The Raceboard sail I designed is on it way to Hong Kong! I am putting it into production for a short run only. Limited numbers only, I am not making extras or holding stock. If you are interested please message me ASAP to go the list.
On Tuesday 14th March 2017 or Wednesday I will be at the production facility and then send a message back to you with your warranty protection details, sail details and of course the price. The more we order the better it will be for everybody.
In your message please tell me if you have any special requirements. For example you might request the following.
1. I want the factory to put my sail numbers and my name on the sail in black and white or in my personal colours.
2. Instead of orange flouro logo etc can I have red highlights as I sail the Exocet RS380 elite board to match the red stern. Or maybe another colour, green.
3. l will pick up from Sydney or Hong Kong myself or I will send my courier to pick up for me.
4.Send me the sail/s to this address. We have good rates with FEDEX worldwide.
5. I need the sail before the Queensland State Titles.
6. I need the sail now before the European seasons starts to start training.
7. I want a sail mast combo deal. SLAKE or Gun Select 550 SDM.
8. Any other request, please ask
kindest regards Justin Lord
please share this post with your RB friends. You will be able to share shipping cost if a bunch of mates nominate one shipping address.
Differences from V3 to V4
1. batten added (influenced from the demon sail to give more wind range),
2. boom cutout lowered (i am over 6ft and a little heavy for RB, this will suits majority of sailors),
3. seam shaped reduced and move forward (only slightly as V3 was very good in this regard)
4. shaping into pocket, added luff found, luff pocket narrower, less mast rake (end plate effect is easier to achieve),
5. materials revised (higher quality - longer lasting).
6. tack design revised (lowered for easier to achieve end plate effect)
7. Boom shorter and mast longer.
Raceboard Worlds 2016: A Sailor’s Preparation and Regatta.
Firstly I would like to give thanks to Team NSW. There is a great community of Raceboarders here in NSW that are fun to hang out with. Richie and Lissa (the bosses) travelled the world for years prior convincing the World Raceboard community that Australia can host this important regatta. I reckon they must have had confidence knowing that their friends back in Dobroyd are talented and diverse group that can get the job done. I was really touched at The Worlds to see people giving up their week to volunteer; many sailors had official jobs before and after sailing. One cool thing in particular I thought was seeing Richie and Lissa teaching novice windsurfers at DAC selflessly and then coming to the race with the main fleet. These warm up races prior to the worlds was super important in preparing for the worlds. This caring attitude goes all the way through the NSW Raceboard scene.
Making the decision to sail Raceboard
James Grunfelder and Reece Herbert and other guys were saying to me last summer, ‘get back into RB for the worlds’. I was cautious because I know how physical the class is and my weight was in the 90 kilo range. Around 70 kilo is a competitive range. Later, I attended the NSW Association meeting at the Oaks pub (April?) and listened to Greg McInnes talk about the RB worlds. The seed was planted in my brain, I thought to myself, ‘It’s a world championship in Australia!!’ So I gave it some serious thought. I saw they have heavyweight class. Sailing with my own designed sail was a big incentive. I have been importing and reselling windsurf brands which has been super fun, but a lot work. I always thought it would be better to have my own brand. I had previously made Moth sails and with a background in Architecture a sail brand is the obvious choice for me. In Architecture visualization skills are essential and I thought that with the same computer software I was half way. In the Raceboard class prototypes are allowed. Making my own sail was the clincher for me in deciding to take up RB.
I started dieting before the Green Island Slalom Nationals. At that regatta I was about 89 kilo. Sometime after that my wife organised a doctor, and blood and stool samples were taken (arh too much information). A tailored diet with supplements with my naturopath wife chipping in was prepared. I also did gym work with on water sailing. My Gym program was 10 min of bike, stretching, running (12.5min varying to 30min), resistance – weight lifting, and swimming (500m). This I did most days first thing in the morning after a 12hour fast. I would vary things, sometimes interval and sometimes aerobic, or upper body one day, lower the next for the weights. On the 9th Nov I weighted in 81.7kg, my lowest weigh in for years. Technically at this weight I could have registered as a lightweight! However leading into the regatta to reduce stress I eased up on the dieting and exercise and gained weight.
In this regatta the first 4 finishes were lightweights. It always seems to favour lightweight sailors even though we had some good winds. Many lightweight sailors have been through the Olympic sailing system so their intensity and condition was at another level. While I could have worked harder on diet and exercise, at the end of the day I am satisfied with my efforts.
