submitted by Deniz Biacakci – winner of junior and expert divisions at the first event of the Maui Slalom Series
Saturday, June 1 kicked off the 29th annual Maui Race Series. The sun was shining, the water was warm, and the wind was a nice steady 20-25 mph. The day started at 11:30am with the age divisions racing in the morning . I raced in the Juniors along with my younger brother Connor McKenney and first-timer Sailor Bockius.
The first heat ran with only Connor and me which was nice so that I could wait for him after each buoy and make sure he wasn’t messing anything up. Sailor showed up for the second heat and blew only one jibe! Connor was able to beat her with his faster slalom board so she took 3rd. The third heat ran with only my brother and me. He made most of his jibes, but he still ended up in second.
Connor took first in the final heat! I was having him practice cutting me off on the final stretch between the last outside buoy and the finish line. When I cut upwind to pass him in the last 30 yards, I hit some chop and slid out. I recovered, but didn’t have enough time to finish passing him. Connor hugged the finish buoy, cutting off my chance to finish in first.
After lunch, it was time for the skill divisions to race. I raced in the Expert Division against my brother, Osamu Kubota, and Diane Takemoto. The wind had picked up a little bit more like it usually does in the afternoon here on Maui. I had raced against Osamu before and I knew that I’d have to do my best to beat him. I let Connor know that he’d be on his own for the rest of the heats.
The starts were a bit trickier than they usually are because of the way the heats were structured. Expert would run a heat first. Then Semi-Pro. Then Pro. After the last Pro racer crossed the finish line, there were 4 minutes until the start of the next race. That left enough time for everyone to get back up to the start boat. The postponement flag was up during those 4 minutes. It took a couple tries for me to get the hang of the new timing and it looked like everyone else was having trouble adapting too. As a result, all of the Expert division starts were off by a little.
Osamu and I made most of our jibes and were close through all of the heats. I managed to win all of the heats, which I accredit to my morning races being less tiring. Osamu almost had the final heat when I ate it on the last outside jibe. He came blazing around the buoy and I thought for sure he would win. Luckily for me, he caught an edge and sunk his sail which gave me enough time to get my sail up.
Diane and Connor both did well. I don’t think Diane blew any jibes, but she just wasn’t able to keep up with Osamu and me because we had bigger sails. Connor was obviously pretty tired from the morning heats and the increasing wind didn’t help. Diane finished in 3rd ahead of Connor. All in all, it was a really fun and exciting race and I’m looking forward to the next race on June 15th!