4 Worlds in 40 days
Day 1 I’m frantically stuffing my things into a storage unit, in a rush to catch my flight to NY to meet the rest of Team Argo. It’s September 11th 2013 in South Florida. Flying on this date is obviously a bit eerie, especially flying into NY but to be honest, I don’t even know what day it is, let alone remember to anticipate an airline’s hyper vigilance. I have already been on a steady two month binge of Midwest regatta productions, a shitty breakup, and even shittier news of my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis. I have a lot on but I have even more waiting out in front of me. Fortunately, I do my best with some pressure applied. Now, at the airport, I’m quickly realizing it’s the wrong day to be off-point in any means. I left my camera case at the Delta counter en-route to the security line. I’m running back to deal with an uneasy airport security team to get my kit. “ I swear it’s not a bomb officer, although my gyro stabilizer is the bomb yo.” he wasn't amused.
First up Sardinia for World Championship #1. It’s my 3rd trip to the Melges 32 Worlds with Team ARGO. We have a good attitude, we have prepared as well as ever, and we are loose. We have encountered our previous 2 World Championships with some rough performances but this time it feels different. Our new coach Morgan Reeser is making us recognize and take full advantage of our strengths. “Keep it simple; don’t change anything”. “If you guys normally go out drinking till 2 am, keep doing that! Don’t change your routine.” “Oh, but make sure you start well, round in the top 5 percent, pass boats and more importantly, have fun.” Thanks coach. It sounds pretty simple to me and makes me wonder what our previous coaches were smoking when they were trying to change all sorts of things right before big events. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo had it right when he dropped that in like the 1500’s.
Day 8 is a blowout, full on Mistral with 70+ kts. Now that’s fresh
Day 9 is looking a little lighter and we can sail early. We scored a 5th in the big breeze of race 1, room for improvement but it was a keeper for sure and we took it. But damn, now the breeze is starting to really fire and we are sent back to shore to wait it out. Later on PRO Hank Stuart saw an opportunity to raise his favorite "code flag lima" and bring us back out, just long enough to get all the way down to the starting line to see 30.5 kts on the instruments. “Racing has been abandoned for the day” now go back upwind in 30 plus for an hour or so. Thanks for that.
Day 10 The Mistral has passed and it is light and freaky. We had an awful start and were forced to take transoms to the right side of the course when our plan was to go left. We rounded deep, almost last deep. It felt like sparks were flying and the whole rear axel had fallen off the bus. We stayed positive, & didn’t do anything drastic on the downwind, just got into a good lane with a good mode, passing about 8 boats. This set us up for a nice clean rounding at the left gate mark. From there we pretty much sent it out to the right corner with the Russians on Syntac. It wasn’t a swing for the fence type of move, it was calculated. Cam saw pressure and we went for it. Not a home run but a stand up triple for sure, we sailed out of the cheap seats to a 4th place finish. This might have just been the regatta saver. We ended day 3 with all keepers 4,6,2.
Day 11 Another up and down day with the wind led to 3 more keepers on our scorecard 8,4,8 but that put Bombarda at the top of the list going into the final day by 2 points.
Day 12 More light breeze expected on this final day and in hopes of getting 3 races in, we got up early and waited, drank coffee, waited, had more coffee, and finally it was on, the Robertissima fight song that is, it was go time! Having another sketchy start we were able to work our way left and once there we got out early enough before it went soft and rounded in a good spot. Well in front of Bombarda, and Stig (3rd overall) we sailed a conservative race, just managing our exposure to shockers. On our final run we sailed below the leaders and had a chance to actually win the race but things got congested right at the finish, and even without the bullet, we ended up with a 3-point lead going into the final race. We were hungry and thirsty. Not for a win, but hungry and thirsty for real. It seems Rusty had left our food bag on the seawall. Not even a single potato chip, or crumb. Rusty is good at some things, like getting everything OFF the boat. I guess after all we were lighter because of it but Chuck for one was definitely not happy, we've all learned that the big fella needs food. We had to sail well just to feed ourselves. Necessity!