My main strategy was to develop gear to have good boatspeed. I choose the Exocet because I liked the rail shape and uncomplicated deck. 90% of the fleet sail the Phantom so it’s a chance to have a edge over the majority (if it is actually better). I spoke to Rob Scaroff a lot before buying and he told me the Exocet is flying upwind. In the end after weighing up all the factors at that time, I go for it. The board arrives in June with about 5 and half months to go.
I had plans to develop centreboards, fins and sails, however the sail turned out to be a big job, so I dropped the fin and centreboard due to lack of time. I had heard some skiff sailors were trying humpback whale irregular leading edge fins; exciting concepts that unfortunately will have to wait.
My first sail has many innovative design features, leading my mate Arnie Shields to nickname it ‘Robo-Sail’. The sail takes about 1 month to make and ends up as a bit of a disaster! I used Dimension Polyant Q-Bond Tape and 3M tape instead of sewing so that it would be lighter and not crimp at the seams. I did a carbon head cap, and left the batten pockets opened at the trailing edge and varied to twist with twine. The main issue was the luff round was way too much. I felt like it was a complete waste of time. I started doubting myself and I considered buying a Loft Sail, until my wife quickly got me back on track. This first sail became an important reference point for the following two sails.
For my next sail, I wanted to make something more conventional to get the basics right. It was, however, still a bit of guess work, and my heart sank when I first rigged it at the first interclub regatta at Illawarra. It looked too deep, too draft aft and too flat at the luff. I still went racing with it despite these flaws, and as the day went on I found it to be super fast. The winds were light and I found that the sail didn’t have a huge wind range. Its shape I later learned was similar to the current demon sail brand, which I saw months later at the regatta.
The third sail I made would have to be the regatta sail, as I only had time to make one more sail before the worlds. Making it took a long time on the laptop, as I was far more meticulous with my designs. I took the advantages from my previous sails and evened out the numbers. It turned out pretty good, and after tuning the cams and battens I was ready for the Championship.
I was often asked, ‘How do think you will go?’ For a bit of gamesmanship and to avoid putting pressure on myself, I said ‘To finish in the time limit’, and to justify my answer I stated Ivan Pastor’s 2nd place in the medal race at Rio. Truthfully, I wanted to be on the podium, if only in my weight or age group. Training for the regatta with Lea and all the guys had been great. I love that period before a regatta when dreaming of a good result, however a dose of reality was coming!
In the practice race I got rolled off the start line by one of the CZE guys, not sure which one, they look identical and coincidently have the same last name. I also got rolled by a bunch of sailors downwind! I was going to have to change a lot of things in my sailing style before the start of the regatta in two days.
In Race One I sailed different angles and with new pumping vigor, I started out in a better position, but then disaster in following the guys in front sail the wrong course, I finished windward of the finish line!! By the time I had realised and corrected my mistake, I had recorded my worst result.
My next bad result was the final race on Day 2. The wind rose to 17 knots, however I failed to adapt and change gears to get the board going. I really needed to flatten my gear more so in that race.
Before Day 3 started, I had some serious words with myself! Ha Ha. I told myself that I would have to risk injury or fatigue on this day to stay in touch. Previously, I had been showing great speed but mucking it up one way or the other. I needed to finish up there or the points would get away from me. On the last race on Day 3, I led to the first mark and on the final downwind I overtook Antonio to finish 4th. A great result and everyone was super stoked for me. I was starting to turn my results around and was feeling confident for a strong finish.
Day 4 was my disaster day. I think this was my 8th world championship (including Moths), and I have never fell in so much in a world championship. No races went well on this day.
On Day 5, James was 20 points in front of me in 11th position, so I conceded that battle. I was watching the boards behind me and tactically keeping in the same wind while letting my speed keep me in front. Although I started in the second row in the last race, somehow I managed to hang onto 12th place. 4th Aussie, 4th age group and 6th heavy weight.
Ultimately, it was an exceptional regatta for everybody. The fact that it was probably my last major championship leaves me feeling a little flat because it was such a positive experience. I am now focusing on the next sail design based on what I have learnt in Brisbane. Hopefully production is a real possibility soon and a new sail brand LORD RACING will be born.
