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Finding Room to Breathe

Fanatical devotion to keeping clear air at all times has propelled Brian Keane's Savasana team to the top of the J/105 class and earned Boat of the Day honors.

January 20, 2011
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Sailing World

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With finesse and patience, Brian Keane has steered Savasana to the top of the J/105 division. Michael Lovett

In a recent “From the Experts” story, Steve Hunt laid out three simple go-fast rules: 1) Sail in more wind; 2) Sail to the mark; 3) Keep in simple.

Strict adherence to Rules 1 and 3 helped Brian Keane and the crew of the J/105 Savasana earn Boat of the Day honors. The team won today’s sole race and sits atop the 15-boat J/105 division.

“It’s been light and lumpy all week, and in these conditions, you need to be able to put the bow down and rumble,” says Keane, who’s made keeping clear air and a clear lane a top priority. “When you come off the line and you’ve got boats to windward and leeward, you’re just trying to hold the lane. That scenario takes me away from my sailing style, so I’m not afraid to tack away and duck a few boats to find the open lane.

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“The key today was we were able to sail our own race,” continues the Massachusetts native, who’s more accustomed to the reliable sea breezes of Buzzards Bay than the variable conditions lingering in Key West this week. “The danger in these conditions is that people try to stick it up too much, not looking to use the keel, not looking to use the rudder to get the left. You head down, get the speed, and you’re going to get the lift.”

Keane’s quest for clear air has caused him to take more than a few transoms this week, but the freedom to foot at will has paid huge dividends. “We’ve seen other boats that would tack and then go right into point mode without the speed, and you could see what happens. It’s just bounce, bounce, bounce. The waves are too severe. You’ve got to let the foils do their thing. I’ve learned that speed is everything. If you’re not moving, nothing’s gonna happen.”

Complete coverage of 2011 Key West Race Week.

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