Drew Robb, Winston Yan, and me right before the start of the race!
This past Sunday I raced in the Gran Fondo bike race in NYC with my friends and former Harvard Sailing Team members Drew Robb and Winston Yan. This inaugural race started at 7 AM on the George Washington Bridge, crossed into NJ, up into NY State and Bear Mountain, and then looped back, finishing in the Palisades Park. The race was just over 100 miles long and took exactly 7 hours of riding to complete! From start to finish, it actually took about 8.5 hours to finish, but we stopped at some of the aid stations, made a couple bathroom breaks, and regrouped a few times. Quite frankly, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. The distance was about twice as far as I've ever gone before and the course was incredibly hilly, which made for some long ascents and steep descents. Heading into the race, my goal was just to finish. So I was pretty happy to make it the full 100 miles!
Here are some of the facts:
Start Time: 7:10 AM (The race started at 7 AM, but I was towards the back and it took 10 minutes for everyone to get going.)
Finish Time: 3:40 PM
Total Time: 8 hours, 30 min
Total Riding Time: 7 Hours
Total Rest Time: 1 hour, 30 min
Number of Riders: 1215 completed all four climbs. MANY more did the Medio Fondo (65 mile portion) or failed to finish
Distance: 100.8 miles (plus a 4 mile ride back to my car from the finish line!)
Max Speed: 45.8 mph
Minimum Sustained Speed (While Going Uphill): 4.8 mph
Number of Timed Climbs: 4
Time for Timed Climbs: 49 min 44 seconds (32 min of which was Bear Mountain!)
Overall Place for Timed Climbs: 770th
Elevation: 6,621 ft
Toughest Part of the Race: Miles 55-65
Number of Times I Got Off My Bike Because I Physically Needed A Break: 2
Number of Times I Got Off My Bike To "Wait" For One Of My Friends: 6
Calories Burned: About 10,000
Calories Consumed During Race: About 2,000
Time I fell asleep after the race: 8:45 PM
It was a very tough race, but I'm glad that I did it. It's a pretty cool feat to be able to say "I've raced in a 100 mile bike race" and it was certainly a good workout! And surprisingly, I wasn't that sore afterwards.
I've lived through a lot of unfortunate sailing races in my life, and today's final race of Hyeres is definitely one of the hardest to swallow. Going into today, we only had one race left to be sailed. I was sitting in a good spot in 9th overall and only 5 points behind 5th place. Moreover, I had a pretty good lead on the boats behind me, and my discard was a 30th (which, while not great, isn't THAT bad in a fleet this tough).
We headed out for our only race at 11 AM. After a general recall, the RC put the black flag up. We had another general recall and two people right in front of me were caught over the line early and were disqualified from the race! Both general recall starts I had great starts at the boat with the option to tack right--my game plan for the race. When our start finally went, I had a bad start at the boat, but was able to tack right early and go almost to layline. There was more pressure on the right, and I was able to come across the fleet and round in about 15th place. Even better was that most of the guys I needed to beat were behind me.
I stayed in about 15th on the reach and run and headed back to the right for more pressure on the second beat. The right was good down low, and I was able to cross some of the guys I was behind. About 3/4 of the way up, it looked like I was in about 8th or 10th! I noticed some guys on my hip out right start to lift off of me, so I tacked back for more. At the top, the breeze went back left, and a new group of boats came in ahead of me. I rounded in about 15th still, but the fleet was very close and condensed. I quickly broke low by the lee, hoping for more of that pressure from the right, but the high road was much better this time. With the whole fleet very condensed, I lost about 15 boats on the last downwind to round in a huge pack in 30th. I broke low on the final reach, hoping just to get as many points better than my throwout as I could, but LITERALLY half a boat length from the finish line the judges zoomed over and yellow flagged me! I had to do a two-turn penalty, and by the time I did, I was in dead last.
So today was a huge bummer. It started off great, and in a matter of ten minutes went from a good day to a horrible one. Even more so, I ended up 11th overall and just missed the medal race for the top ten.
