Melges 32 or Laser 2, Winning Is a Matter of Choice

Despite their vastly different paths to the 2007 Newport Regatta, Melges 32 champ Claudio Recchi and Laser 2 champ Avram Dorfman share the same ability to make key decisions. "First Beat" from our July 17, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/

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Allen Clark/ Www.photoboat.com

Both Claudio Rechhi and Avram Dorfman won their class at the 2007 Newport Regatta. That's where most similarities end, however.

Recchi, from Torino, Italy, bought his first Melges 32 last December. He started at the front of the burgeoning class, winning at Key West Race Week and Acura Miami Grand Prix. In Rhode Island last weekend, the 52-year-old became the class's second national champion.

Dorfman, on the other hand, came in last place in his first major Laser 2 regatta, the 2002 European Championships. Since then, the 34-year-old Newport, R.I., resident has clawed his way into competitiveness, nursed his local fleet from the verge of extinction, developed his own go-fast rigging techniques, even set up a website, www.us.laser2sailing.org, to share his findings with fellow Laser 2 initiates. These two champions flourish in different parts of the sailing jungle, but as revealed in the following interviews with SW eNewsletter, their roots lead back to the same place. Winning is a matter of decision making-when to pull the trigger at the start, where to go on the run. The same decisions we all make, or don't make, every time we race. How did you get into your class?Recchi: We started this year. Our first regatta was [Acura] Key West and our second was [Acura] Miami [Race Week] SORC. We did reasonably well, we won in Key West with one race to go, and we did the same thing in Miami.Dorfman: When I was in the Air Force I was stationed in Virginia on the Potomac. I went to Backyard Boats and they had a Laser 2 set up. I was like, Wow, this is the coolest looking thing I've ever seen. But I couldn't afford it so I bought a Laser and stuck with that for awhile. Once I did get a Laser 2, I found that it's a difficult boat to learn on your own. Eventually I met the president of the International Laser 2 Class Association and he convinced me to go to the European Championships in 2002. I came in last place, but it was a fantastic experience. I mean, going to Italy is cool in itself. I also went to Cork that year. Those two regattas are where everything came together.What was your best move of the regatta?Recchi: We tried to sail conservatively the whole time, but probably the last race is when that paid off the most. On the last downwind leg, we were smart to sail in the middle instead of going to the left or the right. So we were able to defend, because at one time there was more pressure on the left, and at the last part of the leg there was more breeze from the right. Because we were more in the middle, we could go to the right side at the last moment. Dorfman: The last race on Day 2. I decided to fly the spinnaker and go dead downwind to the leeward mark while other boats opted to reach off with just two sails. On the first downwind, there was sort of a broad reach to the jibe mark and I decided not to put it up because I was sailing with a novice crew and if we put it up we might have capsized. But on the second downwind leg, which was dead downwind, we put the kite up and went straight to the mark. We passed three boats going dead downwind and took first in the race. It was a risky move, but it paid off. What was your worst move of the regatta?Recchi: The race we finished fourth. We didn't jibe at the right moment. We kept going on starboard with the gennaker up and we didn't pay attention to the layline. We lost two boats on that. Dorfman: [Laughs] In the first race of Day 2, we were well in the lead and I rounded the wrong mark. There was a yellow barrel mark near the yellow tetrahedron that I was supposed to round, and I had been heading for the tetrahedron, but I sort of spaced out. Luckily, the number three boat was nice enough to tell me after I had only gone four or so boatlenghts upwind-"Hey, Avram, wrong mark!" For complete results from the 2007 Sail Newport Regatta, click here.