Ian and the Melges – Part Three – MOVING DAY
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.