Post regatta, there has been talk of a new Raceboard hull possibly crowd-funded by the sailors. There is a need for a 14kg (class weight limit) durable board. That would be 20 to 30% lighter than our current options, a big potential advantage!
I am keen for the Raceboard, as a development class, to jump up another gear. Techniques are changing within the class; the boards are being sailed like a Formula or RSX board, in about 20 knots. This planing style of sailing will happen earlier as the gear improves. If this did happen would my beloved Formula class lose relevance? I think the formula class will take on light winds with foils and increase the range of use. If the Formula class solves light winds, will the Raceboard lose relevance? I think there is room for both as they seem to suit different body shapes. I enjoy sailing both.
Good winds, stay salty
The Island to Island marathon or the Peter Loft Marathon is something I have been interested in a long time. I remember Brendan Todd on a Lechner winning the Island to Island Marathon which was run by Bill Joselin back in the day, and I remember seeing windsurf stars like Scotty OConnor there.
The Peter Loft Marathon starts from BYRA (Bayview Yacht Racing Association) on the Southern shore of Pittwater. The mark is Lion Island rounding to port which is the half way point and back to finish at the club where you ring a bell and yell out your sail number to finish. The first part of the race is a foot race from the grass to your boat / windsurfer in the water. It is held on the first Sunday of May and the start time is 12 noon.
The forecast was for 15 to 20 knots North to North-West. Great forecast for wind this time of year, April- May is typically light winds. However I was not to encourage by the wind direction as the westerly doesn’t really get into most parts of Pittwater. I was hoping to borrow one of Dave Bell’s Mistral One Design Long boards. But for whatever reason I left it too late to drive around to get it. I also misread a text from Rob Scaroff who had an Exocet race board to lend me. I rang Sean Dayhew who has probably windsurfed these waters more than anybody in recent years. He gave an encouraging report which gave me hope that I could use my Formula Board! On race day Dean Seal got there early and rang me and said, “mate the wind is coming straight down the harbour strong, get here!!” with that I got in the car and drove as fast as I could right at the speed limit.
When I get there it is light and nor west. I don’t know if Dean has done the old trick! Saying it is awesome wind just to get your mates out of the house! It looks possible foe Formula sailing I am excited and feeling positive and I can see if I link with a gust then I will get going and will be up and away.
I rig a GUN Sails 12m GSR race sail and a put a Kashy 78cm cut down fin into my Patrik Formula 4 air inside. This is cutting edge windsurf gear and I’m really hoping I will plane the whole way around the course to show the sailing community how awesome and relevant windsurfing is.
The start flag goes up and I let out a WOO HOO as I run over the sand flats to my board that is wedge into sand in knee deep water.
Sailing out through the moorings it doesn’t look good for me. The dingys are lifting up and sailing around me. The water is getting chopped up. I see a gust that will get me going, I try to pump onto it but cant get going quick enough and get rolled by two big dingys. I wait for the next gust and this time I get up planning onto a beam reach and start to get out of the moorings. I check my position in the fleet and I am not last but close to it. The leading boats are already at Scotland Island. I am much lower on the course and sailing low to get away from the wind effect of Scotland Island. As soon as I’m in clear wind I quickly catch the leading group but not without a lot of effort. Richie Reynolds is also tracking well on his Raceboard.
By about Sand Point a leading group has broken away from the main field. There is an A-Class Cat, many various Hobies, 16ft Skiff and me. Some of the Catamarans are starting to establish a very nice lead.
Generally the wind is light and I am just planning. It is critical I stay on the plane as a Formula board is dead in the water otherwise. As such sometimes in the lulls I have to bear away to maintain water flow under my board and fin. I also have to look for nice wind to tack so I can pump back up onto the plane in pressure. The 16ft skiff in comparsion was sailing very well in been able to position themselves where they wanted on the course by pinching or footing according to where the wind was. I didn’t have that luxury, if only I had a little more wind then I could have tacked where I wanted and maintained better height. Dean and I had discussed tactics before the race, we wanted to stay roughly two thirds away from the western shore as it was in the lee of the wind and one third away from the eastern shore as the wind was backing up and slowing onto that shore. It wasn’t too bad to be on the eastern shore but the wind angle seemed to be better in the middle. Even knowing this I still kept falling down onto the eastern shore and then getting into even worst situations with moorings. Anyway all things considered I was doing a pretty good job even if I do say myself.
