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Make It Easy, Make It Fun

Published on May 23rd, 2016

It’s a reoccurring theme. Competition breeds commitment, which breeds investment. That translates to either time, money, or both. As commitment increases, participation decreases.

There will be those regattas that people are willing to make the commitment. It just can’t be every regatta. Steve Bodner reports how the epicenter of board racing, San Francisco Bay, is promoting a format to rebuild their fleet from the bottom up…

For the second year in a row, the St Francis Yacht Club has expanded their Friday night slalom windsurf racing series to focus on less of the technical and more on the fun. The result has been better participation and an increased awareness of windsurf racing.

We’re getting people, who have never engaged in the competitive side of the sport, to enter a beer can race for the first time. The secret? Make it easy and make it fun.

The slalom format is simple with a broad reach start as fast as you can go and four downwind gybe marks with the entire fleet in close pursuit. No special equipment is needed, but like any sport, you can get as geeked out on your quiver as your budget allows.

However, slalom racing emphasizes board handling, and if you can gybe, you can race. The key is short courses. Each race only lasts 2 to 3 minutes, so if you have a bad start or fall at the mark, you’ve got your another chance with the next race just moments away.

2016-05-23_6-35-06It was windy for the first St.FYC Friday night slalom race of the season last week (May 20), with14 racers braving a gusty 15-28k sea breeze and strong flood tide on the City Front for five races starting just off Anita Rock and finishing moments later off the St.FYC race deck.

All windsurfers are invited and just about the entire spectrum shows up. This year we have windsurf foilers, diehard slalom racers, and newbies showing up on bump and jump gear.

Education hasn’t been forgotten, and we kicked off the season two weeks earlier with a shared rules seminar with the kite fleet. The incentive for attending was a first place on an extra race for the season series. Those that missed out got a DNC.

Needless to say, we had a lot in the crowd who had no idea of how the rules worked, but they left with a better understanding that even if you are right, collisions are slow and not the fastest way to get around the course.

For information on the 2016 racing schedule … click here.

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