Mcnay Racing

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J70 Key West Race Week – 2nd Place

Key West Race Week wrapped up on Friday. I sailed with Brian and his Savanasa J70 team. Conditions varied throughout the week, which made racing interesting and close. The event culminated with a 25kt final day. We placed 2nd of sixty J70’s. Full Results here.

Blasting downwind at Key West. Photo Credit Ken Stanek.

Blasting downwind at Key West. Photo Credit Ken Stanek.

Today, Miami Sailing World Cup begins. Dave Hughes and I have been preparing for this event for the last couple months. The international competition will be stiff and we look forward to the racing.

Follow the Miami Sailing World Cup action here.


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Win at the US 470 Nationals!

Stu, Dave, and Peter Commette

Stu, Dave, and Peter Commette

Dave Hughes and I just finished the 470 US National Championships in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Lauderdale YC did an excellent job hosting the event. The 470 race committee, led by Peter Commette and Tom Lihan, did a great job setting square courses with long legs. Thanks to all the volunteers for making the event run smoothly.

The regatta was relatively well attended this year. There were ten teams including a top European team, so racing was close at times.

Two weeks ago, we took delivery of a brand new 470. We were pleasantly surprised with the boat and how well Mackay had rigged it. We were fast off the bat and our upwind advantage carried us nicely through the event with 6 race wins and one second place in seven races.

Complete results here.

Scuttlebutt’s press release is here.

One of the highlights is that we will be eligible for US Sailing’s Championship of Champions regatta in 2014, which is open only to National, North American, and World Champions.

Next up for us is a mix of Etchells and M20 racing interspersed with some more 470 training from Miami YC.

US 470 Nationals 2013. Photo credit Mr. Payne.

US 470 Nationals 2013. Photo credit Mr. Payne.

20-25 Kts, Nov. 25 - Day after the US Nationals.

20-25 Kts, Nov. 25 – Day after the US Nationals.


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6th at 470 World Championships in La Rochelle, France!

I am on the plane on my way home from the 470 World Champs in La Rochelle, France, where we finished 6th place, which is the best finish of a USA men’s team since Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham also finished 6th at the 470 Worlds in 2002. We hope this is an omen of good things to come. Now, we need to channel the momentum of enthusiasm and support, so that we can keep getting better and achieve a life long goal of an Olympic Medal.

Postponements were common as we waited for the sea breeze to fill.

Postponements were common as we waited for the sea breeze to fill.

Preparation

We were one of the last teams to show up onsite. This was ok for two reasons: 1) We each had a great summer of sailing with our respective keel-boat programs, so we were sharp from continual racing. Dave was leading his Melges 20 and 24 teams and I was calling tactics on a Shields, Etchells, and Marstrom 32 Cat. We both owe a lot to our big boat programs. 2) We did a focused training camp in La Rochelle in May with similar conditions.

After three days of training and heavy boat work, the Legends Trophy for Dave (explained below), and the chaos of measurement (our boat was fine, but it’s always hectic), we felt tired and jet-lagged but were ready for the adrenaline of competition to kick in.

The Legends Trophy

The day before the World Championships, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 470 Class and it’s past champions, the regatta organizers hosted a one day supplied boat event for 470 Olympic medalists and world champions. Invitees from USA included Steve Benjamin (Silver ’84), Kevin Burnham (Silver ’92, Gold ’04), Alison Jolly (Gold ’88) and Lynne Jewell (Gold ’88) Dave (my crew) and Morgan Reeser (Silver ’92) They ended up 6th (a taste of what was to come?). This fun event helped remind us of the 470’s heritage and the fun of the game, which lightened any tension before the first day of Open Worlds racing.

The historic old town of La Rochelle was buzzing with action from all the competitors.

The historic old town of La Rochelle was buzzing with action from all the competitors.

The Racing – Qualifying Series and Gold Fleet

High speed spinnaker reaching on the last day of gold fleet racing.

High speed spinnaker reaching on the last day of gold fleet racing.

The first day of racing brought banner conditions: a 12-18 knot sea breeze with nicely sized waves. We posted a respectable 1, 10, 7. We ended the five race qualifying series in 10th place, so we carried forward a non-discardable 10 points into the seven race Gold Fleet series of the top 39 teams (of 117 total teams). On day one of Gold Fleet we posted a 10, 33, which meant that were to finish well in the event, our discard race had been sailed – extra pressure for later. ‘Moving day’ was day two of gold fleet. We started consistently to finish 9, 10, 4 on a challenging racetrack with 10-18 knots of wind and hard to read wind shifts. On the last race of Gold Fleet, we got a little gun shy at the start and then were a step behind on shifts. We finished this race 23rd, but enough others made mistakes also to keep us in 6th place overall. However, we were not in contention for a podium finish in the Medal Race.

