Bacardi Cup-Day 1

Coconut Grove, Florida

March 1, 2015

I am back in south Florida for more Star sailing.  This time the legendary Bacardi Cup.  This year is the 88th running of this event which started in 1927 in Havana.

57 boats are racing from more than 10 countries.  The competition will be tough with the Grael brothers tom Brazil, local favorite Augie Diaz, double gold medalist Mark Reynolds, and a host of other great teams that all have a chance to win.

Today’s first race finally got underway after two general recalls and the committee resorting to the black flag to keep the anxious competitors behind the line.  The wind was 12 knots from the east and very shifty and puffy as it was coming right over Key Biscayne.

Brian and I had a good start but managed to work our way backwards in the fleet to round the first mark about 25th.  The leader at that point, had had a horrible start, tacked behind everyone and went hard right. The second place boat at the first mark had gone hard left.  Go figure.

It was a day of ups and downs as the wind was very fickle.  One moment you thought you were real fast but it was just that you had a puff that others didn’t.  Same with the shifts.

As the race went on, Larry Whipple and Austin Sperry worked their way from third to first. Brian and I work our way from the 25th to 7th.

Ahead of us were some very good teams.  Behind us there were some too.  So we were pretty fortunate to get back to 7th.

This is a long regatta, 6 races, and each race is longer than what we have been racing down here this winter.  So the tactics can be a bit different.  You can really get a lot of separation, (we call it leverage)  from the fleet which can pay off if you hit it right.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for 15 knots from the east again.  80 degree temperatures are the norm here so don’t feel sorry for us if you are somewhere in the upper east coast or midwest.

For complete results go to: www.yachtscoring.com

 

Paul

Project Pipeline Announcement

February 5, 2015,

San Francisco

Yesterday, US Sailing and AmericaOne announced a very exciting initiative, called Project Pipeline.  I want to give you a little personal perspective on the initiative and pass along the link to the press release.

AmericaOne is a long time supporter of the US Olympic Sailing Team. Bob “Buddah” Billingham was a passionate Olympian, a Silver medalist, and A1’s representative who initiated this support and oversaw it. He served on the US Olympic Sailing Committee Board for many years.

Bob was excellent at identifying a need and then recruiting the support to make it happen. We all know that not only did Bob have great ideas, he would get them done!

Bob’s last target for improving US Olympic sailing was identifying our deficiency in the development of young sailors. As Bob’s cancer worsened, he asked me to take his place in working with the US Olympic Sailing Team on this important project.   Sadly, Bob passed away last March.

In the last year, we have developed a plan to increase training, support and opportunity for the youth of America.  Project Pipeline is about getting America back on the Olympic podium but also about raising the level of sailing talent in the US across the board.

US Sailing and AmericaOne are proud to launch this Project. The AmericaOne grant of $5M means Project Pipeline will be initiated immediately. It is our expectation that over the next 10 years, Project Pipeline will grow in breadth and depth, and that others will join in and support this worthy cause.

Please read the official press release, click on this link:

http://www.ussailing.org/americaone-foundation-commits-5-million-to-us-sailing-olympic-development-program/

Paul

Quantum Key West Race Week-Day 5

Photo Sharon Green

Key West

It really wasn’t our week. Two races were held today in very nice conditions and we finished third in both. Bella Mente won both races to win the class.

The breeze was in from the south-southeast at about 18-20 knots. There was a fair amount of chop and the downwind legs were fast. We “shrimped” the spinnaker at the first bottom mark and were over early at the start of the second race. That was not the way we had wanted to leave the week.

Competition is very cut and dry. There are winners and losers. You have to take your lumps when it is not your week. It makes you appreciate the good ones!

So now we have to look forward. That is the good thing about competing. There is always the next race!

The Shockwave guys couldn’t be a nicer group and I really enjoyed my time with all of them.

I am off the Miami for the US Olympic Sailing Team Annual dinner tomorrow night. AmericaOne is a large supporter of the USOST and I will be representing A1 there.

Paul

Quantum Key West Race Week-Day 4

Tim Wilkes Photo

January 22, 2015, 18:00 EST

Key West

The short story is we did not have a good day.

We finished 3rd in both races today. In the first race, we lost by 15 seconds and in the second race by just one second!

