Mcnay Racing

Performance Sailing


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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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California International Sailing Association (CISA) Clinic 2013

Today, we finished racing the Melges 20 at Charleston RW, but earlier in the week, I was in Long Beach, CA for one of the best clinics I have ever been a part of: The CISA Youth Advanced Racing Clinic. Youth sailors were invited based on their resume, potential, and passion for racing. Coaches were brought together from across North America, each bringing something unique for the youth sailors – Brett Davis on downwind Laser sailing, Sally Barkow for boat on boat tactics, Sydney Bolger for her I-420 (medal at worlds) and 470 experience, and so on.

Morning workouts with Harry Legum. Photo credit CISA

Morning workouts with Harry Legum. Photo credit CISA

Every morning all the sailors were brought together for a workout led by Harry Legum. This was one of my daily highlights as I got to be in the trenches with the young athletes. It was interesting to see who was able to bring their focus and seriousness to this part of the game – and who would be ready to give it their all in the final sprint of the work out.

On the water action. Photo credit CISA

On the water action. Photo credit CISA

After the workout, we would break into groups by class of boat. I was coaching I-420’s with Nigel Cochrane and Sydney Bolger. Each day we focused on one topic: boathandling, boatspeed, or tactics. The sailors were quick to improve and I enjoyed seeing how solid they became in the I-420 by the fourth day, which was a mini regatta – congrats to Scotty and Storm on their win and to everyone for toughing out a 23kts seabreeze!

Coaches panel. Sailors asked ANY question they wanted. Photo credit CISA

Coaches panel. Sailors asked ANY question they wanted. Photo credit CISA

The day did not end with our debrief. Alamitos Bay YC played an excellent host for our large group and catered a buffet dinner each night, so that we were well fed for the nightly lecture. Topics covered were: Olympic pathways by Leandro Spina, Kaenon and the Youth America’s Cup by Steve Rosenberg, and a coaches panel where we answered questions from the athletes.

It felt wonderful to be part of such an energized and focused group. To any youth sailors reading this, I strongly encourage you to get involved in this yearly event. Thanks to CISA for making it all possible.

Race day winners. Our future sailing champions. Photo Credit CISA

Race day winners. Our future sailing champions. Photo Credit CISA


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Princess Sofia Trophy, Palma de Mallorca, Spain – Olympic Class World Cup Event #3

On Saturday Dave Hughes and I finished the regatta with a win in the medal race and 7th overall in the 470 Class. The wind was remarkably good for the week of training and also the week of racing. We sailed most of our day in a fantastic 12 – 20 knots of wind. And, of course, we could not escape the classic 5-8 knot Palma Spring thermal sea breeze, in which we raced several times.

Finishing reach in big breeze

Finishing reach in big breeze

When we arrived in Palma, things started slowly and certainly with a little frustration. Overseas flights can take it out of a person and both of us felt weak from travel. Dave toughed out the flu to stick with our on the water preparation plans.

On top of this something was wrong with our rig tuning in this 470. We were using all the same equipment we raced with in the Miami World Cup event: the same mast, shrouds, spreaders, luff wire, and puller. Yet, we could not match the rig tuning with what we used on the boat in Miami. We spent days in strong wind without enough bend on the mast. But, each day we made incremental improvements: extra filing on the spreaders for extra range, more tension, and shorter spreaders (for more bend under vang). By the end of the event, we were in a tolerable range and our speed showed.

Our conclusion was that the boat geometry of the boat (chain plates relative to mast butt) must be different. So, we have a bunch of measurements to bring back home and check out our USA boat.

This event was a good test because most of the top international teams were racing. It confirmed our thoughts for what we need to work on and there was significant progress on our boat speed around the course.

Our next 470 event is a long distance in the future. However, I have some exciting coaching and keelboat racing lined up. At the end of next week, I head to Long Beach, CA to be among a group of coaches and youth sailors for the CISA advanced racing clinic – a great learning opportunity for the sailors and coaches!


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Melges 20’s at Bacardi Race Week Miami

ImageFifty-one boats registered in the M20 class at Bacardi Race Week in Miami. Once again, Thomas Barrows and I sailed with Camille. We had a great time on our boat and with the team of Andy, Mikee, and Greg. Thanks for the fun event on and off the water!

Miami can be a great place to sail. It has its challenges, but also has its patterns. One of the classic Miami weather patterns is rightward shifting breeze, but the left pays! The beats that the right works are when the wind takes a real step right. Otherwise, there will be more stable pressure left. We raced six of our seven races in 50-80 degrees true wind in the course area South West of Key Biscayne in the middle of the bay. In 5 of 6 first beats, a good start going left and tacking on the first lefty was best. In 3 of 6 first beats, a forced ejection to the right turned out OK. But, only if the boat was sailing fast and clear the whole time. In general, the righties were shorter lived than the lefties, so you had to take them when they came.

My take-away was that in a pin biased line, you had to start pin third. In square to boat biased, the middle of the line was best. Bottom line: good execution at the start made the beat much simpler.

Complete results here.

My next event will be the Princess Sofia Trophy in the 470, April 1-6.


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Etchells Midwinter Championship 2013

This weekend, I raced the Etchells Midwinter Championships aboard KGB. Most of the event was sailed in great conditions. On Saturday we had four races in 10-22 kts. It was a tiring job to re-trim the jib after every tack in the shifty NW wind and very challenging on tactics too! Thanks Senet and Jay for making the regatta possible.

Marco Oguenda Photo Credit

Marco Oguenda Photo Credit

The big lessons for this event were sailing less distance and timing of the first tack. Once in medium air, Etchells don’t go significantly faster with more pressure, so in big shifts (20 degrees or more), sailing lifted is the most important. With such big shifts – often unpredictable – you had to be ready to call a tight tack immediately off the line if a shift came.

We placed 15th of 60, which helped KGB round out the 2013 Jaguar series in 5th place.

Next up for me is the final event of the Melges 20 Miami Series. Racing starts tomorrow.