Sunday, June 7, 2009

More slalom action

Another Gorge Cup, and more slalom racing (full disclosure, the picture is actually from the last Gorge Cup; since it was pretty much the same cast of characters and all the same gear, that didn't seem entirely inappropriate...).

Conditions yesterday were challenging -there was a lot of breeze, but it was frontal, not thermal, so there were some really furry gusts, but also some big holes to deal with. Bruce dominated, except for one heat (where it looked so windy that he took his 6.2 and tiny, 75l (?) slalom board and did really with his blazing speed and g-force jibes until he hit a hole, at which point he did the hula with the water reaching up to his belly button - hey, fat boards rule!).

I was on the Exocet 71 with my Sailworks 7.1, and that combo feels really good. It's got great glided through the holdes, can be pushed upwind, but still has very much competitive speed on the super-powered reaches.

MacRae and I had some really spirited battles for second place; I got him in the the end by something like a point. He once again sailed a very consistent set of heats, with really solid starts, good speed, and very reliable jibing. Jay put in a solid day as well. And then there was Sam Bauer, who just moved up to a more modern slalom board from his ancient Mistral - and got a bunch of top 5 finishes. I'll take full credit for that (as it's my Exocet 67 from last year he's riding now) ;)

The course was a bit modified from the usual box slalom, de-emphasizing the upwind leg a bit and making it possible to pretty much hit the mark on that, so there was less need for layline tactics on where to tack. This might be a good compromise for Nationals, as the out-of-towners usually aren't used to the upwind component, but a pure downwind slalom often turns into a bit of a follow-the-leader parade. The course felt a bit squished this way, but part of that was the way it had to be laid out to work with the oscillations in the breeze (yep, it was frontal for sure...). With a more reliable thermal, Darren should be able to stretch it out a bit more.

All in all, another great race day - we got in seven heats (and timed it just right - I sailed a bit after the last heat, and at that time it got flukey - there was still huge gusts, but the holes were now becoming pretty permanent on the inside marks). Racing conditions were a bit tough and character building; perhaps that's why the turnout was a bit low (or maybe those folks just went east instead - things were apparently classically Gorge nuclear out there). Seems that with the new, bigger slalom gear, those kinds of conditions can still be really fun to race (it just adds an element of challenge to the equation instead of making it frustrating, as it did in the days of narrow sinky boards and not-as-rangy sails).

Again a good junior contingent; Alex and Jay had a spirited battle (this time, Jay took it), Alyson finished EVERY heat (right on!), and Fiona came to race for the first time ever, negotiating the full course for the first two heats on her Starsurfer and a 2.5 before having to rush off for a soccer game (she actually stayed out at the boat after finishing the first heat, ready to go again).

Pictures and results probably pretty soon at - Scotia again pulled off flawless organization, and Darren ran a tight series of heats. For all of you still on the fence about coming for Nationals in July - it's going to be awesome!

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