Nothing remarkable happened in the races.  Just a steady progression.  The fact that Bella Mente and Shockwave are fairly close in rating is helping Numbers.  For example, in the second race today, we on Shockwave were just on the heels of Bella Mente up the second windward leg.  Being the higher rating and faster boat, Bella was worried about not getting their 40 seconds of time on us. So they began tacking on us at every opportunity.  This cost the both of us easily 15 seconds relative to Numbers who was just sailing along undisturbed, 3 minutes behind. Then we lost second place to Numbers by 1 second.

I am frustrated at our performance here this week and I take the responsibility personally. We don’t have a chance to win this regatta at this point.  So all we can do is go out and have the best day we can tomorrow and try to leave the event on an up note.

Numbers and Bella Mente are tied on 15 points. They will have a good battle, albeit they won’t see each other most of the day.  We have 19 points. The forecast is for 15-17 knots so it should be some fast sailing on these 72 footers.

The owner of Shockwave, George Sakellaris, is a great guy. Self made man, immigrant from Greece, university education in the USA, engineer, very perceptive, a man who obviously loves sailing.  I have enjoyed meeting him and hanging out with him this week.

For complete results go to: http://www.yachtscoring.com.

Paul

Quantum Key West Race Week-Day 3

Photo: Steve Lapkin

Key West

January 21, 2015,

With a forecast that was too light to race, the wind gave us a pleasant surpass, and we managed to get in two races today.  The wind came in at 6-8 knots from the north-northwest around 11:00 and the race committee was quick to jump on it.

In the first race, we had a relatively minor collision with Bella Mente at the start but it was our (my) fault and we had to do a 360 penalty turn.  That cost us about 45 seconds.  Shortly there after, Bella Mente ran into a wreck that is on the course and marked with a government buoy.  They just went too close to the buoy.  A bit surprising, really. With all of that going on, Numbers won the first race rather easily.

In the second race, which started in just 6 knots of wind.  We on Shockwave, had a very good start to windward of the group and were able to control the fleet out to the left and lead at the first mark.  From that point, it was about managing our lead and trying not to mix it up with Bella Mente and yet stretch out on the smaller Numbers.  We owed numbers 2:49 in that race and only beat them by 2 minutes.

So numbers had 2 wins today, we on Shockwave two seconds and Bella Mente a 4th for not finishing the first race and then a 3rd in the second race of the day.

So now, the three of us are all within one point as we head into the last four races.  As we are today, we would loose a tie breaker to either of the other two so we need to be a point clear ahead to win.

We have been working all week on our performance and we feel that we are getting better each day.  I must say that I haven’t done a very good job so far so I am determined to right that tomorrow and Friday.  We will need to be clicking on all cylinders to win this class!

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com

19:00 UPDATE: I just went to yachtscoring.com myself and saw that Bella Mente asked for redress for both races today, based on their running into the wreck. Hard to imagine. Whats more, the jury award them redress for each race.   They gave them a 1.25 score for each race rather than the 4, 3 that they scored. What could be the basis for that decision? I could not find any “facts found” issued on the official jury notice board.

So get this; you are sailing along, no other boat within 200 meters of you, you run into something and tell the Jury it was someone else’s fault?  The wreck is marked by a government buoy!  It is marked on the navigational charts! Further, the race committee has warned the fleet about it each day before racing. Never heard of anything like that.  I don’t know what is more unbelievable; the asking or the getting.

21:00 FURTHER UPDATE

I am now told the Jury is reopening the hearing in the morning.

Paul

 

Quantum Key West Race Week Day 2

“Shockwave in Traffic”, credit Tim Wilkes.

Key West

Two races were held today in fairly steady conditions of 7-12 knots from the south.  A first race raw started and abandoned about 3/4’ers of the way through due to lack of wind.

In both races, Bella Mente had just slightly the better of us.  Nothing dramatic happened in the races and were managed our position to not get tacked on by the slightly faster boat.

We finished second by 10 seconds and 7 seconds respectively.

While this is frustrating, we did make a significant improvement in our performance of our boat from yesterday.  We have been working hard on our rig tune and mainsail set up.

After 4 races, Bella Mente leads with 5 points, we on Shockwave have 9 and Numbers has 10.  6 more races are scheduled.

Tomorrows forecast is not good.  Very light wind.

For complete results, go to: wwwyachtscoring.com and click on Key West Race Week.