Coming up to Palm Beach Headland I had overtaken some Hobies and the 16ft skiff, going well I was looking forward to getting away from the influence West Head had on the wind and into open water. But the wind dropped and I parked!! I also then manage to get myself too close to the windward side of the Palm Beach headland. I was very disappointed with myself and suddenly started to feel the fatigue. All the work I had done slipped away as I watched the other boats sail away. Then wind came in and quite hard. Out into clear open ocean battling swell from the east and wind chop the nor-west, pretty soon I am hoping the wind doesn’t increase anymore. I decide to tack mainly as I need a rest from port tack. Now I’m heading directly at Lion Island. It’s much easier sailing on Starboard tack and I should get a nice wind bend from Lion Island as a bonus. At this point I notice the cats sailing downwind and how slow they are!! This race is going to be between me and the 16 footer! It is game on. At the bearaway around Lion Island I am just behind the 16 footer and they take the island wide to hoist the spinaker. I take a look, it looks shallow in close to Lion Island and nervously I shoot through and cut the corner and I make it. The wind is howling between the island and the mainland. Is it a narrow band of wind and it takes many gybes to stay in the wind pressure. As I get further away from the land effect I get into the confused swell chop and start to get super tired. I started to lose control in the strong wind and swell and chop and I am flat out battling to keep my 12m out of the water. Struggling I see the 16footer fly away from me. At one point I can barely sheet the sail on and have to stop and grab the mast. I take another glance at the 16, they are sailing deep and still super fast opening up a huge gap. Only minutes before I was racing for first place now I was battling to survive. I use a lull in the wind to get back into the race and regain control. I guess tried too hard by doing too many gybes too quickly. At least I learnt a lesson for next time.
Once I am in the harbour I start sailing the board fast an in control. The A-Class cat capsizes and the hobbies are running with their booms out. Halfway down Pittwater only the 16footer is in front now, even though I am sailing faster they have I huge lead still. I am cramping up in the calf muscles and generally feeling the pain all over. The wind is quite light now about 10 knots but I am charging at least twice as fast as the wind. I see gust in front of me downwind and sail into them, it actually feels great. Sailing the full length of Pittwater with the gear working unreal, this is sailing!!
All of a sudden the 16 footer drops it spinnaker!! maybe a broken halyard, then I see what they are doing. A big gust is compressing against Scotland Island, they where sailing shy up to meet it. Even though I am I long way back I know I will sail up to that gust and though it so its game on again. I was probably as far back as Clareville and have to put the afterburners on, back foot in the outside strap and really hiked out hard!! This new course and gust did take us close to Scotland Islands and would eventually into the island wind shadow, perhaps I should stayed on my original deeper course. We both had two more gybes for the final run into the moorings and bay to finish at the yacht club. I was still behind so I gybed a little earlier to sail a shorter course but in more island wind shadow. I was preparing myself for a big pump session. The 16 sailed further for a little shyer course for the lighter wind. I was lucky and had nice wind and had good pumping rhythm but in the end the 16footer got me by 38 seconds. The 16 footer, sponsored by Fluid, skippered by Matt Stents sailed very well I thought. They sailed their boat perfectly in the rough stuff and the light stuff and their positioning for the wind was excellent. They deserved there win.
At the presentation I did not get a prize. Strange I thought as despite my mistakes I still sailed a great race most of the time and I was using the latest technology in windsurfing has to offer and the boats coming in after me had dying wind, so afterwards we check the results page and Richie Reynolds and I are not listed at all. Richie and I where the two best windsurfers on this day. I wasn’t sure if Formula had a yardstick so I was OK with me not on the list but why was Richie not there?
Anyway they added both of us after checking the finishing records. When they applied the yardstick to me I had won the corrected time by a huge margin so I felt compelled to explain my windsurfer is a development class. My board is hollow, stiff and light, my sail is 12m huge!! Maybe the yardstick is wrong now and needs to be updated? Richie who is a senior class leader and leading racer says in a regal voice a new yardstick number of 88. I was wondering how he figures that but I agree anyway and it still has me winning.
All in all the results left me a bit flat. I really wanted to win and inspire kids and adults to windsurf. I believe windsurfing is very good for people. I have sail on 18 footers, 49ers and Skiff Moths etc. I know both dingys and windsurfers.
I don’t think $5000 or $6000 Optimists is for every kid. And all dingy classes are costly to campaign seriously.
This will be the third Olympics in a row we have not contested the mens windsurfer.
