After a huge traffic debacle surrounding a local marathon, and a serious scramble to CCYC, the final day of the 2011 Melges 24 Worlds saw us come out swinging and pumped on adrenaline.
In race 11, we nailed the start and jumped out with the lead pack. Our boat speed was OK, and we managed to sail roughly according to plan. On the score sheet, we knew we needed to beat ZigZag, Coco, Battle Rhythm, and Unsponsored. At each corner, we were trading places with these guys, and by luck and smart sailing, we nicked them ALL by the finish. I believe this put us in the coveted 16th place overall.
Race 12 did not go according to plan.
Again we had a great start for our standard, while FunTech, the boat just to our leeward, was hailed OCS. Unfortunately we were forced to tack a few minutes in as we started to fade into the next leeward boat. Off on Port, we had a surprise duck on the amazing Japanese team that snuck up on us from the right. This put us again in a position too close to a lee-bow boat, so we were forced once again to tack. With the heavy chop in Corpus, extra tacks are a death sentence.
Up the beat we held on, but found ourselves in a gybing duel for clear air on the first run. We were still somehow in touch with the guys we needed to beat, but got hosed pretty bad at the leeward gate, as we had to sail a great big circle to avoid Peter Lane whose rudder was hooked up on the buoy after getting fouled hard by Tom Slick.
As we felt everything slipping through our fingers, we tried for a Jonathan McKee three tack beat on the second upwind. It worked, and we arrived at the windward mark right behind Unsponsored. Unfortunately at the critical moment, we shorted the lay line, forcing a pair of extra tacks that set us 4 boat-lengths back from the German team. On the final run, we knew we had no choice but to hang it out there and toss up a 3-pointer. We gambled hard on the outside in a dying breeze and came up short. Zigzag and Unsponsored worked us, as did Battle Rhythm, right at the line.
Despite having a really great start, the last race of the regatta was our worst. When I look back at it, I can see each mistake with after-the-fact clarity. I think it is safe to say our whole team was feeling pretty dark when we hit the dock.
Hours later, after a top-shelf dinner and a well planned prize ceremony, our spirits started to lift. To be honest, we did it. With the help of Velocitek, we realized our dream to sail in the World Championship.
We brought home a 19th place in boat 379. We used a white mast, an older hull, and a season-old main and jib. We were the 8th place USA boat, and would have been 3rd, had we been considered Cat 1.
Our team was full amateur, except for me, and nobody on our boat has ever been paid to sail. Everybody paid their own airfare, and hiked their brains out. Lunches were PB&J, housing was compliments of friends, and good times were had by all. I think we proved our point, and reached our goal. Anybody can sail in this elite fleet if they want it bad enough.
I have to admit, I am still somewhat bitter that we let 16th go. Sailing is such an amazing sport, a challenge both mentally and physically. The dominance displayed by Uka Uka was nothing less then unbelievable.
Today the guys are back home via airline, and I am due to hit the road for my 45 hour drive tomorrow midday. We met a lot of great people here in Texas. I sincerely hope we find a way to take another stab at it in SF Bay in 2013.
I would like to take one last moment to thank Alec Stewart at Velocitek. His support made our regatta possible. Velocitek is a class act. They donate to 1% for the Planet, and they make the best GPS starting electronic on the market. I encourage you all to have a try with the ProStart. It will change the way you sail.