Saturday, April 18, 2009

FL Windfest Day 1 Report

There were way more people than I expected at the Florida Windfest today. I would estimate about a dozen in the Kona class, at least that many in the Formula class, and a bunch of non-racers sailing around and trying out the gear from Aerotech and Exocet.


The Konas sailed a triangle course and the Formulas sailed that course plus an extra upwind / downwind around a fourth mark.

I sailed inconsistently. Out of five races I had two horrible ones where I was stupidly late for the start, two ok ones where I finished mid-fleet, and one good one where I tacked into clean air at the start and finished second. All the Kona races were won by a fast kid whose name I forget. There was a whole gaggle of juniors in the Kona fleet, who were usually among the top finishers. The big Kona men >85 kg (187 lbs) used red 9.0 meter-squared Aerotech Zenith sails and everyone lighter than that used blue 7.4 msq Zeniths. People below 65 kg (143 lbs) are supposed to use 5.8s but none were available for charter, so smaller boys on 7.4s had a noticeable early-planing advantage. No one complained, though - the fleet was still closely spaced.

The Zenith sail was weird, but I kinda liked it. When you rig it, you have to use very little downhaul tension, relatively little outhaul tension, and lots of batten tension. The battens overlap the mast a lot when there's no wind in the sail, as you can see in this picture of Mike Rayl's well-worn Kona and 9.0 Zenith...


The way the foot of the Zenith is cut lets you put the mast base all the way at the front of the track and still be in a good position when planing in the footstraps. The wind was up and down between like 7 and 15 knots today, but the rig setup felt good. The only thing I didn't like was how much the belly of the sail overlapped the boom. Maybe a wider-tailed boom could avoid that.

The formula class races were dominated by #3-ranked French formula racer, Loic Legallois. It wasn't all smooth sailing for him, though, since the fin he was borrowing for the first two races was repossessed by the lender once proven effective. Then while Loic was testing another fin he hit a manatee, busted his board all to shit, and was lucky not to be seriously injured. No word on the fate of the manatee. :( Hopefully its blubber protected it. Anyway, Loic finagled an Exocet formula board to replace his busted Starboard formula board, but that made him late for a start and he only came in 6th that race. The final two he won, though.

Tomorrow I'm gonna try to do better by starting on time. I think the only race is going to be a long-distance race, though, so it might not matter, anyway.

Here's some more pictures I took after the races today...

This is "Mr. Demo" John Ingebritsen stoked about the Kona 10'5" board and Aerotech AirX sail. The 10'5" is different from the Kona we race because it's smaller, has no daggerboard, and is intended more for catching and riding waves.

Here's some of the other stuff that was being demoed. In the background is the Calema Windsurfing storage building, where Tinho Dornellas keeps his rental fleet.

The fella in the red hat is a PhD physicist, but not even his brains and the brawn of those he enlisted to help him could un-stick his 3-piece mast.

The black boards in this picture and in the picture at the top of the post are the Exocet Warp Slalom boards. They're black because there's no paint on the top of the carbon fiber to add extra weight. I tried the 66 cm wide one and the 78 cm wide one, and they were both super light and fast.

Some other people took action pictures of the racing. I'll try to post some of those or link to them later.

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