Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Naturally, I was en route from Oregon to California at the time (part of my backup plan for training). I made a snap decision to turn around and drive back across the country. After four days of nonstop driving to Annapolis, I had one day at home to pack and run errands before driving to New York to fly to London. It was about the longest trip of my life!
A special thanks to my sponsor, Compass Marketing, this month, for really making it possible to compete at a higher level at these important regattas.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Trying to blog in a van
I spent a week in San Francisco, commuting to train with some really good Formula sailors in Berkeley. My first day on the water I had forgotten how crazy the San Francisco Bay can get, and it took a few days to learn the gnarly conditions. San Francisco really goes off in the summer, and the wind, current, voodoo chop, cold water, and boat traffic all make for some of the most challenging sailing found anywhere. I dialed in my gear and technique and by the end of the week was ready to take on the Ronstan Challenge, a distance race from the St. Francis Yacht Club, to a mark near the Golden Gate, all the way downwind to Berkeley, and return.
Before the wind comes up in San Francisco
I made a strategy for the Challenge based on the tidal conditions. We were experiencing a maximum flood tide right during the race, so on the downwind I decided to sail all the way across the bay, to Angel Island, to go with the last of the flood tide. the strategy for coming back upwind was the same, because the tide would be starting to ebb right after my planned mark rounding time. The wind hadn't filled all the way in after the start, and a few sailors and I were trapped in a hole above Alcatraz Island for a few minutes. Most of the sailors decided to go downwind along the San Francisco cityfront, because the wind was usually a bit less there. However, I thought I could take advantage of the less windy conditions to hold to my original plan. After I got out of the hole, the plan did indeed work as I passed quite a few other sailors by going across the bay. As soon as I rounded the Berkeley mark, the wind began to fill in and although I was on my way back up to Angel Island, the conditions soon became survival. With gusts up to 30 knots, I decided to try the cityfront. The new plan worked fairly well although I did get picked up and thrown by a few crazy puffs below Alcatraz. I finished the race in just over two hours, and was really happy that I had just made it back! We finished up the event with a few course races the next day.
After the Ronstan Challenge, I headed up to Hood River, Oregon for another few events. This is the summer of the distance race, because a day after I arrived the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association was holding the annual Gorge Blowout, a 26-mile downwinder from Stevenson, WA, to Hood River. I once spent a summer in the Gorge working, and I always wanted to do this race but wasn't able to. Finally, this was my year. Luckily, my training buddy, Eric Rahnenfuehrer, was around to be my blowout partner.
The launch at Viento, in the narrowest section of the Columbia for the Blowout.
We left Eric's van in Hood River, and carpooled up to Stevenson. On the way up, we noted that the wind was pretty filled in and strong throughout the river. Before the race, Stevenson started to really go off. It was about 18-20 at the start, and I chickened out and took Eric's 5.6 Sailworks sail instead of another borrowed 7.8, which actually felt great with the Formula board, but was way too small for the entire race. Through the narrow part of the river, the wind had really backed off from earlier in the morning. Many people had taken slalom equipment, and had to pull out halfway through at a launch called Viento. It was funny passing them as they were cursing the wind in the Narrows. I floated through on the Formula, and by the time I reached the Hatchery (a launch for hard-core waves and wind), the wind was back up again and I flew through all the funboarders to the finish at the Hood River Event Site. I was pretty annoyed at having taken the wrong equipment, but it was great to have at least finished.
After racing, I waited on the beach for Eric, but he was a no-show. He took his slalom equipment and didn't make it past Viento, so I had to take his van to pick him up, and swap all the gear around back at Stevenson. All in all, it was a pretty satisfying event, but you won't ever catch me using the wrong sail again!
