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Melges 32 Audi European Event #2 – Porto Ercole Recap »

May 14, 2013

Melges 32 Audi European Event #2 – Porto Ercole

At the end of every event, depending on how the last leg, last race, or last day played out will have a big bearing on emotions as you leave the venue and slog back home. For our team on Celeritas, we battled hard in the middle of the fleet for 5 hard races and felt ok about our performance, only to see things fall apart on the final day and take a step backward on our upward progression. As we all head our separate directions, it will be important to recognize the positives from this past event, while taking the mistakes, unforced errors and other areas of improvement and do our best to get them corrected.

Racing in the Melges 32 European fleet is no joke.  A large amount of the fleet have tacticians who have been racing in these venues since Jr. sailing, and for those that did not grow up in ITA, they are some of the best tacticians around.  Combined with trimmers that are former Olympians, Volvo and Cup sailors, regardless if you are in the front of the fleet or in the back, you are surrounded by good boats that are tough to pass.

The first day of racing saw a light SE breeze that provided very little indicators of which side would be strong as there were no points of land that were close, and the overcast sky provided a uniform grayness over the course. Finding any sort of bias on the huge starting line was key, and it wasn’t until about 1/3 the way up the first beat that any side would start gaining.  At that stage it wasn’t about laying up under the group and waiting for your side to come back, but instead taking your lumps, getting to the favored side and at least gaining with the boats around you. After the first day with a few unforced errors in traffic on my part, we hung tough in the middle of the fleet, and stood in 13th, a mere 9 points out of 5th.

After a lengthy postponement on day 2 and several Cappucinos at one of the many seaside café’s, the fleet finally got on the water around 3pm.  While the RC did great work setting race courses this weekend, they were totally absent with communication on the radio which often meant we were on high alert at any moment as to when the fleet would be leaving the dock, or when the next race would start. Once the postponement was lifted on day 2, we had just enough time to get to the starting area, pick our jib, ping the line and get to where we wanted to start.

The first race of day 2 we were called OCS with a group of boats at the pin, and despite a low teens finish (13th), it might have been our best race as a team thus far as we had a huge gap after we re-rounded, and managed to pick off some good boats, while holding off the other 4-5 boats that were OCS with us.  The final race of the day, we got off the line with the eventual winners of the race, but could not hang with them and battled for a hard fought 11th place.  There were a few unforced errors which resulted in dropped boats, but it was a decent race nonetheless.  After day 2, we dropped 1 place to 14th, but were feeling ok about our sailing up to this point, and had confidence if we could string together 3 decent races, we might be able to crack the top ten.

Then the last day happened.  3 races where nothing worked, and despite a strong effort from the team, we could not will ourselves to a decent finish. I put my hand up for largely contributing to our poor results as I was never able to get into a good rhythm with the shifts that were bending around the mountain and coming over a narrow spit of land.  We would get to a side, only to see the other side pay, and feeling like I had a slap on the hand, I would be afraid to go back to that same side, try the other, only to see where we had just been the previous beat payoff. Frustrating to say the least.  We were OCS in race 7 and caught a few boats, and the final race of the regatta was just shitty with a 20th. Shitty is the only word to describe it, and other than taking the lessons learned, I am going to put this race in the vault of memories to be forgotten, along with the Vikings loss to the Falcons in the 1998 NFC Championship, amongst a few others.

Looking at how pro athletes bounce back after a bad performance, I will do my best to correct the area of weakness we had in Ercole, while holding onto the things we did well.  Having confidence, whether actual or perceived, is a major part of having success, and whether it takes listening to self help tapes ( “I can do it, I will do it!”), visualizing past race wins, or making an alter to Jobu’, I will be working hard over the next 12 days to get back to the basics and have a fighting attitude in time for the next event.

Great photos at Melges32.com.


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