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August 12, 2011

It is common knowledge around marinas, coasts or any type of boating environment that when you get pooped on by a bird flying overhead, it is supposed to be good luck. I’m sure this is just a ploy to make the person who was just shat upon feel better, and thankfully up to this point I have not been able to experience this first hand.  That changed this morning when our team was walking to the CMRC house boat at the end of Navy Pier when we spooked a pack of seagull’s and shortly after I felt the warm ooze of bird dook on my arm. Keeping the “getting crapped on is good luck” theme in my head, I casually cleaned it off, carefully leaving just a remnant so I did not wipe away the effect.  As we were about to find out on Day 1 of the Grade 2 invitational, bird shit doesn’t bring much good luck when racing against some of the top match racers.

Our day started off pretty well as we won 2 of our first 3 matches, one of which was against Bill Hardesty and his team who only lost two all day.  We did a good job of developing a game plan on the starts and first beats, and coming close to executing it, but we found ourselves making routine errors that would cause us to foul in the pre-start, eventually leaving us with 3 wins and 4 losses on the day.  The teams we are racing against in this event have a lot of match racing experience and when a mistake is made, they do a very good job of making you pay for it instantly.

10 teams started the event, and only 8 will carry on to the 2nd round robin which will begin tomorrow.  We have 1 race remaining in the first round robin, and with it still being mathematically possible to be eliminated, we will need to get a W against Anna Tunnicliffe and her team to control our own destiny.  Our plan is sail cleaner than we did today, while still putting together a good race plan.

If you want to listen and watch live coverage, there is live commentary on the CMRC website, along with race footage and interviews.



UP NEXT: Stadium Sailing »

August 11, 2011

I sometimes like to say that sailboat racing imitates daily life, and while I try to limit the times when i am “out of phase” on the racecourse, I have the feeling I am a bit out phase with heading out of town while the biggest Scow event of the year is being hosted Lake Minnetonka.  While I will only miss the first portion of the event, it is never easy to miss out on the great racing and parties that will be taking place throughout the weekend. I am very much looking forward to returning home on Sunday night for a full week of A and E Scow racing next Monday-Sunday.

The trend of “Stadium Sailing” which has grown over the past year in fleets like the RC44, Extreme Sailing Series, and the upcoming America’s Cup, will be displayed at the Chicago Match Race Center with their grade 2 invitational taking place just 20-30 yards off the end of Navy Pier in downtown Chicago.  During our 2-3 hour practice session today, there were huge crowds of tourists trying to figure out what was happening, as well as a good mix of sailing enthusiasts trying to take in the action. The Tall Ships Festival is also taking place this weekend, so there will be no shortage of spectators swinging through the venue.

Being a grade 2 event, the competition is steep and we will have some battles with teams from around the globe, as well as the high probability that we may lose to a team of women.  2008 Olympic Gold Medalist and one of the more decorated female sailors of all time, Anna Tunnicliffe and her Maclaren Sailing Team will be competing and this will mark the first time since my sophomore year of college when I had to take “18th Century Women in Literature” taught by a raging feminist professor, that I have been afraid of the opposite sex.   These girls spend a lot of time match racing, and they are seriously good and we will have to really be on our game just to hang with them.  Anna and her team, along with Bill Hardesty, Will Tiller, Mike Buckley, Laurie Jury (a guy with a girl’s name from NZ) and several others ranked in the ISAF top 50 will make this a very tough event. Our team of Don Wilson, Steve Hunt, Eric Doyle and myself will be relying on experience and familiarity with the Tom 28s to help get us through the weekend with a good result.

And shifting gears, my luggage is still missing.  I try to pride myself on not letting things like this bother me, but I have to say, not having my normal clothes or the time to shop for a new kit, and having to go to the basement to dig out shorts, sailing gear and flip flops that were retired years ago has me a bit chicken-winged.  I am still holding out hope that my bag will randomly turn up, but it is probably best if I just accept defeat, and move on.

Cool video preview of the racing off Navy Pier.


