Quantum Key West: Easy Tiger's Reset Button

When you're feeling off the pace, we learn, widen the groove and then bring it back to center.

Key West Race Week
Making the most of the morning commute to the racecourse, working on boatspeed one boatlength at a time.Dave Reed

Get right into as if nothing had happened yesterday. Reset

That’s our intent as we shove off from the dock first 10 minutes ahead of schedule, eager to make up for our halyard setback yesterday. With fresh new halyards to wind bone tight, we exit the Truman Annex Basin way ahead of everyone else. It’s business as usual. The race to the racecourse. This is no delivery, there’s no lounging, or small talk. We’re just getting in the groove and doing our jobs.

Coach Mike lays it out loud and clear: Nothing different. Same, same. Don’t get slow.

The advantage of being first to the course is having an open runway to sail an entire beat, and then some. For nearly two straight hours, we focus on the subtleties of feeling the boat, of feeling when it’s right, and when it’s wrong. What I pick up from Mike today is the priority on “re-setting” when the boat feels bound up and slow. It’s so easy to get lost in a haze or out of sync with the wind and waves. Here in Key West the chop and swell come from all over the place, especially for our Flying Tiger fleet, which is the fifth fleet start on our course, following the bigger ORC boats, which kick up the chop.

It’s lumpy as hell and each tack requires its own mode. That mode changes continuously as we sail through lulls and wind lines. The focus and coordination between main trimmer and driver in these conditions is relentless, and in one sharp wave the wheels can fall off the bus, the trimmer chasing the driver’s course correction and the driver chasing the trimmer’s.

Key West Race Week
Coach Mike Marshall uses some final moment before the start to share more wisdom.Dave Reed

As we sail out to the course working on the sync between our excellent helmswoman Rachel and trimmer Mays, Coach Mike explains the importance of pressing the reset button whenever they feel out of sync. Use a word, he says, that brings you back together, in focus and on the same page.

We put two second-place finishes on the scoresheet and use every mile of our sail to the harbor to work on our downwind technique. Just as hard as we did upwind. By the time we’ve turned the corner into the harbor we are that much faster and ready for tomorrow. We’ve reset and will now refocus on our fine tune.

As part of our dock debrief we each share our “one and one.” For me, I offer, one thing I thought I did well was bail the boat before and after every race. I’m talking many gallons of water from deep within the bowels of Easy Tiger. Tomorrow I will bring a better bailer. And the one thing I’d like to improve on is my syncing with Rachel on the runs. As the spinnaker trimmer it’s just as easy to get out of sync and stuck in a wave, and I will be better with our communication and understanding of the Tiger’s better modes. I’ll remember to reset.

For now, it’s bedtime. It’s well past midnight and there’s early rise for breakfast at the RV Village of Tiger sailors, dubbed Tiger Town, Key West.

Key West Race Week
Rachel Bryer and Mays Dickey work into their groove on the Flying Tiger Easy Tiger at Quantum Key West Race Week 17Dave Reed