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Call It a Comeback

After a lousy start, we picked our way back to second place and grabbed the lead in the PHRF 1 division.

January 21, 2011
Sailing World

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Nick Turney

Today was all about patience and, once again, finding the best pressure. The PRO decided to stay on schedule and sent us out on time. We arrived to the racing area to find a light, southerly breeze. After a 20-minute postponement, we went into sequence.

Our game plan was to do a port approach, tack in under the fleet, and start at the pin, which was pretty favored. Unfortunately, the game plan didn’t work out as we’d hoped, due to a starboard-tack lineup that forced us to duck the fleet. We tacked to starboard as the gun went off—not idea in light-air conditions—and had a pretty rough start.

It’s always important to have max boatspeed at the gun, and we should’ve seen the starboard lineup forming, gone back sooner, and joined the lineup. We did a great job of staying calm, however, and slowly worked our way through the fleet. By the top mark, we’d made up a lot of ground on the leaders, but we were still behind.

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It’s so eeasy to lose focus when you’re behind; you’ve got to look at the bigger picture and keep moving forward. We sailed a great downwind leg, passing two boats. Once again, the key to success is staying in the pressure and beating your competition to it.

Sailing upwind, we had a dying breeze and a lot of sloppy, mixed-up water to get through. Jim [Smincheck, skipper] did a fantastic job driving the boat through that mess, and our trimmers really kept the boat moving well. In confused water, it’s important to have plenty of twist in the sail plan. Twist makes the boat easier to drive by creating max flow along the sails, no drag or stalling breeze.

We extended on the boats behind us and pulled in on the boats ahead of us to finish second in the race. There’s a protest taking place between two boats in our class, which could move us up to first in the race. Either way, we sailed well and put two more points on Rush, our closest competition, moving us into the lead.

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Notes from Day 3:

1. Put twist in the sails for the confused chop.
2. Keep the bow down always; boatspeed is king.
3. Stay in the pressure.

Complete coverage of 2011 Key West Race Week.

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