Copa Wrap »

August 9, 2011

Amidst the throngs of paparazzi trying to get a photo of the Prince of Spain returning to the dock aboard the TP 52 “Bribon” after they claimed the title in the big boat division, the Melges 32 team on Argo was also celebrating their hard fought victory after fending off a serious charge from the boys on Samba.  Argo’s lead had been reduced to 3 pts after they lost a photo finish in the previous race, and after starting below Samba in the final race, getting in front and camping on them the entire first upwind, Argo was able to hang onto their lead and claim their 3rd straight regatta victory while making them the favorites headed into the World Championships at the same venue in just over a month.

For our team on Shakedown, we entered the final day with a mathematical shot at winning, and after squeezing Argo on the line in the first race, we had a glimmer of hope, but it did not take long for both Argo and Samba to finish ahead of us and squash our chances of taking home the title.  Behind us in the standings by 6 pts headed into the day, the Italian team on Torpyone went from getting shut out at the pin and being dfl, to making a huge comeback and winning the race to sit only 1 pt behind us in 4th place. After a less than stellar start on the wrong side of the line in the final race, we were battling hard to just stay out of last while the Italians were mid-fleet and well on their way to taking over our 3rd place.  We did reel them in at the finish, but after finishing just behind them, we were tied on points overall and ended up losing the tie-breaker as we had only won 1 race, compared to their 2.

After having expectations to treat this event like a practice regatta, get acclimated as a team, and try to sail our best, we did a good job of meeting those goals, and we were all a little bummed we fell off the podium in the last race.  We were all very pleased with how we sailed, but it never easy dropping a spot on the last day.

On-board video from our team on Shakedown from the first race of the final day.




2 Races Remaining… »

August 5, 2011

The city of Palma is very pretty, the people are very nice and you get the feeling you are truly on a Mediterranean holiday with all of the private yachts and well dressed women and men around town.  While all of this is great, the elevators in our hotel have got to be one of the slowest modes of transport, and smallest, confined areas I have ever been with a group of strangers on a continual basis.  After breakfast, when we arrive back from sailing, and after dinner, we are ushered into an elevator no bigger than 4X3 space with at least 4-5 complete strangers where we have the arduous task of climbing 8 stories with stifling heat, no air circulation and sometimes less than favorable odor.  There are not many words said, and every wall is covered in mirrors so the only way to avoid eye contact is to look directly at the ceiling.  As a show of unity between nations…Spaniards, Italians, Germans and Americans all spill out of the elevator at the same time, basically high-fiving that we made it without passing out.

Racing sailboats with Palma as a backdrop has been a good anecdote for shaking off the road trip blues of missing home and getting into race mode.  Our hope for the day was not to worry about where we were in the standings and just sail well.  Our speed all week has not been a problem, and we have had a few races where our inexperience as a team has cost us, but one thing we are not lacking is our ability to compete and never be satisfied with where we are.  In both races today, we found ourselves in a tight spot off the starting line, managed some tight crosses and climbed from just being in the top five, to picking off boats.  With a scoreline of 1, 3, we took boat of the Day 4 honors and snuck to 3rd in the standings with a mathematical shot at winning.

Now, a mathematical chance is much different than a legit chance and with both Argo and Samba in front of us, we would need to basically take a bullet in both races and have each boat finish each race with a scoreline of 5 or higher, and with the well trained teams on both those boats, our chance of winning is similar to that of a Packer fan knowing what to do with a fork and knife. Our goal will be the same on the final and that is to keep things loose, and complete the formula of doing well:  start clean, sail fast and sail smart.

The experience of losing my luggage has been very valuable as I have proved to myself just how little I can live with. People have asked why I haven’t gone out and purchased new items.  With our late start times everyday I have not had anytime to go shopping, and the fact that I can’t find anything in an XL that doesn’t make me look like Dieter from Deutschland, I have decided to pass on anything that I wont wear once I get home.

2 more races remaining tomorrow, than it is home sweet home on Sunday.


The Heat is On »

August 4, 2011

Being just 200 miles North of Africa, the legendary heat that Palma is known for arrived today.   By the time we left the dock around 11am, the temp was easily into the high 80s with humidity that stifled even the well acclimated Spanish and Italian teams.  At the end of the day, the pool at the Yacht Club was a very popular place to cool off, so we decided it would be a good idea to hold our team debrief there with a couple of cold beers.  Shortly after we all jumped in and started going over the day, a security guard approached and promptly told us to exit the pool as the Queen of Spain was stopping by to take a swim.  Within a matter of minutes, the pool was empty and calm, and the onlookers gathered to watch Spanish Royalty to do a backstroke.

