Like so many divisions here at Key West Race Week, the Melges 32 class is loaded with talent. William Douglass’s Goombay Smash, which won Boat of the Day honors today, is no exception. Mainsail trimmer Marco Constant, jib trimmer Andrew Estcourt, and mastman Chris Welch each serve as hired guns on the RC 44 circuit—aboard Katusha, Aqua, and Artemis, respectively—but when they come together on the M32, they leave their egos at home.
“To come out on top in this class, where every boat’s got good guys onboard and every team comes well prepared, the difference maker is how the team gels,” says Constant. “You can have the best guys on paper, but if you don’t gel as a team, you’re hopeless. You’re better off sailing with guys that are no names but who’ve got a really good connection—the team will go a lot further.”
The social dynamic is particularly important at an event like Key West Race Week, where teams spend a lot of time together on and off the water. “You hang out with each other for a whole week, sharing rooms, eating meals together, and so on, so you have to get on alright,” says Estcourt. “It goes hand in hand. If you get on alright off the water, you’ll work together well on the water.”
That’s not to say the Goombay Smash crewmembers are all bosom buddies—after all, Constant hails from South Africa, Estcourt from New Zealand, and Welsh from San Francisco. But they understand the importance of camaraderie. “It’s a light mood onboard,” says Welsh. “I think that helps keep everything running smoothly.”
It certainly was smooth sailing for Goombay Smash on Day 1, as the team put together a 4-1 scoreline in the 21-boat division. “We had pretty good speed, but the big thing was we managed not to do too many maneuvers,” says Constant. “We didn’t tack too much, and we always seemed to be headed in the right direction. We really just kept it simple.”
Always easier said than done. “Come see us tomorrow, once we’ve finished dead last,” says Constant. “Then we’ll see if the team’s still gelling!”