I then had another few days until the US National Championships, which included both slalom and Formula racing. Eric and I did massive amounts of jibing around buoys with our shortboards to prepare for the slalom part. We sailed all around the river on the shortboards, upwind and downwind. We also got a good day of Formula sailing in Cascade Locks, in some smooth easterly wind.The regatta opened up with two days of hardcore slalom. We had three heats and knocked out 11 rounds of racing in two days, on a fun and inventive course that included tacking as well as jibing. The first day we saw winds gusting almost to 40 knots, which was pretty incredible. I don't think I've ever sailed the Hood River Event Site on a 4.0, but that is just what I was doing. The second day the wind backed off a bit, but was still enough to run a few more great rounds. The Techno 293 class for youth sailors also joined in, and these first-time Gorge sailors got some good experience jibing around the buoys. I had a great time at my first real slalom event, and even though I don't have slalom equipment right now, my 1990's Pro-Tech shortboard and wave sails made it around the course just fine. By the end of the slalom, my jibes had significantly improved, which I am quite pleased about.
The last two days of the regatta were awesome Formula races. The wind ended up being fairly light, but we had enough to get some good racing in. At the event site, the wind progressively gets stronger the farther upwind you sail towards the Hatchery. Our course was a windward-leeward with two windward marks, one at halfway up the course. We first rounded to the halfway mark, and then we were sent farther upwind for the second lap. At the most windward mark, it could get quite choppy and windy. However, down near the event site it was very light with gusts. If there were more gusts coming south from the Oregon side of the river, it was sometimes profitable to go downwind on that side, out of the current on the Washington side. The most strategy was found in playing the gusts, and watching their pattern on the north and south sides of the river.
The week in San Francisco paid off as the Gorge conditions seemed somewhat tame in comparison. I had great starts and my upwind technique had improved quite a bit, and I was hanging in there with mid-fleet finishes (fleet of 40, mostly big dudes). The second day of racing, the training paid off even more as the race committee moved the course west towards the Hatchery for better wind. We had some great fun sailing in the swell and breeze up there, and it was nice to be able to take advantage of classic Gorge conditions. I finished 18 out of 40 overall, and first out of the Formula women's fleet. Overall, I felt happy with how I sailed and know I have made some strides forward in the past few weeks.
Formula women at the awards
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I had a small amount of practice when I participated in the medal race in Puck, Poland back in May, but this was on a bit of a different scale. The course was windward-leeward with three laps and a slalom finish with two jibe marks. Medal race courses are usually quite close to shore to allow for spectators, and ours was near the seawall in the Kiel Olympiazentrum harbor. There was a lot of boat traffic both above and below the course, with coach boats, spectator sailboats, and also cruising sailboats hanging around. The weather was again spectacular, with a light, gusty breeze and clear, sunny skies.
I was all set to win the medal race, but as it went I didn't have such a spectacular performance. It all began at the start, when both Carolina and I got rolled by a fast girl. We had to tack out which slowed us down. My strength right now lies not so much with boardspeed, but with tactics in shifty breeze. However, our short course called for one tactic: go left to the better pressure, and go fast. I was keeping up well but made the next mistake on the leeward gate, going to the wrong side. After that I was a bit behind but was still holding the speed, when I unfortunately fouled another girl and had to do a circle. At any rate, it was a good experience for learning what not to do, and it was an honor to be in the race.
Afterwards, I packed up the gear. I delivered my board to some British sailors going to Weymouth, and loaded the quiver in the Polish trailer. My Polish coach, Romek, was having a frustrating afternoon. One kid's complete set of equipment was stolen in all the confusion of packing. Then, a strap broke and hit him in the eye, cutting his eyebrow (now he is walking around with a black eye as well). However, after about an extra hour and a half of waiting (and getting pizza with the guys) we were finally able to take off with the motorboat. I was riding in the van with four other guys, and pretty soon they were all playing video games, harassing each other, or snoring. The van smelled like stinky feet, but it was nice to be with them. I am now back in Sopot waiting to go home tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The technique I've been learning has finally started to sink in and my speed was better today in the nonplaning conditions. I stayed with the faster girls on downwinds and also sailed a few solid tactical upwind legs. The wind was much more stable today and the shifts weren't so big. The chop was pretty steep and short, and we had to be focused on maintaining boardspeed on the upwinds. I had moments on the downwinds when I was quite fast, but I couldn't maintain it for long periods of time. In the end, I sailed a few good races and managed a 9th and 8th which put me into the medal race. There are only 16 boards here and I'm 10 / 16, but it is a good small victory nonetheless and I'm really excited about racing tomorrow. The committee is giving us GPS receivers for live tracking of the medal race, which you can see on the website http://www.kieler-woche.de/eng/englishdefault.php . Our race is at 13:50 Central Europe time, which is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the USA.