We never did get a good look at the Queen, but we did get to sail past some Spanish royalty on the starting line who were aboard several of the 52 to 80 footers racing in IRC.  The amount of spectators were the most I have seen on a racecourse with several large passenger boats carrying hundreds of people, as well as private yachts, tender boats, helicopters and cruising sailboats all looking to take in the action.   It is clear this event is huge for the community and that sailing in Europe is a very mainstream sport.

Day 3 marked the halfway point and it was also a big day for teams from USA with Samba, Argo and Full Throttle claiming  the top 3 spots in the first race, and the same in the 2nd race with our team rounding out the top 4.  It was a typical Palma day with very light air on our trek to racing area, and by the time we reached the starting line the seabreeze had settled at 10-12.  Our first race of the day, we could not find our legs which had gotten us out of some jams earlier in the week and got bounced in the middle of the fleet until eventually we were duking it out with 3-4 boats for dfl.  To our credit, we settled in, got the boat moving and made our slow trek to the top 10 and on the last downwind we picked off 2 more boats to get back to 8th place.  This was the first time we really had to claw our way back through the fleet, and it was good to see our team stay mentally tough and fight for every point.

The 2nd race, we narrowly got off the pin end and drag raced over to the left side with Argo, Samba and FT.  A big factor in the racing thus far has been not getting stuck in the pack that continually hits each other on the left side of the course trying to get further and further left until they all eventually over stand in the search for clear air. We did a good job in this race of bailing out earlier than the boats around us, taking a nice lane up the middle left, and watching the carnage from a distance.  The breeze did eventually clock right at the top and we lead at the top mark with the leaders from the left charging behind us.  At the bottom end of the run, we got into a bit of a gybing duel with Samba and split gates with Samba headed off to the right side and us to the left.  When we came back in the middle of the course, Samba had a boat length lead and managed to tack close on top of us and pin us to the layline.  It was Samba’s turn to narrowly get ahead of the boats from the left, and after having to sail in gas for the last 2 mins, we could not defend and dropped to 4th.  We did gain on the downwind but could not pick off anymore by the end.

We had mixed feelings as we made our way back to the dock with our nice gains in the first race being erased by losing our lead in the second.  3 days of hot, light air sailing has begun to take its toll on our team as the dinners are creeping earlier each night, along with lights out.  With 4 races remaining, we are hoping to poke back into the top 5 and carry some good momentum into the Worlds in just over a month.  And still no luggage. At least my choice of outfit is easy once I get out of the shower.


Cool Video previewing the worlds

Results Improving, Luggage Not… »

August 3, 2011

Before I get into the details of day 2 of Copa Del Rey, despite my bags still not arriving and most likely lost for good at this stage, I have brushed my teeth and raided my roommates’ dop-kit for a razor, shaving cream and deodorant to meet the base levels of personal hygiene.  While I liked all of the items in my luggage, and the actual luggage itself which was an Xmas gift earlier this year, I have already come to grips with the fact that I may never see my belongings again.  And I would just like to thank the ass-hat Air-France gate agent that enforced his Napoleon power of authority and made me check my bag at the gate despite the flight being half full with plenty of overhead space. Just seeing the look on his face when he said, “No, no misseour, that bag will not fit, you must check it here”  and then proceeded to handwrite a baggage ticket in complete chicken scratch just gets me hot. Deep breaths…its just material items.

The good news for our team on Shakedown is that when I sail barefoot with an unbelievable amount of B.O., we seem to do pretty well.  The day  started with high humidity, cloud cover and a brief postponement which pushed the original start time back to 2pm.  One thing these Euros take very seriously is their late start times, and the length of the courses as each race is just over 70 minutes with solid 2 mile legs.  In the first race today, we hit the line about as close as possible under a black flag start, controlled the left favored side of the course and rounded the mark in 1st with Argo nipping at our heels.  The next upwind would see the breeze shift slightly right which we were well positioned for to allow us to remain in the lead, and as we turned downwind finish, the breeze was blowing 7-9 with even shifts spread across the course. Extending further on the run than Argo, we looked primed to sneak across the line first, but as was the story throughout the day, the puffs here are very localized and it is all about who gets the last pressure, and Argo was able to ride new pressure down to the pin-end of the finish, forcing us to gybe away and taking a hard fought 2nd place.

