2013 110 Nationals
So how did Eli Slater and I (Ross Weene) win 2013 nationals? Well, We knew we’d be in for a challenge hopping into an unfamiliar boat, sight unseen (save for some pics Milly sent of 448 under construction), so the goal was primarily to go out to CA for a sailing vacation and have fun. We started our weekend in party mode in Oakland and SF, visiting friends and family then thought, hey, we should probably go to check out the boat! So Sunday eve’ we took a peek, all looked quite good! I had packed a 50 lb suitcase full of line, tools, and gear stripped from 608 back home. We knew we’d have work to do, and time limited. So off we went to do more drinking at the party at the Hinkleys. Come Monday we set to work … Cut mast and measured in, got her rigged, in the water. Got our sails up, they fit, and we left the dock in dying tide and got upwind a bit. Mental work list began. Thankfully Jim was open to us drilling some holes, we moved jib leads fwd. for some leech tension. Installed our own compass, climbed mast and swapped out our own trap gear, hiking straps. Raked mast back. Long day and we missed the train to dinner on the coast.
Day 2, practice race – saw that she had some wheels!
Race 1 – so shifty and patchy that we were able to gain with the asymmetric, connecting the dots between patches of breeze
Race 2 – gold cup hooray! We were rigged up with asymmetric , and were able to connect the dots in fluky conditions once again, won the race. Things were looking up, we had boatspeed and forecast was for medium breeze. Though we would have loved to see the typical 20+ we knew the boat might not be have been ready for that. Sure enough, over the course of week we barely held on to the furler line, vang, and some underdeck shroud car blocking… Each day after the set we’d go to dock and get the tools out to fix and upgrade. On top of that, Jim’s gorgeous new shrouds were a little too long to get good enough rig tension for bigger breeze. As luck would have it, we never saw any breeze that put outside of our rig tension range.
Weds and Thursday? I forget!
Coming into the last day we were tied with Huff / Mark after the throwout. We knew we had to either beat them boat for boat or force them into a 4th or lower finish, so we prepped to match race. We rigged up for symmetric spinnaker which involved getting creative but it all worked. Eli nailed the start and we worked out to the front and didnt look back. Townshend and Noble were able to catch us flying the asym but we were comfortably in front of Huff.
Sailing in Inverness was a blast, we cant wait to sail nationals here again!
So what worked?
Eli is a starting ninja. He drove the starts then we swapped places once settled in upwind.
Smoothed out the kinks around the boat, major items first.
Watch compass and stay in phase, conditions where two boats sail upwind same angle opposite tacks! Point the bow at the mark.
Push the start and go fast all the time, smoothly changing gears
Don’t hit other boats, don’t hit marks
If you pull up alongside a car carrying the Americas Cup, make sure the puke on the side of the rental car has dried to it doesn’t fly off onto the cup
OK, Eli here, I don’t have a whole lot to add to what Ross wrote other than to fill in a few blanks in Ross’ memory, which is understandably hazy… As far as Wednesday, Thursday we basically had some very tight racing with defending champ John Huff out of Chicago. John managed to grab a couple of bullets and kept within range. Also a consistent threat was Annie Lewis out of Inverness. She was very difficult to shake off the entire series with a great looking suit of sails made by her son in Santa Cruz. One of my clearest memories of the series was heading out the first day. The sail to the racecourse was a mile or two up Tomalas Bay from the mooring area, and the first day was light and very shifty out of the W/NW. On our boat I usually steer out while Ross jumps around getting things in order. This has been our system for years, and it works well. Ross, being a rigging freak gets to make sure everything is going to work, and I get to get a feel for the conditions and start working up some overall strategy. On this particular trip out, we were last off the mooring (as usual), and so I had my own little competition going to see how many boats I could pass before getting to the start line. Things were looking up, and I was passing boats pretty consistently, except for one boat. Silver Surfer (Annie Lewis) was obviously trying to keep pace with us, and the two of us traded probably 20 tacks before getting to the start line. When we did get there, we had finally past Annie, however not by much, and the two of us had passed all but a couple of boats. Given that the day’s conditions didn’t change a whole lot from those on the sail out, we were both in good shape to handle the rest of the days shifts.
As Ross said, I steered the starts and then passed on the helm after we had settled in. This worked well, as I usually call starts for Ross when I’m not driving; having me drive just simplified things. With the first start being an exception (we were called over early), we managed to get off the line clear and in good position in every single race, making our first beat a lot simpler as far as finding lanes went. With the breeze oscillating as it was, it was critical to have the option to tack in clear air in the shifts. Being tied on the last day with Huff made for an exciting race. The conditions started out really light, and the pin was heavily favored. Ross and I had talked a lot about how to play the situation, and we were pretty set to just be sure to be in control of John at the start and just finish ahead of him or sail us both deeper than 4th place. As we got down to a minute to go in the sequence, it was clear to me that there was no way John was going to make the line as he was positioned in a pack of boats stalled out way below the line on starboard. I had set up high on the line so that I would have options as far as generating speed was concerned, so I opted to jibe around the Eddys and head for the pin with speed. at 10 seconds I tacked onto port and hit the line moving well on port. This was very similar to the start that we executed in the last race of the 2012 nationals in Gloucester, only better. After a minute or two we looked back and saw that John was deep in the fleet, buried with bad air. While this certainly boosted our confidence, there was no way we could count them out! As it happened, John was able to battle back to within striking distance by the second to last leg. Fortunately for us, we were able to stay ahead for the win.
Ross and I both had an amazing time out in Inverness. This is a beautiful part of the world, and the class is very lucky to have an active and enthusiastic fleet of 110’s out there. All of us out of towners experienced amazing hospitality in one of the most relaxed regatta atmospheres that any of us has ever seen. Tom Craig and I were talking one day during the event, and we both likened the place to the wonderful Hull Yacht Club out east as far as the atmosphere is concerned. I will say that Inverness in a lot prettier than Hull! (no offense meant to Hull), but that’s what you get for being located smack dab in the middle of protected land and water! Thanks again to the great folks at Inverness Yacht Club, with special thanks to the Hinkley family, Jim Noble, Milly Biller and of course Phil and his fabulous love shack. For full RESULTS CLICK HERE