Miwha Magic

The 2011 ACA Trophy will come to a close in the next two weeks. Before that happens, I wanted to give a few well-deserved accolades for the sailors and organizers of the event. Let me begin with a big shout-out for the wondrous sailing of Miwha Masala!

Although it’s difficult to compare different boat designs and regatta formats, it’s definately not hard ranking Miwha’s sailing skill and her love for racing! In multiple sailing events over the past two years, Miwha had a spot reserved on the winner’s platform. She can sail pretty much anything that floats, and deserves a medal as Outstanding Sailing Diva of 2010-2011. 🙂

In case you have any doubt about that, I think her performance in the 2011 ACA Trophy Regatta proves my point.

Those gifted people with large brains reading this article may recall that two months ago the ACA Regatta began with a First Round Qualifying Elimination based on solo, time-trials. The fastest skippers in that contest then advanced into the Second Round.

Well, in that gritty tour de force numbers-game, Miwha Masala immediately bounced to the top. She was unbeatable sailing solo, and each of her First Round Qualifying Laps testified to her flawless sailing skill and her masterful addiction to speed.  Miwha quickly earned a mythic reputation as the fleet’s most Fast and Furious contender.

To her enduring credit, Miwha was also an essential resource for other racers, graciously sharing strategic tips with any who asked. Here’s my favorite picture from the ACA Trophy first week, showing Miwha and Taka hanging out at the Fruit Islands raceline. 🙂

When the Round #1 speed trials finished, I guess it was no surprise that Miwha stood alone at the head of the fleet. She owned the fastest laptimes of any sailor on the course, earning a well-deserved #1 Regatta Rank.  At the June 6 Award Ceremony in Eden, Miwha walked away with the Top Prize for the best performance of any ACA competitor.

(Oh! Huge kudos to Elbag, Quirky, and Hawk for the Awards Event!)

However, in mid-June the competition fleet entered the ACA Trophy Second Round. Round #2 used a Match Race format where contestants sailed against each other head-to-head. That required a new level of intensity; sailors had to prove they had the motivation, the skill and the sheer audacity to outsail their friends… (I mean “their competition.”) 🙂

Well, that Second Round saw a surprising upset; KazumaHs Destiny beat the odds, and outsailed Miwha Masala.


Kaz is a pretty great sailor, but on the day he matched against Miwha, Kaz stepped up his sailing proficiency to a whole new level. He beat Miwha with a pretty thrilling display of tactical prowess and cool-headed racing skill.

That doesn’t happen often, and it takes real magic to beat Miwha. Well, Kaz was the true sorcerer in Round #2. 🙂 When he trumped Miwha, Kaz earned the right to compete for the the Elite Division Top Prize, and I’ll have a lot more to say about that later. Today my focus is on Miwha. 🙂

New spectators  who saw that race might have gotten the wrong impression. Some may have concluded “Miwha was done,” or perhaps Miwha didn’t have what television pundits call “The Fire in the Belly” necessary to win. 🙂

Well, they obviously don’t know Miwha Masala. Miwha had the true heart to accept her defeat with consummate grace; she was full of praise for Kaz. But Miwha was far, far from out… 🙂

She came back the next week, waging a full steam campaign to capture the ACA Elite Division Petite Trophy (a.k.a., The 2011 ACA Elite Third Place). Miwha was ablaze with force, focus, and untarnished determination.

If you watched any of the ACA Trophy events, you also know that the “second-tier shoot-out for third place” was actually full of First-Ranked Sailors. Miwha needed to show she could fight her way to the front against battle-pr0ven, worthy opponents.