We decided to match race our closest boat Bombarda, as we could do no worse than 2nd overall with the points as they were. That plan abruptly ended with a slow dirty light air gybe that let them escape. We were now racing just to get to the line. Sparks were flying again! A crappy start had us fighting for a lane. After about 5 light air short tacks we finally found one and sailed across the whole course to the left trying to get back to Bombarda. Luckily we got a right shift about halfway up the beat and were able to cross them. We owned them from that point; we put our foot on their throats and did not let them up for air till they were comfortably in our control. It was a race for a World Championship after all, and we never looked back. The Melges 32 World Championship was finally ours, and I’m not going to lie, the Jag Bombs tasted awesome out of that trophy. But no real time to celebrate, I have to pack and get my ass to Falmouth UK for World Championship #2. Off to the International C Class Catamaran World Championship or Little Americas Cup, or I mean The Little Cup.
Day 13 Landing in Bristol, UK at about 1:30 am I’m immediately shuffled into an interrogation room. Luckily, I was fairly lucid because I had laid low in Italy after the rest of the team left for NY. If I had been bombed this most certainly would have ended differently. After sorting out who, what and more importantly why I was detained, it was all good, just a small mistake on the travel documents. It seems that some silly Brit took a sharpie and crossed out my printed birth date on the travel manifest and converted it to the UK format, so now my birth date didn’t match my passport. The funny part is I was the one who figured it out, as if the red Sharpie wasn't his first clue. Good thing this guy didn't choose a career path in detective work. I think they were hoping for something much more sinister, sorry guys just a meaningless mistake. Oh well, they let me go and I was greeted by “The Transporter” in a black Audi sedan and brought the rest of the way to Cornwall. Thanks Jason.
Day 14 Got a quick nap and awoke to the Cleans and the rest of the team of Simon Shaw and Will Howden making breakfast and planning out the day. Seems I didn’t miss anything because the first day of the event was abandoned due to some thick ass pea soup style fog. The C cats are awesome for so many ways, and I am stoked to see them again after my introduction to the class, last go around, in Newport. But this time they are foiling, or at least some were. Either way, I’m pumped to get some cat footage. So it wasn’t too long after climbing down off the Cornish Pussy this morning Mer and I started to get some sick footage. Our driver knows exactly where to go, he saw the first race of the day and got us in the spot where these cats got connected to the breeze and up and ripping. Soon enough, we were getting Groupama and the 2 Team Hydros boats sending it, we even scored a front row seat to SUI II losing it and crashing. For a second I thought we were a goner as Mischa’s tiller extension broke and they quickly were all up in our grill and gaining speed. But fortunately and unfortunately they crashed before anything bad happened, to us anyways, the race was over for them, and I got the shot.
The openness of the C Cat Class is what truly makes this an amazing group, up front all access pass to the entire fleet (minus Groupama). Getting to do boat tours with them and seeing all of the technology and experimentation that has gone into these boats is killer. The foiling advancements and designs just made it that much cooler. Never mind the fact that the world’s best designers are all walking around the boat park as well. To have grabbed an impromptu interview with none other than Oracle lead designer Dirk Kramers fresh off the plane from winning the Americas Cup is pretty damn cool.
Day 19 The final day was playing out to be pretty epic, with Groupama up 2-0 in the match race finals. The breeze was pumping and Team Hydros SUI 1 had launched and was ripping around the RC while Groupama was dragging their feet onshore and nowhere near the launch ramp. Well, the race started and Hydros was sailing the course by themselves. Groupama could afford to wait it out actually, they were up 2-0 so as long as only 2 races were to take place they could wait it out and still win on a tiebreaker. Well, it was over for Hydros pretty quickly. They were straight sending it, got all sketchy and pitch poled just around the windward mark and their wing was toast and far beyond repair. Game Over! Groupama had won the Little (Americas) Cup.
