Windsurfing, surfing, Maui, The Gorge, and random rants.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pistol River Wave Bash - Day Two

After a solid week of strong wind on the southern Oregon coast, we woke up Friday to much lighter conditions. Admittedly, the weather had really come through up to this point. The spring season on the Oregon coast had been a wash out (cloudy, rainy, south wind, yikes!) right up until the last week. But the north pacific high had finally punched through the gloom and produced seven straight days of sun and wind along with decent NW waves. All we needed now was a few more days of wind to finish the bash in style.

The second day gave us first day losers a chance to redeem ourselves. And some of us really needed that. I for one did nothing in my first heat. It's not like I was expecting to win the division or anything close to that. I just wanted to catch one wave ride and get a decent jump. Land a forward. Anything! And then I'd be happy. Someone else who wasn't satisfied with their first day result was my friend Royn. As he put it, he was a bit shell shocked over his first heat debacle and really wanted to get his confidence back and show a decent result.

So with that we headed back to PR with some determination. And just like the day before, the wind picked up a definite notch as we rounded the cape. Still light, but people were at least moving on their land boards on the smooth sand. Which was promising. I decided to de-rig the 4.0 which had not worked for me the previous day, and rigged up my shiny 2010 5.3 Goya Guru. I had experienced some epic wave days with this sail during the late winter and spring season in Maui, and I could still feel the positive vibes coming from it.

The consolation (aka losers) bracket means anyone who lost a heat gets another chance. The sooner you were out the previous day meant the sooner you would be back on the second. In other words, you had to win more heats to stay alive. Once you lost again you were done for the show. That's why this is also called a double elimination contest. You have to lose twice to be truly lost. This also meant that Royn and I would be up as soon as the wind filled in. By noon the wind was hitting 20 or so, and the bash was on.

Fortunately Royn and I were in different heats to start the day. Just like the previous day I got to watch Royn compete first. It also helped that I didn't have to  immediately go against one of the better sailors in my division. So Royn's heat starts and soon he was catching a nice ride on his first wave, hitting the lip several times and deftly working his way down the line. His only mistake might have been going a bit too far down the line. And going for one last lip smack as the wave closed out in the shallow water. Too shallow as I noticed he was tumbled by the shore break. Which promptly broke his mast. Dooh!

As Royn was dragging his broken rig onto the beach, Rick Whidden, who was competing in the next heat (my heat) ran down the beach with his own rig to assist Royn. Rick happens to be a product manager for Maui Sails for whom Royn is a team rider, so Rick's rig worked fine for Royn. However a lot of heats must be run to complete a double elimination match, and that combined with the late start to wait for the wind meant that today's heats were only six minutes long. By the time Rick and Royn had exchanged rigs and Royn got back out his heat was over and mine had started.

Rick was competing in my heat but he was now way down the beach helping Royn, and Royn was out to sea with Rick's rig. Royn came back fairly quick but this put Rick in a huge time and location disadvantage relative to the rest of us starting up by the judges stand. Also I wasn't sure if Royn's one wave ride, awesome as it was, would be enough to advance him. But I had my own concerns to deal with now.

I had only one goal at this moment. My 5.3 was definitely powered up, giving me the opportunity to throw a forward on the first good ramp I saw. Actually this is a poor competitive strategy - the short heats only counted two waves and one jump with a 3x multiplier on the waves. So wave rides were way more important then jumps. But I didn't care! I was worried that I wouldn't land any loops in competition so I had to do it right away. When I hit the first juicy wave I pulled the trigger. I didn't land it perfectly, in fact I over rotated and ended in the drink (OK so I was way powered up and a bit over amped) but I didn't care. I was psyched! It's a bit fuzzy now but I think I got out and caught a bit of a wave ride coming in and then the heat was over. Six minute heats are really short! No matter - there were only three sailors in this heat and Rick had sacrificed himself to assist Royn, so I was definitely advancing to the next round. I also found out that Royn's one wave ride did the job and he advanced as well. In the next heat I was able to throw and land clean a couple of loops and managed another decent wave ride, and so I advanced again.

Royn also won his heat. This put me into the third round in a heat with Royn, Dwight Bode, and Jeff McVannel. Now at this point I had accomplished my goals for this event and I was pretty stoked.  I landed a few forwards in a competition, I managed a decent wave ride or two, and I had advanced a couple of heats. My fellow sailors were all now well skilled and definitely more experienced in the local conditions then I was. The wind had also kicked up significantly and I was contemplating going with the 4.5 for this heat. But the 5.3 Goya had served me well up to that point so I stuck with it. All I recall from this heat is being way overpowered on the outside, and on a wave ride (maybe my only ride) a gust ripped the sail out of my hands on a top turn. So I didn't advance, but no matter... it was all good from here on. But Royn did advance and, considering how bad his competition started, it was pretty cool to see him doing so well.