Paul

 

Copa del Rey – Day 1

Palma de Majorca

Today was the first day of the, 33rd annual, Copa del Rey, one of the Mediterranean’s largest regatta’s. I am sailing onboard Robertissima as tactician. Robertissima is a 72′ Vrolijk design IRC yacht. There are four others similar to us in our class.

The Copa del Rey has 11 races on its schedule this year, with racing Monday through Saturday. Wednesday we will race a “coastal” race, which really means one long race that day, while all the ether days we races two shorter races.

Today’s conditions were very typical of Palma, sunny, hot and moderate sea breezes. The first race started at 13:10 with 10 knots from the south. We had a good start at the right hand side of the line but the left side of the course was better. We could never get over to the left fully and ended up 3rd. Shockwave won and Bella Mente was second. Shockwave is the lowest rating boat in our group and gets about 1 minute of handicap time per race. They are about the same speed as the rest of us upwind but a little slower downwind.

The second race was started in 12 knots of wind still from the south, Bella Mente and Robertissima were over the start line early and had to restart. I have to take responsibility for that on our boat. We got in a battle with Bella Mente for the left end of the line and I didn?t manage the situation well. With the race course fairly strongly one sided..left…neither of us could get past the others and we finished 4th and 5th respectively. Meanwhile, Alegre, who finished last in the first race, was well out in front and won the second race. Shockwave sailed well again to get second and lead the series after day 1.

Tomorrow we continue with 2 races. The forecast is for a bit less wind than today.

For complete results and information on all other classes, go to www.regatacopadelrey.com

Paul

Nassau, December, 2013

I have spent the past three months decompressing from a difficult Americas Cup for me. Sometimes things go well and you are oblivious to those struggling. Fortunately, my previous America’s Cups and Around the World campaigns have been above average and ultimately very satisfying. This time was a struggle. We had early technical set backs which burned precious time. We were on the wrong design path and we waited too long to acknowledge it and convert. The result was a painful last 6 months as reality hit us squarely in the face. The tragedy of May 9th was the worst sailing disaster I have been involved in and something I will never forget. Needless to say, it was a stressful and hugely disappointing time.

After a couple of months away from it, I feel rested, but I have that lingering frustration that goes with a poor result like that. I am sure the cure is to move on to a new challenge and I am open minded as to what forum that me be in.

For now, I am looking to have some fun in sailing. I have been invited to the inaugural Star Sailors League (SSL) Season Final. When I explain this new event, you will see that I really have no business racing in it. The concept is that this is a league for the top sailors in the world who are ranked through the competitions they attend during that year. At the end of the year, there is a final championship with prize money. This year, the Final is in Nassau and there will be 18 competitors racing for a total purse of $200,000. They are the highest ranking sailors in the World plus a couple of wild card invites. You can check out the participants and the results at www.starsailors.com.

SSL is the creation of Swiss Star sailor Michel Niklaus. His passion for the class and this event is impressive. The SSL team are making a huge effort to run a top quality event. They have a team of 30 people doing everything from television production, to GPS tracking for live internet tracking while we race. SSL are handling everything logistical with the competitors presence here. It seems to truly be a first class operation.

I am heading into the event skinnier than ever not to mention I haven’t sailed a Star in 4 years. Logically, a little humble pie seems to be on order for me. However, I love Nassau’s wind and waves and have raced here plenty over the past 30+ years. I do have one of the best crewing for me, Austin Sperry. Austin, aka Hoss, came to Athens to help Phil Trinter and I train for the ’04 Olympics and then he went to the ’08 Olympics, crewing for John Dane. So if I have a prayer out there this week it is due to Hoss.

So its time to get back to basics and enjoy some Star sailing in the best place on earth to sail!

Paul

Magnus Olsson

Magnus Olsson was a giant bottle of “Positive Attitude” that you could pour on anything and make it shine.

For Magnus it wasn’t a matter of the glass half full or half empty. The glass was just full all the time.

His personality and enthusiasm were magnetic. He was the center of gravity of every boat, every meeting, every project. From heads of state to children sailing optis, Magnus could hang with them all.

He is one of the very few people I have ever known who everyone liked.

It is very sad to lose a guy like Magnus. Irreplaceable…. most definitely one of a kind, a legend!

But it is fair to say that few, if any, got more out of their time on this planet than Magnus Olsson.

For those of us who were lucky enough to have shared part of his life with him, we are blessed.

Thank you, Mange. We are all smiling thinking of you!

Paul