Medal Race

Pre-medal race team shot. Photo credit Louisa Smith.

Pre-medal race team shot. Photo credit Louisa Smith.

Responding to the ever-changing Olympic format, the 470 Class decided to do an eight boat Medal Race. Scores count double and the points may not be discarded. We were eleven points behind 5th place overall (British) and nine points ahead of 7th overall (New Zealand). The biggest possible point delta to gain or lose on a team would be 14 points (Two minus Sixteen), so we knew it would be hard to change places. Instead, we focused on having the best race possible to keep pushing our own level. Our plan was to play hard for the right side. Current was quite strong, so we ended up further from the committee boat than planned and the French and British snuck in the gap. Still we were the second boat from the right side and third at the first mark. The New Zealand team diverged from the fleet with a ‘gybe-set’ on the run and moved into second place by the leeward gate. We pushed hard on the next upwind to be right on the tail of second and third. We made nice gains low on starboard gybe, but took the bait of a fake gybe from the Kiwi team and gybed too early. The Kiwi’s had just enough clear air on port gybe to round the final mark outside and ahead of us. We finished the medal race in a respectable fourth place, which solidified us in 6th place overall.

Approaching the first mark in the Medal Race.

Approaching the first mark in the Medal Race.

Congratulations to the three medalists: Australia, France, and Greece.

Australia, France, and Greece on the podium receiving their medals.

Australia, France, and Greece on the podium receiving their medals.

Full results here.

Thank you and Future Plans

Our immediate sailing plans are to return to our big boat programs for rest of August and then in early September, we have a training event in Santander, Spain on the site of the 2014 World Championships.

Many thanks to our supporters: financial, technical, training partners, friends, and family. Kind Bar recently donated many boxes of product, which helped fuel us while racing.

I hope the summer has brought fun sailing for all!


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Sail Newport Regatta 2013

Hello Friends!

This past weekend, I raced the Sail Newport Regatta with veteran team, Mark, Rebecca, and Kevin on their boat Zehn (Can you guess what ‘zehn’ means?). It was interesting to be back on the mainsheet and tactics after steering at the last event. I was better able to anticipate pressure changes on the helm and know what the boat needed from its sail trim. It really goes to show how much you can learn by changing positions on a boat.

Blasting off the line. Photo credit Ro Fernandez at Andes Visual.

Blasting off the line. Photo credit Ro Fernandez at Andes Visual.

One of my favorite things about this team is how prepared they are. Not only is the boat always in tip-top shape, but they arrive a couple days early to get themselves dialed into the boat and conditions at the venue. This is how I like to race events myself.

After some great practice conditions – thanks to Jeff Siegel and his team for lining up with us – the regatta began in a light and rainy Easterly. Day one of racing brought its trials, including a downwind where we gybed into huge hole and lost seven boats! But, on day two, the sea breeze filled to give two pleasant 8-12 knot races. We sailed very well in those two races, keeping our boat speed on track and battling with the top teams to score a 3, 4.

We finished the regatta in 5th place of 10 boats and know where less points could have come from! It was a successful event and I look forward to sailing together again.

Complete results here. Click on the Etchells results link.


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Etchells North American Champs 2013

This last week, we raced the Etchells North American Championships, finishing 5th place. Our team consisted of me on the helm, Will Ricketson trimming kite, Joe Morris on mainsheet and tactics, and Debbie Capozzi on the bow. The regatta ran Thursday to Saturday, which really should be done more often because it gave us Sunday to unwind and get ready for the week.

Crowded windward mark. Photo Credit Stu Johnstone.

Crowded windward mark. Photo Credit Stu Johnstone.

 

We saw a range of conditions. The first day of the event had breeze building to 16 knots. On the second day, we had three races in 12-20 knots, and then on the third day conditions lightened. One consistent feature was huge chop and waves. The Etchells weighs a lot for a boat of its length; so dealing with the seas was a real challenge. Joe had to agressively twist the mainsail and I was steering decisively.

Most of my Etchells experience has been doing mainsheet and tactics. I enjoyed the chance to helm. It’ll certainly help next time I am in another roll. I certainly recommend mixing up positions on the boat to any team.

Some separation in the fleet by the leeward mark. Photo Credit Stu Johnstone.

Some separation in the fleet by the leeward mark. Photo Credit Stu Johnstone.

