Monday, August 4, 2008

Gorge Challenge - Day 3 (final)


Sorry - something went wrong when I downloaded pictures off Scotia's camera yesterday afternoon, but all the files are garbled, so I can't serve them up here. Hopefully we'll get some going; Pete DeKay was taking pictures of the awards, so we should get those online somewhere soon, I hope.

Meanwhile, here's the course we ran Sunday - Darren mixed things up a bit with a pretty slalomy formula course - Start, round A to port, B to port, Start Pin to starboard, Finish Pin to starboard, A to port, B to port, Start Pin to starboard, finish.

Conditions started out pretty tame, with some people joking about rigging their 11's to make the breeze come up. When we got on the water for the first heat, it was very nice 10m formula racing, and while it filled in a bit more, I was very happy on my 9.9 for the day. We got five races, which I finished 2, 2, 4 (fell at the jibe at the bottom of the course - in this fleet, you can't as much as sneeze without being passed, much less fall, which makes for really fun racing), 3 (Derek pulled off the first really successful port start of the day), and 1.

And that last one had a bit of a story to it. After Derek won the windward mark in heat 4 after starting on port and having to duck almost the entire fleet, it became apparent that maybe the advantage on the right side of the course had gotten big enough to overcome the starboard bias on the start and make it worth letting most of the fleet cross, so I went for a port start on the last heat. Stefan managed to squeeze in above me, with Derek and MacRae below me. Lots of frantic weaving through the crowd ensued, but when we were finally clear of the fleet and out in the channel, it became apparent that we were in the right spot. I made it to the windward mark in first, ahead of Bruce who was coming across from the OR side and tacked in my wake.

From this point, it was a bit of a drag race; I made it around the jibe mark, and the breeze was so filled in that I decided to jibe right there as opposed to taking it a bit further down. That worked out well, as I could lay the bottom mark, and set up to jibe just above it. As I came to the mark on starboard, Bruce came in hot on port and tried to squeeze by on the inside with a tight jibe. Any other sailor trying that, and I'd probably have bailed out to avoid a collision; instead, I just went for it and shot by below him to ensure he'd stay behind me. Unfortunately, the clew end of his boom clipped my shoulder. He decided he'd called it too close and DSQ'd himself, which, while being good sportsmanship, was a bit of a bummer as I'd hoped to hold on to that lead for another lap.

Overall, Bruce won both the formula (NRT) and slalom events, as well as taking the overall Gorge Cup title for the year. I placed second for the formula piece and ended up in sixth for the slalom - I'd hoped for a chance to redeem myself a bit there, but by the time the conditions were filled in enough to run slalom on Sunday it got a bit too late to switch formats before the awards and banquet. Probably just as well - as we were sitting down for the excellent food, I couldn't help notice that it was perfect 7.2 wind out there, and neither I nor any of the racers I sat with had any itch to go out and sail more.

One highlight of the day was the new formula weed fin design sported by Peter DeKay, who ran into a submerged log between those dolphin-style pilings on the Oregon side. The attempts to remove that fin from the box entertained folks at the Event Site for over an hour, with as many as six people wielding all sorts of tools to attempt to dislodge it. Bruce put on an impromptu board repair clinic (Hot Stuff superglue and accelerant and 4 ounce glass makes for very quick layups - combat repairs have just become bomb proof).

Check the VMG Events site for complete results - and while you're there, start memorizing the names of some of those juniors, who are moving up in the fleet. This is a pretty strong contingent of young sailors, and having seen them put in the work during the Sailworks Junior Race Camp all week, I'm pretty impressed.

Overall results show that this surge of juniors is coming none too soon; for the season, the top 5 consist of 4 Masters and one Grand Master. I guess in this sport, age groups are affirmative action for the young - hopefully the current crop of juniors will change that. Seeing how Steve Sylvester in the Bay Area still dominates a bunch of guys in their 20's at over 60, it's safe to say that experience is not a disadvantage in racing windsurfers. Pretty sweet, if you think about it, that there's a sport where up to three generations can be truly competitive with each other (and that doesn't involve checkered shorts and country clubs).

Now back to work for a week (work, yeah, I knew there was something I needed to take care of...), then off to Squamish for the Canadian Nationals next weekend. Wow, the season is coming to a close - not sure I'm ready for that. In the Gorge, it's been a fun season of very well organized racing. Scotia is a nation treasure, pulling off some of the finest events anywhere. She'd putting on next year's Nationals in the Gorge, and she's got some pretty big plans, so plan on showing up next July - it will be a blast.

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