Saturday - the St. Pete contingent of Team USA Windsurfing together with team member Solvig Sayre of New England were dominating the fleet and humbling the old timers, showing that practice might have something to do with finishing well. I hear that the St. Pete crew is practicing fleet racing twice a week now. Their skill level is way, way up from last year. Race 3 in particular was fun, with a huge 2-lap windward leeward and yet almost all the fleet finished within a couple minutes of each other. I couldn't tell you firsthand who won because I was so far behind these guys most of the time, but the results showed that Team USA was 1-2-3 at the end of Saturday with Cullen Ahearn leading. Bruce Matlack was also up in the mix.
Sunday - a beautiful day in
Race 4 - started out in marginal planing conditions for formula and good but nonplaning wind on Kona for windward leeward racing (it was planing conditions on a reach). Solvig won and from my perspective it looked like she decided to railride across the finish line (she was standing on the rail, sailing along for a second or two) - I thought, "rub it in!" but she apparently just had the board rail up due to the higher winds.
Race 5 - full tilt, perfect planing conditions, daggerboard up the whole time other than a minute at the top of the first windward mark. The wind was increasing throughout the race, around 20 knots.
Race 6 - I would say it was survival conditions except that after Race 6, it got even windier. Completing the race was all about not falling. My tactics were to head to the flatter water, windward side of the bay where I could sheet in and not be bounced off the wave tops going upwind. I did the formula-style "super chicken" strap thing on the way downwind and that worked pretty well. My main thought was, wow, we're racing in this?
Getting back to shore - the wind nuked so hard that it took major muscle just to hold the sail up in the air during the gusts. None of us had our sails trimmed for wind like this since it was 10 knots when we left the dock. Some of us rerigged them some on the water but I know mine could have used more tweaking. The launch was a couple of miles upwind, in the lee of skyscrapers and upwind through a marina. Good times!
Congratulations to Cullen Ahearn of Team USA Windsurfing for his win in the Kona Class. He did well in the big range of conditions that we had and I hope all of you Kona racers will remember him well at the Midwinters starts in March :). Thanks also to the team coaches, Britt Viehman and Karen Marriott, who are doing a great job, and to the guys for letting me borrow their skateboards to cruise around between the races.
All in all it was another great regatta in