Monday, April 23, 2012

How to loose a regatta

Just finished Charleston Race Week yesterday with a bit of a bitter after taste. This marked my fourth CRW and this one turned out to be a nail biter.
Willie, focused on perfect kite trim

Our Melges 20 team "Bacio" was leading the fleet easily after the first day of racing with three bullets and one 2nd place. Our second day of racing on the other hand was, mildly put, a disaster. Our scores for that day were DSQ, 16, 1 and 17. Going into the last day (and potentially two more races) we were laying 8 points out of first place, so we had some work cut our for us. Especially since there were two more boats ahead of us as well. Unfortunately only one race was sailed due to deteriorating wind conditions. We ended taking 3rd place behind a well deserved win by Russel Lucas' team on Shimmer (together with Harry and Hans Melges) and Travis Weisleder's Layline (sailing with Scott Nixon). The points were super tight, with four teams within four points. Now THAT's close racing after 9 races!
See HERE for results.
So what went wrong on Saturday for Bacio? Obviously we win and loose as a team, but I will have to take most responsibility for our downward spiral that day.
Our team had just won the Bacardi Cup and were feeling confident, maybe even a bit cocky going into this event. Instead of going through our normal pre-regatta and pre-race routines, I was slacking a bit. Most notably, I didn't go through the SI's as diligently as I normally do. And this cost us the regatta.

CRW, compared to our other events, still has the 20% penalty in their SI's. Specifically this means that when you do infringe a rule (like hitting a boat, like we did) you take a 20% penalty, instead of doing turns (as we do at the other events). You have to acknowledge your mistake by flying a yellow flag after the incident, sail the rest of the race with the yellow flag and report this to the Race committee.
Well, I had read the SI's and also this part of them, but it just didn't quite register. Usually, I work myself through the SI's by taking notes and then discussing them with our team, making sure everyone is on the same page. Because we didn't have a yellow flag on board that day, we ended up with a DSQ instead of a 20% increase in our score for that race (which would have been a total of 11 points and secured the win for us).

So, good lesson learned, the hard way. Doesn't matter how well you have done in the past, don't slack off on your routines. Keep going through your check lists and keep doing your homework in order to prevent mishaps like this.

For me this marks a little break for the Bacio Team. The European Melges 20 season has already started and will continue at the beginning of June with its second event on the Isle of Elba in Italy. Dani and I will be sailing with Rob Wilber on the "Cinghiale" and we are looking forward to fighting it out with the Italians.
Going upwind in our new SLAM outfits! Thank you Point Loma Outfitting
All pics by Joy