On Top of the Team Racing World

Published on September 2nd, 2015

The ISAF Team Racing World Championship, the pinnacle of international dinghy team racing, was dominated from start to finish by the USA team of Michael Menninger, Haley Kirk, Justin Law, Adrienne Kamilar, Lucy Wallace, and team captain Tyler Sinks. Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck checked in with Tyler about their victory…

What is the entry process for the Worlds?

It was a qualifying process through the US Team Racing National Championship (George Hinman Trophy), which our team won last September. They ended up opening it up to other teams provided their resumes were acceptable.

What kind of training was your team able to do?
Our team had competed together at the Hinman’s in 2013 and 2014, but otherwise we didn’t have a lot of other opportunities to sail together. However, we were all doing plenty of our own sailing which included team racing.

The Worlds used Fireflys. What are they comparable to?
With a small jib and large main, they are similar to either a Club Flying Junior or a Lark. Overall, it’s a good boat to team race.

The USA has a good record at the Worlds. To what do you attribute this?
College sailing is to thank for the US domination in international team racing. In four years of college sailing, I bet you sail over 500 team races and another 500+ starts/drills that focus on team racing. We just do it more.

Any differences in style or tactics between the different countries?

Our team is much more speed focused. We try not to over team race, in fact, we try not to team race at all. A buddy of mine is a Navy SEAL who would always tell me, “If you end up in hand-to-hand combat, something went terribly wrong.” The same rule applies to team racing. If you end up in a dogfight, you probably made a mistake earlier in the race.

What was the hardest aspect of the event for your team to overcome?
Staying focused. We had four very long days on the water, often sailing more than 20 races per day. When the first three days are only for gold/silver seeding and the scores don’t carry over, it’s hard to bring the same focus and intensity to every race. On the final day, the gold round and knock-out final was sailed, which raised the stakes quickly. We had to peak at the right time and we wanted to have momentum coming out of the first three days of sailing. We were fortunate to peak at the right time and ultimately claim the championship.

Tyler provides a complete debrief of the event here.

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