Sunday, August 29, 2010

Team Bacio wins the Melges 20 Nationals

Mitchell, Michael and myself with our trophys

Well it's official, our team won the Melges 20 Nationals with a huge lead. We sailed the first race today and finished second, then sailed straight back to the club to take our boat out of the water. We didn't need to race the last race as that was going to be our throw out. We counted 5 first places and two second places. We weren't exactly planning on  giving everyone that kind of a spanking, nevertheless it feels pretty good.

We actually had to fight for our second place finish today, after rounding in 10th at the first windward mark. We picked up places around the course, found 5th gear on the second upwind and rounded in 2nd at the second upwind mark. John Arendhorst had a nice lead and we couldn't quite reel him in.....Congrats to him and his team on securing second place!
This marks the end of almost 9 weeks of sailing for me and being away from San Diego. Too long! Anyways, tomorrow it's off to the West Coast, to check in with my room mate Steve Hunt and put in some serious surfing. Can't wait for some good surf and dawn patrols, followed by breakfast at the New Break Coffee Shop in OB.

Final results can be found here and
the official Melges 20 Blog here.

Chris out!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2nd day of racing at the Melges 20 US Nationals, Bacio takes two bullets and a second

Another beautiful day awaited us today as we got ready to race at 11 AM on lake Michigan. Breeze was again out of the south around 12 knots.

 Our team went through our usual pre race routines and discussed our strategy for the first race and the whole day. With three bullets on the score board we were going to take it easy and focus on getting single digits on the score board.
With our secret weapon, Mitchell, on board this was going to be easy! But today we had to fight for our finishes. Often it came down to the last downwind on which we showed superior speed and we're able to pick up the last remaining boats ahead us. The breeze slowly rotated right and eased off to about 6 knots for the last race. We ended the day with another two bullets and a second. Which now puts us in a comfortable spot at the top of the leader board. It's kinda weird to be in this position because you never count on being in it. Tomorrow we just need to get one race in the top 15 and we can call it a day and go enjoy drinks at the Yacht Club. The forecast is calling for light winds so that means that anything is possible.....
I'm grateful to be part of Michael Kiss' program. He has put the necessary levers in place in order for us to be in this great position to challenge for the top spot. Immaculate equipment, new sails, practice time etc, has all led to where we are now. Thank you Michael!

Time to get some zzzzzzs and just have a good night's sleep.

Chris out

More info can be found here
and also on the official Melges 20 here

and results are here!
and pics are here!

Friday, August 27, 2010

1st day of racing at the Melges 20 US National Championship. Three bullets for Team Bacio

Once again I'm sailing on board the Melges 20 "Bacio"with Michael Kiss and his son Mitchell. It's the highlight of the season for our team, the US National Championships hosted at Michael's home Club, Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in western Michigan.
Our team had some good practice Monday through Wednesday and a well deserved day off on Thursday. We worked on maneuvers, tuned our boat and sorted out all the important details.
The entry list is looking good with plenty of well skilled owners and professionals helping to get the boat around the course. The weather has been very cooperative and today even the wind was on its best behavior. We were greeted with 15-17 knots of South-Westerly breeze, a nasty chop and an impressive 1 knot southerly current on the race course. After a couple of failed starts the pin  boat was finally in the right spot and the fleet was behaving better (maybe because of the Z-Flag?) and the race was on.
We're USA 13, stomping through the chop

We played two shifts and rounded in first, put the kite up and were....... gone. We won the first race in great fashion and did the same in the second and third race. Three bullets, nice way to kick off the championship!

We have 5 more races scheduled over the next two days, we just need to take race by race and not get over confident.
Preliminary results can be found here and the pics are from the local Photographer Mark Niskanen.
Mitchell, Michael and me

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Final day of racing at Moth Europeans, Silvaplana Switzerland

We woke up to another beautiful day in the Engadin, packed up our bags and made our way to the club.
Bora and Nathan were tied for first place so the stage for an epic battle was perfectly set. Unfortunately Bora and Anthony had managed to catch some kind of stomach bug, so we were happy to see an initial postponement as the Maloya wind took a while longer to establish itself.
Racing got underway around 2PM and things were looking mighty fine for the US Airforce Team. Even though Bora didn't start well, he worked his way through the pack and won the race. But not without feeding the fish at least once every lap. He came in to shore and was totally exhausted. He was winning the regatta, but his body was failing him....
Anthony was also struggling with dehydration and was taking advantage of the fact that the Silvaplana lake water is fine to drink. I started strong in that race, but had to many boat handling errors to bring home a really good finish.
For the last race Bora made it down to the starting line, but couldn't keep up with the intensity as his stomach was cramping up more and more and so eventually pulled out of the race. This left the door wide open for Nathan to go on and win the race and therefore also the overall ranking. Hat off to Nathan for showing some excellent performance.
I had another o.k. race and in the end was able to squeeze into 9th place, with which I'm very happy with. I feel super lucky to have been part of the US Airforce Team. I learned a ton about sailing the Moth and what this class is really about. The camaraderie is probably second to none.

