Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hyeres, Round 2

After the volcano madness, I didn't expect to be going back to Hyeres, France. However, at the last minute, the Polish Olympic Team changed the location of a training camp from Kerteminde, Denmark (the venue for the 2010 RS:X World Championships) to Hyeres. The change resulted from the chilly early spring weather in Denmark.

Flights to France were still in slight disarray from the volcano (mostly just too expensive), so I ended up flying nonstop to Barcelona from Newark, New Jersey, and renting a car to drive 600 km to Hyeres, France, a drive which takes about 6+ hours and 40 euros cost for toll each way. I arrived exhausted but just in time to sail the next day.

A Hyeres practice start - I'm a little late?

The Polish team sailed two organized sessions on the water every day in windy, sunny, almost hot weather. After working hard on technique all winter, I experienced a few breakthroughs in speed while training with the Polish girls. I also found that my tactics were becoming more solid. I was extremely pleased with how I was sailing. The Polish are also getting faster, most noticeably my teammate Maja (from the youth team), who just made the Olympic team last year. She is going incredibly fast in the breeze! It is nice to see that everyone is improving so fast, but it just means the level keeps getting higher and higher - I'm getting faster, but so is everyone else, making it just as difficult to place higher in the fleet during regattas.

Maja showing some good attitude for the camera

I just arrived in Medemblik, Netherlands, where the Delta Lloyd World Cup regatta begins in five days (May 25). My gear isn't here yet, but I'm really anxious to get on the water as soon as I can. It will be interesting to see if the improvements I've made will be noticeable in the results of this regatta.

Thanks to my great sponsors, Compass Marketing and KA Sails, for making this training and regatta possible!

The Kashy Fins Windsurfing Festival: Doing it Right

I am always envious when I know friends are going to have a good time windsurfing without me. Therefore, I was a little sad at the prospect of missing Dave Kashy’s windsurfing regatta and party, held right at his waterfront home in Virginia, although I was going to the French Olympic Week. However, due to the volcano-related chaos that cancelled my flight to France, I could squeeze a fun weekend in between moving out of my apartment in Miami, driving home, arranging logistics to ship my van to Europe, and doing all the logistics (and sorting out the associated financial conundrum) for a training camp in France and the Delta Lloyd regatta in Medemblik, Netherlands.

I arrived home from Florida to some warm and breezy bright green mid-spring weather, and after unpacking my entire life from the van and re-packing the Formula gear, drove down to Yorktown in tidewater Virginia to a truly epic long weekend of sailing at Dave’s house. Everything that could possibly happen at a windsurfing event did: great competition and training, fun free sailing, camaraderie, and even a few mishaps.

The expanse of water in Dave's front yard

Baltimore Area Boardsailing Association race director “Commodore” Tom Sargent summed up the regatta weekend perfectly:

"Dave Kashy is living right. How else could you explain the raging 
success of his recent windsurfing festival? It's one thing to plan an event, pick the days, arrange all the logistics which included charter 
boards for those who wanted to experience formula windsurfing without 
investing thousands of dollars in gear, accommodations for all the out-of-town competitors from all over the country and world, personalized 
meals delivered to the event site, evening forays to interesting restaurants who kindly overlooked some rowdy exuberance from amped up 
sailors, imported talent for the race committee (editor’s note: Darren Rogers from the Gorge!) and a killer site (his 
home) on a point surrounded on three sides with water. That's the 
easy part. The fact that we had sunny skies and perfect wind FOUR 
DAYS IN A ROW is something one can't arrange. But it happened for Dave. It was such a great time that we'll forgive Dave a few oversights, one which caused the committee boat to be boarded by the Coast Guard brandishing automatic weapons, demanding who was 
responsible for this sudden influx of reckless sailing craft zipping 
around, markers and buoys where none had ever been before, apparently testing the rules knowledge and boat handling skills of the local rednecks who dropped the dime on us. Fortunately, Captain George was prepared and in compliance, passing the intense stem to stern 
inspection by the authorities. Dave, instead of being taken prisoner 
under the terrorist act, was given a cursory slap on the wrist and we 
were tentatively allowed to continue, but this time with the "escort" 
of several coast guard vessels working hard to herd the afternoon 
motorboat traffic around our course. It all proved to be too much for them as our sailing angles took up much more than a square mile 
testing even the ability of the Coast Guard to keep track of what was 
going on. Formal racing was curtailed for the day but there was a 
longboard race with a Lemans start and finish from the beach. No foul 
there. Dave'll get a permit next time for an on the water event. My 
hat is off to you Dave. You've raised the bar for what a windsurfing 
event should be. I had a most excellent time, thanks."

Darren Rogers poses with his orange friends

Alan tries for a muscle

The “Coast Guard incident” caused a little confusion and annoyance among all the sailors (it seemed the CG rules are prejudiced toward Virginia redneck powerboaters), but we got enough racing in to be more than happy. I had a fantastic time racing in the classic Chesapeake gusty, shifty conditions, against my favorite competitors like Ron Kern from Ft. Lauderdale, Steve Sylvester from San Francisco, training partner Eric Rahnenfuehrer from Ohio, and all the local characters like Tom Sargent, Alan Bernau, a bunch of BABA guys, and Dave himself. It was fun watching the out-of-town guys experience racing on the Chesapeake, and equally great feeling confident in my home waters and in my ability to race well in the classic Bay conditions. I finished fourth out of 12 guys, behind Steve, Ron, and Dave. Thanks Dave for an incredible regatta, and long live the Tidewater!


Photos from Ron and Sue Kern!