Friday, June 27, 2008

Kiel Week 2008: Day 3

Today we finally saw the weather that Kiel is famous for. This morning I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the roof of my tent and some chilly temps in the low 50s. The forecast was for 20+ knots again offshore, so I went into the day fully expecting it to blow like stink. However, the expected wind never showed up. Since the boards have one of the farthest courses offshore (it’s gotta be about 2 or more miles from the beach) it took about 45 minutes to pump our way out there. I was layered up with 2 thermal shirts, a long wetsuit, a life jacket, and a foul weather jacket over it all. It rained constantly throughout the racing.

The wind, being offshore, was continually shifty and gusty. During the first men’s start, at 15 seconds to the gun, a puff of at least 20 came through and made them fight. That was the only time the wind would pick up, however. During the girls’ start, the wind dropped again to non-planing. I had a solid start in the middle of the line. It was hard to determine what side of the course would be favored, but I decided on left. Unfortunately I was under some fast girls and started to get rolled and was forced to tack. I did manage to hold my position to the windward mark and also on the reach, by starting to plane. I ended up in a hole in the corner before the mark, and had to drop the daggerboard. I was overstood for daggerboard sailing and was forced to go low to try to get speed and make up ground. However, the wind filled back in and I was able to finish planing to the mark. The downwind was very marginal and tricky. I was fighting to stay on a plane the whole time and lost a few boards. On the second upwind, I tacked over to to starboard and got a good lift and made up a few boards. I found some good puffs on the downwind and managed to plane the whole way. The finish was set a little far upwind and it wasn’t possible to plane all the way there, but I managed to stay on a plane until the last minute when I dropped the blade down.

The second race didn’t go so well for me. My start was OK, but my acceleration wasn’t where it should have been. I got rolled and had to tack over to course right, where I wanted to be anyway. It was hard to see what side of the course would be favored during this race, and I made the wrong decision. I continued right in clear air with a group of boards. However, the right didn’t pay and we all lost everything on that first beat. Downwind was very challenging as the wind had dropped off even more. The light girls were planing, along with me (but a LOT of pumping!). In retrospect, I should have just gone nonplaning downwind as my angles were too high to get to the leeward mark fast. I lost a lot of ground here, once again. On the second upwind, I went left. Again, I couldn’t tell which side of the course was favored, but there was some pressure coming from that side and I decided to go there. Of course, it didn’t work out once again…and now, frustrated, I made a stupid mistake. I tried to cross on port one of the Polish girls on my team, and fouled her. I dropped my sail in the water (got a jellyfish on the boom too!). I pulled it up and completed a somewhat gimpy penalty turn. She let a few choice words fly in Polish, and off we both went. After rounding the mark and pumping downwind, she was about 50 meters ahead of me on the final reach to the finish. I pumped my butt off and caught her, and she headed me up. She had her daggerboard down, and I didn’t, so I slid into her a little. She stuck her foot out and kicked my board away!! We crossed the line and both went to our coach yelling at him, each other, and pointing fingers. Fortunately we both cooled down and apologized. You know you’re a part of the team when…..!

Today was a good day for lessons, especially about decision-making. During a race, you are constantly making decisions. They can be rational and analytical, intuitive, or (not so good) emotional. To attempt cross and foul someone on port was a decision made out of frustration, an emotional decision. That emotional kind of decision includes kicking someone’s board out of the way! Clearly, it doesn’t pay to get emotionally involved with your perceived finish, or place in the particular race. 95% of this game is indeed mental.

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