There were two areas where we made significant progress over the event: tuning in overpowered conditions and changing tuning while racing. Both were tough at the beginning of the event, but by the end, we felt we had something pretty good. Debbie was constantly winding on and off the uppers and lowers for each sustained pressure change.

Thanks again to the race management and NYYC for putting on such a good event. We had a great time sailing and enjoyed the on-shore activities too.

Full results Here.

Debbie, Stu, Joe, and Will (L to R) on the back of USA 1248. Photo Credit Will Ricketson.

Debbie, Stu, Joe, and Will (L to R) on the back of USA 1248. Photo Credit Will Ricketson.


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American YC Spring Series 2013

Getting Ready to start. We are the square top sail getting ready to bust through the line-up.

Getting Ready to start. We are the square top sail getting ready to bust through the line-up.

This Sunday, the two weekend AYC Spring Series concluded. It was a hard fought series in a range of conditions. Scott helmed High Noon (Custom Tripp 41’) in the division IRC 1 and pulled together a fun and talented team. For me, in the back of the boat, it was great working with everyone aboard.

One of the interesting aspects of IRC racing is that each boat sails differently relative to its rating in each condition. The regatta had a range of conditions, which presented opportunities and challenges for us. High Noon has been optimized for Long Island Sound in the summer. This means we are very fast in light air compared to our rating, but not as strong in 10 knots and above. The regatta began in light wind and we won all three races on day 1! However, we didn’t get to rest on our laurels long, as the following day brought mid velocity winds and a couple deep finishes. This last weekend was mostly 10-15 knots and we sailed very well to finish races in mid-fleet position.

High Noon in light air.

High Noon in light air.

Given that the boats have corrected ratings, boats will go slightly different speeds around the course. In our division, all the boats were about 40’ long, so our speeds were fairly even, but there some interesting differences in modes. The Farr 40’s had conventional spinnaker poles, so they could sail a lot deeper than the rest of us who had fixed bowsprits. In medium breeze going downwind, they would even VMG better than us. This presented tactical troubles as they could always control the inside lanes on the runs and road block boats like us who needed more lateral space to sail our VMG. There seemed to be two ways around it 1) an early gybe so we stayed out of rhythm with the Farr 40, or 2) go until almost over-stood and come in hot at the bottom, which was quite risky. However, in both cases, our strategy was dictated by another boat.

It was a fun event and congrats to Scott for leading us to a 3rd place finish in the series. Complete results here.

Sailing faces. Photo Credit Ron Weiss.

Sailing faces. Photo Credit Ron Weiss.


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Charleston Race Week 2013

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Photo Credit Joy Dunigan

Downwind in 20 + knots in the Melges 20 is a ride! However, to get such performance, the boat has to be light and make some sacrifices in durability. In race four on day one, our mast broke into two pieces. It could have been a showstopper, but Camille and Andy were determined to not miss the next day. We cleaned up the pieces on Odin, salvaged the sails, and in the morning, Johnny Goldsberry tossed up a new rig, so we were ready to go on Saturday. In fact, our best race of the event (2nd place!) was the next day.

Each regatta, we figure out a little more about the boat. This event was very useful for exploring big breeze tuning. The M20 class held a chock talk after Friday’s races. The wind was 12-25kts. Here are the big points:

1) Harry Melges says that when the main is back winding at the spreader, your first move should be to ease to the jib.

2) Jib leads stay max forward for a long time in this boat, because the jib is very high aspect. Some fast teams left them all the way forward into 20kts, but others, moved the leads 2” inches aft in 18kts and then 4” back once there were puffs that caused both sails to rag (25 kts). We found that jib sheet play in concord with main sheet was very important in heavy air. This allowed the bow to stay high in knock down puffs.

Photo Credit Joy Dunigan

Photo Credit Joy Dunigan

3) Tension the intermediaries along with the diamonds in a 1:1 ratio. In 20kts, the fastest teams went +8 turns on both diamonds and intermediaries. When in 20kts, pull the intermediaries all the way back in the track. Lowers go back a bit (3 holes), but not so much that the bottom becomes full.

4) In big puffs the helmsperson has to work to keep the bow up (actively steering up in puffs). A stable boat is fast. Find your heel angle and keep it there with trim – main and jib – and small steers. The angle of the boat should feel fairly steady too. High amplitude up/downs of the bow kills speed and hurts boat balance.

Hope this helps! Full results here.

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Congrats to our husband team Andy, Mikee, and Greg on Valkyrie for their 3rd place in the Corinthian division!

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