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wSaturday, September 30, 2006

First RSX Worlds at Lake Garda, Italy
Report from Nikola Girke

Day 1-4: We have just finished our 3rd day of racing, today is our rest day. I decided that I wouldnt look at the results until the qualifying series was over, as my mind was already on over drive thinking about the day and I didn't want to get wrapped up in the points game.

I have been talking with Colin Guthrie, the Canadian Sailing Teams Sports Psychologists each day after racing, helping me keep focused and keep calm before, during and after the races. Marc Littee, a CYA coach is here to support all Canadians. Unfortunately with the mens fleet being split into 4 groups and the womens fleet into 2 groups, and with two separate course areas, it has been difficult for him to be with everyone. Luckily, since I have been training with Romy, the German girl for the past 6 weeks, and we do our pre-start procedures together, I was able to join in with the German team and have a thus get coaching support when Marc was not around, which is great!

Now the news! I qualified for GOLD FLEET! That was my first goal of this event. There are 80 girls in total. Because this is too many to start in one fleet together, we were separated into 2 groups. After each day (2 races) we were then reshuffled into groups again. We had 6 races in this qualifying series, which has now split us into Gold and Silver fleets.

Racing has been really good, the hardest part of each race here is getting off the starting line. Because of the way the breeze is and which side is favoured, we have had numerous port starts where the whole fleet starts on port (rather than starboard which is the norm). This has made things quite interesting and very difficult when you have a bad start. So far on each day I have been able to pull off one good start and be in the top 10, while in the other race I have a bad start and I play a game of catch up.

All the training I have done is paying off. My speed and board handling is good and expect for the 3 bad starts I can say that I have been sailing quite well. I hit weeds in one race in which I was 7th and lost 4 boards because of it, finishing 11th, so that is a bit of a bummer but at least I was up there until the very end.

So far I have posted an 8th, 20th, 11th, 19th, 7th and 20th. This puts me into 31st overall, but the point spread is very close so the next races will be about having good starts and solid finishes and moving up the rankings!

Day 5-6: Well, things have definitely gotten harder for the girls fleet these past few days, as we were put on the more difficult course. This course was the one closer to shore, with less wind, more chop, more holes and had the mens fleet (80guys and support boats) starting line just above our windward mark, which made our top mark have very challenging and variable winds. Originally the Gold Men and Gold Women were to be on the outer/better course area, but then there were some changes in which the mens fleet was to sail as one group of 80 and they needed the space of the outer course, hence the girls got the inner course.

On top of that, I got sick after the last day of qualifying and have been battling with my energy levels. I have stuffed myself with vitamins and tried to get plenty of rest. I feel much better now but still not the 100% that I wish I had, so I can put forth a hard fight.

We had 2 races yesterday and 2 today, with the final race tomorrow (for the ones that arent in the top 10). Yesterday we had the most difficult conditions: wind between 8-11knots, very marginal planing conditions. It was a bit of a lottery as to whether you were going to get the gust or not, plane or not or even get off the starting line. I started very well, rounded the windward mark in about 10th, caught 5 boards downwind but just before rounding the leeward mark the sail flew out of my hands and I went swimming. I had no energy left. Unfortunately my glimpse at the top 10 diminished quickly in the 45minute pumping race, and I finished 30th. In the next 3 races, I had some bad starts. Partly unlucky, partly inexperience. I tried to make the most of it and gained boards where I could. My speed and decisions are good, so at least I have a solid base to build on. I sit in 33rd at the moment, with one race to go!

Day 7: After 11 races, the first RSX Worlds is over. (Over for all but the top 10 who have a medal race today). I finished 35th overall. I am happy with my result as I did achieve the goal I set for myself this year, yet I am not satisfied. My drive to succeed continues and has heightened, knowing that I am not that far off. With continued hard work, time and experience, I will achieve my next goals!

Today they have organized a fun "long distance" race for all those that are not in the medal race. I really want to do it, especially if it's windy, but I am still not feeling well so I will see how it goes. I fly home tomorrow morning! Looking forward to a break, as this ends my 6 week training stint and my Worlds here at Lake Garda, Italy.

till soon,

posted by editors at 9/30/2006 10:22:00 PM | (0) comments

wFriday, September 22, 2006

The 2006 Colgate PWA World Cup, Sylt

After a short break to recover from the Canarian tour leg, and the Slalom World Cup in Turkey, the PWA fleets preparing for one of the biggest events on the calendar at Sylt, Germany. Here on the Island of Westerland it has traditionally been the all-rounders that excel, as the widest range of conditions continually test the best, with the North Sea beaches regularly serving up a variety of conditions, from flat calm to storm force winds. From sept 22nd through oct 1st, the regular annual crowds of up to 100,000 are set to show up and see the worlds elite of windsurfing in action, often willing to brave all weathers to meet their heroes. This end of season atmosphere has seen some of the greatest rivalries in windsurfings history settled.

This time round Sylt sees a new discipline, with the finale of the mens Freestyle competition to be fought. Throw in the decider of the mens Slalom 42 tour, and mix in full on wave action as both the mens and womens title races hot up, and you have a recipe for the one of most spectacular finishes to a season ever! The womens wave fleet is led by Daida Moreno (E-64 Mistral / North), followed by her ever-present rivals Karin Jaggi (Z-14 F2 / North), and twin sister Iballa Moreno (E-63, Mistral / North). The odds are spread evenly at this event as the conditions can vary so much, and the famously gnarly shore break is the biggest leveler of them all, and has regularly prevented riders from making it out to their heats.
(photo: F2/Carter, text: PWA)

posted by editors at 9/22/2006 03:20:00 PM | (0) comments

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