Rather than hundreds of Optimists we should have 20 or 30 Bic Techno windsurfers in every club. We should be in this country embracing windsurfing as the cheapest way to get athletic technical racing.
Im sure the Race Officer simply just missed us but I really think there should be a attitude shift where windsurfing is looked for and promoted and celebrated. This would be the responsible of Yachting Australia to make this mental shift throughout clubs in Australia.
One of the key and unique things about windsurfing is the universal joint that joins the sail to the board. This flexible uni joint separates the forces of the sail to the forces of the board. The Centre of Lateral Resistance is felt through the feet and The Centre of Effort is felt through the hands. This actually gives you a greater understanding of what is going on and ultimately makes you a better sailor. Every sailor should windsurf.
At the very least I had a fantastic competitive race with great tactics and strategies which I enjoyed immensely. A big thank you to BYRA for a great event.
Before this championship I decide to deal with pre race nerves / anxiety or whatever it’s called by consulting Dr. Google. The internet taught me to be careful of, releasing stress hormones into your system as they can be toxic for the brain making for cloudy thinking! Wow, better not get stressed. I had notice I have always started regattas badly even when I was younger racing Moths around the world.
So with my new awareness of stress I started the 3 hr drive down south to Huskinson. During the trip I developed a bad headache down one side of my brain and then pulled up to the Petrol Station and proceeded to put unleaded in my diesel van! So yes I have learnt nothing about controlling stress!!!
We had a great forecast for this regatta, plenty of wind. Saturday we started racing with 11m sails.
This regatta I am using the board that Steve Allen used to win the Australian Titles, The Patrik Formula 4, which takes the formula class to a new level of performance. It is an all new construction produced in Patriks own new Hollow Board factory. Before the regatta I practiced a little to try to get a feel for the Formula 4, it felt very reactive and lively.
I put the mast track all the way forward to settle it down and I use my 70cm Kashy with the Loft 11m. The wind was medium strong and the chop was building but it was manageable.
There are a few things different about this new technology / construction. There is a decompression system which I followed no problem. But I didn’t know to reverse the universal nut in the mast track. As a consequence I was floundering before the first start trying to get it all sorted. I managed to put sunscreen from my legs onto the deck which made it slippery, damn it. My uni popped out of the track, double damn it and as a consequence I didn’t position myself correctly for the start or get going soon enough. So pre race nerves or teething problems, I don’t know. Anyway I brushed myself off and tacked onto port to cross the start line as I wasn’t laying the pin end. I was pretty much in last place over the start line but recovered to finish 5th so in a way I was kind of encourage by that result all things considered.
We had beautiful sailing conditions. I powered up the first work to round the first mark just behind Leo Sharpe. Brett Morris just missed laying the first buoy and had to double tack to get round. This was crucial in points as he finished fourth in this race. Leo was first and I was second.
Conditions had worsened! The chop had built up. Bearing away around the top mark I got catapulted and launched into the air big time. Flying through the air I hear WHACK!! The mast on the board! Oh shit I think as I have quite a long swim back. Inspecting the board luckily I only find a mark on the paint! I am still in it but this has really shaken me up. I sail downwind sheeted out and just cruise. I get another fifth.
Back at the beach I realized my placing of 5,2,5 isn’t going to give me a victory here at the State Titles. After my second place in the Australian Title I did feel I was in contention but sometimes it doesn’t go your way.
I change down to my 9.5m GSR Gun Sail. I have a pretty good start and head out on Starboard, I am the only lonesome sailor to go to the left side. Conditions are pretty wild now and I don’t want to break anything. I can’t look around at all, I am focus on the chop ahead and avoiding the super big steep ones. I get to the first mark; Brett goes around and loves the challenging conditions. Next are Leo and then me. I can’t find anybody else!! I am a little worried the conditions are worsening. I am looking for broken masts but can’t see anything and I have to worry about myself. The other guys actually turned back up the first work probably a wise move. I decided to limp around in last place and get an easy third and this was an excellent decision for me to get the points as it turned out in the end.