Anthony and I are off to the airport now to catch our flights back to USA.

US Airforce Team over and out (until the next time)

P.S. check out the videos and pics on the official website. Really nice stuff.

Friday, August 20, 2010

4th day of racing, the eagle has landed

Launching my Moth "gimme more"

Sorry to tell you folks this again, but we had another spectacular day of racing here in Switzerland. The sun was out, the Maloya Wind was pumping and the Moths were flying. The US Airforce Team was looking solid. Bora has finally taken the overall lead with another two bullets and a second. His main competition, Nathan Outerridge, had a tough day with another impressive break down (layers of Carbon coming off his main horizontal), but still scored ok results. Tomorrow it will come down to who beats who in the remaining races.
Anthony was also struck by bad luck when his lashing of the shrouds broke and his rig came down. He got towed back to the beach and the shore team had him up and running for the last race.

It seems that as the racing is drawn out we are seeing more and more breakdowns happening. These boats need constant maintenance in order to be in racing shape. Luckily (touch wood or my head) I haven't had anything that held me back so far. It's nice to be racing with a brand new boat....
Those who have been following the racing on-line with the Trak Trak GPS System know by now that I had a pretty nice day. Each race I felt better and better and kept pushing the boat harder. In the first two races I scored a 6th and a 5th, capitalizing on my upwind speed and just staying out of trouble around gates and low pressure zones. For the last race I gave it all I had and came off the starting line with all guns blazing. After some mediocre tacks I still managed to round the top mark in 4th position. The breeze was up and I had told myself I would push it hard downwind. With some well placed gybes I rounded the leeward gate in 3rd! Nothing wrong there. But then my luck ran out and during a mini second laps of concentration I stuffed the bow and the boat went stern up. For the first time this regatta I lost my cool and yelled out some swiss/french/italian/american profanities as I got on the centerboard to right my boat. Bora sailed past me during the whole process and cheered me on to get my act back together again quickly. After getting back in the saddle I managed to get back in 8th place. Tough way to end the day, but still a very good overall performance with the improvement arrow still showing up.

Don't believe the results are up yet so checkout the website later.
Tomorrow morning we have to get out of our apartment and then it's off to the club for the last few races.

Send us your best vibes so we can bring home the bacon!

US Airforce Team out

Thursday, August 19, 2010

3rd day of racing, Happy Gilmore has learned how to put!

Start of race 9, I'm in the first row, third boat from the right

Today was classic Maloya Wind conditions with full sunshine on Lake Silvaplana and the Race Committee cranked out another three races.
Bora had another solid day with a 2; 2; and a bullet, but his main competition, Nathan Outerridge had two bullets and a first. They are obviously still very close in the ranking, with only two points separating them.
Anthony looked very strong in the first race, but unfortunately his vang strop broke on the last lap forcing him to sail with a very full sail, dropping him a couple of spots. A quick pitstop on the beach, some help from Dave and he was good to go again for the next race.

Using the analogy from Happy Gilmore: Chris has learned how to put ;-) (non-americans won't understand this joke). I was able to pull off three top ten finishes and I'm obviously super happy to have moved up in the rankings.  I started the day with my raptor sail and a softer rig, anticipating stronger winds. But that never happened so I ended up switching sail and mast for the last race. I just couldn't keep any height with that setup (sail blading out too quickly). A quick pit stop and help from everyone on the beach and my other sail was up and running. It was the right call and I was able to bring a 7th place home in the last race,
I'm now in 11th overall and it would be great to be able to crack in to the top ten. I have the upwind speed, but I'm still holding back downwind (adjusting my ride height gizmo, so I don't ride too high). Bora on the other hand  doesn't touch his adjuster and just sails super smooth (and a bit out of control at times!)
Biggest difference for me was the improvement in my tacks. They weren't great, but none of them were super bad (as in capsizing). I rounded twice in the top four, which shows that I have the starting skills and the upwind speed. My game is slowly coming together and it's fun to be able to play with the big dogs. There is still ways to go, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Our commute on our bikes takes us past a beautiful waterfall and we decided to hike up to the fall on the way home.
Instead of boring you with more sailing pictures here are some more scenic ones.
Our Swedish Hotties that hang around our boat park corner...
Bora, Dave, myself and Anthony on our way to the waterfall
We see this waterfall from the race course
More pictures and results can be found here.