While I'm still upset about how it finished, if I think about my result rationally, I'm happy with how I sailed this week. The fleet here was one of the toughest I've raced against. I can think of about two people in the top 75 in the ISAF World rankings who weren't here, so to come 11th is pretty solid.
The plan now is to head home for a couple of weeks to rest up. I'm actually riding a 100+ mile bike race in NYC next weekend, so I need to prep for that a bit! But then I come back to England in the middle of May for some training and the Sail For Gold regatta, which is the first Olympic Qualifier for the US Team.
Today was the first day of Gold fleet in Hyeres, and we sailed three races in 2-6 knots and chop. With a 10 AM start, it made for a long day on the water!
In the first race, I had a good start near the boat and quickly tacked to port, heading to the right. I thought the right looked better, but in the end, the left had more pressure. I struggled to get to the windward mark and rounded in about 40th place. Over the next few legs, I caught a couple boats. I had a pretty good last downwind and reach to climb up to 30th.
In the second race, I wasn't going to forget about the left! Despite the Committee Boat side of the line being a bit favored, I started near the pin and went almost to the port tack layline. I looked pretty good coming back, but a few guys who got off the line near the favored boat end of the line and crossed all the way left were ahead of me. I rounded in about 15th place. On the first downwind, I closed the gap a bit and rounded in about 10th or 12th. On the next upwind, I was fighting with the guys between 8th and 14th for a while. I played it right at the top and was able to round in 10th. I had another good downwind, catching two boats, and finishing in 8th place!
After the second race, the RC decided to keep us around in hopes of running one more race. It was a bit unusual since the conditions weren't that great and the forecast for tomorrow looks good. But we hung around and they started us up pretty quickly. At this point, the breeze had gone about 10-15 degrees right, and I had seen the right work out big in practice. I started at the boat and quickly tacked to port, going hard to the right side. When I came back, I was looking really good on the fleet. I was in the top 10 for sure as I approached the mark. At the top, I went back to the right for more, but the left was finally coming in. It was a little frustrating because I could have been in the top five, but I fell back to 12th by being out of phase at the top. I caught one boat on the first downwind and stayed in 11th for the rest of the race.
So after dropping my 30th place, I stayed in 9th overall after today. The points are close, though, and I'm only 5 points out of 5th!
Today was a long day, and I think a lot of people are pretty mentally drained. We have one race tomorrow to end the Gold fleet, and I'm hoping that I can have one more good one and make the medal race on Friday!
Today was the last day of qualifying in Hyeres. The lasers headed down to the club for an 11 AM start, but there was absolutely no wind all morning, so we stayed postponed ashore until about 1 PM. Since we had three races yesterday, there wasn't too much urgency to go out and drift around, or worse, have a couple of sketchy light air races; it was a good call to wait ashore. At about 3 PM we finally got our only race off for the day.
Our race was pretty tricky. The left side of the course looked to have more pressure, but the Race Committee set the boat end very favored. A lot of the good guys were towards the pin, but I just couldn't go down there with the boat that favored! I ended up starting at the boat, with the plan to cross as quickly as possible. After two tacks to get a better lane, I was able to get some nice pressure and cross most of the fleet! A couple guys from the left crossed in front of me, but I kept going left towards more breeze. When I was almost at layline, I tacked back and had a nice lead on the fleet. One guy from the Ukraine went all the way to the right corner by himself. He reached into the mark in first place, and I rounded in 2nd. On the downwind, I was able to catch up and round the mark heading right with a little lead. Again, the right gate was favored, but the left looked to have more pressure. I quickly tacked to starboard and tried to get over to the left. The guy from Ukraine rounded the other mark and just got the pressure before I did. He went all the way to the left corner this time and reestablished a big lead. I rounded comfortably in 2nd but couldn't catch him by the finish.
After the race, some dark clouds started to approach the course, so we were sent in with just one race. Fortunately we're back on schedule, and we'll try for two Gold fleet races tomorrow.
