Leading from the Pointy End
Leading from the Pointy End
For most bowmen, public recognition usually only comes in the wake of a big mistake, but after a very successful 2011, Matt Cassidy is becoming known for the right reasons. "From the Experts" from our June 2012 issue.
Another area where bowmen are really exposed is the start; how do you call the start?
I love line sights and try to use them as much as possible. But sailing offshore, with bigger boats, often there are no sights and it makes it a little more difficult. That’s where the electronics come in. Actually doing the acceleration, however, and knowing the speed-build angles is a completely different thing. If the boat doesn’t accelerate at the proper time, then all the perfect timing in the world doesn’t help. We work on acceleration drills as much as possible to get the helmsman, the trimmers, and the bow in tune. If you do them enough, you will know how long it takes for a boat to accelerate and it makes the timing much easier.
Bow can be a pretty physical job, mid-bow can be a brutal job, especially if you have to go down below and pack sails. What physical training is important?
I go to the gym every day when I’m home and as much as possible when we’re on the road. A lot of the stuff I’m doing is core training because the balance up front is a big thing and a lot of balance comes from your core. I also try to do quick bursts of cardio. As the mid-bow on the TP52 you do a lot of grinding when working the runners.
Do you have any favorite exercises when you talk about core training?
I do a lot of weight training on the exercise ball. I use medicine balls going side-to-side, push-ups with kettlebells, kettlebell swings, and planks. If you can do a core exercise while on a Bosu Ball or balance board then it makes the exercise that much better.
How important is it for a bowman to do some trimming and to occasionally move back in the boat and experience other positions?
It’s super important. One of the things we try to do is switch roles, if you have an hour or two to just go screw around. Have, for example, the pit guy drive, or the bowman trim the main, etc., and try a few maneuvers. It might not be pretty, but you will experience what the other guys are going through.
What about mental attitude and your dedication to the bowman’s role within a team?
I want to do my job as well as I can, and I have to go out there with the mentality that I’m just as good as anyone out there. It’s just like with American football; you don’t see one guy playing a bunch of different positions. When you get to the higher levels, the pro-circuits, in sailing, everyone is so good that being a specialist in your position is what separates you from the pack. The cool thing about sailing is that it’s always changing. You’re never perfect and you’re always learning.
It doesn’t sound like you have any plans to migrate to the back of the boat any time soon.
No, I enjoy it. There hasn’t been one regatta I’ve done that I think was perfect, where we’ve had a perfect start every time, and flawless crew work every single race. If everyone wants to do their job as best as they can, then you will have a good team.