Terry's Tips: Stay in the Moment

Making assumption about the outcome of a race can be a tragic mistake. Stay in the zone and stay focused on the now.

Rolex Farr 40 World Championship 2015

Struntje light, Sail Number: GER 40, Owner: Wolfgang Schaefer, Tactician: Francesco Bruni, Home Port: Lueneburg, GER , Yacht Type: Farr 40, Length: 40 Plenty, Sail Number: USA 60059, Owner: Alex Roepers, Tactician: Terry Hutchinson, Home Port: New York, NY, USA , Yacht Type: Farr 40, Length: 40Quantum Sails

For Team Plenty, the 2015 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship ended with disappointment. A well-sailed event had us going into the final race with a 1-point lead, but when it was all said and done we lost it. The tactical debrief has been a bit painful as I can see two scenarios that, had we played differently in Race 11, could’ve netted a different and better result.

The situation: We rounded the first weather mark in regatta-winning position with the second-place boat for the event roughly 2-meters behind (1-point back and we lose the tie break so it is a must win). The thinking was to be aggressive with the tactics and boathandling. Be complacent and we will get passed. My call was for a set-jibe, to lead out on the long jibe. This was aggressive because with this maneuver there is always risk. Our execution wasn't perfect and created a tighter race then planned.

Let’s stop the scenario right here and hit the reset button, ignore the points and focus on here and now.

Mistake 1: Sail our mode. The Farr 40 is an angle beast. The slightest off-angle sailing plays into the competition hands. We made the decision to sail low and slow (off angle) in order to squash down on the competition. The thought was to get them trapped in our dirty air to leeward and pick our time to speed build and lead the jibe. Our mistake was to sail the mode of our competition instead of ours. We gave away our advantage of space. Knowing that port was long, there was nothing wrong with a layline push. Not having the space prevented this from happening.

Mistake 2: It's generally not the first mistake that gets you, but the second. Our boathandling error put me on the back foot and prevented clear tactical thinking. A quick hit of the reset button would've eliminated some of the internal red mist and kept me thinking clearly.

What did we do well? Once we lost control of the tactical situation by giving up our space advantage, we refocused on things we could control; boatspeed and boathandling. We went through the bottom mark in third place in the regatta. From here there was only one thing to do—sail fast!

We went up the final beat of the event and our boatspeed put us back into silver. It would’ve been easy to give up as we were all feeling the effects of the run, but our head-down approach, and not allowing a third mistake to happen, was paramount. This boatspeed came from solid communications between our helmsman (Alex Roepers) and mainsheet trimmer (Skip Baxter). The simple prompt of “keep hiking guys” is a great reminder that we are still in the moment. A team’s composure in these tough situations must never be underestimated.

This tip has been brought to you by Quantum Sails.