Royn's next heat in the masters division had him going out with Dana Miller, James Lundin, and Jeff McVannel. Now these are all great guys and really good confident local wave sailors. I had connections with Dana going back to my earliest days of sailing in Cape Hatteras so many years ago. I was psyched to see these guys, some of them actually my age (!), out there ripping it up. I watched this heat closely and when it was over I thought Royn, mostly because of his more advanced aerials (he was landing backs and forwards) did well enough to advance. And I told him that as soon as he came in. But everyone in his heat had great wave rides so it going to be close.

I was hovering by the scoring table when the results came in - Royn had the third best score of 178 points while James was second with 178.5. Meaning Royn did not advance by a mere .5 out of 178. Wow! I heard Matt Pritchard say something to the effect of "That's great to have such a close score, shows how competitive the heat was." Which is true. Only I couldn't shake the guilt that I told Royn he had advanced only to have him lose by such a close score. And after coming back from so far down in the bracket. Plus I really believed he had done better. Hmmm...

I felt compelled to take a look at the actual results for his heat. Now that things were well into the later brackets there wasn't much time before the next masters heat started. I wasn't trying to shake things up, but I was curious how this was scored - Royn landed some really nice loops and I didn't see any other comparable jumps in the heat. It took me awhile to find the results as they were buried in a binder with all the other scores from two days.

At this point I want to emphasize that the judging and scoring was happening in very difficult circumstances. How would you like to spend ten hours a day outside in wind blowing 20 to 40 in your face with a blinding sun, sand blasting into every orifice on your body and by the way, it was pretty cold (high around 60). And do this while watching everyone else windsurf and generally having way more fun. Then you must  judge and score these people meaning you have to pay close attention to every detail for every moment you're there and everyone then second guesses you. And you do this for four days straight and not get paid. Sound like fun? OK, so judging isn't easy and overall the judges did a great job. Another difficlt task went to the scorers who had a few minutes to add the results for each heat - the formula being 3 waves x 3 + 2 jumps x 2 + 1 overall and this is added per judge (4) some of who like .5 points. Meanwhile the competitors are hovering around impatiently waiting for the results. I watched some of the scores being tallied and I can tell you - it was a difficult and un-fun task.

So I'm looking at Royn's result and I see that his wave rides scored exactly the same as James's (both were scored high) but Royn had a higher jump result, which made sense because he landed several clean loops. But he had a lower overall score. Huh? Turned out there was a small adding error, like a five instead of an eight had been punched into the calculator. I re-added the score and with that Royn had actually won his heat! I promptly alerted the authorities and just before the next master heat started Royn was back in. This was the actual result as it should have been tallied so I felt pretty good about catching that. Now it was Royn vs Dana and again both had great wave rides but I thought Royn had the edge due to his more advanced jumps - and sure enough Royn won. Woo-hoo!

By this time it was late in the day and the wind was starting to shut down for the evening.  The next heat was Royn vs Atilla Tivador from Pacifica CA. Atilla had advanced to the last bracket the day before (losing to MacRea Wylde in the final) and was a very experienced wave sailor.  It should have been a very competitive heat but Royn was still on his 4.7 and was unfortunately now under powered and couldn't do much.  Atilla had better rides and took the win, thus advancing for the final rematch vs MacRae.  This meant Royn finished 3rd in the masters - pretty good considering he lost the first heat on day one and broke his mast on his first wave ride today.  Nice comeback!

Now the competition had to be stopped for the lack of wind.  The experts had not yet decided who would challenge Kevin Pritchard in the final showdown. Kai Katchadourian and Whit Poor had gone head to head to see who would go against Francisco for that privilege, with Kai taking a very close win. Also Allemand Emanuele had clawed up the loser side of the amateur division and would be taking on Lars Bergstrom in that final. But the other divisions were all settled: Zane Schweitzer winning the junior and Ingrid Larouche getting the woman title. So there was still another day needed to tidy everything up. The question was - would there be any wind left?

Below are more pictures from the competition - all courtesy of Trudy Lary and from her Wave Bash photos album. Go there to see even more great shots from this event.   And as you can see, the skill level of the competitors was really high (literally).

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