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2013 Audi Melges 32 Sailing Series Event #1 – Gaeta, Italy »

April 9, 2013

My departure from MSP to Rome marks the start of a 3 week regatta stint that will span Gaeta (Italy), Charleston, and Peter Island in the BVI’s.  Jenny and Lily dropped me at the airport and as I competed for Lily’s affection with her Cinderella coloring book, we said our good-byes.  Being away from the family and home is hard, but the tough feelings provide motivation to put in the extra effort and make the time away worth it, and hopefully come home with 3 solid results.

I settled into my seat for the long travel to Rome via Amsterdam, and surveyed the oncoming passengers guessing at who would be my seat-mate for the 8hr first leg.  It seems on any international flight there are certain staple passengers; the grungy backpacker who has not showered in 10 days, and is venturing off to his 3 continent in 2 weeks. Or the retired couple adorning their fanny packs, passport carriers dangling from their necks, and a level of excitement that will be settled by any sort of sleep aid.  And of course, the Chinese tour group all sporting their dust masks hoping not to catch and transmit the next global pandemic.  Finally, I spot my seatmate as she sets her down her belongings and gets settled…a petite woman in her 60’s smelling of potpurri. Perfect.  Just as long as she keeps her boney elbow on her side of the armrest, things are shaping up nicely.

Waiting for me in Rome will be Malcolm Gefter and a few of the other team members on USA-208.  Malcolm has shipped his Melges 32 to Europe for the summer and the plan is to campaign all of the European events (sans Palma), and ramp up for the Worlds at the end of September.  With enthusiasm and energy to learn and compete hard not matched by many Melges 32 owners, Malcolm is dedicated to improving on their results from previous seasons. We will have a lot of work to do this first event to get our new team sorted, communicating and performing well in the areas of speed, tactics, and boathandling, but with a young, gritty squad, we should be able to make some headway.

As for my role on the boat, when Charlie Enright called me on a snowy Minnesota day in December to check on my availability for the summer, I was excited about the opportunity and let him know I would be able to make it work.  Being several months out, we did not discuss too many details, and I assumed I would be trimming jib and spinnaker which has been my role on every 32 I have sailed on since 2005. When we spoke a few weeks later, I asked Charlie:

“Oh, and by the way, who is calling tactics?”

“You are.”


“Sorry, I’m in a coffee shop and can’t hear well.  Who did you say is calling tacks?”

“You. You are the tactician.”

With this new information in hand, my initial surprise gave way to excitement about the new role on the 32 and the challenges it presents. Having had the opportunity to sail with a lot of great tacticians over the past few years and learning from them will hopefully prove valuable, and at the very least, I will do my best to remember the fundamentals of putting the boat in places to let our speed go to work, get off the starting line cleanly and stay on the lifted tack…its just that easy.

With a few solid days of practice scheduled with Coach Ed Adams, the plan is to get our body clocks on track, and make sure we are tuned up and ready to start racing on Friday.  There will be 16 boats on the line, all high caliber and hopefully we can put some teams on notice.  We will have to wait on enjoying some fine Italian pizza and wine until we make weigh-in on Weds.

Check out Melges32.com for an updated crew list.

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