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Bad Egg or Good Egg?

With my credibility on the line, I took a gamble digging into a port-tack header...

January 20, 2011
Sailing World

Martin950

Today’s forecast was going to challenge not only my patience, but the team’s patience, as well. It was a light, dying breeze, and the race committee wanted to get in at least one race before the breeze shut. I knew the day would test the team’s confidence in me, and I wanted to be like Veruca Salt, the spoiled brat who always got what she wanted. I wanted—no, needed—to get the tactics right today. With these conditions, anything can happen; it would be easy to end up last.

Five minutes before the start I thought, “Get a good start, and keep your options open to go straight.”

We had a second-row start and were forced to tack away—not a good way to start the day. Sailing away from the fleet on port in a header, I realized I’d have to take more rise and wait before tacking back toward the fleet. This was going to either be really, really bad, or it was going to pull us back into the middle of the fleet. Was I going to be the golden egg, or the bad egg?

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Maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket, too, because we tacked back onto startboard and slid into second place! I felt the pressure lift off my shoulders; I didn’t get sent down the trash chute like Veruca.

“Okay, now,” I thought. “Chip away at the leader without being too risky with the boats behind. Get to the finish before the wind dies.”

On the last beat, we caught one final shift and took the lead. We rounded the weather mark, stayed fast on the final downwind leg, and got the gun at the finish.

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Now that the racing is over for the day, you’d think the tactician’s job is over. The race committee has sent us in, and there’s lots of time to get drunk on Duval Street. So, how do I keep the team from overindulging on a day like today, when you get off the water early? If someone knows, please let me know. Maybe I should call an Oompa Loompa…

Complete coverage of 2011 Key West Race Week.

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