19th of July 2010

Schurmann Dominates CalCup Number 5

If you could call up a Formula Windsurfing racing restaurant and order up racing conditions for delivery you would order just what was delivered to this Saturday’s July 17th Cal Cup.

First you’d ask for 18-22mph warm and steady winds. Then you’d want a polished Race Committee sending you off on a perfectly set course alongside a deep and talented international field of competitors. Then afterwards you’d want cold beer and hot pizza. Well that’s exactly what went down at this last Cal Cup in Berkeley and racing along with some of the top Kiteboarders in the country was thrown in as a bonus.

2010 Formula Lightweight World Champion Wilhelm Schurmann (BRA-999), Top French Formula Racer Aurelien Le Metayer (FRA-105), and Spanish Formula Champion Fernando Martinez (ESP-71) were all in town for the upcoming 2010 Starboard Severne US Windsurfing National Championships and were on hand to tune and test with the local Cal Cup fleet this past Saturday at the infamous Berkeley Pebble Carpet. As the fleet readies for the 2010 Starboard Severne US National Championships and Formula North Americans to start this Tuesday July 20th everyone looking a little nervous in the parking lot with such high caliber talent on hand and the nerves were on full display in race 1.

As the gun sounded the three visiting sailors were immediately on their game and burst away from the line in a pack clearly distancing themselves from the field. Schurmann was out in front right from the start with Le Metayer and Martinez close behind. With Kiteboarders Johnny Heineken, Andrew Koch, and Kevin Richards on hand it was going to be interesting to finally put to rest the question of who was faster around the course. With Johnny being one of the top Kiteboarder racers in the country (4th at the 2010 Worlds) and Schurmann a Formula racer of the same caliber it was high noon for the kiteboards. And to end the suspense now todays results proved it’s unequivocal that the Formula boards are faster. Schurmann was sailing his 10.7 Neil Pryde Starboard Kit while Heineken was sailing his 9.0 RRD Mikes Lab set up. Most of the other windsurfers were sailing 10 meter sails with a few other 10.7’s in the field. Notably however was Steve Sylvester (S3) who rigged 9.0 for the day but was making it work flawlessly with the efficiency he is famous for. Despite sailing a solid race Heineken was just rounding the leeward mark as the top three Formula boards were crossing the finish line. A result that would closely repeat itself across all five races held on the day. The top three race 1 finishers were Schurmann, Martinez and Sylvester in that order with Le Metayer right behind. Le Metayer unfortunately took the leeward mark to starboard resulting in a DSQ; a mistake he would not repeat.

On the Kiting end of things the only one going faster than Schurmann downwind was Heineken. Having taken down the last CalCup the fleet was looking to seek a little retribution and today they would deliver it. Heineken’s day was like a see-saw; picking up spots on the downwind legs only to give them back on the upwind. None of the kites ever threatened the leaders and most races saw Heineken finishing just inside the top 10 overall.

Race two got underway with the visitors showing they were in fact mortals. Both Schurmann and Martinez under-stood the first weather mark giving just enough room for Xavier Ferlet (GBR-451), Al Mirel (USA-882), and Steve Sylvester to pass them at the windward mark. Schurmann however was simply too fast downwind and left everyone in the dust taking the lead back by the leeward mark. Sailing deeper and faster he was simply sailing a shorter distance between marks at a higher rate of speed. Simple math will tell you what that equals. Both Le Metayer and Fernandez showed they too can come from behind and picked up the 3 CalCup regulars on the second upwind lap. First place again went to Schurmann with Martinez in second and Le Metayer rounding out the top 3. Heineken finished in 8th place after picking up 3 boards on the last downwind and making a spectacular leeward mark rounding. With three boards barreling down at him on starboard he nailed a perfect tack to clear the three boards. It was truly impressive to see how fast he can flip the board and light it back up. One second of hesitation and all 3 boards would have rolled him including yours truly (46).