What a long day! The forecast was for some leftover breeze from yesterday, dying throughout the day, so the Race Committee went big and called for a 9:30 AM first start! I got up at 7 AM and headed down to the club at 7:45 as boats were already launching. Just as I was about to get changed, though, the breeze was looking light so we were postponed ashore. I felt bad for a few of the radial girls who were halfway to their course at that point!
At about 9:30 the postponement was lowered, and we headed out for racing. I sailed in a very tough blue fleet today. In the first race, I was the pin most boat and lead the charge to the left side of the course. I went almost to layline and tacked in some nice pressure to come across. For a while I thought I could be in the top five, but as I approached the mark, the right side began to come in hard. I rounded in about 20th, but it was still very close. I had a great downwind, gybing around the mark and taking the high road on the fleet. At the bottom I rounded in about 10th and headed to the right. As I sailed out to the right the breeze began to shift right, and I thought it was going to be a case of just getting as far to the side as possible. I kept sailing out and took a nice shift back catching a handful of boats who were just in front of me. I thought I was in the top five for sure, but the left had one more shift and pressure. Ten guys (five of whom were ahead of me and five of whom who were behind me but went hard left) crossed in front and I was in 15th at the mark. As we sailed the reach and run the breeze finally started to clock right hard, ending up 80 degrees further right than when we started! The downwind became a reach and the final reach became an upwind. I was able to catch two boats, but lost one to finish in 14th. If only that righty had come in a few minutes earlier on our second beat!
In the second race, it was obvious that the right was still favored. I had a great start near the boat and quickly tacked to port. After a few minutes I flopped back to starboard and looked really good as I crossed the fleet. At the top, two guys who went further right than I was and rounded ahead of me. I rounded third and made the mistake of gybing immediately around the mark and into the bad air of the people still heading upwind. A couple boats went high and got me. I rounded in 7th at the leeward mark and passed two boats on the next upwind. On the final downwind, I caught one more boat to get 4th in the race!
After we finished, the RC decided to run a third race since the forecast for the next few days looks pretty grim. The Committee Boat was favored again and almost everyone was stacked up at 2 minutes holding their spot. I searched for a hole, but didn't have any luck. At about 20 seconds I realized I was going to be in trouble so I found a good spot, tacked to port and thread the needle as I ducked a lot of boats and crossed a couple of the stragglers at the boat. I just got through and was leading the charge to the right again! It wasn't an ideal start, but in every other race the person who did that was winning at the first mark, so I was optimistic! I sailed hard to the right, but unfortunately the breeze began going left. I found myself in about 25th at the weather mark. This time we sailed an outer loop, and on the reach I stayed the same. On the downwind I stayed about the same again, but at the leeward mark everyone in front of me took the left mark and headed to the right. I could either follow everyone to the right or be the first one to round the right gate in clear air and go left. I decided to do that and got some nice pressure around the mark. After a couple minutes I tacked over to port and was in about 10th-12th place! I decided that the people who were still going left wouldn't be a threat and planned to consolidate with the fleet. I did in fact cross most of the guys ahead of me to set myself up in about 10th, but the left just got better and better. One guy rounded the mark behind me in about 35th place and went all the way to the left corner and was 3rd at the windward mark! At the end, I only caught up about 5 boats to put me in 20th at the top. I caught two on the last downwind to finish in 18th.
It was a very tricky day out there. With a 14-4-18, I'm currently in 17th place. Only two people in the entire fleet (three groups!) had three single digit finishes; it was incredible how inconsistent everyone was today. It was a little frustrating because I know that all three of my races could have been better. But at the same time, I'm content with my racing when looking at other people's score lines.
Hopefully we're able to get some racing in tomorrow!
Today was the first day of the SOF regatta in Hyeres, France. We had an 11 AM first start, and I was in the Yellow group, starting first and sailing the outer loop of a trapezoid. We had 14-16 knots of breeze and big waves which made for really fun sailing conditions.
Sailing upwind in Hyeres. Photo Credit: Mike Kalin
In the first race, I had a conservative start a little bit down from the Committee Boat end. I sailed off on starboard for a while and ended up playing the top right of the course. At the top, the left came in a bit, and I ended up rounding in about 10th. I hung around 10th for most of the race and had a great downwind, passing two boats, to round the bottom mark and reach into the finish line in 8th place.