The Americans had a team dinner tonight, and there were almost 70 sailors in attendance! It was really fantastic to see such a big turnout.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The race committee here in Kiel is very organized, and updates to the postponement were made throughout the day. We were released around 2:30 p.m. when it was apparent that the wind would not make a showing.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
We had two races in offshore wind of about 5-10 knots. It was very gusty and as we are near a point of land, we saw some really big shifts. In general, the left side was favored only because the pressure was slightly better. If the right side had pressure, it sometimes was better but only for short periods of time. Bands of wind were coming from the point, and it paid off to stay in these and pay attention to the pattern of shifts. We didn't see much planing today, except in a few gusts downwind.
My first race went pretty well, as I hit the left side early. We had a big shift at the start which made the pin end favored. Luckily I reacted pretty quickly and was in the front of the fleet at the upwind mark. I was having trouble reading the shifts that close to the shore, and unfortunately lost out a bit there. I'm still working on my old nemesis, downwinds, and am focusing on pumping technique. The second race I went right, which worked on the first upwind leg. However, it fooled me during the second upwind as the pressure seemed better, but actually wasn't...tell me how that works, but ok. I lost the pattern of shifts and every time I tacked it seemed like I would get headed 20 seconds later. Needless to say I lost some ground during that leg and it was a bit frustrating.
Overall my coach is happy with the improvements I'm making. We are doing video again and it's nice to sit down and discuss everything that happened during the day.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
"Tropical" Kiel, Germany
Other than the training, logistics have been entertaining. I took the ferry here from Gdynia so I could bring my equipment with me with minimum hassle. The ferry is a new overnight line from Gdynia to Travemunde, and the company, Finnlines, was promoting it. The trip was pretty deluxe: private cabin, jacuzzi, sauna, restaurant, gym...just like a mini-cruise. It made me start to come back to life after a stressful living situation in Sopot. The wind was about 35-30 knots and it rained the entire trip, so we were late to port. Arne picked me up and took me to the venue.
Trucks and my equipment wait to exit the ferry.
I am staying with the other American boardsailors, which is a new experience. Our house is about 5 km from the venue, and we are using bikes and buses to get around. After a night, we were joined by Carolina, who was waiting for her boyfriend to arrive and was scared of staying alone in her house with the ghosts. She abruptly decided that it was a great idea to cut my hair. I gave her free rein to do what she wanted (scary), and off came about eight inches of hair! My head feels a lot lighter and everyone likes the new look, although I sorta think I look like my mom now.
Carolina in action: our official RS:X beauty consultant
Tomorrow is the practice race, which takes place in the evening. We'll get registered and I will finish some board repair in the morning.
"Studio shot" of Carolina's masterpiece
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The second upwind was planing and I was again having trouble with pointing, not to mention I went to the middle which is a bit of a bad idea in planing conditions. On the downwind I dialed in a few jibes, which I was happy about.
Overall, I and the Polish guys came to the regatta overly tired. We all had a hard time adjusting after the rough drive, and could have used a few days to get tuned into Medemblik conditions. It was a good experience to remember.
After the racing, we packed up the equipment and hustled back to the bungalow to pack our bags. We were hungry but didn't have much food left, and the boys decided to cook everything we had. They ended up with a huge spaghetti dinner with a variety of sauces, from beef curry-something to kielbasa with marinara. There were at least 3 lbs of pasta, which they devoured. We then loaded the car with everything on the left side, including one of the guys who laid on top of the bags, and drove to the venue. We put the bags into the Polish Olympic team's van, and loaded the equipment. Then we were off.
