Finally home from six back-to-back events, covering a full eight weeks on the road. Longer than I like to be away at one time, and probably more racing than is good for me in a short period. There were definitely some periods where my performance was inconsistent, which may have been a sign of burn-out. In the future I will make sure i schedule in enough breaks between events to recharge my battery.
Having said all that, each of the events were quite special. Starting with a Melges 32 training session with just 12 other boats in Newport in August to help us all prepare for the Worlds. It is really smart for teams to combine resources and share information in cases like this where we are not sailing full time. Lots of good information, everyone gains, and us being one of the newer/younger teams, we probably benefited the most.
Next up for me was the Newport Bucket on the Briand 125′ P2. We are in our third year campaigning this large boat and it is amazing how we continue to modify and improve every time we race. It was a light air event, so it tested us in conditions we had not had in a while. We learned heaps, and sailed better each day, eventually finishing 2nd to INDIO, a higher performance Wally 100.
Next up was the Rolex Maxi Worlds in Sardina on the RP 82 Highland Fling. There is a separate report below on this event, but basically we finished tied for 1st, and had a super time as usual.
Following this event was the Farr 40 Worlds in Chicago, where I did tactics on a German boat named Struntje Light. It was a great regatta, with everything from 0-30 knot winds, huge steep seas, and really good racing. In the tough and very talented 20 boat fleet, we had a score line of 18,1,1,21,2,1,2,12,4. Most events allow one or two discards, but this one didn’t. Needless to say, we would have done pretty darn good IF we could have thrown out our deep results. I should also say that we should have tried harder to avoid having pbad results, meaning take less risk at times. The boat that won the worlds, never won an actual race, but also never had a score worse than 7th! Pretty interesting lessons learned from this event.
Two hours after the last race I was on a plane to Newport for the Melges 32 worlds. Arguably the hottest class around these days, with professional teams and all the best talent in the game. I was sailing as tactician on INTAC, for an owner from the BVI. Our team have been together for about eight months leading up to the Worlds, so still on the learning curve and realistic about our chances, but hoping to sail well and get a descent result. The conditions turned out to be extremely challenging, both light and shifty, and strong wind and waves. On the light days you really needed to have speed and manage the shifts and fleet. And on the windy days, boat handling became king. But bottom line, in a tough fleet like this, if i could have one thing, it would be speed. If you had speed, your options opened up, and you could choose where to go. But if you were average or slower than others, you got dictated to. We were often wanting for more speed, so this hurt us, but I also could have adjusted my strategy and done a better job positioning us given this fact. But in the end our team felt good, that we sailed hard, learned a lot, and had a good time together. Our final result was 17th, so more to shoot for in the coming year.
My final event of this tour was the Campbell Cup in Long Beach, CA. I was calling tactics on the Santa Cruz 70 HOLUA. We had 5 nearly identical boats in our class, so some really fun close racing. I raced the 1984 Olympics in these same waters and it really is one of the best places to sail, with a building breeze each day starting at noon, giving you a range of wind speeds over the course of the afternoon. Our team did a great job and we managed to win the event by 3 points, so a nice final result to my eight week tour!
I now have a few weeks to rest and recover, and then my next events will be a series of Match Races here in the Caribbean. This will be good fun, getting to do some of my favorite style of sailing with my local crew, in my home waters.