In the second race, I had an awesome start in about the same spot on the line. Again, I sailed out on starboard for a few minutes before tacking and going to the right. About 2/3 the way up I was probably winning when I got a little header and tacked back to cross the guys to the left of me. As I came back though, the breeze had gone farther right, and I lost the guys I had just crossed. So I was a little out of phase at the top and rounded in 8th place, but very close to the leaders. I stayed in 8th on the reach and then had another good downwind to catch up to 4th by the leeward mark! On the second beat, I played the left and looked like I could catch one more boat, but I couldn't get him at the top and hung on to 4th for the rest of the race.
Overall, it was a pretty solid start to the event. We have two more races tomorrow, and the breeze looks like it will be a bit lighter.
Tomorrow is the first day of the World Cup event in Hyeres, France. I’ve had a great week training here and am ready for the event to start!
At the beginning of the week, I got my new Australian boat (shipped over after Sail Melbourne), and I’m really happy with it. I’ve been able to test it in plenty of different conditions this week too. A few days ago, we had some light breezes and a bit of chop. Then in the middle of the week we had some great days with 15 knots and nice waves. The last two days, however, have been really windy with puffs into the 30s and rain! So we’ve had a mix of conditions here this past week.
Speed testing in the breeze. Photo Credit: Mike Kalin
The week has also been filled with some great bike rides along the French coast, meetings with coaches, and lots of boat prep. Yesterday I beat the rush to measure, but had to run back to my housing to get my proof of insurance and ended up waiting for a long time in line to register. But my boat is ready, my event stickers are on, and everything is squared away and ready to go for the first race tomorrow.
There are 150 Lasers registered, and we will be sailing in three fleets for qualifying. After three days of qualifying, we’ll split into Gold-Silver-Bronze fleets for two days of Finals and then a Medal Race for the top ten next Friday.
Reaching in. Photo Credit: Mike Kalin
Check back tomorrow for updates on the racing!
After the regatta in Palma, I drove with Kyle Rogachenko to Hyeres, France. I arrived a few days ago and have since moved into Maeva, the local hotel on site at the regatta. So far my trip has been pretty mixed. Southern France is gorgeous and it's been nice to have a few days off to enjoy it. I'm fortunate that Trevor Moore, my USSTAG teammate and a US 49er sailor, has been generous to let me use his new road bike a little. So I've gone on some AMAZING rides throughout French villages and hills; my own personal 'Tour de France!' I've done laundry, gone to the grocery store a few times, and have settled in nicely here.
The downside has been the lack of internet and my missing boat! I don't know how people in Europe do it, but it seems like internet is not a priority at all. There were a few options and none of which were cheap. I ended up getting an internet stick from SFR, the French phone network, but have had lots of problems with it. It's working now, so I'm knocking on wood that it continues to do so!
Perhaps the biggest blow has been the delay of my Laser. I purchased a new laser in Australia last winter and shipped it over here for the European season. The container continues to be delayed a few days at a time, and I'm now being told it will arrive on Monday. I'm finding things to do to keep me busy, and it's nice to take a couple days off from sailing, but it's been kind of a headache! Hopefully it arrives soon so I can get a full week of training in before the event starts.
Other than that, life is good. I've enjoyed a bakery that is right next door to my apartment and generally like exploring new places.
I'll check in soon when I have more to report!
I sailed well on the last day of racing in Palma, which helped lessen the frustration I had with the first part of my regatta.
Once again, the Laser fleet was postponed ashore to start the day as the offshore breeze died and the sea breeze built. The sea breeze came in a little earlier today, filling at about 11:30, so we were sent out for a 12:30 first start.