Race 2 was a moral booster for us as we found ourselves battling just to hang into the top ten after our clean, pin end start and leading out to the left side was squelched by a late right shift.  Unlike yesterday where we crumbled, out team up front today was very sharp and we managed to pick off a few well seasoned teams with good course positioning, and constant adjustment of our settings for the varying conditions.  Finishing 4th just behind Samba put us in 4th overall which we are all very happy about as we have now completed just 2 days together as a unit.

Tomorrow is forecast for another hot, seabreeze day and with the event just under half over, we are hoping to continue to use our speed to our advantage and post some top 5 finishes.  We are above our expectations at this stage, so continuing to sail at this pace is a bonus.  Apparently the King and Prince of Spain are sailing in this event in a different class which would make sense with the ridiculous amount of security guards and bag checks needed at the yacht club. I’m not sure if they can help me with my bag issues, but maybe they can at least pass on a few euros to help me secure some new tight, stonewashed jeans which seem to be a popular choice with the youth here. Standby for Day 3…




Seeking a Good Result, and My Luggage… »

August 2, 2011

After departing Newport on Sunday evening, Volpe mainsheet trimmer Scott Nixon and I met up with our new team in Palma, Spain to begin racing in the 30th edition of Copa Del Rey.  While it would have been nice to get in some practice prior to the event, our first time out with the team was about 1.5 hours before racing and we did our best to get our communication, boathandling and speed sorted as much as possible.  Once the gun went off for the first race, I thought it was going to be a long day as our speed struggled just after the start, but with a few small adjustments, we took off and greeted the encouraging news that we could fend off the boats above and below…now all we needed to do was get the kite up and down and get as far left as possible.

The word prior to arriving was that Palma has a very reliable seabreeze and a one–way track to either side of the course depending on the race course location.  On day 1, it was all about getting a clean start and having the ability to leg it out to the left side, even if it meant overstanding.  The first race, our team on Shakedown (Aka “Sick Trix” for a company our boat owner started) with Steve Hunt calling tactics pulled off a clean start just above the middle of the line, and when the opportunity presented itself, we got a clear lane on the left side and made it around in the top 5.  It was the same story downwind as most every boat extended to the right corner as far as possible and up the next beat, we chased down the leaders a bit, and at least made our presence known that we were not going to be pushovers with a respectable 4th place.

Race 2 proved to be a similar story with the left side paying huge and after a start where we were further from the line than we would have preferred, we did a good job of battling back and using our speed.  When the first leeward gate approached, we had squeezed into the top 8, and then the spiral started…

Being short on boathandling practice, we rounded the leeward mark with the kite only halfway down and with 2-3 bodies working on the problem and not hiking, we did our best to limp along and hold our lane.  Once the kite was 90% away, one final pull from our bow-girl down below and we heard the awful sound of our kite tearing.  The only option was to get our smaller, back up kite hooked up which took another 2-3 mins of weight off the rail, and once we finally made it to the next top mark, we would soon find out the kite was not hooked up correctly and we would need to sail dead down wind for a minute or so to sort it out with the rest of the fleet on full plane.  We certainly did not pull off any Sick Trix with that sequence of events and had to swallow a harsh 13th.

Overall, it was a good first day for our team, and after proving we could hang with the front of the fleet, we went from having questions marks about our performance at the beginning of the day, to frustration from not meeting our newly found expectations at the end.  The good news is that we have speed and the boathandling can be fine tuned as we get further into the regatta.  Our compatriots on Argo continued their hotstreak winning the pin in the first race and never looking back to grab a bullet, and 3rd in the next. The forecast is for the seabreeze to kick all weekend in the 12-15 range and our hope is to improve on our current 7th place in the standings.

