McKee Minute: Surviving OCS

An OCS on the second day of the Melges 24 Worlds in Miami serves as reminder of how to claw your back to the front of the fleet.

December 1, 2016
Melges 24 Worlds

Miami 2016 Melges 24 World Championship

Giving the entire fleet a minute head start makes Bora Gulari’s team on Air Force 1 work a little harder to save face, and points. The silver lining? Making new friends in the fleet. Carlo Borlenghi/Bombarda Racing

It happens to everyone. They say if you are not over early occasionally, you’re not getting close enough! So how do you recover from being behind at the start? Today we had to return to restart about 40 seconds after the start, and in a 74-boat fleet that makes for a tough challenge.

First off, try to maintain some semblance of rationality. If the left has been paying big all day, it is quite unlikely that the right will all of a sudden pay just because you are way behind.

Secondly, unless the wind is very shifty, you need to get to an edge. This is especially true in a big fleet, where the middle of the course can get quite chopped up, with less wind and more waves (and usually more bad air). This is even more true downwind, where the middle rarely pays in a big fleet. This does not mean you have to overstand, and obviously going to the correct corner is better than going to the wrong one.


Thirdly, don’t give up. It does not always happen, but sometimes it’s possible to engineer an amazing comeback and get back into the top group. Maintain hope, even from the depths of despair at the back of the fleet.

Finally, maintain a sense of humor and humility. You will sail around some boats you may not often see, so it’s an opportunity to make new friends! And there is always the next race…

Our comeback today did not go as well it could have. We went too much up the middle on the upwind legs, where the air was bad, the sea state was worse, and the passing lanes were few, but we did make some new friends.


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