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Ian and the Melges – Part Three – MOVING DAY

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Day 3 Races 7-9:  On the way out the team was quiet.

Clearly a bit worn out and contemplating how to move up. I grabbed one of our laminated tactical note sheets and wrote down the 8 boats ahead of us and the 3 boats behind us. I told the team, “This is our neighborhood, if we want to move up, these are the boats we have to beat. We have to hit a few base hits before we swing for the home run.”

Race seven gave us a better understanding of what it means to be in the weeds. We had another decent start but quickly lost every lane we had and got spit out the back. Clearly something was wrong. With the crystal clear water here in Miami we can easily see the keel when we hike. So we were hiking hard to see if there was a hunk of sea grass on our keel, and we could see nothing. Whilst trying to remain focused on the shifts and where the breeze was we were getting increasingly frustrated by our lack of point and speed. What could the problem be?! Finally, on the starboard lay line I was hiking my butt off as we fell back to second to last place and I caught a glimpse of the rudder out of the corner of my eye. There was a giant grass monster holding on to our rudder! I jumped back to the rudder and shot my hand down the leading edge as if I was snatching a salmon from a stream. With salt water spewing up into my nostrils and eyes I was able to clear a good three pound hunk for grass from the rudder. Voila! Our speed and point returned to normal.

Now the challenge was shaking off the first leg and climbing through the fleet. Down wind we worked hard to stay in breeze, surf the waves, and pounce on any opportunity to pass boats. By the time we reached the leeward mark we were nipping at the heels of some familiar faces. We were back in our neighborhood. Coming out of the leeward mark we escaped by making a couple tacks shortly after the mark to get clean air. Up wind we played some shifts and were happy to have our normal boat speed back. At the windward mark we played it conservative and had to duck a few boats that we had caught but we ended up finishing close with this gaggle of boats. We were certainly in the weeds but we shook them off and were able to go from second to last to 51st in 3 legs.

Lesson learned: Everyone has a crummy leg every now and then. No matter the reason, there is always more race to go. Do not allow you or your team to spiral. Keep your eyes forward(or back ward if you’re going down wind) and sail as you would otherwise. If you continue to work hard you will reel the fleet back in.

Overall we continued to start fairly well. After the start we worked on anticipating lane loss and deciding whether it was a tack out or a foot off situation. This seemed to help a bit, although we could still improve on this. We seem to have a habit of getting off the start line well then perhaps tacking once and extending for a long while, sometimes sailing on the outside of a shift. Looking ahead we will see a top boat and say, ” they’re going this way, we must be doing something right.” I often voice my opposition to this as I believe those boats are sailing in a different race and there are top boats on both sides of the course. On the flip side of that there had been a couple occasions when we ping ponged a bit and sailed up the middle of the course, to similar mediocre results.

We are doing a good job of holding our mid fleet position, but as anyone would, we want to move up. I am certainly open to ideas.

On the fatigue front: after 9 races in 3 days and a seemingly marginal forecast for this morning the PRO graciously granted the fleet a warning no earlier than 1300 today. Well rested, our goal today is to improve our down wind legs.

Three races to go, it would be nice to peak in race 12.

Ian and the Melges – Part Two

Coach Ian Moriarty, who can most often be found coaching on a J World J/80 or J/70 is racing in the Melges 24 World Championship in Miami, Florida.  From there he will scamper across the state to lead our first Davis Island J/70 Winter Series program in Tampa.  The challenges and successes he’s having at the Melges event will surely have him tuned up for the first Davis Island Series event.  We still have a few spots open for our J/88 race down the reed (aka Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race) and for our third Davis Island series event (February.)  Let us know if you can join in the fun.

KB:  Alright Ian, you have been racing for two days now.  What are the big takeaways?

Day 2
Day 2

IM:  There are a few big things that come to mind.  First, find a specific challenge and fix it.  For us we decided, based on day one, we wanted to improve our starts. So on day two we made that a priority.

First we developed a strategy. What end would we attempt to start on? And what if our plan to find our hole doesn’t work out?  We made use of the “magic box”(velocitek prostart), as always, to give us distance to the line. But we also developed a stream of information that was constant from 2 minutes on. Time? Distance from the line? Early? Late? The position of boats around us? Room to head up or bear away?

Of all 3 of the starts we matched the time to the distance in the last 30 seconds and had better holes to get the boat moving.

KB:  Nice work.  In all of these big fleet events having a solid start is crucial to being able to survive the first beat.  So what are you working on today?

IM:  After a good start how can we escape and improve our finishing positions?  We have some ideas, I’ll let you know how they go at the end of today.

KB:  That’s a very Trumpian response.  I’ll be waiting in suspense:)  So how is the crew communication on the boat?  You’ve been sailing with the group for a while, but sometimes the test of a big event can stress even strong team bonds?

IM:  That is big takeaway number two.  Be open to constructive criticism.

We can simply be content with how we sail or race and hold steady in our neighborhood of competitors, or we can look inwardly at where we lost boat lengths on the course. To do this you have to be willing to hear it from someone else and admit it to your self with out taking offense. As a team this is not a point of conflict but an opportunity to learn. It is important to have a team you’ve sailed with long enough that this process goes smoothly.

KB:  I wonder what is harder?  To give constructive criticism or receive it.  So it sounds like you are developing some good team dynamics that are leading to improving results.  If you had to boil down one thing in that area that is leading to better decisions and better outcomes, what would it be?

IM:  Trust your skipper and trust your crew.  When there are tough decisions to be made and someone has an idea it’s better to trust them and commit to it than to spend too much time discussing it.  Admitidly, We need to adhere to this more often. In the moments we trust each other we excel, when we do not and rather have a conflict we struggle.

Trust the plan, commit to it, hike hard, call puffs, call waves, watch the compass, and the plan is more likely to succeed.

KB:  Perfect words to wrap with.  Good luck, sail fast and have fun.

Ian and the Melges 24 World Championship – Part One

This week J World sailing and racing coach Ian Moriarty is in Miami Florida for the Melges 24 World Championships. Ian spends most of his time on J Boats like the J/80 and J/70 and helping J World clients get more out of their sailing, but he has taken the time to sail with a team from his home waters (Lake Carlyle) on that “other” sport boat.

We caught up with Ian before the first night of racing and asked him about his preparation for the event.  Here is what he had to say.

KB:  “So Ian, are you ready for the big day tomorrow?”

Ian Moriarty Coach
Ian Moriarty
Coach

IM:  “The start of any regatta is always crucial. It is important to hit the ground running and put your best foot forward when you cross the starting line. This often involves quite a lot of preparation, going back days, weeks, and months in advance of race day one. I’ll share a bit about our evening before race day as well as our morning.”

“Our team has well defined roles, both on and off the boat. For dinner the night before we ate well. One person in charge of prep, another in charge of cooking and putting everything together, another to play music and encourage us, and another to clean up. We go by the philosophy that if we all do a little no one does a lot. Using these techniques we whipped up a great meal of salad, pasta, and pork chops in no time at all. We enjoyed our meal and debriefed our day of practice as well as set goals for the first day of racing. After cleaning up and agreeing on our departure time for the morning we all showered and went to sleep at a reasonable hour.”

“In the morning the roles rotate a bit to keep everyone involved. We ate a hearty breakfast of eggs, toast, and bacon. Oh and don’t forget the coffee and anti-inflamatories! We make efficient business of making sure we are all fed, awake, and ready with everything we need for the day and then we get out the door.”

KB: “Sounds like you are off to a good start.  Good luck, sail fast, we can’t wait to hear more tomorrow.”

Melges 24 World Championship Results

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