With my bags still waiting to arrive, having to sail barefoot, wearing the same clothes from the flight over, using sailing clothes 2 sizes too small, and not being able to find a toothbrush or razor, I’m sure our competitors think it is nice that one of the US teams has taken a homeless Spaniard sailing for the week.  I’m not sure there is a more helpless feeling than losing luggage in a foreign country, and despite the nice women at Spanair notifying me on several occasions they have no clue where my bags are, Palma is a beautiful city with a lot of Palm trees (who would have guessed) and a very impressive yacht club at the Real Nautico Club de Palma with a shi-shi pool scene featuring a DJ pumping some nice euro beats every afternoon.  Racing does not start until 1pm with the arrival of the seabreeze, which allows for the sailors who are here for a good time to take advantage of the club scene which does not get rolling until 1am.  Rumor has it Tito’s is a must see place, but just getting an evening started at an hour past midnight sounds a bit painful.  Stay tuned for reports from Day 2.



1 Down, Uno to Go »

July 31, 2011

With 3 hot, light air days of sailing in Newport, RI in the books, our team on the Melges 32 Volpe has claimed the 2011 North American Championship and held off tough challenges from both Warpath and Ramrod to shake off the bad memories of our tough last days at the Gold Cup and Miami.  We battled back from deep positions throughout the weekend to win several races and we had our share of bad results which left us with a 3 pt lead headed into the last day.  PRO Bruce Gollison did an excellent job of getting off the entire series of 8 races in challenging conditions, and the 15 boat fleet was treated to racing both in and offshore off the waters of Newport which is the best place in the US to race sailboats (sorry Annapolis).  When the seabreeze is kicking, there is picture perfect racing outside the harbor, and when the Northerly gradient is in effect, racing takes place North of the Newport Harbor Bridge which provides for full streetball sailing with big shifts and funky current.

The 32 fleet blasts off the start on Day 1

After watching our nice 8 pt lead be decreased to just 3 pts headed into the last day, our team could not help but be slightly encouraged that if the seabreeze was late to fill, we may have claimed the title by sitting on shore.  I know, I know, this is no way to win a regatta, but with how tough the Melges 32 fleet is, and the difference between first and last being so small, there is no shame in taking a victory any way you can get it.  With a 2 hour postponement, signs of the seabreeze started to show and our first race got underway around 12:30 which would leave room for 2 races to be completed.  In the first race of the day, we were able to secure a 2nd place and watched our nearest competitors on Ramrod have a bad result which was a relief since they had risen from the dead on several different occasions throughout the weekend.  With Warpath able to win the race and put a boat in between us, we now had to shift our focus onto them as we only had a 2 pt lead headed into the final race.


With a minute left in the starting sequence, we found ourselves at the boat end with a big pile of boats fighting for very little room.  Warpath also was at the boat, and just when it looked like we were going to have a tough start and have to bail out, we were able to get a late hook on Warpath and force them into a fouling situation between us and the RC boat making them to spin after the start, and having our deep position in the fleet palatable knowing all we had to do was just stay in front of them.  When the final race of a regatta comes down to a match racing scenario, it is always nice to have a tactician who has won the America’s Cup several times like Ed Baird in your corner.  After a few tense moments with Warpath sailing fast and mounting a few challenges, we were able to keep them behind us and secure the top spot on the podium.

After a few celebratory Heineken’s in the dock, my initial excitement of heading to the airport and getting back home to my girls vanished when I was reminded that my road trip will continue East as I depart for Palma, Spain late Sunday night to race a Melges 32 at the Copa Del Rey, Spain’s version of Key West.  20 Melges 32s will be trying to win this event, as well as preparing for the Worlds at this venue which will take place in just over a month.  I will be trimming on longtime owner Geoff Perini’s Shakedown team, and while we will be short on practice time, our goal is for a top ten result.  Hopefully the 15 hours of traveling won’t be too tough while dieting for another weigh in, and word has it the heat in Palma is similar to a Packer fan wearing hunting gear in the middle of July. Several US teams will be in attendance which will be fun to hang with some fellow patriots.  Stay tuned…


Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000149 EndHTML:0000000432 StartFragment:0000000199 EndFragment:0000000398 StartSelection:0000000199 EndSelection:0000000398 chrisforney9@yahoo.com