We had a fun night at the Husky Pub. The pub is now very upmarket compared to how it used to be. The Raceboards guys were also competing at this regatta. Over the course of the weekend about 6 or so Raceboard guys took the time to explain to me passionately the virtues of Raceboard sailing! :-) That night I stayed with Rick, Kay and Murray and they all made me feel so welcome. Breakfast in the Café was enjoyable but I did notice one of the Raceboard guys there with a smart watch!! My brain couldn’t comprehend how a Raceboard sailor could wear a modern progressive watch like that! My headache was coming back. LOL
Jokes aside the Raceboard and Formula guys are cut from the same cloth and many sail both classes.
Day 2 – Heat 5
The wind had changed direction and was quite strong in the morning however the sea state was much flatter and much easier. I can’t explain my mindset but it was like this, I can’t win the regatta and I’m very tired so I’ll go my smallest sail and fin and take it easy and just enjoy the day. WTF! Before racing I go out with my 9.5m and 67cm Kashy it feels nice and I’m zooming around. As it gets closer to the start time the wind is dropping and the other guys are rigging 11m and 11.5m sails so I man up and rig my 11m Loft sail. Brett starts just to weather of me and I seem to be a little quicker but I have to push really gently on my small fin. I try to foot and keep the speed on my small fin. By the first bottom mark I have opened up a good lead. I tack early and head out to sea, (which Leo said later, ‘you just gifted it to me’). I stuck with it until I reach a wind line and then tacked back. It felt like I sailed a knock out and a knock back. Brett went from third to first as he was most right on the course and Leo overtook me as well. By the top mark I managed to re pass Leo. Brett took off downwind but didn’t observe the middle mark! I wasn’t sure what was going on, did I miss briefing? I was confused, did they lay it for the raceboards only. I went around the mark just in case. Brett actually made a mistake and so retired from the race. So it was me first and Leo second.
The wind was dropping more. At one stage it was quite light. Maybe we can get on the road early. Then some wind came after lunch and it was back on. I now had my 12m and 78cm cut down Kashy fin. I won the race by a huge margin in about 20min and Leo next was about 25min and the race committee remarked they wanted to drug test me! It was a nice compliment. The Patrik Formula 4 is about 10% lighter or in reality 20% than the other boards. I had full power the whole time and getting back on the plane out of tacks and gybes was easy I found.
Brett had some gear failure on the beach and missed this heat. Brett now needed another heat to drop his two DNFs. I for some reason thought Brett was in a battle with Leo for the title. It never occurred to me I need another heat to drop my two 5ths. Brett has 1,1,1, 4, DNF and I have 1, 1, 2, 3, 5.
I went into the race blissfully unaware that if I win I will be unbeatable on points. With zero stress I was very confident of winning the heat after my last race and I was just starting to feel comfortable with the power of the Formula 4 under my feet. I still had my big fin and big sail on and the wind was much stronger now. I did have extreme height options with the excess power and tactically this came in handy squeezing people out. I won the race and Brett was second. After drops Brett finishes the regatta with scores of 1, 1, 1, 2, 4 and I had 1, 1, 1, 2, 3 just one point separated us. I had won the NSW State Championship by a very narrow margin. I only fully realized this as they were calling the names out.
Win or lose I had a great weekend sailing with all the guys. Thanks to all the competitors for the super hard and exciting, tactical and technical and physical racing and to the organisers for a fair and proper regatta.
Overall I have had a great sailing season using the Patrik V2, V3 and now the Patrik Formula 4. There are no bad Patrik boards. I feel truely in my heart this new Formula 4 is something really special and I am really excited to see how it goes in the future events with Steve Allen to me and all the other Patrik riders.
PS If you are considering getting this board make sure your fin maker uses the official Tuttle design drawings (see below). I think some fin makers are making bigger than Deep tuttle. Contact me for more fin info.
Check out Lara O'Brien pumping technique. As Tom Ashley says, "the power comes from the legs
Read about my mistakes and use this recount as a Formula Racing training tool
I am still pinching myself! Second for myself in the Downunder PRO!! Patrik Boards first and second! It could not have gone any better for me. Following is a technical account of the racing as it happen or as I remember it for me, I may get heats mixed up but the critical moments I remember. 2000 or more words of technical issues like gear selection and tuning fins, battens and cam spacers and race tactics and regatta strategy and boat handling (or lack of board handling) Ha Ha
Pre regatta Tuning
Cam Spacers - This year the regatta is held on the huge Botany Bay near Sydney Airport which has relatively steady wind. They tend to build airports where the wind is consistent. Botany Bay is big enough to sail all the way to the laylines. Tactically racers would only do one, two tacks and gybes each leg. So given that I like to add maximum spacers to induce more shape and have a more stable rigid wing feel and the expense of easy rotation for transitions.
