Thursday, May 10, 2012

Going Away

Just a short note to say that I will be away for a while.  I'll catch up with the PWA slalom racing results when I get back and will comment if there is some good video footage of the action.  So far the competition has been great with some unexpected stars.  Antoine Questel is the current leader at this point showing what a great combination the Loft sails are with the Starboard Isonics.  Ben vd Steen on the same combination is third after Micah.  Antoine and Bjorn are fourth and fifth which tells you how high the standard is.  I am surprised that Micah is doing so well.  I have the impression that the current JP slalom boards have fallen a bit behind the other top brands.  Maybe I'm wrong - we'll see as the tour progresses.

I had a nice late sail today with my 104 and 7.8m and practiced some upwind sailing with light wind gybing.  Two tips:

  • To improve your upwind performance twist your back heel in the strap moving it as far forward as you can manage (you are going for a duck footed stance).  Press down firmly on the heel of this back foot feeling the pressure through the heel directly into the board.  At the same time swing your weight forward in the harness almost to a point where you can look past the mast to the other side of the rig.  You will find that this all gives you a few more degrees into the wind      
  • When coming out of a low powered carve gybe, grab the new side of the boom (after the flip) as far back as you can.  Most of us tend to grab the new side with our front hand close to the mast on the boom.  Consciously grab closer to the harness lines and you will find that the rig, as it powers up, will give you more power as you pump away to keep planing.  
That's all for now - I will speak to you when I get back and have a chance to catch up with things
Good winds 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fanatic Video - The Good and Bad

I mentioned in the last post that I would say something about Gonzalo's sailing.  Please go to the Fanatic site, and under "Event News" " find the video clip headed "NEW FALCON SLALOM TEASER - TEAM TIPS'.  This video starts off with some general slalom sailing footage but from sec 18-26 focuses on Gonzalo sailing really fast and controlled over rough water.  Note how he keeps the board trimmed to fly over the chop without losing control.  Here is a sailor who has all of his equipment perfectly balanced and compatible.  His Ifju fin is clearly a perfect match for the Falcon he is on and his sail is properly rigged for the conditions.  His mast foot and strap positions are nicely balanced for his particular sailing style.  This means that he can put all of his concentration on the water in front of him without wasting energy fighting with any of his equipment.  Very impressive and we can see why this guy was such a match for the boss in Reggio.

After this footage the video, in my opinion, loses an opportunity to be really useful to fans of the Fanatic brand.  Sebastian introduces Peter, Kurosh and Pierre saying that they each going to give us some board set-up tips for their favorite boards.  Excellent idea!  Peter starts off quite nicely explaining about the two small boards in the line-up (fin and sail sizes, mast foot position etc).  The other two guys however, are given no opportunity to speak in any detail.  What I want to hear from the top sailors is where they place the mast foot, which footstrap holes they use, what size fins they use for the boards they are discussing and sail sizes.  Neither Kurosh nor Pierre are allowed to say more than a few sentences.  I don't care that Pierre's English is not that good - (it is 100 times better than my French) - I do care that he is one of the best slalom sailors around and I want to hear him speak about how he sets his boards up.  The guys should have been given the opportunity to develop and practice their spiels before the camera arrived and then given some time on the video.

All in all a wasted opportunity by Fanatic to give us something of real value.  I note at 2.53 minutes the footstrap marks on the board Peter is discussing are right to the front (second from the front) and he mentions that he has his mast foot all the way forward.  It would seem therefor, that these Falcons perform with everything towards the front.  I can't make out any of the key positions on the bigger boards being discussed.  When I rode the 113, I had the mast foot exactly in the middle of the track and the board behaved beautifully but if I had the time and opportunity now I would try with everything a bit further forward.

Talk to you soon            

PWA Reggio - Final Comments

The first round of PWA racing was concluded in Reggio.  Bjorn won the men's division and Karin Jaggi the women's both on Severne Reflex race sails.  These sailors demonstrate once again the quality and sheer class of these awesome sails.

The surprise sailor for me is Gonzalo Costa Hoevel who came second, only narrowly missing beating Bjorn in their last heat.  I don't have Gonzalo in my list of top sailors - he did so little last year - but I may need to re-consider if he keeps this level of performance going.  Great stuff by him in round 1!  I will say more about Gonzalo in the next post where we can look at a clip of him sailing.

Here are some criticisms of the Reggio event (besides the lack of wind) :

  • The press coverage of the heats is almost non-existant.  Come on PWA and board/sail companies.  You are missing out on a great marketing opportunity.  So many of us follow these heat videos avidly.
  • There was apparently a lot of debris in the water (plastic bags, floating tins, old rope etc) when the heats finally got going and quite a few sailors crashed out unluckily.  This is totally unacceptable when you consider the expense, the trouble and sheer effort of staging such an event, getting all the sailors and spectators to the venue, the spin-off for local business etc.  The cost of three power boats with floating rakes and/or nets to sweep the course is negligible and should have been done.
  • I am always shocked when great sailors get right through to the final heats and then throw everything away by going over early and getting disqualified.  Ben van der Steen did this.  Not good Ben.  You are one of the shining lights this year and it is devastating to see you blow it in the final minutes.           
The next race is in Korea starting Saturday (5th), hopefully with more wind.  I look forward to this and will give you some feedback.

Good winds and stay sheeted in