Windsurf Race - Mid Atlantic Series, October 2002

Last weekend, i finally entered my first real race Saturday/Sunday. Too lazy, out of town, or whatever good or bad reason i had so far, i finally showed up, and signed up for the novice fleet. We were four competitors there, complementing the longboard sport fleet, and the Formula competitors. On Saturday, we, the novices, were set to start together with all the longboards. In the first two races, i respectfully ligned up somewhat away from the starting line in order to stay out of all the traffic. A good decision, because it took me the first race two figure out the best way to get around the course, in particular the first mark i found to be tricky to get to. I did pretty well in the second race. I passed the first mark with a slight margin over Marcy. She ditched the jybe on the second, and down to the third, i even passed a sport fleet competitor. Excellent, that was nice. In the following lunch break, i got reassurance from another racer that i was "definitely ready for the sport fleet". A judgment i shared, so i was eager to test it against my ability to get better starts.
My achievements in the remaining Saturday races were promptly honored in the skipper's meeting on Sunday. Quote Dave Kashy: " We have seen [novice] people crossing the start line on port tack, and other nasty things". Oh oh, guilty as charged. For Sunday, the novice's start was moved away from the sport fleet over to the smaller Formula fleet. In particular the race after the Saturday's lunch break was really bad. An estimated three sailors ran into me yelling "Starboard", in particular a guy from Baltimore was really displeased. I now know that i am supposed to do a penalty in such a case, which should not have happened in the first place. Let me sidetrack on the penalty part a little, this propably exmplains best how i used to get in trouble when i was a kid: When the angry guy would be close to the boiling point, i always had a smart answer at hand, something like:
"Penalty? What penalty? You mean, like write 'I must not cross the start line on port tack.' on the skipper's meeting board fifty times?". Times have changed, and people apologize, so do i. This also applies to the start of the final Saturday race as well, when i decided to stay with the crowd, and almost swung my sail into John Contos face. Another lesson learned: "upright, stupid", i told myself, this is like dancing classes.

At the end of Saturday, i was one point behind Marcy, which meant i had to leave her behind virtually in every race on Sunday. It turned out that she had excellent starts. In the first race i could gain a lead on the first mark, because she missed the first approach. She recovered real nicely, but still passed the first mark way behind me. Now i had to find out the best way to the second mark on my own, because the sport fleet was still working on the first tack, and the poor Formula competitors, from my perspective, were indifferently schlogging around somewhere. My first bet down to the second mark was the wrong choice: I found myself on collision course with the sport fleet on port tack. Outch. I tried to quickly jybe, ditched in panic, but made it out of the way early enough not to interfere with anybody, and still stay ahead of Marcy. She decided to go straight towards the second, while i tried out two beam reaches. It turned out that the extra way was easily offset by the extra speed, so i jybed arond the second mark still ahead of Marcy. At that point the leader of the sport fleet was already on his way to the third, and the guy in second place was nice enough to remember me that i wouldn't have to sail the third mark, or as he propably thought, i wasn't supposed to. Too bad i already was blown too far downwind, and at that point i realized that somehow my outhaul line had decided to go loose, so Marcy could easily pass me and the finish line in first place. Sunday's second race was even worse. In almost no-wind, Marcy got off to a perfect start, i almost lost a minute at the start already. The fun part was, that Marcy almost missed the first mark AGAIN, this time however she did not loose much ground. She sailed around the rest of the course without giving me any further chance to get even close. And that was it, end of races. The wind died off so badly that every sailor had problems to even make it back to the beach, were a lot of great trophies were waiting. I was surprised to hear that incorporate-America knows about windsurfing, and that the trophies were purchased at one of the big chains. And even i got one!

Thanks to all who helped to get this together, it seams there are a million details you have to consider when organizing and running two days of racing. I've been involved in other sport's events which compare to this, and i know how much legwork it is to finally get a competition on the way.

An edited version has been published in the US Windsurfing News. Winter, 2003 issue.