, but there was a tie).
I had 2 1st and 3 3rd place finishes in the qualification round, so I sat in 3rd overall going into the finals, comfortably qualifying. The breeze was filled in, and the water was getting a bit choppy as the strong ebb conspired with boat wakes and eddie lines to make life interesting on the course. I was nicely powered on my 7.2.
The final round consisted of five heats, with one throwout. I felt great, and with 12 guys crowding the start line, I was determined not to get rolled. So determined, in fact, that in the first finals heat I was over early by about a second - bummer, since I sailed a pretty good race. I followed that with a 3rd and a second, then we had a little break before the last two heats. As we were lining up for the start of the fourth heat, I baubled my jibe outside, and it took me too long to get to the start to be in a good position on the line - I got rolled, and had to claw my way back up to finish in 7th.
Now I was all fired up for the last heat - I got a great start, rolled Seth and made it to the mark in 3rd behind Jon Jay Ernst (who'd pulled an amazing start) and David Wells (who was a very consistent contender throughout the event). As we got to the second mark, I was catching up on them with good boat speed, and I saw David taking the mark pretty wide to get around Jon - so I decided to go for it and try for an inside line. I set the rail hard, and half-way around the turn stuffed the nose in a piece of stray chop - the resulting wipeout was pretty spectacular, as I did a superman off the front. When I came up for air, the mast was pointing down, and I feverishly started to recover among the whole fleet jibing around me - amazing that noone hit me. I finished that heat in 8th, getting a couple places back on the last two legs.
I felt great about my speed, and my jibes were pretty solid. Even with the OCS and the wipeout, I ended up in 5th overall for the slalom - I'm pretty happy with that. Slalom doesn't reward conservatism too much, so I'm glad I went for it; in the past, I don't think I would have tried to attack David's position on that second jibe, instead just focusing on warding off the challenge from Seth behind me. While it cost me a better placing, I think long-term, it's the right mind-set.
Links to results and photos on the official Nationals Blog.

1 comment:

PeconicPuffin said...

I'm glad you went for the inside would have been tremendous if you'd made it, but hell...wiping out in pursuit of victory is the way to blow it if blow it you must.

Congratulations on some great competition!