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Down to the Wire, Again

Day three of Act 2 in Qingdao brought new challenges for Max Bulger and Oman Air.

April 19, 2012
Sailing World

Bulger Act 2 Blog 3

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Fourteen points separate the top four boats, and six points separate second place from fourth place. Can’t say I’m surprised. As I’ve said before, we knew it would be tight racing.

For the first time in team history, we elected to skip our daily debrief with Coach Rob this evening. There wasn’t a lot of mystery around what went wrong today. Starting in the second row didn’t feel good. Rounding a leeward mark in first or second, only to watch the next 4 boats round the opposite gate and sail a circle around you in twice as much breeze didn’t feel any better. The pressure was hard to see, the fleet was as tight as ever, and we simply didn’t do as good a job of connecting the dots as some of our competitors. Still, we are within striking distance of first and a breath off the podium.

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Sure, these are fast boats, the logos are big and shiny, the crowds are loud, the media coverage is significant, and the fleet is studded with Olympic medals and world championship titles. But that’s not what makes this sailing “extreme.” What pushes it over the edge, when compared to other classes, are days like today. Equalizing racing that, despite all the preparation and training, puts everybody back to square one. Fourteen points. Days where even sailors as experienced as Loick Peyron can only laugh, shrug and light another one of his signature between-race cigarettes. C’est la vie.

Day three of Act 2 brought new challenges. We identified them and understood them, but didn’t execute quite well enough to take the lead. But racing is all about kaizen: tomorrow we won’t make the same mistakes. Did we have a glamor day? No. Do we have a chance to win the regatta? Yes, along with half of the fleet. So while other teams might choose to pour over video recaps, compare leech profiles, and turn hair grey examining forecasts for tomorrow, Oman Air is going to relax. In fact, the boys are probably having a beer downstairs as I write this. We know what we need to do to come off the water with the biggest smiles tomorrow. As usual, it comes down to the last race. See you on the water, folks.

For more frequent updates, follow Max Bulger on Twitter.

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