Saturday, June 19, 2010

Kiel Week 2010

Kiel Week is truly an epic event. It combines the best of all sailing into week-long demonstrations and regattas, and in downtown Kiel there is dry-land festival that can get pretty rowdy. On the water, in addition to all the Olympic-class action, tall ships cruise the harbor, cargo ships motor in and out, the occasional military boat comes through, pleasure boats abound, and the star of the show is a giant hydrofoil trimaran called L’Hydroptere, which was created by a bunch of crazy Frenchmen and recently broke the sailing speed record (51 knots). It’s pretty eye-opening when the massive trimaran accelerates, lifts up, and speeds through all the harbor traffic. There has been plenty of action in the harbor all week, and the first day of racing was fast and furious.

Today, for the start of Kiel Week, we were hit with the most classic weather this venue is famous for. Clouds and rain showers rolled through most of the day and the offshore wind started around 12-15 knots in the morning and built to 20 knots by the end of the day. The boards have a challenging course 2 miles from the venue, which is near a point of land that causes massive wind shifts. In the middle of the course, which is the closest to the point, the wind can be light and fluky with the occasional big puff coming down, and big shifts. Puffs can drop in full strength or can just barely come down to the surface, meaning the pressure is really inconsistent and I’m constantly adjusting technique and trim to stay on a plane or to work a big gust. The most challenging aspect of the venue, however, is the crazy chop that has no pattern whatsoever. The chop is largely a function of the boat traffic on the course, with a smaller current / wind influence. Huge wooden ships cruise right through the middle of the course; spectator, press, and coach boats are also an influence. It is tough to maintain speed in these conditions. It is also very cold: today the high was in the low 50s and rainy.

After about an hour and a half delay (waiting in the chilly rain) the committee called us out to the course. The efficient committee ran four fleets of boards on one course and we knocked out three races with no further delay. I was a little jittery coming into the day, and had some issues with where to put my backpack as the wind and chop made it really difficult to hand anything to the race committee (Sailors without coaches must put water and food in a backpack and bring it out to the course). However, I settled in and raced the best I could, and ended the day with three 11th places in the 17-boat fleet. I have some difficulty with speed when there is crazy chop, which is something I am working on.

My teammates Ben Barger, Bob Willis, and Solvig Sayre are also racing, so it makes four Americans at one regatta…unusual! It will be a good experience for all of us. Check out results here.


  1. GO FARRAH - Team San Francisco is cheering you on.

  2. Hey Farra,
    11th three of three sounds good.
    Four US @ a Euro race is also a big improvement for US Oly Windsurfing.
    I have been on Tortola BVI for bout 8 moons now.
    Will anybody be @ the PR Carib race?


  3. Hi Brian,

    I was trying to get to the PR event, but only if they comped my expenses! It doesn't fit into the old schedule / budget too well. I'm not sure who will be at the event, but for attracting attention to their team's development, I hope there is a pretty good turnout!