Eurex Match Cup Wrap-Up – Chicago Match Race Center »

July 11, 2011

If there is an example of taking a lofty idea and making it a reality, the Chicago Match Race Center is just that.  Over three years ago, Don Wilson had the vision of building a world class match racing facility at a vibrant city front venue that would eventually attract the top sailors in the world to compete.  Together with world class media production, live commentary and top notch umpiring and race committee work, the Chicago Match Race Center has solidified itself as a premiere sailing destination that has become regular stop on the match racing circuit.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of sailing with Don Wilson, Steve Hunt and Eric Doyle at the Grade 3 Eurex Match Cup.  For non-match racing aficionados, Match Race regattas are given a Grade Classification based on criteria outlined by ISAF.  A Grade 3 match race usually has 3-4 very high ranked match racers, but often ends up being a more regional event without any prize money.  If you are able to win a Grade 3, the helmsman will improve his/her ISAF Match Race ranking which will allow them to have consideration to be invited to a Grade 2, or Grade 1 match race regatta.  Grade 2 regattas feature a much deeper field of Match Racers with most being ranked in the top 150 in the world, while Grade 1 regattas attract and admit only the best match racers in the world, often with a sizable amount of prize money.

At the Eurex Match Cup this past weekend, 3 helmsman were ranked in the top 80 in the world (Taylor Canfield #29, Don Wilson #54, Steve Lowery #77), 2 were ranked in the top 150 (Jordan Reece and Guy Mossman) and the remaining field of eight were hoping to have a successful event and drop their ranking.  Over the course of the weekend, 3 round robins, a consolation bracket, semi finals, petit-finals and finals were completed resulting in 3 long, action packed days of racing in changing conditions.  The great thing about match racing is the races are sailed on very short courses, and for spectators either watching from shore, or the CMRC House Boat which is always stationed just off the starting line, there is no shortage of action.  After making it through to the finals on Sunday, our team had completed 31 races with plenty of bumps, bruises and a well deserved off day from the gym on Monday.

Being new to match racing this season, I have done my best to get familiarized with the nuances of this form of sailboat racing.  To summarize, success in match racing is based much more on formulas and exactitude when it comes to time and distance to the starting line.  Plays are often used when trying to win a desired area of the line or course, and similar to fleet racing the ability to add-lib and pull off some stellar boathandling is a must.  The biggest challenge for me has been having to verbalize laylines and time to the starting line.  In fleet racing, if you are in the ballpark, it usually does the job, but when going up against a top match racing team, if you are late to turn up to the starting line by 2-3 seconds, or off on a layline by half a boat length, it can cost you the race.

Another challenge this weekend was moving from my traditional spot of trimming jib and spinnaker to the bow.   Doing bow is a lot like being a goalie in soccer or hockey as you are often alone and if you do everything right, you have simply done your job, but if you make a mistake it often results in losing a race.  The hardest part about doing bow is continually going over a moving a checklist of 15-20 minor things that need to be prepped before a mark rounding and forgetting one of them will hurt the overall performance of the boat. Not to mention moving like a cat and crawling up to the pointy end of the boat with sometimes very aggressive rudder movements making you wonder if they are intentionally trying to throw you overboard. There is seldom a comfortable moment when doing bow and once the kite was hoisted for the final run and the finish horn signals a W, I found myself taking a deep breath, looking up and thanking the powers that be there were no majors.  I have a new appreciation for bow people around the world.

As for the racing, we had 3 decent round robins, but always seemed to drop a race with a unforced error like misjudging our final approach to the line, or heading to the wrong windward mark (oops).  We qualified 3rd headed into the semis which meant our semi-final opponent would be determined for us as the winner of the round robins selects who they would like to race in the elimination round. We would be paired with Steve Lowery who we battled tightly in our 3 previous races.  Luckily, we came out of the gates flying in the semis and handled Lowery by sweeping him 3-0 which was a relief as we knew he could take a win from us at anytime.

