Lessons from the Battlefield

Published on October 15th, 2018

The 2018 West Marine J/70 World Championship offered that rare opportunity to compete against 91 teams from 18 different countries. That by itself is an education with different languages and cultures rounding marks at the same time. It can get messy!

Making matters worse, amid the 11 race series was a massive variety of conditions, particularly early on when a significant sea state was eager to exploit flaws in tuning or technique. When winner Jud Smith’s average race score was 12.7 points, you’ve got evidence of a really hard event.

Here are some lessons from the battlefield:

Max Skelley, Stampede – 2nd Place:
We knew going into the event that we had really good upwind speed. Being able to use our speed to dig our way out of tough spots began to dictate our tactics. We always tried to start in low density areas somewhere near the middle of the favored half of the line, not being so leveraged to one side that we couldn’t dig our way out if the shift didn’t go our way.

On race five we were persuaded to start at the windward end because the two previous races, hard right was really paying. We were able to win the start at the windward end and were first boat to tack to port which was the race winning move in the two previous races.

Unfortunately, the left came in hard on the first beat and we rounded in the 50’s. We were able to fight back to the low thirties but the race still ended up being our drop race. We learned a lesson about risk/reward and stayed away from the ends for the remaining of the event using patience and speed to consistently get to the front of the fleet.

Eric Doyle, Stampede – 2nd Place:
We always looked to set the boat up to be fast for the first half of the first beat so that we could hold a lane and get to the first weather mark in good shape. In the big fleet with lots of chop in general it was better to get caught a little on the loose side than too tight (for rig tune).

Allan Terhune, 3 Ball JT – 3rd Place:
For sure the regatta didn’t start as we hoped. The big thing for us was not to panic and to take a look at everything to see where we could improve. The regatta was a good lesson in the fighting until the end and that the event is never over, till it’s over. If you would have told me that we would start with 18,22,25 and go into the last day three points out of the lead, I would have said you are nuts. It proved that World Championships are marathons and you have to keep pushing. Our team did that well. We always kept adapting and trying new things.

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