First foiling contest in the pocket!
I really started foiling back in December when the Dutch team came to train with us in Aruba! The goal was to get ready for the first foiling contest of the year at Lake Garda.
The contest was held at Campione. Oda and I drove down in her mega van, got stuck in a traffic jam near the Gothard tunnel in Switzerland because of holidays, and took 1,5 day over a 12 hour drive haha. Eventually we made it.
We had 3 days to get used to the conditions in Campione, sailing with Oda I felt quite alright. But until then we had not been able to measure ourelves against other girls. Slowly more girls started joining the line ups, and that’s when it hit me that I am a total beginner, they were going upwind at a better angle and much faster, everyone just swished past me on the down wind runs and they got planing when I felt it was impossible to do so! In those three days of preparation I went crazy trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I was so fast in Aruba!
Was it the sweet water, are the girls much lighter and just get going easier?
Turns out, all the tuning I did for Aruba, was for surviving in really high winds, and that didn’t work in the 8-12 knots we were sailing in at the moment.
That’s when I learned a lot from the RSX girls. I’m so used to having the most downhaul possible on my sails because that’s when you accelerate the most. But in slalom you also choose a sail size according to the wind. With IQ foiling there’s only one size sail. It felt so counter intuitive to take off all that downhaul to have more power to go upwind, but it worked!
Then it was important to move the base further back to have more lift in the lighter wind. Changing my body positioning to fly as high as possible while going upwind, and using the uphaul to stretch my body even further out to go upwind.
What I couldn’t quite master was generating speed on the downwind, not in light wind and not in strong wind. Once the contest started I felt more tuned in for the light wind conditions and I was excited to compete on some upwind courses.
But of course, nothing goes according to plan in contests!
The first race we did was a downwind slalom course in 15+ knots. I was overpowered and so nervous during the whole race because I felt out of control. All the other girls were just charging straight past me down the course. It was motivating and crushing at the same time. I haven’t felt this slow in my life.
The next day we had a downwind course again but in 8 knots or maybe less? I couldn’t even get going to hit the start line on time. I started at least 30 seconds later. I actually thought they were going to cancel the race but they never did. The race where I did get going and had a good start, I felt zero power in my sail and again the girls went past me easily. What is this sorcery !?
Finally on day three we had some course races.
This time it was 20+ knots and choppy! By now I was just in it to get the most experience as possible. It was the first time we did a full fleet start, I think someone might have even yelled protest at me, and later on I learned that I should have protested someone else, and most of the time I didn’t even know where the top mark was ! At least I learned that my upwind angle and speed was not bad ! I made it up to the top mark in 4th in one race!
But again everyone would pass me on the downwind leg.
This was my first course race and I really enjoyed racing upwind and calculating the correct lay line. Finally the golden race for me was the marathon.
It was about 5km upwind, 10km downwind and 5 up again.
My legs were burning on the downwind and it was a real challenge navigating my way through the chop. I feel like I gained a lot of places on the last upwind and finished 11th in the end! Super happy about that. Well that was it, a 21st place out of 40 people.
Which means… There is Loads of room to improve!
What I loved the most was the mix of riders at the event. It was awesome to see some friends from the PWA, meet some known RSX riders and see how hard the junior kids are pushing! Let’s see where this foiling goes