Monday, March 22, 2010

Mars Attacks! Day 1 of the Formula World Championship on Lake Potrerillos, Argentina

The past two days were an assault on sailors and equipment. The weather unexpectedly turned unstable, bringing lengthy periods of clouds and sun. Inevitably, the crazed wind was all over the place.

Yesterday, before the regatta started, it blew 30 knots, and those few who braved the wind returned to the beach with broken battens, holed boards, or a good story. Most sailors stayed on the beach and worked on their equipment. We all hoped the conditions would be back to normal for the racing.

the beach where the sailors launch

The first day of racing, everyone got organized with a skippers meeting and dragged their gear down to the beach. Rigging is difficult at this venue, because the dirt chokes everything and spots on the Astroturf are hard to get. We waited for the glassy conditions to change, and soon enough, they did. We all rigged our biggest sails, and the men headed out on the water. Unfortunately, in the next five minutes, the wind went from 12-15 knots to 25 knots, and the men got slammed left and right on their 12.0 sails. Soon, an exodus from the water onto the land began, and the guys frantically re-rigged in the dust storm. I went from my 10.7 to rigging a 9.8, and then had to race around derigging the 10.7 and rigging the 9.0. This took so long I was late for the start, but made it with 3 minutes to go.

Astroturf staging area

My first upwind was stellar. I had tuned the gear perfectly, was going really fast, and rounded in second behind Marta. However, on the downwind, the wind began to die. I was exhausted from speed-rigging three sails and inhaling dust, and dropped the sail on my second jibe. After that, it was a struggle to plane around the final lap, but I finished third.

I rigged the 9.8 again for the second race, but as soon as I left the beach (and I was late again for the start from the rigging time and dashing back and forth to the tent) the downhaul line broke and I had to return to the beach after the start.

After all this, I had to de-rig the three sails and drag everything back up the hill. I was really worn out from the rigging rather than the racing, and hadn't eaten anything for being short on time. The dirt had blown everywhere; all the competitors' equipment was coated and our ears, eyes, noses, hair and lungs were completely full of dust. It was probably the most challenging day of my windsurfing career, and I only sailed one race. I rigged and de-rigged five times, sailed in 25 knots and 8 knots within a half hour, and ran intervals up and down a gravel hill in a dust storm. Hopefully tomorrow will bring more reasonable conditions and better gear organization on my part.

not Lake Potrerillos but just saying...

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