Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Super-X Freerace

I recently read about FreeRace, a new windsurfing event style that "fuses GPS racing with traditional course/slalom racing". Competitors pick their own course in a pre-defined area, trying to sail as much distance as possible in a given time (typically 30 or 60 minutes). GPS tracks are then analyzed to determine the winner.

Being somewhat of a GPS geek, I thought that might be a good thing to add to the upcoming East Coast Windsurfing Festival Cape Cod.  We had discussed adding a GPS speed discipline to the ECWF, but it is not exactly a natural fit, especially considering that we may not get good wind - and if we do, Kalmus is not a speed venue. But my lovely wife and ECWF co-organizer immediately pointed out one issue with freeracing: it might be a bit boring for everyone on the beach. Without a fixed course, direct competition between racers for spots is large eliminated, so spectators would just watch a few guys go back and force. May I say "booooring"?

Then we came up with the idea to make things more interesting: add a bit of freestyle to the event, similar to the Super-X races that the PWA ran for a few years. Here's the outline:

  • Racers can pick their own course in the pre-defined area, and the total distance they travel during the race period (30 minutes, or maybe even just 10 or 15 minutes) is measured by a GPS they wear
  • In the middle of the race area, close to where the spectators are, a few buoys define the "freestyle area. On each run through the area, racers who perform a trick will be rewarded by adding a "bonus distance" to their total distance. 
  • Better sailors are expected to do harder tricks - sail-body 360s are fine for newbies, but not for someone in the running for King of the Cape!
  • Crowd-pleasing tricks will earn extra "bonus distance" - awe the crowd, and get rewarded! Bring your friends to cheer you on, and improve your chances to win!
  • Only one trick per run through the freestyle area will be scored; competitors will have to sail through the entire area and turn around outside before the next trick counts.
That's the basic outline of our current thinking. I think this could be a real fun event, both in planing and in non-planing conditions. The details need to be filled in, but the idea is that a pure racer who does not do any freestyle would still have a chance to win - unless there's another competitor who's also very fast, but does a lot of cool freestyle during her or his run. Instead of having to pass the guy in front, throwing a few loops and Spocks will secure the victory!

We think this could be a real fun event for the competitors, but also keep spectators entertained, and show them how cool windsurfing can be. Let me know what you think!


  1. why not run it like super x racing. Layout racecourse whether triangle or slalom and add two buoys where you need to do some sort of freestyle move.Guys on raceboards will have a harder time to do a move than someone on a SUP that could even out the field. Or subtract seconds on difficulty of move , but it could be hard to track the time. just keep it simple and may be just add one of these races per day that won't score for the overall to get it figured out for the next event.

    1. Pete, there are some freestyle moves that are easy enough on longboards - remember Gonzalo coming in on the rail 2 years ago? But we are planning to add a "shortboard/SUP (without daggerboard) division at Cape Cod this year, to make thinks more interesting for guys without longboards. If Phil comes again, he'll probably be the one to beat in this division.