Sunday, March 27, 2011

Starting, Italian Style!

Kiss the Madonna and Baby Jesus for good luck!
So we finally managed getting off the line in the last race. And guess what, we were second at the windward mark. OMG, we DO still know how to sail! Jamie's main comment in regards to starting was: Beat the two boats around you. And he is sooooo right. Keep squeezing up to the windward boat until you at least can see the veins popping out out of the tacticians forehead or until you hear something like: " He, he, he gazzo dio, porca miseria!!!!! Then smile at them as you bear away at 10 seconds and leave them in the dust. Yeah.....
In the first race we actually got rolled, again. And that after repeatably telling ourselves that we were going to pull the trigger early....anyways, we managed to find a lane and were in ok shape at the first mark. Coming into the leeward gate it was full on with boats piling up and lots of Italian language. We positioned ourselves infront of another boat told them that they did NOT have an overlap coming into the mark zone, had to give the boat ahead of us some room so swerved a bit wide and guess what? The boat behind us just barged inbetween the mark and us. We end up having contact with them. We yelled protest and within two seconds we get a red flag and repeated whistles by my favorite Italian Umpire (who's name I will not disclose, but will tell you that I believe he is half blind). As I look back (after hearing the whistle, sure that the Italian boat was getting a penalty) I see that the flag is pointed at us. Not believing what my eyes are telling me, I shrug my shoulders in disbelief. The umpire completely looses and he's head literally almost explodes as he yells: USA 13, you will keep doing circles until I say so!!!! Madonna, take it easy pal......
Obviously we were in last after doing our circles and getting getting released from "circling-hell", caught a couple of boats and got ready for the last race.

Lots of good lessons learned. I'm super happy to have sailed this event with Michael and Jamie. At the end of the week we had found great upwind and downwind speed, adjusted to Italian starting and solidified our team under pressure.
31 Audi Melges 20 boats, ready to race!

Team Bacio is looking forward to sharing some Italian Starting Techniques at our next event at Charleston Race Week in a couple of weeks.... He, he, he, he :-)
More, less critical, reporting can be found on the Audi Melges 20 website here.
Congratulations are in order for the top Italian teams that sailed a really good regatta.

Chris out

Our new team car and driver....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Not getting off the line......

Team Bacio is currently in Naples, Italy sailing the first event of the 2011 Audi Melges 20 Sailing Series. I'm once again on board together with Michael Kiss and Jamie Kimbell. After a long winter series in Miami we are now measuring ourselves against the top Italian Teams.
Not so well so far.....
Today we had three races and in each off them we had more boats ahead of us than behind us. Not good! Hmmmmm.....
The conditions were light, very light at times combined with a nice bit of chop and some swell. The three of us just haven't sailed in these conditions and it showed. Nevertheless we remain determined to improve our light air sailing and keep learning new tricks in every race. Our upwind performance went from end-of the-fleet to mid-fleet as Michael's steering got better and better and we loosened our shrouds to the point where I thought the rig might jump out of the boat!
The other issue is that we're just not coming off the line. There are a lot more good boats here and they are aggressive little suckers! We just need to get in there and growl back!
Dare I say that I hope we have the same conditions tomorrow? Not necessarily good for our results but it will definitely make us work harder!
The event itself has been very well organized. Audi is spending some serious money on the Melges 32 and 20, putting up VIP tents, showing off their super cool cars and having some hot hostesses sweet talking you into buying one.
But that said it seems the class doesn't show the same kind of camaraderie as we have in the USA. Everything seems very serious, so serious that they have brought in 6 (yes six!) umpires to police the racing on the water. The chief umpire held a one hour presentation yesterday about how we was going to crack down on any kind of cheating and that he wasn't afraid of sending people home.... Wow, I'm happy we don't have that going on in the USA. Hopefully the US Melges 20 fleet will keeps its friendly character as I believe it is one of the main reasons why it is prospering so well.

Tomorrow we have another three races scheduled and Bacio will come out fighting! No more Mister nice American guy....
Chris out
more pics can be found here
P.S. We're laying in 20th position out of 31 boats.....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Improving our Game...

Bacio wins Audi Melges 20 Winter Series!!!
Happy Faces on Bacio: Chris, Mitchell and Michael
Well we just finished the Audi Melges 20 Winter Series in Miami. With a 2nd place at the Bacardi Miami Race Week we secured the title and we are still the team to beat. The series consisted of three regattas, concluding with the Bacardi Miami Race Week which boasted a total of 26 Melges 20s! How is that for one design racing! Every event saw a different winner. We won the first event, Red Sky (Paul Reilly) won the second event and the last event was won by Mary-Ann Ward on M&M Racing.
An ecstatic Mary-Ann Ward!
This is a testament to the great nature of the Melges 20 class. Everybody has improved their game since we last won the Nationals in August and we are having to work harder and harder to stay ahead or at least stay even with the other teams.
When Michael Kiss got me on board his Audi Melges 20 Bacio back in Charleston last year, we immediately got along. We are both quite technically inclined and enjoy bouncing ideas back and forth.
I consider the AM 20 one of the best sailing training platforms out there. Apart from offering great racing on the water, the owners are a pretty tight knit group that enjoy the social aspects of the class as much as the racing.
For me as a pro-sailor my main objective is to help my owner improve his own personal sailing game. I believe it is way more satisfying for the owner to keep taking more and more responsibility on the boat than having a Pro-Sailor baby him around the course. With this in mind Michael and I set up a pretty intense schedule that would allow us to do exactly that. For every regatta we set attainable goals which aren't based on results but primarily on certain parts of racing. I keep pushing responsibility back in the boat (I do bow) and we talk about our mistakes openly after each race.
At times this can be frustrating but long-term I'm convinced its the way to go.
Enjoying having the fleet behind us
Bacio is now off to Europe where we will see how we face off against the top Italian crews. The Italians will certainly push us and make us work harder at improving our game once again.
Last but not least we would like to thank our teamgear suppliers Point Loma Outfitting and SLAM for their continued support.

Chris out

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In the mean time...

A lot has happened since my last entry:
  • Finished the Moth Worlds in Belmont, Australia
  • Flew straight from Sydney to Key West for Key West Race Week on the Melges 32 Heartbreaker with Bob Hughes
  • Up to  Miami to coach Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha (470 Womens) at Miami OCR
  • Back to San Diego for one week of picking up my life, surfing, paying bills
  • Returned to Miami for the 2nd Melges 20 Winter Series Regatta
  • Crossed the State over to St. Pete for the St. Pete NOOD on "Matros"
  • Back to Miami to coach 49ers
  • Blew out my back on the coach boat
  • Raced the Melges 32 "Delta" with Terry Hutchinson at the Miami  Championship (more great pictures can be found here!)

  • Finally took a deep breath
Currently I'm still in Miami, getting ready for the Bacardi Race Week where once again I'll be sailing on board Michael Kiss' Melges 20 "Bacio. After our 5th place at the last Winter series regatta we are keen on getting back on top of the pack. The whole fleet has stepped it up and racing has gotten a lot tougher. Good, because it wouldn't be fun if it were easy!
In the mean time Dani Gamache and I wrote a cool article about upwind sailing for the Melges 20 website.

Chris out