Miwha Trumps Taka

June 11 at 9:00am Miwha rezzed in Fruit Islands to matched-up against a grid-wide sailing expert. She faced Takabou Destiny, her good friend, and a truly wondrously-skilled ACA racer. Both Miwha and Taka were game-to-go that morning, and their match sequence took off exactly on time: Race Director LDeWell Hawker had this regatta under control, and he was ably backed-up by Qyv Inshan. 🙂

OKOK, as I mentioned, in this boat, on this course, Miwha was already the high mark from Round #1. However, in her match against Taka, Miwha had something to prove, and that day she set a new, ultimate standard. 🙂

Takabou Destiny was a worthy opponent. He is one of a small handful of truly incredible sailors in SL, and he can beat most other skippers any time, in any boat, on any course. 🙂 However, on June 11 Miwha proved an impenetrable roadblock. Kaz had beaten her a few days earlier, and Miwha absolutely would not let that happen again. On June 11, she didn’t. 🙂

Miwha stole the Starts, and then she relentlessly gained ground as she completed the course, despite strong resistance from Takabou in each flight.

Match Starts

I think all sailors agree that the “Start” is very important in sail-racing. Some might even argue that “Winning the Start” is Everything in a race, and that’s particularly true in Matches.

The ACA Match Rounds in Fruit Islands strongly demonstrated that point. Any skipper that could win advantage in Time and Position at the Start held the true Quantum of Victory. If you can win the start, you should win the race.

Well, on June 11 it was pretty undeniable that Miwha took on the best Takabou could offer, but she won the Starts by a full 11 seconds (R#1) and 09 seconds (R#2)! Woots; once she captured the Start and saw clear water, Miwha relentlessly widened her lead. She never faltered, and Taka never caught an opening he could exploit. Here’s a slightly modified version of Hawk’s Judging video from the first race:

Watch the above video carefully. If you ever need to match race Takabou, let me quote Wednesday Addams‘ advice: Be afraid, be Very Afraid.” 🙂 Taka played it excellently, and pushed Miwha far southwest of the line before the Start gun. The above video shows Miwha unintimidated; she ducked below his stern, and then broke for free water tacking back to the line. GRIN, she never looked back.

After two decisive tests that went in Miwha’s favor, Takabou accepted his defeat with rather great nobility. His love of sailing and his confidence in his skill is pretty obvious, and he certainly deserves huge praise.

You probably know what I think already: Tak’s a fantastic sailor, with the skill and determination to beat nearly any sailor, any day, in SL. However, he also knew June 11 belonged to Miwha. He put up a great fight, but accepted the result as Miwha proved her rank, flawlessly rounding the course in unbeatable style. Here are the numbers for their races below.

Miwha v Taka, Race #1
1: Miwha Masala   IDMM10 — 00:08:53
2: takabou Destiny   IDTD21 — 00:09:16
Lap Times:
Miwha Masala   IDMM10 — Start: 00:00:03  —  Last lap: 00:08:50
takabou Destiny   IDTD21 — Start: 00:00:14  —  Last lap: 00:09:02

Miwha v Taka, Race #2
1: Miwha Masala   IDMM10 — 00:09:04
2: takabou Destiny   IDTD21 — 00:09:29
Lap Times:
Miwha Masala   IDMM10 — Start: 00:00:09  —  Last lap: 00:08:55
takabou Destiny   IDTD21 — Start: 00:00:18  —  Last lap: 00:09:11

Miwha v Silber

After the victory above, Miwha had one more hurdle before she could claim the ACA Trophy Elite Third Place; there was still had one more Match to win.

Silber Sands had a list of ACA Regatta competition triumphs that equaled Miwha’s. A Final Silber-Miwha Match-up would decide which skipper owned the ACA Trophy Elite Third-Place spot. This was a high level duel, of course. It was so high, the loser would still go home carrying the #4 place award for the whole ACA Elite Regatta. So, this Match was really for Bragging Rights. 🙂

Although I’ve focused on Miwha above, I could just as easily have talked about Silber. As any user with a sailboat in SL already knows, Silber Sands is a great person and super sailor.

