Wow, I'm tuckered out. Tough day at the office, but also some really fun and challenging racing. We started a bit late as there seemed to be trouble with the windward mark; that kind of thing is pretty commonplace in racing, but at the St. Francis, it's notable, if only because it pretty much never happens. These guys have running races down to a science, and after that little glitch, everything was back to the usual precision. The delay gave the breeze some more time to fill in, so by the time heat 1 got under way, I was glad I was on my 9.1.
I had another good port start; a bit further down the line than I would have liked, but the starboard starters were charging down the line and really pushing it, so I looked for a gap near the boat, found one, got clean air, and was off. Being low didn't bother me, as the ebb was stronger outside. Then the gun sounded again and the general recall flag went up -or so I thought. Instead, that was the flag for the individual recall, and as I was slowly tacking and getting ready to head back, I realized that everyone else was still charging. Oops - that probably cost me something like a dozen places, as now I got stuck in the dirty air of the guys who had done their homework and knew their flags. Oh well, another lesson.
As I was making my way to the windward mark, I was slowly working my way back up through the fleet. At the mark, I was coming in pretty hot just as MacRae was pinching up to it after having called a pretty tight layline. As I was going by him, I thought I had enough space, but then I got hit with a puff as I was passing him, my fin lifted me out of the water, and I got launched over the bars, taking MacRae out in the process. What a bummer - taking anyone out is because of a stupid mistake is bad enough, but doing that to a friend and teammate is even worse. Luckily, nobody got hurt, no gear was broken, so we got back on our boards and went on. He was definitely extremely gracious and forgiving about the whole thing. The picture below shows the moment just as I'm about to go over the bars, with the clew of my booms then getting tangled up in MacRae's rig. Bummer. With all that, race 1 ended up with in 20th place. Not really what I had in mind, but better than a DNF (which could have easily happened given that incident at the mark).
That picture, by the way, is another one of Shawn Davis' shots. The guy does great work, and he spends hours on the boat to get these pictures of us (I'm getting seasick watching the boats bob around like that, plus it's *cold* out there). So if you're racing this event, or you're sailing at Crissy Field, be sure to check Shawn's site and be extra sure to buy any shots you really like - support your local sports photographer!
Race 2 saw a bit more breeze, and while overall the ebb was decreasing, there was a lot of lumpy water around - classic Crissy Field voodoo chop. After a general recall (for real this time) I got another good port start with clean air and made it to the windward mark in the top 10 - needless to say, I was stoked. On the way down, Steve Sylvester was chasing me, and at some point we came up on a ferry boat. He went low, I went high - and then realized what he was doing - while I was bouncing around on the steep side of the wake, he got the smooth side and left me in the dust. Yep, experience is not a disadvantage in this sport. I reeled in a couple of people on the second upwind, then was forced to foot off at the leeward mark due to traffic at the rounding, leaving the door open for a couple others to get me. In the end, it was 12th, with a reversal of yesterday's photo finish with Eric (he got me then, I got him today). This was more like it.
Then came a long break, as the RC had to wait for two large container ships to come through the eastern shipping lane on their way to Oakland. Man, those things are big! The breeze had picked up another notch, but now it was starting to flood at the start line and over much of the course. I ended up starting on port and having to duck almost the whole fleet, but got clean air again. I made a decent layline call, overstanding just enough to be comfortable that I would avoid having to double tack in the flood and came into the mark hot. I passed Fernando Martinez at the mark, as he had under-stood the mark and was struggling around it. Accelerating down the course, I did a quick tally and found that I was definitely in the top 10 - yeah. And then I got a huge puff just as I hit some steep/short chop and went over the handlebars - hard. David Well, who was following, reported feet pointing straight up, and just before I hit the water I heard the sickening crunching sound of carbon getting smashed by a hard object - my mast split the nose of my board open (the impact actually knocked one of the cams off the mast - never had that happen before). No injuries, though, so that was lucky; I retired from the race and hustled back to shore for a quick combat repair, but the RC called racing for the day after that heat - good thing, because I had only applied the first layer of super-glue and glass when it would have been time to get back out.
Tomorrow we'll most likely run long distance to Treasure Island and back, followed by another course race or possibly slalom (wouldn't that be cool...). Off to bed now - I'm pretty much wiped out. Instead of moving up from 14th (results here - Waterhound should have a report up soon, too), I've now slipped down to 16th. Tomorrow should bring three scores and another throwout - we'll see where that goes. I'm pretty happy with my speed, and my tactics on the course seem to be reasonably effective as well. Just have to cut down on the mishaps a bit ;)