Making adjustments when you’re slow

Published on October 28th, 2020

by Chris Snow, Sailing World
It’s 8 a.m. Monday at the loft, and a weekly ritual is taking place. Most of us are just back from weekend regattas. It’s time to Monday-morning quarterback our performances and, more important, those of our sails. We talk about how the new Melges 24 jib we’ve given to the current North American champion did in a local event, how the new Star main sent to Italy did in the Star Europeans. There will be emails and reports about how we can make the sails even better.

My turn. I’d gotten into bed about six hours earlier, having towed the loft-owned J/24 from San Francisco to San Diego, behind a retired plumber’s van. We’d sailed a long City Front day in 20-plus knots of wind against tide, so it’s a rough ride on the water followed by an even tougher ride home on the freeway—the glamour of a sailmaker. We’d finish fourth in a regatta we should have handily won. Not good, considering North Sails is paying for the boat, sails, crew food, airfare and all incidentals.

My explanation of our poor performance starts with criticism of my crew: The cockpit person couldn’t tack the genoa in 16 knots of wind. The tactician always had us headed the wrong direction and, more often than not, in bad air. In a place that puts a premium on good starts, my starts were inconsistent. In this venue, it’s all about winning the start and getting to the current relief first. Whiff the start and there’s a lot catching up to do. We whiffed plenty that weekend.

My boss, Vince Brun, stood sipping his coffee silently, listening. He raced or tested sails every weekend; he’d won more world championships in more classes than any of us combined and did not suffer fools gladly—especially when it came to sailboat racing. After about 15 minutes, he could contain himself no longer.

“Chris, you know what I think?” he blurted out in his distinct Brazilian accent. “I think you were slow.” Full story.

Comment: While Chris worked at North Sails, I worked down the street at Sobstad Sails with my own Monday morning ritual. I would share what I could remember with Mark Reynolds, and when I asked about his racing, he would dissect every leg with remarkable recall. People like Vince and Mark are National Sailing Hall of Famers because they are that good. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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