US Airforce Team out!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

2nd day of racing at the Moth Europeans

The American Eagle rules the alps!
US Airforce team, chilling out in between races

Bora turned in a stellar day with two bullets and a 2nd. THAT is why the US Airforce rules the sky baby!
Breeze was up in 20 knot zone when we launched and and on the way down to race course I swear I hit at least 28 knots of boatspeed! Needlessly to say the conditions were a bit too challenging for guys like me (not enough time in the boat). But on the other hand Bora just couldn't stop smiling every time another gust came through. He knew it was his time to shine, and man, he did shine!
Anthony I looked pretty good at times, we both actually led the 2nd race until the windward mark, when I decided to check out the water temperature (also known as capsizing). Anthony kept charging until his downhaul broke, which made the boat really difficult to sail. At least we were both able to play with the big boys for a change...

In the third race i unfortunately missed the start by a couple of minutes after again checking the water temperature, so I just had to keep working myself through the pack. On the bright side it's worth mentioning that I had blistering upwind speed, which was really nice! Now i just have to stop being such a chicken downwind and freaking send it!
Anthony in second place at the windward mark

Since we only completed 6 instead of 8 races so far, we will be racing again tomorrow (which was supposed to be our day off).
Results can be found here!
Our team is off to the official dinner which is held on top of a mountain somewhere.

US Airforce Team out!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First day of racing at the Moth Europeans, No rain today!!!

Please no 4th race, please no 4th race, please no 4th race... Was going through my mind up the second beat of the third race. My legs were getting seriously tired and my arms were cramping up after the first two races. Temperatures were a bit more moderate today and we didn't have ANY rain!!! Soooo nice!!!

Lets backtrack a bit to get everyone up to speed...
We have three USA Moths here at the European Championships in Silvaplana, with Bora Gulari leading the charge. In addition we have Anthony Kotoun (US Virgin Islands) who has been training hard in Newport for this event. Myself I haven't exactly had a decent build up for this event. After the Coronado Event in the beginning of February I haven't gotten any serious practice in. Fortunately I got some good sailing in Harbor Springs before coming here. On the bright side I have stepped up my equipment program, chartering a Mach2 Moth for this event. Its amazing how much easier it is to get up to speed compared to the Blade Rider. I had a huge smile on my face the first time I took it for a spin :-))))
The last couple of days have been cold and rainy and the mountains around have been getting whiter and whiter with new shades of snow.
There were a couple of highlights from today's racing (did I mention it didn't rain already?)
First imagine 85 moths taking off on the same starting line with the odd port tack starters swerving through the pack. The amount of adrenaline pumping is ridiculous!

I hooked into a monster lefty and made it to the windward mark in about 6th place. Hmmmm, lots of good company around me. Needlessly to say, after a couple more gybes and tacks I found myself around 18th place. Wow! things happen fast in the moth class...
Bora sailed through the fleet and finished 4th and Anthony had his first top ten! Yoohoo!!! Not a bad way to start the day.
At the start of the second race it was Anthony and Bora who blasted through on port. Anthony made it through, but Bora provided some spectator action, having to avoid one too many starboard tackers and almost capsizing! Again the left was strong and finding a good left shift was key. On the other the top right of the course was getting known quickly as the the "Coffin Corner". So over-standing on port was much better than getting stuck in the coffin corner...
Again Bora kept plugging away, showing good speed and great boat handling around the course, ending up with a 6th. This time I kept the pressure on and was able to squeeze into the top ten. I was pretty sighted with my performance. I headed into the shore to put on another layer as the temperatures were dropping and the chill factor increasing. Lucky enough the finishing line is basically 50 meters next to the beach, so it was a quick in and out.

I met up with the rest of the US Airforce team in the starting area and I felt that my arms and legs only had one more race in them. After a mediocre start I kept working the left side of the beat and kept away from the coffin corner. Everybody on  the race course was looking pretty tired and hiking form wasn't exactly spectacular. Bora was duking it out with Nathan Outerridge at the front but couldn't quite bring the bacon home. Nevertheless, with a 2nd in the last race his probably in third overall now.
Anthony and I put in another o.k. race but nothing spectacular.
Results aren't up yet, so you'll have to check later.
All of us are pretty pumped up that racing has finally begun and we're looking forward  to kicking some more Euro butt tomorrow.
US Airforce team out.