Battens – A couple of nights before the regatta I decided to make new battens for my Gun GSR 12m. You find that your biggest sail is the most important. I used vinyl ester tips and stiff carbon tubes to give a locked knuckly shape. This was a mistake in hindsight! In the light wind I lost a bit of back hand pressure and so didn’t have the height upwind that I was familiar with before the change. However later in the regatta when it was 20 knots it was showing good height.
Gun Sails are a little different to other brands. They have less luff round which makes it easy to downhaul by hand without a rig winch which means less stress on the mast and mast extension. Popping the cams on before the boom is easily done. Putting the boom on at the boom cutout is also easy as the luff pocket is not drum tight! (Super quick rigging is important in formula class). To keep the desired shape they use more seam shape with heavy duty battens with short tapers. Everything seems to work effortlessly.
On the synoptic chart there is not any real great pressure around from what I can tell. There are troughs lines everywhere and little squiggles here and there. I couldn’t really make sense of it! In the end I tell myself I am going to have to see real strong wind on the water to use anything but the 12m Gun GSR.
Heat 1 – Abandon
This race will be my favourite memory of this regatta. Unfortunately most sailors in fact could not get off the line due to the very light winds!! I was making a pretty good go of it in 5th place. Steve Allen was not far away from lapping me showing incredible skills!! In front of me was my training partner Dave Howe, Tibor and Lara O’Brien. I was so please to see Lara (one of the youngest) and Tibor (the oldest) showing us all up. I have learnt a lot from Tibor’s experience; he has great touch and feel in light winds. He and I share similar windsurf philosophies you could say. Tibor is in his 70s this is remarkable! Lara is a RSX sailor so she knows light wind technique and intensity. Lara used her tiny 8.5m RSX sail!!! When she sailed past me she gave a friendly smile. After the race she never boasted or anything like that she just brought friendly good vibes to the event.
Heat 1 resail
Steve Allen wins by an impressive margin using a 12.5m and the new PATRIK Formula 4 board. Brett takes second and I am third. Very light conditions but we plane around the whole course this time. This race is when I notice my usual good height is not there now. Brett did it easy over me and I am thinking, typically he is very strong in windier weather and now light as well. This is going to be a hard battle with Brett.
Just enough wind again. Steve Allen is super quick again and leads start to finish. I have an intense battle with Rick Murray for second. Picking laylines from a long way out is harder than it seems, we both gybe a little early coming to the finish. I get second after some double gybes, Rick gets third which pushes Brett back to forth. This lifts my spirits as now I am in 2nd place overall with 5 points one point in front of Brett. Confidence is coming back, a little.
The race committee need to get three races so that there is a result for the regatta. So we push on for a third race in light winds, probably 7 to 12 knots the whole day. I always tell my guys, take care of the light winds first in terms of setup and technique. Light wind racing is so common. Patrik Diethelm knows this and design the Formula 4 fairly flat and wide, getting planning a second or two earlier than the next guy can translate into 50 or 150 metres over the race. And you don’t have to bear away as much boards with lots of nose rocker.
At the start Sean O’Brien, Steve Allen and myself power off the line. I am to leeward of these two. I keep looking over my shoulder and I am keeping pace with them. We all tack together at the lay line. Steve Allen tacks amazing and is back up planning in an instant and goes on to win the race comfortably. Sean and I are together and this time I am the windward board so I have a clear view of Sean. I can see Sean is underpowered and struggling for height and on the downwind leg Sean is struggling to get down, (reminded me of my Ledge to Lancelin race). I learnt later Sean biggest sail is 10.5m and Sean is a big guy. Steve and I have effectively up to 2m more sail!! It is like Steve and I have set spinnakers on the downwind. It just physics there is nothing Sean can really do.
Brett is closing in, he moves into 3rd place now. On the second upwind I get out of the harness and do a long pump session to the next wind line. With this I secure second. I know there is no time left in the day to run another race so I am OK in depleting my energy stores.
