I had a great time last weekend at a windsurfing regatta (pictures here) in Sarasota, which is about two hours North of where I live in Bonita Springs. The regatta had all the right ingredients for greatness, including:
1. A big grassy parking, rigging, and launching area.
2. An expansive flatwater sailing site exposed to good wind from all directions.
3. A cool yacht-club style event building provided by the Sarasota Sailing Squadron.
4. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and beer on tap included in the cheap registration.
5. Great organization with lots of helpful volunteers running the show.
6. Free camping and shower facilities right at the site.
7. A good number of both young and old participants in longboard, formula, and Olympic RSX classes.
8. Sunny, warm, windy weather.
9. The right blend of relaxed friendliness and competitive seriousness among the other racers.
The first day was quite breezy, averaging 15 knots or so. The race organizers set up two courses; a big windward-leeward course for the A Formula and RS:X classes, and smaller but more complicated trapezoid course for everyone else, including Kona One-Design, and Open Class. Below is a GPS track from one of my races on Saturday. You can see there were two laps around the trapezoid. The wind was from the South, so Buoy 1 was the upwind mark.
I sailed in the "Open Class" because:
1. I figured my 85 cm wide, 58 cm fin length, 135 liter volume formula board from 2001 would not be competitive with the 100 cm wide, 70 cm fin length, 160 liter volume formula boards from 2012 that everyone else would be riding.
2. I figured my 9.5 meters squared camless freeride sail would not be competitive with the >11.0 meters squared cambered race sails that everyone else would be using if the wind got light on the second day.
3. I wanted to be able to race my WindSUP 11'8" longboard if the winds got too light for formula, and the Open Class was the only one that would accomodate multiple boards.
It would have been a perfect choice except that only two other guys were in the Open Class fleet, and they were on very different gear, so I was mostly competing with myself. It still felt like a regatta, though, because our 5-minute starting countdown began right after the Kona fleet started, and because the two-lap course was long enough that we would start passing the Kona boards before the end. My best race was one where I passed ALL the Kona boards, including the famous all-around windsurf racer Nevin Sayre, who has lots of impressive racing records, like fastest time in the Gorge Blow-Out and fastest circumnavigation of Martha's Vineyard.
The racing was even more interesting on Sunday, because they lumped the Olympic RS:X boards in with the Open Class and ran us both on the trapezoid course. Since I was riding the WindSUP longboard Sunday I was more closely matched with another Open Class competitor, Dieter, who rode an F2 380 racing longboard with a 7.5 Severne Glide sail. My downwind and reaching speed was similar to Dieter's, and I planed a bit earlier, but he had better upwind speed and angle so he beat me in most of the races Sunday. Both Dieter and I were in the middle of the pack of the RS:X boards, though they would get past us if a puff of a wind came through the course that allowed them to plane upwind.
This video is of one of the higher wind races on Saturday. The song is by King Crimson.
There's another big regatta in Florida this weekend, the Calema Midwinters, near Cape Canaveral. Lots of the Sarasota folks were going, and I really wanted to go, but I just have too much work to catch up on. Oh, well. I'll still sneak out of the house for a bit to sail some waves at Wiggins Pass this afternoon.
2016 Colonial SUP Race results and photos
3 hours ago