Appleton's Key West Update: Rough on the Edges

What did we say about not losing it on Day 1. Well, on Mascalzone Latino we almost did.

Key West Race Week
Busy starts on Day 1 are sure to be pitfalls for unsuspecting teams. Mark roundings, too.Photoboat/Quantum Key West Race Week

It’s always the first day that sets your week up. As the famous saying goes, “You can't win the event on day one but you can certainly lose it.”

Well, we had an interesting and eventful day one. Race two, shortly after the start, we got T-boned while a port boat was dipping us and misjudged. Every new boat always ends up having to get its first ding. We got ours.

Then, after arriving fourth at the top mark, we hit it.

Now comes the discussion on where to do the turn? When it's windy and going straight out of the top mark is favored, it's best to be in the high lane. So don't rush it. That was today's lesson.

Take your time and get clear of the fleet so you can execute the circle(s). We rushed our first one and had a further incident. As we've all heard before, "It's not the first mistake but the second mistake," so we rolled into our second turn … only to meet a boat wiping out and aiming straight at us as. We avoided them and then we fouled the next boat, so we rolled into our third turn. At this point, we were completely dizzy and watching the fleet sail away. Gaining our composure, we put our heads down and worked hard getting back to 12th. Good save for Day 1.

Again starting, starting, and starting again, we got off the line terribly today, although we raced the boat very well, finding wide lanes to go fast in. Things went well in race three and we had a great race at the front to have a close second at the finish. This puts us with a score of 8,12,2 in fourth overall. So now we have to learn about what we did well. This is just as important as learning from the mistakes. Being able to repeat and improve on the good points is often harder and overlooked. Understanding how we can get off the start line will be where we spend a lot of our time. It's a different concept and adapting a style that suits our team and owner.

When the breeze is up, the waves are, too. With a fairly large sea state speed control amounte to heel control, and then downwind, keeping the boatspeed up with the right amount of load to make sure we didn’t slow and let the boat labor on the waves. Certainly, it's easy to start chasing too many waves instead of being patient.

What a fun day though. We came ashore excited about how good the racing has been, with a learning curve through the roof. What attracts some of the best owners along with husbands and wives to this class? I'm going to leave you with that and try answer it tomorrow while letting you know about what motivates people to race in these great classes.