10th of September 2012, Latvia, 2012 FW Worlds

Micah's report: Formula Windsurfing Worlds 2012

Formula Windsurfing Worlds 2012
4th September 2012

It was finally Formula Worlds time of the year and I had to switch gears from slalom training to Formula, testing a few new sails and my JP Speed board I felt like I was getting back in the groove. Some early morning sessions on Maui to get the light winds needed and I was ready to go. I ran into a bit of a bump on my way to Latvia when my flight from Dallas to Frankfurt was cancelled and I had to spend 24 hours in Dallas. This meant I would be arriving into Latvia on the eve of registration day so no sailing before the racing. I did finally make it and so did all my gear so this was good. I made it from the airport to the race site late in the evening, checked that my board was in one piece then went to my hotel and went to sleep. I awoke early the next morning and went to the beach to prepare my gear and get out on the water. With a good forecast for the week it looked like there would be plenty of racing.

Formula worlds day one
The wind was slightly off shore and gusty but strong enough to race. I went out and tested my 11.0 and this felt like the right set up for my JP Speed. There were over 100 competitors so they did split fleet racing which would mean we would do four races in each fleet and then the top half would move to a gold fleet and the bottom would go to the silver fleet. After these four races you would get a discard and then take the points from your best three and where ever you finished in the fleet that would be your first score and could be used as a discard if enough racing was done.

First race on my 11.0 had great start good speed upwind on the first upwind but then sailed into a hole on the left side of the course and stopped planning for about one minute. On the second upwind the same thing happened and then on the downwind I also stopped planning. Not a very good start for me, I think the sail was the right size because I had a lot of power in the gusts just the holes were to big and I seemed to find them.

Second race I thought about taking my 12 but it looked like the wind was back up just before I left the beach so I stayed with the 11. As luck would have it the wind died off as soon as I got out. This race I didn't have a lot of power but had my best finish even stopping on the last downwind and losing 4 spots. As long as I was planning I felt like I had good speed but not planning is very slow.

Third race I took my 12 we went out and did one start and then they cancelled it right before the start for some reason, I had plenty of power. Then we stood around for almost 45 min while they changed the course and I guess waited for the wind. We finally did another start and I had plenty of power again and they cancelled right after the start again. We waited again for about 15 min and they sent us back to the beach. Ten minutes later they sent us back out in the same conditions and did a start and I couldn't even pump my sail there was almost no wind but they went ahead with the start. Another horrible race, even stopped planning on my 12 quite a few times. Very typical formula racing in Europe, questionable conditions.

A very tough day of racing for me, I felt very out of formula shape to be racing in those sub planning conditions where you are fighting the whole time to stay going and then fighting the gear in the gusts because you are on such big stuff.

Formula worlds day two
With one more race to do before the gold and silver fleets were to be determined the race crew got straight to business. I was changed from the blue to the yellow fleet and was up first, with light winds still prevailing I choose to go with my 12 and this was the correct call. Starting to get more comfortable with my gear and formula racing again I had my best finish so far with a tenth. I planned the whole race this time and that sure makes a difference, making it much easier to get a respectable result. The blue fleet started right after we had finished and completed their race but due to some problems with one of the marks drifting or an extra one on the course, never got the exact story but regardless the race was thrown out and they had to race again. They finally got this fourth race in and it was official I had made it to the gold fleet but would surely use this one result as my throw out.

Once the fleets were set and after quite a few protests we were supposed to get back out there but the wind was not there so we waited and waited some more but it never returned. With a windy onshore forecast for tomorrow we will have to see if it is even possible to race.

Formula worlds day three
Well the forecast was pretty much right on except it didn't rain like it was supposed to but it certainly did blow. Straight on shore and 20-30 knots, the waves weren't huge only about two meters but there were a lot of them. The race crew did go out and they were attempting to set a course but were having difficulties with the large RC boat that was being used for the start. During some of the problems one of the crew suffered an unlucky accident getting his hand caught between the anchor chain and the boat breaking two of his fingers. This ended their time on the water but it was probably a good thing for the rest of the fleet as we would have had a very challenging time getting off the beach through the shore break let alone trying to race in that much wind and chop. Hopefully the man who suffered his broken fingers is not to serious and recovers quickly. We did wait around to just after 3pm to see if the wind was going to ease off at all and we could get some racing done, it never did and we had to cancel it for the day.

Formula worlds day four
With winds still onshore but down in the 10-15 knot range the shore break had subsided and it was time to see how things were going to go in the gold fleet. The forecast was for the winds to continue to die off all day so right at 10am the first start got under way. Five minutes later we were off, I decided on a slightly different tactic today, pin end of the line get clean air and get over to the lay line as quickly as possible sail my own race and not worry about trying to out point anyone. This seemed to be a good call as I had good wind all the way to the top mark and with smoking off the wind speed I was holding my own and catching up. Good starts and good tactics helped me with two fifth place finishes in the first two races. With a break for us we waited while the silver fleet and the women did back to back races and then we were back out there. The wind had dropped slightly but still on my 11 I stuck to my tactics. My starts weren't quite as good as the first two races, a bit harder to get clean air with slightly less wind but I still had my off the wind speed and while I had to do some catch up I did ok in the third race of the day back to eighth but couldn't quite do enough in the last race only coming back to eighteenth after my worst start of the day.

All in all an improved day for me, getting a bit more dialed with my gear and with sailing formula again. After getting my throw out from the first races I managed to climb back up to 7th place overall. The forecast was very bad for tomorrow the last day but we don't need much and as was shown in the first day of racing they will push us in some very light wind.

Formula worlds day five
Well it looked like we would be sitting around all day as the wind was very light and shifting a lot, with small rain showers moving through as well it looked like it was going to be a slow day. The wind did increase a few times but as soon as the rain started it shut right back down. It was getting close to the end of the day when a slight breeze came in and held long enough to call us on the water. I was on my 12 again and while it was on the edge of sailing it was just enough to get going and stay going. I had a good start and was looking to round the top mark in the top five when the wind backed right off and I could barely stay planning and had a hard time getting going out of my tacks. Most of the fleet were in the same position but some of the light guys were able to keep it going and the race was counted. I figured I wasn't planning for about 15 minutes of a 35 minute race, I did manage to finish the race though which was an accomplishment since most of the fleet wasn't able to. I was deep though and it certainly didn't help my overall dropping me back down to 12th overall.

I guess they really wanted to race that one more race on the last day, for me I thought it was a very questionable race to keep but I guess that is the way it goes in Formula racing, as long as there is enough wind to start and one guy can plane the whole time then it counts. A bit of a sour note for me to finish the event on. But it couldn't sour what a good job the organizers did in putting on and hosting the event. The town of Liepaja and all the sponsors gave a lot of support and put on a world class event!!!

Aloha, Micah Buzianis.

Photos : Ivo Blums