She also holds commanding knowledge and race experience across a wide range of one design boats in SL. Equally important, she has wisdom and clear insight over racing strategy and Rules application. Like Miwha, Silber has a gracious, self-effacing style, and she’ll probably deny all my laudatory comments about her here. 🙂

Nonetheless, I think most of us watching the Petit Final matches were not surprised when the final battle came down to a pas-de deux between Miwha and Silber.

OK, I said it before: If you can win the Start, you can win the Race. Well, two of the toughest, most in-your-face sailing duels I’ve ever watched took place between Miwha and Silber in their Final face-offs. It’s true they raced the prestart punch-out with guts and intensity, but they also sailed with remarkable grace, charm, and evident appreciation for each other’s talent. Their Final competition for the #3-#4 Elite Ranking spoke volumes about their understanding of the true fun of SL Sailing, and the wonder of the whole SL Sailor Community.

Watch this; it’s just the last four minutes of the Prestart from Race #1 of the Miwha-Silber Finals:

Often dueling skippers will avoid each other in the last few minutes before a start, trying to prevent a foul. With Hawk’s teaching and the strong hearts of all in this competition fleet, that never happened in the ACA Trophy. The skippers roared in to face each other during the final four minutes of each countdown, and the last matchup of Silber and Miwha demonstrated that in spades.

If you watch the above video frame-by-frame, you’ll see the two skippers used every tool they had available to gain advantage. They skirted the shoreline, islands, committee boats… and made breathtaking last-moment turns trying to fake their opponents.

With one minute to go, both skippers paused as they came to their pre-designed start positions. You can see it in the video, and I’ve captured it below as well.

The top frame shows the boats nearly in irons one minute before the Start, waiting to make a Starboard tack sprint for the raceline. Miwha is Lee and slightly ahead of Silber.

OK, normally Miwha in that spot would have Leeward advantage. She might possibly luff up Silber, and even push her off the racecourse. Maybe.

If you grab a stopwatch, you can time Miwha’s thinking here. 🙂 As I watch that video, I see Miwha realize her wind angle isn’t good enough to force Silber into the buoy. That means Miwha’s advantage is lost and she’s just going to strangle under Silber’s windward shadow as they cross the line.

In the second frame above you see Miwha take a truly gutsy gambit, making a last minute turn to gain better wind angle to hit the line. Silber sees what’s going on, and turns West to cut off Miwha’s juggernaut, but she’s too late. Miwha has the momentum and position needed to grab a strong windward-dominant start on Starboard tack.

Miwha took a chance, and won the Start by only six seconds against Silber’s truly heroic defense. Six seconds at the Start may not sound like much, I admit… but with skippers like Miwha and Silber, and in a well-tuned boat like Caf’s ACA3 3.0, six seconds into clean air will win you a race… anytime. 🙂

Miwha Wins!

Once more, against one of the best skippers in SL, Miwha Masala captured two straight wins to take the Elite #3 slot. Silber sailed away with #4, after a truly world class, bar-raising performance that showed us all ‘how it’s done.’

WOOTS to Miwha, Silber, Taka, and Thank You to all involved in the Petit Finals races… They were quite outstanding. After the sailors finished, I admit it took me at least two minutes to just remember to start breathing again. 🙂

Here’s the Final damage report:

Results:
1: Miwha Masala   IDMM10 — 00:09:41
2: Silber Sands   ID75SS — 00:09:59
Lap Times:
Miwha Masala   IDMM10 — Start: 00:00:03  —  Last lap: 00:09:38
Silber Sands   ID75SS — Start: 00:00:09  —  Last lap: 00:09:50

Race Results:
1: Miwha Masala   IDMM10 — 00:09:15
2: Silber Sands   ID75SS — 00:09:33
Lap Times:

Miwha Masala   IDMM10 — Start: 00:00:15  —  Last lap: 00:09:00
Silber Sands   ID75SS — Start: 00:00:22  —  Last lap: 00:09:11

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