At the end of the day I have 3,2,2 and Brett has 2,4,3. It is going to be a good battle for Brett and I. Steve is definitely going to win the regatta. J
Heat 4 Abandon
Very light conditions, Steve and I charge at the pin end of the line. Leo Sharpe comes in on port tack. I am in two minds as to wave Leo over in front of me however he is slowing up. I somehow lose my rhythm and also fall off the plane. Steve is the only sailor planning and starts footing to the left side of the course to meet the new wind. I see a small gust approaching the pin end mark. I have slog up and get around the mark and bear away to start planning before the gust disappears. I just make and just get planning and start footing to the new wind as well. This was super critical. Steve tacks first in to the gust and I go a bit deeper into the new wind to make sure I have truly got into the pressure. We stay high overlaying the mark to keep in the pressure and then bear away when we are sure to make the mark with pressure. We round the mark and take off downwind. Steve and I have a huge lead, I mean a huge lead!! It feels really good, two Patrik boards out in front. I am riding the Patrik V2 which is a fantastic early planning board, very wide in the aft section.
The race is abandon for lighting strikes. We pack up and put our cars under cover at the club.
No racing on this day. Despite the hard work put in by the race committee.
Very poor forecast of pretty much no wind predicted. The officials are talking about organising the trophies and the prize giving! The Race Officer has not bothered to set a course or even leave the clubhouse!! But then the wind comes and its action stations!
It is South wind. There is not much fetch and so I think it is a flat fast track. So I take my middle fin as I anticipate I will be moving through the water quicker today. This was my first mistake. It was actually quite choppy and a short sharp chop. Nothing really bad, but we were not really going super quick. I like push hard on the fin to get height and generate pressure but you can only do when using a smaller fin if you are going quickly. In the end I had spin out and my height was not good.
My second mistake was having the wrong regatta strategy. I started off the day focusing on Rick and Brett who were close to me on points. This strategy I reckon you do in the last third of the regatta. The fact is we had only completed 3 official races up till now and on this day they were hoping to run 5 races. So we were not even at the halfway point of the regatta.
The first two races sailed I persisted with the wrong fin. On one leg I tacked 5 times attempting a loose cover on two sailors, which is very bad tactics for formula style racing (formula are fast and tack slow like a catamaran). Needless to say these two races ended up been my drops.
Fast forward to Heat 6
I have the right fin I have great height which gives me good tactical options now. I can squeeze sailors out upwind, which I do right from the start. I have a great race with Leo Sharpe but he rolls me downwind. Leo is a legend and he is the reason Steve Allen is the sailor he is today. They grew up together as training partners. Leo has the right amount of animal in him where as I am a bit timid, animal is needed, especially downwind. If Leo gets time on the water then look out!! He is coming J Leo takes second place.
This was my best race. This was in about 18 to 22 knots of wind according to BOM wind observations. I am still using the 12m sail. I get to the first mark first ahead of Steve Allen. Downwind I have no steering and control, it is windy now. Steve takes me as we gybe. Sean on his 10.5m and is now loving it and Brett also still on 12m sail. On the last upwind Sean and Brett are footing and moving quickly I am hanging in there. We all tack on the lay line. I decide to pinch to keep some height in the bank and Brett and Sean foot. As we approach the mark we get knocked and I am the only one laying the mark. Sean and Brett have to double tack. But I know Sean is close and will come down fast. I am hanging on to the 12m for dear life. I am constantly looking at Sean and looking at how far we have to sail. His is catching me quick!!! Every now and then I put on the afterburners for as long as I can hold and then look back and reassess, I time it perfect and just finish the race in front of Sean. Very happy with that second placing and to be briefly in front of Steve was a high light.
I run up the beach and rig the 11m for the last race and the sail looks beautiful. For sure it will be better going with a smaller sail. I dare to dream, can I hold out Steve Allen for longer with a 11m?? I ask myself. But then the flags are raised to end the regatta!! Another storm is approaching!!
In the end I had a fantastic regatta. Real fast paced chess on the water. I had super battles with Rick and Brett and I am looking forward to more with these two champs.
I also had a fun race with Sam Parker, I was with him downwind in one race until he gybed his board like it was a slalom board, wow!! Hopefully Sam and many others who have retired can come back but I understand fully the time commitments required for formula and we all have other duties in life.
Hopefully some new guys can come into the class. My advice for any boding starting is to start now with procurement of gear. Don’t be trying to use 2017 gear at the 2017 Downunder Pro. Team riders are obligated to do this and as such where caught out with supply. Getting gear is actually hard. You don’t want to have the shiniest newest gear. You want to have gear you have spent a year on.
2017 Downunder Pro starts now!!