2011 IFCA Slalom Championship in Miami Report
by Manny Convert
Well this year I decided to do the IFCA Slalom Championship in Miami. I Packed up my ¾ ton with all my slalom gear, with spare masts and booms on Tuesday night to get ready for the Wednesday Departure at 4:00 AM for the 1300 mile one way trip. I departed Houston early in the morning on Wednesday and arrived at Lake City, Florida (the Northern part of Florida) that evening. The next morning I headed to Miami. On the way to Miami, my GPS tells me to take the Florida Turnpike….Well, I didn’t realize that this was a 250 mile toll road (At this point I’m seeing my beer budget shrink down)…..ouch…..I arrived to Miami where I pay two more tolls to get to Virginia Key. I pull up to the event site and there are a few racers already there. The first person that I meet was Myles from the Boston area, he noted that he did 6 to 7 events like this throughout the year….Wow, talk about spending money to fly around with your gear. I wish I could do that. More racers started to show up and I meet racers that I have seen back in 98 at the Corpus US OPEN, and we remember each other. WOW, talk about a reunion. The wind condition on Thursday was 5-8 knots. I started to rig my 9.9 in hoping to get a few runs to check out the water condition, but there’s not even enough wind to beach start. At the end of the day, I helped put up the “gear storage” tent. I decided to call it a day and I headed out to the hotel near the airport.
On Friday, I arrived on site around 6:30 AM. When I arrived, I got to the event site and had the best parking for the whole event (the only parking spot where I could back up the truck and the tailgate would stick out over the beach). I was then approached by “Jason”, from the Dominican Republic. He asked me if I could drive him to the airport to catch an 8:30 AM flight to Maui. Now at this point I’m thinking “Are you serious? It’s 7:15 AM and you are trying to make an 8:30 flight!!!!). So we hauled ass to the airport. While on the way to the airport, he realized that he left his shoes on the beach and he had only flip flops… I told him shoes or Maui….He picked Maui of course. I dropped him at the airport around 8:00 AM and wished him best of luck in catching his flight. I proceeded back to the event site.
As I arrived, I noticed that my premium spot was still available. WHOOOWHOOO! I unloaded my 9.9 NX and the 9.2 NX. I started to rig both of them up. The wind was around 10 knots. Alex Morales, the event organizer, shows up and started the registration and skippers meeting immediately.
The downwind slalom races were going to start in 30 minutes… with 8 to 10 knots of wind. Every racer started to complain about the lack of wind (the pros where the first one to cry). I headed out with my 9.9 NX and 110 liter Roberts board, slogging ¾ of the way 400 yards upwind to the start line. That was a painful experience. I soon realize that I need a bigger board, as other racers are on formula boards and 12 meters. We run 4 races, which two of them were thrown out due to the wind dropping to the point that formula boards and 12 meters were not planning. After the day was over, I realized that my starts totally sucked. I was placing on the bottom of the pack. I was not a happy camper. The day was then wrapped up.
Saturday morning, I arrived on site at 7AM and I get my cherished spot again, it seems that there is less wind than Friday. A nice lady approached me and asks for my spot. I told her she can either beat me to it tomorrow or give me a case of beer. She noted that she will beat me to it in the morning. We will see. Alex Morales, tells all the racers at 10:00 AM, that nobody leaves till 6:00 PM no matter what the wind condition is. The wind finally decides to pick-up around 7.5 knots.
Alex then sounds the whistle and calls a quick skippers meeting. Most of the racers decide to carry the gear up the beach (400 yards), as going upwind is not possible. After a 2 hour wait, the committee boat finally signals the start. All of the racers head out slogging to the line. At this point, I’m debating whether or not to DNC the races, because I have no chance in planning at all. They started the first race in a gust of 10-11 knots. By the time people were around the first mark, the wind had dropped to 6 knots. The race was dropped. They tried again on a second race and the same thing happened. This day was bust. The Dominican Republic racers group offer me a cup of rum to finish the day. That was some good stuff.
On Sunday, I arrived at the same bat time and got the same spot :). The nice lady showed up and I had shit eating grin on my face and say “where’s my beer”. She conceded and noted that I could have the spot as she called me the “early bird person”.
I ended up talking to the nice lady and found out that she is a Texan from San Antonio, but lives in Miami now. Here kids were racing in the Junior division. The water was glass looking….didn’t look good for slalom races (or any windsurfing for that matter). At 11:00 AM, the wind showed up. It was now blowing 13 knots. WHOOOHOOO. I get the 9.2 NX ready and a skipper meeting is announced. I go out to try out the 9.2 NX, since it’s my first time on this sail. I am amazed with this sail ease of use and reaction/feel/power/speed combination. It feels like an 8.2 NX in your hands. We started to run races back to back, without any breaks. My starts were terrible again, lucky for me, the course was long and I was able to climb positions (thanks to the 9.2 and the ease of jibing and controlling the Roberts board). The day wrapped up around 6:00 PM with awards given out by 7:00 PM. I ended placing 4th overall in the open class. Damn, I’m almost in the top three. I looked back and I could have been in the top three if I had better starts.
On Monday I headed back to Houston in one shot (17 hour drive), as the wind showed no promise.
Overall, this was a VERY cool and I will go to this event again (very well organized). The people and racers were nice and it was a pleasant experience (except for the Florida tolls).
Tidbits of data and information from the trip:
Virginia Key is a very cool spot to windsurf with tanker wave breaks offshore and the life guards are very nice towards windsurfers
202 gallons of gas was used
Averaged 13 mpg
You can tell that Florida is designed for old people– There’s a rest area every 40 miles.
2626 miles round trip from Houston to Miami
Florida tolls total cost = 5 cases of Coors Light
Don’t take on a Cadillac CTS-V on the highway. That car is extremely fast and will make your ¾ ton feel like a school bus.
Don’t stay near Miami Airport hotels… There’s nothing to do in that area in the evening
Take a bigger board than you would when your freeriding or freeracing. You’ll need it for waiting at the line and to go thru dirty air.
Stay at the hotel where they have the event discount (you will find a few racers there to hang out with in the evening)
Practice your starts and try to control your adrenaline (that will wear you out quicker than anything)
Picture above: My fat ass (on the far right) is passing some REAL feather weights during a lull
See you all on the water…
PS :Thanks to the following people for helping me out:
Rob Mulder—Roberts Composite