Race 3 however had the locals feeling full of bravado after realizing they could in fact beat these guys and front and center in the effort again were Mirel and Sylvester. Showing their aggressive race winning tendencies all three visiting sailors tried to call the perfect lay line but again ended up under-standing the windward mark. Both Sylvester and Mirel were able to capitalize and round in front of the visitors with 4 other locals rounding in a tight pack at the top of the mark along with the visiting international contingent. Mirel was having a great race and was doing all he could to hold off the charging pack behind him. Le Metayer however was simply blazing upwind and able to overtake both Mirel and Sylvester. What’s even more impressive about Le Metayer’s performance was the fact it was his first time riding a borrowed 3 year old board. It was a Mikes Lab however and a 3 year old lab is actually an upgrade to most 2010 boards. Schurmann again took the win with Le Metayer in second and Mirel representing the local fleet well by breaking through to the podium for third. This race saw Heineken get buried from the start as he attempted a pin end start with no room to clear the boards. Every time he dipped his kite for power he dipped it in to the junky air of 20 windsurfers to his windward. Footing off for speed he was left to sail a longer course. Able to pick up some of the back of the fleet using his downwind speed he salvaged a 10th place finish.

Race 4 can simply be called the revenge of the locals. With the wind having now dropped 2-4 mph it would be good odds that the more experienced light wind international sailors would gain an advantage. Exactly the opposite happened with 7 local sailors rounding the first mark in front of Schurmann, Le Metayer, and Martinez. By now Fernando Martinez is beginning to feel a bit of the effects of his traveling. Having just arrived at the airport that morning only to be picked up and taken straight to the race course his calves are beginning to cramp any time he goes for the chicken straps. Schurmann manages to again dig himself out of the deep hole he was in to take the win while Martinez and Le Metayer are unable to recover and end up deep in the fleet. Heineken is having his best race of the day. After a good clean air start he is able to grind to weather mark. And showing his true gentlemanly nature he waves me past as he and I meet at the weather mark simultaneously despite the fact that he is on starboard. It was actually an interesting rules situation should Kites and Windsurfers ever race more formally. I had over-stood the mark and there was easily enough room for another windsurfer to tack under me and make the mark thereby putting the proper course rule in to play. 90 feet of kite line simply wasn’t going to fit however so thanks to Johnny for being so gracious. In a twist of karma Heineken went on to beat me anyway by about 20 feet at the finish for a 6th place.

Race 5 and the wind is the lightest of the day with lulls in 13-15 range and peak gusts at about 20mph. Schurmann is not going to miss the lay line this time and sails to a relatively easy victory with Martinez and Le Metayer finding their form again in second and third respectively. Ferlet & Sylvester were at times a threat to podium the race but simply could not hold off the other sailors upwind compounded by the fact that Sylvester failed to keep the starting boat to starboard on the downwind leg resulting in his 5th place finish being nullified. Ferlet took 4th. Heineken came in 9th in what was actually an impressive performance given that his 9 meter kite had to be significantly underpowered in the lighening winds.

5 notable performances of the night came from Soheil Zahedi, Jean Rathle, Jason Ward, Charlie Lundquist and Saba Fazeli. Both Zahedi and Rathle started their day out at Crissy Field some 8 miles away or so as the crow flies. What made their performance noteworthy was that they sailed from Crissy Field to Berkeley to race and did it on their Birthdays! Technically Zahedi’s birthday is not till Monday but the journey added an extra 30 minutes of sailing before racing even began and added an extra 40 minutes (or more) to sail themselves home. Nice work boys! Jason Ward & Saba Fazeli’s performances on the other hand embodied all that makes Cal Cup special. Having come up through the ranks of the B fleet Ward at times showed the prowess of the polished A Fleeter he has become; solid starts, great straight line speed, and immaculate transitions. Ward’s finish of 11th place in race 5 showed a tremendous progression over the season and puts him out in front for most improved sailor of the year. Someone send Jeff Gilooly to this guy’s house!

Saba Fazeli & Charlie Lundquist were simply sailing beyond their years at 15 and 14 years old respectively. Sailing on his older brother Jack’s gear it would have been easy to confuse his performance for that of Jack’s when he was going for straight line speed particularly downwind. More time on the water and transition practice should see the younger Lundquist pushing towards the podium in the B fleet in years to come. Fazeli however showed he is already there. Having made huge leaps over the past season he was able to finish all 5 races a feat I barely managed and 7 other full grown men did not. In a final note on Fazeli he had just returned from Africa where he and his High School mates were helping rebuild a local village. Good in the heart translates to good on the course. Nice work gentlemen.

Special thanks to the Race Committee of Jane Morson, Astrid Leitner, and a virtual Bryan McDonald.. A flawless performance on the day. Another round of thanks to Mike Percy for making it all happen. Launching the boat, running the skippers meeting, racing all day, and then tearing the course down. I am not sure how he does it all but just glad he does. Thanks Mike!!!!

Click here to see the results. http://www.calcupevents.com/Schedule/Race%20Schedule-list-All.shtml

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