Canfield, winner of the round robin, would close out Jordan Reece and his young team from Australia in the other Semi-final, and it was game on in a best-of-three final.  After getting a penalty and losing the pre-start in the first race, we quickly went down 0-1.  The second start we took advantage of our starboard tack advantage in the pre-start, and when the starting signal sounded, we had a nice 2-3 length lead.  Halfway up the beat, we had defended on 6-7 tacks nicely and held our lead, but things were about to get ugly.  3/4 the way up the beat on a routine tack, our spinnaker twing got entangled in the winch forcing an override in the jib sheet.  Once cleared, we tacked back to port and having lost 2-3 lengths, Canfield had now tacked to Starboard and had a big piece of us.  Being downspeed, Don did his best to pull a tight leebow but could not turn the boat fast enough and we fouled for tacking too close.  One mistake led to the other, and we went from being ahead and in control, to close behind with a penalty.  Canfield and his team would go onto clinch the series with an easy victory, and we were left scratching our heads as to how a twing line got snarled in a winch.

Racing at CMRC is a very cool experience as they are big on making it as spectator friendly as possible with live commentary from the always entertaining Nate Hollerbach and Dobbs Davis, awesome media with on-board footage and daily press conferences where the sailors are asked tough questions like, “When you lost the race with that move, what were you thinking?”  Unlike other sports where the umpires retreat to their changing rooms, Match Racing Umpires hold a daily debrief to answer why they made the calls they did.  And when they get them wrong, they have to answer to a room of competitors. There was a huge Eurex Sponsored party on Friday with many VIPs from Eurex and their clients coming on the water to check out the action while slugging cocktails and snacking on food.  The next event is a Grade 2 August 8-11 which will move from CMRC’s home location of Belmont Harbor, to the tourist hub of Navy Pier which will make for some awesome spectating with the racing taking place just 30-40 yds away from the seawall.

Very cool video Wrap-Up from the Eurex Match Cup


UP NEXT – Melges 32 US Nationals »

June 8, 2011

A busy spring and early summer stint of traveling to regattas is about to come to and end, and after one more trip on the road at the Melges 32 Nationals this coming weekend in Rye, NY, I will be looking forward to being home and getting to spend some time with the family, and race E Scows on Lake Minnetonka with the team on M42.  Taking care of our yard that has transformed into a rainforest will also be a nice thing to check off my “honey do list” as I learned that when you over fertilize the lawn in the spring and it grows 3 inches daily in 90 degree heat, it puts a premium on taking care of household chores even if it requires pulling out the lawnmower at 9pm with an early morning flight the next day.

After the 24 Worlds in May, I was able to spend the next two weekends match racing which was a new experience for me, and the A Scow season kicked off on the Tuesday prior to Memorial day with a solid 10 boat fleet on Tonka.  One theme that has emerged from sailing at the 24 Worlds, Match Racing and racing 38ft Scows that travel at 9-20 kts, that losing focus for just a few seconds can prove costly, and there is a premium for everyone on the boat to pay attention and focusing on their specific jobs.  The moment that someone on the team takes the focus off their job, and either starts trying to do someone else’s job, or just plain stops paying attention, mistakes are made and it is often costly. I have to remind myself of this often, but if you can trust in your teammates and know that the job will get done, things go a lot smoother, and it means you will not be missing anything that is your requirement.  “Do Your Job” is an important theme in an office, operating room, or any sort of organization where several people are working towards a common goal, and it has shown itself over and over again on the racecourse.

With the 32 Worlds in Europe later this summer, many US teams have shifted their focus to spending time in the Mediterrenean leaving a much smaller fleet to battle it out for the US National title.  I am fortunate enough to be hopping on with Rod Jabin’s team on Ramrod who are the 2-time defending Gold Cup Champions and have been a favorite at most events since joining the class.  With Chris Larson as tactician, we should be able to take our newly formed, well seasoned team and hopefully finish on top of the 12 boat fleet.  It won’t be easy as several other teams like Argo, Warpath and my good friends from the Caribbean on INTAC will be hungry for a win.  I am looking forward to focusing on my job of trimming jib and spinnaker and working hard the next 4-5 days.

Racing starts on Friday, and hopefully the 103 degree record heat that we had in Minny on Tuesday does not follow us out east and squelch an already fickle Long Island Sound breeze.  Stay tuned for reports from the 32 US Nationals.