We passed the two Polish cars hauling trailers twice during the beginning of the drive. In the beginning, there was an interesting grinding noise and smell coming from the front brakes and we stopped and looked at them for a few minutes. We decided to ignore the problem, and kept driving. Then we got lost for a bit. Everything was fine for most of the night, and I pulled the really late shift. At about 3:30 a.m., all the boys were sleeping soundly when the car coughed, bucked a few times, and glided to a stop. We had been running on gasoline when it should have been LPG, and we were out. It should have been a simple matter to start the car with LPG, but it wasn't. We ended up running a kilometer downhill behind the car, pushing it when it slowed down and then sprinting to catch up with it. It was a nice wakeup call, and nobody really slept after that. The sky was light anyway.
We made it home ok and now I'm staying at the Sopot sailing club for a few days. This weekend is a small regatta and some training, and after that I go to Kiel.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
My starts are getting really good and my pumping much better, so I had pretty good speed on the course. We worked on a few tuning and technique issues and also some strategy for downwind. I’m gradually starting to see where I should go on the course, although I was still losing places. Overall it was a productive day. Many things, like starting, are becoming automatic, which allows me to focus more on tactics. It’s good to be progressing.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Overall I felt pretty good in the marginal conditions. My downwind is still slow and I’m still getting the feel for the hanging technique I recently learned. My upwind is getting a lot faster so I’m happy about that. In the breeze however, I was extremely slow. I wasn’t pointing at all and ended up getting really frustrated, since I normally sail well in those conditions. It’s difficult to come to a regatta not training at the venue ahead of time, and especially after being exhausted from another regatta and a crazy drive. Anyway I’m currently re-thinking my plans for June and July in order to maximize training and build a base of board handling skills.
We had two races today, with windspeed about 6-12 knots and extremely shifty and gusty. There were big oscillations and the committee reset the course once. Later in the day, the wind shifted to the left and gusts were coming off the land. The course is surrounded by dikes. I really enjoyed the racing today because it gave me a chance to use the new technique I had been practicing. My upwinds were pretty quick, and I was planing sooner downwind, but I’m still not entirely confident in my board handling through the slalom finish and missed a few opportunities to make up places.
I am again being coached by Christoph Sieber, and it’s great to have him out on the course. Having a coach makes me more confident and it’s good to have his perspective on what’s happening out there.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The guys were supposed to pick me up from the Puck sailing club at 8:30 a.m., which was about an hour and a half after the Polish Olympic team departed. The reasoning was that since the Olympic team had a heavy van and trailer, we would catch them no problem. I wanted to push for an earlier departure, but one of the kids ended up oversleeping and we left Puck around 9:30. It did give me some time to check in with the campground to make sure we still had our bungalow.
The guys finally arrived in a 1990s Corolla station wagon that one kid had borrowed from his parents. We threw in all the gear and were on our way. In about a quarter mile, we noticed some grinding coming from the rear of the car and we pulled over into a supermarket parking lot. Upon exiting the car, we discovered that the rear shocks were bottomed out on the wheels. The car was too heavy and the wheel wells were shaving down the tires. It was a dilemma. We unloaded the car and re-loaded it with more
weight in the front, which seemed to work at first, but after we sat down, it bottomed out again. After a long debate, we were stumped. We definitely couldn’t drive over 1,000 km, and on Polish roads, with a bottomed out car. A few phone calls were made, and one kid’s uncle showed up. He put a few bags in his car, and we were off to the mechanic’s.
