You can always tell when a major event is about to happen in your home waters - people you don't know start showing up to go sailing on your pond! Such is the case for the two Worlds events in San Francisco this Summer, with just 3 weeks to go to the 4.7 Worlds and 4 weeks to go to the Master Worlds. This July 4th weekend saw up to 15 boats on the water at any one time, with almost a continuous stream of boats in and out of the harbor all day long.
This weekend saw the "good San Francisco" with little to no fog, relatively gentle breeze in the early part of the day building to upper teens by windsurfing hour (formerly cocktail hour, but around 4:00 pm). I managed to get out on the water 4 of the last 5 days and had some great practice sessions with some really really good sailors, like Russ Silvestri and, importantly, Scott Ferguson. Scott recently moved to the Bay Area just for THE regatta (ok, not THE regatta to me, but THE regatta to the rest of the world - ie the America's Cup). As Ed Adams told me in San Diego last month - Scott is pretty darn fast and when you couple that with his uncanny ability to never miss a wind shift its a pretty deadly combination. At least I know where the very tippy top of the curve is.
For my part it is the same old story... hang tough on the upwind, not quite up to speed on the downwind. I would not be too worried if the Master Worlds were on a flood... but, sadly, we're mostly on an ebb tide and at least the first half of the regatta will be a downwind speed guru's dream. If the wind will only stay steady above 20 knots then I think I'm in there, but San Francisco is not always quite as windy as the reputation and its the "light" spots that crush me.
Ok, the other big one is that the top sailors in the "Standard Masters" - and the list is long here with, besides Scott, (in order of country) Bretty Beyer, Al Clark, Andy Roy, Ari Barshi, Arnoud Hummel, Charlie Buckingham (the older one), Russ Silvestri (yeah, the Olympic guy), Villie Roberts and Vann Wilson - are all rocket ships on the run. And those are just the sailors I KNOW, there must be an equal number I don't know! At the end I still believe Brett Beyer is the gold standard here, he's won something like 8 of 10 tries in the Apprentice division. Anyway, I'm thinking this regatta is going to be won by the fastest downwind speedster.
So... how to get faster downwind in only 4 weeks? Number one on the list is to go from 210 lbs (Etchells weight!) to something like 195. Ok, well, this could be a problem... Number two on the list, sail on ebb tide as much as possible. Hmmmm.... next week is ebb phase but I have to spend 4 days in Santa Cruz for work - from around 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Ok, the trick in the next four weeks is to figure out how to get as much quality downwind time on the water as possible.