Saturday, March 27, 2010
Formula Worlds Day 5: Podium Finish Secure
Lake Potrerillos is a pretty cool place to sail. Every day, the wind fills in around the same time, but in a slightly different way. Today, the wind was shiftier than normal and sometimes port tack was favored more from the starting line.
Although there are big shifts, there is a pattern to the lake and after five days of regatta, I've got it figured out. Since the gusts come down from the center of the course and fan out over the lake, the edges of the course are lifted. The left side of the course is much windier than the right, so it pays to stay as left as possible, even making an extra tack or two. At the top left side of the course, a rocky outcrop creates two big lifts on each tack. Therefore, you can sail right underneath it and be lifted on starboard tack, and after you tack and reach the other side of the outcrop, you get lifted on port tack. This is pretty helpful when the wind is light and gusty, because it gets you up to the top of the course where the gusts are stronger. After the big port lift, you get headed again in the middle but it's enough to get you to the windward mark again, where there will be another lift. There is always the potential to get screwed near the cliffs at the top of the course, but there are usually enough gusts to get you around the mark. Lakes are definitely interesting. In some ways this venue reminds me of racing at the Event Site in Hood River, Oregon, where the wind also fills in a certain way and there are patterns to how you race there.
I sailed a couple of good races today. I'm noticeably slower than the top two girls and comparable with the fourth-place girl, but if I sail a smart race, I can maintain the third position. This means I have to start a certain way and stay in the clear air so I can get up to the top of the course faster. Maintaining angle is most important for me, as a distance of just 20 meters lower on the course can put me in a less windy spot on the lake.
Tomorrow we will sail only one race, with awards to follow. I'm firmly in third place now, and it will be my first real championship on the podium. I'm really excited about my finishes, and also about how much I learned this regatta. I have a long way to go to. Become really fast, but I've greatly expanded my concept of Formula Windsurfing.