There is one thing that close one-design racing will always remind you—teamwork rules.
Day 1 at Key West was okay for us aboard the Rumor. Although we didn’t have a stellar day, we kept our mistakes at a manageable level of destruction. There is one phrase often repeated amongst my family: “You don’t have to win on the first day, just don’t lose the regatta on Day 1.” This is something that definitely held true for the Rumor today.
It has been a few regattas since sailing on the J/80 for most of our crew, including myself. I am driving this week at Key West, and have not helmed the boat since Block Island Race Week 2009. My brother, John Storck III, our tactician, is also in a new position on the boat. He is actually doing what I normally do—jumping the halyard. Yesterday we went for a practice session to shake off some of the rust. Some was shaken, and some needed a wire brush and WD40, both of which we did not have on Sunday.
Today was a fairly forgiving day concerning the wind shifts. However, with the velocity reaching over 20 knots at times, the forgiveness level was much lower for boathandling mistakes. Given the rust, this was very apparent for our first race. Never before have we broached twice and almost been unable to drop the chute all in one race. This is embarrassing, yes, but after having rounded the windward mark in second, we kept pushing after the downwind mistakes. The second run opened similar wounds, and we finished the race in seventh. Sadly, we did cross the finish line on our ear, desperately trying to get our boat in a position where we could clear our spin sheet off the end of the boom. As mentioned, we have rarely experienced such a culmination of catastrophes previously.
My recent lack of experience driving the boat did not help the situation. But, what we did best out on the water today was to not get hung up on these mistakes and wallow in the negative moments. For the most part, when something goes wrong on the racecourse, the team knows it. I believe what distinguishes those who lose the regatta on Day 1 and those who do not is that the latter know the most important aspect of teamwork—to move on. The best teams are always the ones who can minimize the damage of their mistakes.
Teamwork has always been something we have preached in the past as the reason for our success on board Rumor. Although today we had many mistakes that were nearly the opposite of the ‘teamwork’ we normally show on the water, it was the same teamwork that managed to keep our mistakes from pulling us even further down. We didn’t lose the regatta on the first day, and that is what will keep us fighting tomorrow.
_ Access SW‘s complete coverage of Quantum Key West 2012. _