It took about 5 minutes for two big, Polish mechanics to strip off the wagon’s rear wheels and shocks. We all stared at the dirty, old shocks while the mechanics tried to find replacements in their big garage. The uncle walked around smoking and making phone calls, rescheduling appointments because of the emergency situation. Meanwhile, the mechanics hadn’t found the right parts, so the uncle sped off to
For the next 3.5 hours, we sat in the sun. It was an unusually warm day for May, and we followed the shade thrown by a pile of roofing tiles. One kid played video games on his computer, while I checked out the truck repair garage next door. Two huge trucks, engines opened, were in the bay, and mechanics were crawling all over them. Next to our car, in which we were sitting, was a VW Passat, which had been in an accident. Body panels were pulled off and wires were strewn everywhere. One mechanic was buried in the wiring all afternoon. We sat, and shoes, shirts, and pants came off as the day grew hotter. We went to the store, we used the bathroom, but mostly we slept in the car.
Finally came a diesel roar and skidding tires, and the uncle pulled up in a cloud of dust. He pulled the shiny new shocks out, and the car was rolled into the garage again. 15 minutes later the new shocks were installed and the car rolled out. We loaded as fast as possible…and when we sat down, the car bottomed out again. It was a devastating moment. Finally the uncle took two of the heaviest bags to be delivered by another coach, and we were off. It was about 4:30 pm and we had a 15-hour drive to look forward to. Every big bump, the car would bottom out again. Soon a sticky black residue from the tire was all over the fender. For some reason the right side was lower than the left, so as the lightest in the car I got to sit on the right and listen to the tire grind all night. All the heavy bags were loaded on the left side, and I sat in the middle as far as I could go.
After we crossed the border to
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
My medal race almost became a disaster. I had a good start with clear air, but I went to the wrong side of the course along with one other senior girl, Ania. I was last around the windward mark, but had a really strong downwind. There were some planing puffs coming through so we were all trying to stay in those, jibing three or four, or five times per short downwind. On the next upwind, I made up four places by tacking on two shifts and again hitting the left side, the strategy which didn't work the first leg, but was good this time! Ania, who had also gone left, and I match raced downwind. After aggressive jibes, I beat her by a second and finished 6th. Not bad for catching up. Overall I was happy with how I sailed the race.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The committee began a sequence, but it was apparent that their anchor wasn't holding and the boat was drifting backwards. After about a half hour (it was an hour of water time total) they sent us in so they could find a different anchor. It was not so nice to have to change in and out of a wet, cold wetsuit after not having completed any races!
After a few hours they sent us out again and we ran 3 back-to-back races. The rapid-fire racing was really good, because there wasn't much opportunity to freeze between races. It was so windy that everyone was in survival mode. Tactics included one tack per upwind, one jibe per downwind, and above all, don't fall! I did have a few spills but managed to finish all the races. Only seven girls made it to the course today. Every race I got a bit faster. I could see improvement both technically and mentally, so it was a great day of regatta training for me. 3 races, 30 knots, 50 degrees, max HR 173, 2900 calories, 40 miles sailed, 27.2 mph max speed...not too shabby.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I am borrowing a Garmin GPS / heart rate monitor, a few of which were given to the US Sailing Center in Miami by the USOC. At the end of the day, I had sailed for 4 hours (1 race / hour shows you how efficient the RC is) burned 3230 calories in that time, had a max heart rate of 170 (where you are during interval training) and top speed 27.5 mph. That's a lot of work! We are looking forward to 40, yes, 40 knots tomorrow with the same schedule. Woo hoo!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I had a couple sorta kinda mediocre races. Even though my technique has dramatically improved, I'm still having trouble downwind and reaching, and still a bit slow to plane. This wasn't helped by the massive amounts of floating weed in the water. We were all fighting the weeds, and I saw many sailors stop to clear their fins. However, I am pretty fast upwind and am holding my own with a few of the good youth girls. Tomorrow some big breeze is in the forecast, which will be great. The committee will probably want to run four races, so it should be a big day. It's time to get organized...walk to the store, get some food, then get back to my hotel. I know some people are anxious to see some pictures, but they'll have to wait for tomorrow because I forgot my camera cable.