In the first race, the pin was pretty favored, but I really liked the right. I ended up starting just to weather of the pack at the pin and tacking immediately onto port. I had a good lane headed to the right, and as the fleet sailed on port tack we continued to fall into the guys on the right. I played the right harder at the top and was able to round in about 10th place. I stayed the same on the reach and then had an awesome run to catch up to 5th place! On the second beat, I rounded heading right again and immediately passed one boat who went to the other gate mark. I was in 4th up the beat and rounded there with a little distance to 3rd and a few guys right on my heels. On the final downwind, Mike Bullot (NZL) had a very impressive run, taking the inside lane and going from about 10th to 3rd. I was still in 5th at this point, but was duking it out with Dave Wright (CAN) and Rasmus Myrgren (SWE). As we came into the bottom, Dave was on the outside and was probably going to round in 7th. As we reached in, I was about to round in 5th when Dave headed up at me very hard, trying to draw a foul. It worked, and my boom just grazed the front of his mast. I was pretty upset at such a rinky-dink move, and when he started yelling "protest" at the top of his lungs his intentions became clear. Rasmus, of course, said that he would witness--after all, he was trying to pass boats too--and at that point I decided to just spin a 720 and not risk going to the room. I ended up in 10th. So it was a tough way to end a pretty good race, but I definitely learned a few things...
In the second race, it was obvious that the right side of the course was better so the boat end was very crowded. I lost my hole at about 45 seconds and struggled to find a spot until the start. After the start, my lanes were a little tight, but I made do and sailed out to the right side of the course. When I got out there, I was greeted with some nice pressure, and I came back across and rounded in the low 20s. It could have been a lot worse after my start! I had an ok reach and another good downwind to round in about 16th place. On the second beat, I caught a few more and rounded in about 13th or 14th, but on the final downwind, I lost a couple and ended up 16th across the line.
Overall, it was a good way to end the regatta. I was bummed with the first part of my event, but I felt a little better with my Gold fleet series. I finished 25th overall.
Tomorrow I'm going to pack up and then Sunday night I'm going to take the ferry with Kyle Rogachenko to Barcelona and drive to Hyeres, France, for the next World Cup event. We'll take a few days off and train there for a bit before the event starts at the end of April.
Today was the first day of Gold fleet racing in Palma, and I'm impressed with how good everyone is. Forty-three boats made the cut, and looking up and down the list, every guy there is fast and deserves to be there.
After a three hour postponement ashore waiting for the dying offshore breeze to fade and the sea breeze to fill, we finally started racing just after 2 PM in a 5-8 knot breeze.
Our first race ended up being abandoned at the weather mark because a huge righty and pressure came in, making the beat almost a one tacker. Seeing what just happened, and hearing from other courses that the breeze was even further right, I decided to start at the boat and tack. I did just that and headed to the right. As I got out there, the breeze began to swing back left, and I had a difficult time coming back across. I rounded the weather mark in the 30s, but was able to pass a few boats on each leg to catch up to 22nd. I was pretty pleased with my discipline not to just roll the dice and hit a corner, hoping for a big comeback; instead, I salvaged a decent finish by catching up one boat at a time.
In the second race, I lined up at the pin but realized it was going to be way too crowded. There was a big hole to windward of the pack, and I was the first one to slow down, tack out, duck the pin group and cross through the whole on port. It worked out great and after I BARELY crossed a few boats, I was punched on port crossing most of the fleet. I kept going on port, as the breeze began to go a bit right. A few guys started to come back, and I tacked below them to come across the middle. I played the middle right, but in hindsight, should have gone harder right. The windward mark turned into utter chaos as the guys in 6th-30th all got there at the SAME TIME. It speaks to how steady the conditions were and how fast everyone is when after a mile long beat, we all arrived together. I was able to avoid much of the mess by over-standing by a few boat-lengths, but there were about 5-8 boats who were rafted up, all sculling, hitting each other, and trying to get around the mark. It was a mess. After that, I found myself in about 20th place and the fleet kind of divided up after that. The top 8 were a little ahead, followed by a pack from 9th-20th, and then the rest of the fleet. I was in the top of the third pack, but could just never get into the group in front of me. I finished with a 21st.
Overall it was an ok day. I'm still a little frustrated with my speed, and I'm looking forward to trying some different spars and sails in Hyeres to figure it out. One more day to go with two races left.