How the Best Teams Prepare
How the Best Teams Prepare
Take a page from these four season champions. Their pre-season prep always ensures their boats, and teams, are race-ready when the series starts. From our June 2011 issue.
Scout, Sydney 41
Chicago Yachting Association
Boat of the Year
Owner: Dorsey Ruley
Dorsey Ruley’s Scout lineage is well known to the Lake Michigan racing scene, and his newest boat, an Australian-built Sydney 41, is a tough one to beat on any given weekend. Picking up the CYA’s Boat of Year trophy is no fluke says Dorsey: it’s all about the crew work (and who doesn’t say that?). He’s adamant about having a well-prepared boat. It’s made the difference more than once, he says. With less time fixing and more time sailing, his team of regulars makes better use of their time on the water.
In terms of tackling Scout’s work list, Ruley is a believer in crew participation; they’ve meet a few times over Chicago’s long winter, breaking off into subgroups and working on particular areas. “It’s a good time of year to get things done,” he says. “You have to make it a good time for the crew. If you don’t work together on the boat, it will show up later.”
He’s upgrading tired running rigging and will be attacking the bottom with Interlux VC17. “Torrenson’s [Marine] will spray it, and we’ll take it from there,” he says. “When the boat’s in the water, we have a diver come and clean the bottom about every two weeks. We’ll do the teak, too; that’s normal procedure. You have to keep the upkeep going, because the longer you go, the harder it gets.”
With three new sails in 2010, the sail inventory should be all set for this summer’s Race to Mackinac. “We’ve done it so many times, it’s a routine,” says Ruley. “The prep shouldn’t be an all new experience each year.” When they get to the end of the year and see something that needs attention, they replace it right away.
“Preparation is really important,” says Ruley. “It leads the way to success. But we’ve got a good mixture of people. With big boats especially, you have a lot of crew turnover each year. Two or three will go away because of other commitments, so we focus on filling those spots by advertising on craigslist, listing in local sailing rags, and posting signs in area clubs. We might start with 30, interview 10, and maybe get three.”
Rags, C&C 115
2010 Lake Yachting Racing Association Boat of the Year
Owners: Judy and Frank Button, Toronto, Canada
The Lake Ontario scene is a healthy microcosm of handicap racing today, and picking up the area’s Boat of the Year trophy is a feat reserved for those committed to a full calendar of racing. For Judy and Frank Button, co-owners of the C&C 115 Rags, [Judy, says Frank, is the better driver of the two] their selection came on the heels of a long string of successful regattas scattered around the Canadian and American sides of the lake. They covered a lot of water and hit all the key events with their dual-purpose machine, and persistence paid off.
It’s the Buttons’ fifth year with the C&C 115—they came out of the Laser 28 class—and when we spoke in late April, they were headed to the boatyard with an abbreviated to-do list.
“The bottom paint is the first thing to be done. Other than that, there’s not much that needs to be done,” says Frank. One important fix that has their attention, though, is fabricating a guard for one of the spinnaker-pole track end fittings. “Sometimes the sheets snag on it, and that breaks the fitting,” says Frank. “We actually had a guard on it last year, and it broke, too. This year, we’ve come up with a piece of Lexan that’s designed to let the sheets slip off more easily. We hope it works.”
The big hardware alteration they’re making is to the steering pedestal guard. When jibing from reach to reach (in the pre-start, for example), the mainsheet snags on the pedestal. It has broken three times already, so they’re installing a 48-inch diameter guard “that’s almost bigger than the steering wheel itself.”
The pedestal guard protects the new Garmin 740S chartplotter, as well. And that’s important, because the Buttons believe the chartplotter is a piece of race gear upon which they rely heavily. “When doublehanded racing [as they often do], we always have the course in the chartplotter and watch where we are going from on deck.”
For the time being, the bottom is VC17, but the boat (and the Buttons) are retiring and moving to Vancouver, where they plan to really cruise the boat and mix in a few of the Northwest’s best distance races. As he prepares for saltwater, Frank is pondering a switch to Interlux Micron CSC.
Rag’s sail inventory is anything but rags for 2011. They’ve taken possession of a new Doyle D4 jib, a working jib, and a Heavy No. 1. Otherwise, Rags will be undergoing an extensive cleaning and inspection as opening day nears on Lake Ontario. “Shackles and blocks, we check them all,” says Frank. “As we launch, we make sure the cotter pins are tight. Everything is pretty new, so there’s not a whole lot we need to do. The big thing for us is making sure we have the crew together; that’s more important than anything else.”
The Buttons host parties in the fall and spring to keep the crew connected, and they settle on a schedule and get commitments well in advance (about nine crew for each regatta). “It boils down to good people,” says Frank. “We’re not looking for experts, just people who enjoy sailing.”