When a recipe for disaster isn’t

Published on August 9th, 2022

There are lots of ways to attack a regatta, but if you want to win, here are a few things you might wish to avoid:

1) a brand-new owner who’d never laid eyes on the boat until mere days before the racing;
2) an international crew consisting mainly of somewhat laid-back Australians and rather intense Americans (with a strapping Dutch dude thrown in), most of whom had never sailed together before;
3) a largely untested boat with a strong pedigree and (perhaps?) plenty of untapped potential, but also saddled with several important, unanswered questions; and, finally
4) an inaugural event for the yacht and team in a ridiculously competitive, high-profile handicap series with at least two competitors that boasted a solid track record which suggested they might totally clean your clock.

This approach could be summarized in myriad terms, one of which is certainly “recipe for disaster.”

But these were also the ingredients that came together aboard the 44-footer, The Edge, during this summer’s edition of the New York Yacht Club’s Race Week in Newport on July 13-16.

In an astounding collaboration between North Sails; Aussie owner John Bacon and his talented Down Under mates (with North’s Sydney-based sailmaker, Alby Pratt, playing a prominent role); and a posse of local Newport gunslingers led by North’s Ken Read (that also included North’s European one-design ace, Joost Houweling), The Edge made a statement in the initial event under Bacon’s stewardship by winning ORC Division C in emphatic, going-away fashion.

And in doing so, The Edge’s crew also laid a framework for success that other teams, in similar circumstances, might be wise to consider and emulate.

We’ll begin, naturally, at the beginning. Several months ago, Pratt received a call from Bacon’s right-hand sailing partner, David “Tower” Sampson, who said that his good mate was looking to switch gears from the one-design racing he’d concentrated on for the last decade to get back into handicap racing with something in the mid-40-foot range.

Specifically, they were looking at The Edge, for sale in Newport, which had several things going for it. First, the Harry Dunning-design was from the board of the same naval architect responsible for Bacon’s last big boat, an MC 38, and were both built by McConaghy Boats, just a few miles down the road from his home in New South Wales. And it was equipped with a full set of little-used North Sails.

“So I called Kenny in Newport,” Pratt said, “and told him I had a client who was interested in buying and campaigning it, and asked if it was any good.” – Full report

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