Wylde Racing Inc.
The 2013 Gorge Cup season kicked off this past weekend with a strong fleet of 23 early-season competitors. Mid May is always iffy for running windsurfing races, and despite the recent run of summer-like wind and weather here, race day was cool, drizzly and rather soft on the wind forecast.
Everybody was rigging their biggest gear for a six buoy downwind slalom with lots of 8 and 9-meter rigs struggling to get moving in the light and inconsistent winds.
It took a while for enough breeze to settle in to get off a start, and Race #1 quickly laid out the themes that would prevail this day. I won the first start and cruised along through 4 legs of the course sustaining 3/4 speed on my 9.2 NX and 29 Roberts.
Over my shoulder I could see 16 year old Fiona Wylde slowly picking off the other front runners and then cruise right up on me, seemingly oblivious to the lulls I was experiencing across the course .
At the 5th buoy I parked it in a hole and proceeded into some aerobic flapping to regain some speed. That's when my healing back injury said "no more" and there was either wind to plane without trying or there wasn't, but pumping the sail was no longer an option.
Fiona caught me 50 yards from the finish and then it glassed off for us both right before the finish line. A following puff brought Sam Bauer, MacRae Wylde and Andreas Macke zipping in to finish before Fiona and I could drift across the line.
Score an inaugural Gorge Cup heat #1 win for Sam Bauer. I retired to the beach not wanting to risk further back aggravation and a rehab set-back.
In Race #2 Fiona continued where she left off, but this time with a solid charge right to the finish. Score heat #2 win for Fiona, with Sam backing up his first round win with a solid second place.
Race #3 was the windiest race of the day with the big boys getting lit-up/stood-up on the 9-meter rigs.
The bigger, more experienced riders came to the front with Andreas leading the charge to the line ahead of MacRae Wylde, Carey Carroni and Jac le Roux.
But again proving her mettle when the power gets turned on was Fiona, holding down a solid 5th place ahead of a tight crew of close challengers scrapping for 6th through 10th.
It was good to see Carey back on the water, smiling and sailing smooth after some dark health issues he experienced this winter. Nice job stunt doubling for CAN-21 too Carey!
In Race #4 and final heat of the day the wind started to get patchy and once again the lighter more efficient riders rose to the top. Sealing the deal on the day's racing was Fiona, leading from the first buoy to the finish with an impressive display of consistent sailing in light, demanding conditions. Holding onto 2nd place was 2nd year racer Matt Scott, who deserves a big shout out for his consistent sailing and cool, studied approach. MacRae closed with a solid third place.
Final top-3 results for the day place Fiona in 1st, MacRae in 2nd and Gorge Cup veteran Andreas in 3rd.
This was fleet start slalom racing with everybody starting together for every heat, so Fiona's race victory is notable for a women and for a 16 year old.
As a reluctant spectator with an educated eye to windsurf racing I was impressed. There's no question the light conditions favor Fiona's smaller stature, but her success is much deeper.
She is on time and at speed at the starts, top 3 or 4 to the first mark, planes through her jibes, and then crushes the fleet with amazing light wind momentum. Very well done Fiona.
I have to hand it to MacRae as well, backing up Fiona's racing performance, both literally and figuratively, with a consistent and always-classy top effort. How stoked were you, MacRae, to see that 1-2 finish unfold? Wylde Racing is quite the family franchise.
Thanks to Scotia and Sam Bauer for organizing and maintain the Gorge Cup, and to Darren Rogers for the course work and starts.
The Gorge Cup schedule, photos and results can be found at gorgecup.com