Wisdom from the Trail
Published on August 7th, 2017
The genesis of the 505 class was in 1953 with the creation of the 18-foot ‘Coronet’ dinghy designed by John Westell. This sailboat competed in the selection trials in 1953 for a new two-person performance dinghy for the Olympics.
Although the Coronet lost the selection for the 1960 Olympics to the Flying Dutchman, a French group in 1954 asked Westell to modify his Coronet design to create for them a 5-meter performance dinghy that would be suitable to their needs.
Westell settled on a measured length 5.05 m to allow for boat-building tolerances of the day, and the resulting craft become known as the 505, one of the sweetest one design dinghies in the sport.
The 2017 505 World Championship is coming to the USA, with 76 teams now entered to compete September 20-29 in Annapolis, MD. Long time local campaigner Tyler Moore, who has had three top five finishes but has yet to wear the Worlds crown, shares some of his wisdom from the trail…
You have sailed with some great crew over the years, including 1995 College Sailor of the Year Ryan Cox and current professional sailor Geoff Ewenson. What have you learned from these partnerships?
Everyone brings something different to the table. I’ve been fortunate to sail with some exceptional sailors. Ryan really improved my downwind sailing. Peter Alarie and Jeff Nelson taught me how to make the 505 go fast in the breeze. Jesse Falsone has an incredible talent for the details, which when you look inside a 505 you can see is a considerable task.
The logistics of getting to Worlds and being race ready is paramount. What is that they say: 90 percent of life is showing up? Geoff has an eye for big fleet management which at many worlds is a nightmare. Drew Buttner continues that role of placing the boat in the right spot. My crew for the Worlds, Rob Woelfel, knows how to make the boat go really fast. He is probably the best downwind sailor in the 505 Class.
How do you adapt to different crews? Or do they need to adapt to you and your style?
It’s a merge really. We must play to our strengths. None of the people I race 505s with live close by so we can’t get the time on the water to do a complete makeover.
You are a former College Sailor of the Year yourself (in 1994). Did you consider an Olympic campaign?
I sailed the 1991 505 North Americans and knew I liked the boat. So I sold my J/22 and bought a 505 in 1994. It became the heavy air training platform for the 470 I picked up in 1995, and used when Ryan and I took a shot at Olympic Trials the next year in Savannah, GA. Afterwards, I started sailing 505s with Scott Ikle and we picked up a 49er but after a year, I realized that to get better at this new boat was going to take a lot of time and money.
You have finished Top 10 at 505 Worlds many times. In those instances when you were close, but fell short what do you feel was missing/lacking? What does your team need to do in order to get over the hump?
My problem is that everyone else keeps getting better! I need to sail more. Jesse and I were close in 2006, but ripped our kite in half in Race 2, which in the end limited our risk-taking abilities. Last year, Drew put us in the best spots of anybody but I didn’t have the wheels to take those positions and make them into regatta winners. As it turned out in the end, that role was reserved for Mike Martin and Adam Lowry.
After so many Top 10 results without a world championship, what motivates you to keep coming back?
You are currently the United States 505 dealer for Rondar. Why take on that role?
I think everyone should have a 505. I’ve never seen a soul unhappy after a day spent on the water in 12-plus knots of breeze. My goal was to get more boats over here. It’s been a painstaking process. I remain hopeful that I’ll reach a system that works for everyone and where I stop losing money!
I understand you have three young children. Has that hampered your ability to sail as often as you like and train as much as you need?
An understanding wife helps a lot. Families take up a lot of time, but that is what it’s all about. I want them to enjoy sailing as much as Jane and I do. They keep me in check and remind me that 505 racing is something we all do for fun.
To sail a Worlds with my kids on the water racing another boat would be special. In the meantime, I’m secretly conceiving plans to organize 505 regattas and training events that happen to be at Opti regattas. Don’t tell anyone.
In reality, the biggest obstacle to 505 sailing is my job which has a very inflexible schedule. I get one to two weekends off a month, which puts weekends in high demand. (Note: Rob works as a Docking Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia)
You have been given the title of “local favorite” as many of the other Chesapeake Bay teams believe you are most capable of winning the championship among them. Does it apply added pressure?
I don’t see it that way. Annapolis is not like many other places where you can expect certain conditions and prepare your program around it. After the pounding Howard Hamlin and Andy Zinn gave the fleet at the North Americans last month, I don’t think we’re close to making a show of it.
Chris Behm and Jesse were second in the North Americans, which places them as the top local team. To become a favorite, you have to demonstrate that you can win. Rob and I haven’t done that yet.
Source: Bill Wagner, 5O5 class