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Ready for Racing – Melges 32 Audi European Series »

April 11, 2013

Traveling to a regatta in a far off destination is inherently exciting; claiming new territory on a map of waters sailed, being surrounded with a new culture, and my personal favorite, local food. But there are also general challenges when traveling abroad. Boatyards do not get anymore exotic, and with language barriers asking for acetone from the chandlery employee can turn into an exciting game of charades. There are more startling reminders of being abroad when discovering the “C” on the shower handle does not stand for “cold”, but “caliente”. And Italians are not nearly as obsessed with being connected to the Internet resulting spotty Wifi, and any Internet seekers at our team house cluster together in 4 X 4 ft area to get a signal.  If anyone is caught taking up bandwidth to peruse facebook or check sports highlights, there is a good chance their device will get chucked over the balcony into the Mediterranean.  Maybe we should take a cue from the locals… relax, have a cappuccino, and a conversation.

Our team on USA-208 has had 3 solid days of sailing to get ready for the 1st Audi Melges 32 European Sailing Series Event, and while we are far from peaking and being at top performance, we have improved each day and judging by the practice races, when we put it all together and don’t have any majors, we have the capabilities to hang with the top group.  Whether we can execute on race day will be a different matter, but we are feeling ok heading into Day 1.  I have had to make a few adjustments in my head from calling tactics on a Melges 20 compared to a Melges 32, mainly being the amount of moving parts it takes to do a maneuver. I need to balance my urgency to put the boat in a certain place, with the amount of time and distance needed for the team up front to execute a clean tack, gybe or mark rounding.

A big difference between sailing in the US and in Europe is the level of exposure and public interest that sailing carries.  For this event, an empty parking lot has turned into a full regatta village complete with a competitor’s lounge including an exercise room (I prefer to sip espresso outside of the exercise room), a café and bar, several vendor tents, a booth with a live broadcasting radio show, and at least a dozen brand new Audi(s) on full display.

On Thursday afternoon, there was a sponsor supported parade and practice race where each team was required to take out a member of the local sports academy to help draw the local media.  Our team was presented with 6’6”, 220 lb Stefano, who was a member of the Basketball team at the sports academy.  Stefano was nice, but we were a bit disappointed when we found out he couldn’t even dunk. Our disappointment was compounded when our neighbors on the Russian boat were set up with a 110 lb female gymnast.

The sailing in Gatea is awesome. Medieval Gaeta extends into the ocean on top of a 200 ft cliff, and in the distance is the archipelago of the Pontine Islands that were at one time home to prisoners of Pontius Pilate.  With our racing area just in the lee of the cliff, there will be some exciting racing and plenty of lead changes. The forecast is for warm spring temps which should result in a decent 8-11 kt sea breeze.

Check out the Melges32.com website for updated results and photos.

Melges 32 lined up and ready for action in Gaeta.

Melges 32 lined up and ready for action in Gaeta.

Empty chairs at 6:30 for the start of the Skippers Meeting which started a normal 30 mins late.

Empty chairs at 6:30 for the start of the Skippers Meeting which started a normal 30 mins late.


A view of the race village as dusk with the 32s behind, and one of the new Audi(s) on display.

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