Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Inlet to Inlet Race Report

**Note: Since I originally posted this, Ron has put a great summary of the race up on his website, including official results, stories, and a photo album- http://www.i-to-i.org/**

Woo hoo! I finished Ron Kern's annual "Inlet to Inlet" windsurfing race in Fort Lauderdale.

Ron explains the race to some of the windsurfing and kiteboarding competitors.

This is my GPS track. It was a 24.5 mile round trip. The second picture is a close-up of the southern part of the course. 

The wind was 15-20 knots side-onshore from the East-Northeast, which made for rough water and intimidating shorebreak. (See what happened when a catamaran tried to launch.) Fortunately, all the windsurfers who showed up made it out successfully.


I rode my Starboard Formula 135 with a 58 cm fin, and I played it safe with the sail choice, rigging a "small" 8.0 sail- an Aerotech Freespeed. The previous day I had tried my 9.5 Ezzy Cheetah in similar conditions at the race site and found it doable, but more tiring. Since my goal was to finish the race without crashing or running out of stamina, 8.0 was the right choice. The only thing awkward about it was that my boom was too long, leaving some bare line between the clew grommet and the clew. Oh, well.

My setup-

Compared to 2008 I improved one notch in the standings, getting 3rd place. My 1:35 time was a lot better than my previous 2:43, thanks to a favorable wind direction requiring just one tack, and thanks to riding a Formula board instead of the Kona ONE. (There were four Kona ONE competitors in the race this year, and I think they all finished. Their course was a little shorter than ours. The Port Everglades Buoy was the downwind mark for everyone, but the Kona boards had an upwind mark a few miles closer than the Hillsborough Inlet Buoy.)

Though I was satisfied with my own time, I was way behind Ron Kern and kite racer Zack, who finished in 1:10 and 1:13, respectively. Ron was on his 9.5 Neil Pryde sail and Mike's Lab formula board with a 64 cm Ifju fin. Zack was riding a custom 70 cm wide tri-fin directional kite-race board with 42 cm side fins and 38 cm back fin. Initially I thought Zack had won the race, because he was leading on the way to the Port Everglades Buoy. But Zack said Ron passed him on the upwind leg and was untouchable after that. Both the leaders were real gentlemen who were good sports about the competition.

My video for the event didn't turn out as great as I was hoping because the !@#$ camera fogged up. If you want to see the schools of soaring flying fishes, the deep blue water, and the giant sea turtles that I saw out there you'll just have to do the race yourself next year.

Inlet to Inlet Windsurf Race, 2012 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

After the race, Ron and Sue Kern hosted a nice "debriefing"  at their beautiful house. There were tons of prizes and beverages donated by the race sponsors:

Adventure Sports / Neil Pryde / JP

Liquid Surf and Sail

Sandy Point Progressive Sports / Aerotech / Exocet


I left with a purple ladies waist harness for Rhonda, plus a downhaul tool, uphaul, and rashguard for myself. Thanks! :)


joe windsurfer said...

okay, slow start, took a break and perhaps a bit small sail. What else would/could you have dunn butter ??

riggeek said...

That was quite a choppy course. Bet your legs got tired on the down wind run. Well done James!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great post. You were taking a rest in one of the sharkier spots.

Zack said...

Nice report James. The conditions don't get much better than that! We should definitely get a west coast distance race on the calender.

James Douglass said...

Joe- Good question! I think there's a big difference in how fast the board goes when I'm riding in sloppy comfort and energy-conservation mode versus when I'm pressuring the fin and trims as hard as possible. To do better in a future race I would need to find the balance of the hardest I could push it but still maintain it for the whole distance. Same idea as if it were a footrace. My 2001 board is also several generations less evolved (i.e., slower and harder to sail) than the latest-greatest stuff. But I don't want to go down the expensive path of trying to be competitive with formula gear, so I'll stick with what I've got and just try to sail it better.

Riggeek- Thanks. I was using the chicken strap for most of the downwind. There were a few scary moments where I had to get out of the harness, but I never crashed. The worst part was when the wind turned more onshore during the second part of the downwind so my heading became more of a reach than a run. My outhaul had gotten stuck fully bagged-out because the stopper knot squeezed into the cleat. Fully-bagged out is fine when you're running as deep downwind as possible, but while reaching it made the sail quite unstable.

Unknown- Yikes! I'll rest on top of the board next time.

Zack- Sorry for misspelling your name throughout this post. Let's for sure plan a West Coast distance race.

Carl Horsley said...

Great post, James. I raced my keel-boat in over a hundred races starting at that Hillsboro Inlet buoy and also dove the reefs south of there a lot. Not really sharky.