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Unshakeable moments in sailing

Published on April 19th, 2022

Luissa Smith, PR Director for the 2022 Bacardi Cup invitational Regatta, quizzed well-known sailing personalities about unshakeable moments that propelled them forward and incidents that still keep them up at night:

Megan Ratliff (USA)
President US Melges 24 Class Association, 3-time Corinthian winner M24 Bacardi invitational Winter Series (2020-2021, 2019-2020, 2018-2019), 2-time Corinthian winner Charleston Race Week (2019, 2016).

I have raced a number of different boats in many different classes over the years, but the purchase of the Melges 24 my brother and I made in 2015 takes the cake. After being out of competitive sailing for almost two decades while in school, it was exciting to get back into the sport.

I have always been a competitive person and our first regatta in the 24 we finished pretty deep in the fleet. After that regatta, we made the commitment to put the time and effort into learning the new boat. We put together a team and a full schedule of clinics and regattas. The time we put in the boat made the difference in boat speed and handling and started paying off in our results.

The Melges 24 fleet is competitive with some of sailing’s best sailors. We have good regattas and not as good regattas, but the adrenaline rush when planing downwind keeps the motivation to keep racing!

Hold onto your hat:
The hairiest moment I can think of on the Melges 24 was sailing out to the 2016 Worlds race course through the Government Cut. One day in particular sticks out in my head. It was blowing 25 out of the east with a ripping ebbing tide. This made for very dicey conditions in the channel as waves were breaking.

As we sailed out, we watched another team abeam of us lose a crew member overboard close to the break wall. The same break wall that took the life of Miami Marlins player Jose Fernandez earlier in the year. Without hesitation we tacked over to render assistance. Thankfully he was safely recovered. It was a real eye opener as to how fast things can change no matter how many times you have done it.
Taylor Canfield (ISV)
2-time Match Racing World Champion (2020, 2013), 2014 Etchells World Champion, 2-time M32 World Champion (2019, 2021), 5-time Congressional Cup winner.

I would say this was in 2013 when my team and I won the Match Racing World Championship. That was the first world championship of my career and since then I have collected another four.

Hold onto your hat:
I was at the 2019 SailGP Cowes event, as flight controller on SailGP USA. Racing was cancelled on the first day due to too much wind. They decided to send us out for day 2 racing in 25+ knots and huge waves. We got to mark 1 in second and bore away, hitting 47 knots of boat speed and proceeded to pitch pole the boat which brought the speed to 2 knots of boat speed in less than a second! It was like hitting a brick wall. The boat rolled on to its side and we were up in the windward hull until the boat was righted.

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