WINDSURFING SLALOM NATIONAL RACE REPORT 2015
Angus Butterfield (NZL 917)
The Location for this year's Slalom nationals was held in the scenic Lyttelton Port Harbor just south of Christchurch. It was the first nationals to be held in Lyttelton after 11 back to back years in Dunedin. For many this was new and unfamiliar territory which gave an even playing ground for most sailors. This event would be my first national championship and I knew I would be up against tough competition in the Silver Fleet devision with 3 time Silver National Champion Jim Rogers to contend with.
The Forecast was for very strong winds from the south west meaning the wind had to travel over the mountains to reach the course. This made for extremely tough conditions as gusts over 50knots were recorded, this resulted in a call to postpone racing for the opening day.
For day two we awoke to cloudless skies but to the contrast with little to no wind. Although there was no racing it gave me the opportunity to talk to some of the local sailors as well as Basiel Jacquin, a Point-7 sailor who travelled from Noumea to compete. It was very valuable taking to him as he was able to inform me on the latest development of the AC-1 he is currently using.
Day three finally provided us with challenging but sailable conditions. The morning started with an ice cold southerly, resulting in 40knot winds and snow on the mountains. By the afternoon the wind and sea state had eased enough to begin launching the safety boats and set the course. I had my AC-X 6.5 as well as my Sado 5.0 rigged which I would be using on my Exocet RS 2 (59 wide). As heavy gusts were still tearing through the course my 5.0 Sado was the favoured choice. I had never used this combination before but was very impressed how the wave sail managed to pin down my lively race board and offer enough stability and control from the chop. With my Select S1 31cm and mast base in the forward setting gave the RS2 a composed ride and reassuring control in challenging conditions. This was only the second time I have used the RS 2 so it great to have it dialled in so easily. Soon heat 1 for Silver Fleet had began, I started in a bad position in the middle of the fleet but managed to fight back to second place by the first mark. After a mistake from leading competitor I passed from the inside but made an error at the last mark resulting in a second place finish. Due to poor conditions there would be no more racing that day.
The final day of racing eventually brought the conditions we were after. North east and 15 plus knots of breeze. By 2pm we were on the water and managed to get some great racing in. For the following heats I was on my Point-7 AC-X 7.5 and my medium board Exocet RS4 (68 wide) combine with the Select V-Max 39cm fin. The first two heats I finished 2nd due to Jim Rodgers starting at the pin and allowing him clean air and the ability to luff me. In heat 3 I got a perfect start on the top end of the mark while Jim still favoured the pin end. At mark 1 Jim managed to sneak through in first but throughout the next two legs I carried good board speed eventually getting the opportunity to take the inside line and roll over the top of him at mark 3 giving me the win. The next three heats I took two comfortable wins despite one competitor missing a leg and going through the finish line, and a second place, resulting in me becoming the New Zealand Silver Fleet national champion.
All up I am very pleased with all my equipment I used. My Point-7 AC-X non-cambered sails proves how much can be achieved without a wide luff tube and cambers when up against serious cambered race sails used by the other Sailors in the Silver fleet. My Exocet boards performed very well in the demanding conditions. This was only the second time I used the RS2. Its ability to maintain control on the limit, carry speed upwind and a broad range of tuning makes this board very successful in all points of racing. I am excited for the future of my windsurfing as I will move forward to a more competitive fleet and rigs that will provide me with the best possible chance to do well. I look forward to competing in lots of events and personally improving my own level. I definitely will be back for 2016 taking on gold fleet. I would like to thank my sponsors NZ Sailing.net, Exocet, Point-7 and Select Fins who enabled to me win a national title at my first event.