Day 20 I scored an early am ride to Heathrow with Ken, felt sorry for the dude, because he had no stereo, and I know I was sawing some logs, he had to be annoyed as I snored/slept the entire trip.
Day 21 Naptime on my sister’s couch in NYC
Day 22 Next up…Flight to San Francisco for World Championship #3 and what I had planned on being the end of this tour at the Melges 24 Worlds.
Day 23 I arrived in SF jet lagged like a mofo, but there was no time for sleep. I had to go straight to the club to step on the scale and hope for the best. Well, I made my target and we went for a practice sail. It was the Worlds after all and we as a team had never sailed together, not even once with any member of the team, for me anyways. I slammed down a sandwich and like 3 bottles of water and we left the dock, got in a few maneuvers and current checks and called it a day after about 2 or 3 hours. Then I hit the bar and the wall hard, no dinner for me, I was out.
Day 24 We had really good starts and had some good first beats, but when things converged at the top we had some lane management issues which put us back a bit overall. We had some good moments, and some average ones but as a team we got better as the day went on. My goals were to finish about mid fleet and have some shots at some top 10 finishes, but most of all to make sure our driver/owner had fun. I knew Mike Keefe from sailing A scows and had seen him at a few Melges 24 regattas but I’m pretty sure this was his first Worlds and probably the biggest fleet he had sailed in. His eyes got pretty big at some of the mark roundings, but he did great. I was still pretty jet lagged and maybe partly cloudy from the SFYC Mai Tai’s but to my recollection most of our days were similar. Good starts, decent speed and some good moments, but it was funny because no matter what, there was a select group of boats that we were always in contention with. We would have a great beat, and we would round overlapped with a boat that we had side bets with. Never failed, and every day it was the same.
Day 27 Overall we had a great time on and off the water and it was fun to see some of my close friends battling it out for the top spot. Waking up on the final day I got a text from Anthony Kotoun. “Call me when you can.” I rang him up wondering what was up. “ What are you doing next week?” he asked. I replied, “I have some promo videos to shoot with a new client Excelsior Brewing Company” (shameless plug) “what about the week after that?” Well as it turned out my World Championship tour would not be over, I was heading to Hawaii next to produce the footage for the Moth Worlds. But first I got to see a long time friend and one of the best guys ever finally win his Melges 24 World Championship. Brian Porter and the Full Throttle team got it done and I was glad I was there to see it and celebrate with him and the boys. It was well deserved and couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Congrats again Full Throttle. Now off to Hawaii for World Championship #4 – 2013 McDougall+McConaghy Moth Worlds.
Day 33 I got the upgrade for the flights SFO-LAX-HNL so I was off to a good start. I was a bit disappointed to see the flight attendants wearing jeans, that seemed weird to me but I got over that pretty quickly. “Mai Tai or Mimosa?” Ummm, free Mai Tai’s at 8:30 am? What could possibly go wrong? Thank god they weren’t as strong as the ones at the SFYC!
The Moth class had been a favorite of mine ever since I went to Dubai to shoot the Puma Moth Worlds in 2010. I was stoked to be back at it, and in Hawaii no less. I had hired 2 people to help with this production, one from a friend’s recommendation, one off Craigslist. One was worth her weight in gold, and the other was well, not so much, I’ll let you figure out which is which, but I think if you saw the footage, you know exactly what and whom I am talking about.
Day 35 My team headed out for day 1, it was light, and reminded me of Dubai, some foiling and a lot of low riding. The RC tried vigilantly to get some races off to no avail, but it was good to get Gretta Kruesi acclimated to her role as my on camera presenter. She saw enough foiling to get stoked. On the camera boat we did our best to help keep the waters clean; we scooped up plastic bags, coconuts, tree branches, and just about every type of debris we saw. Stuff like that can really wreak havoc on a set of foils.
Day 36 Other things that wreak havoc are high-speed collisions, I was bummed that I missed that crash, the hard part about shooting moths is you are fairly limited to how much of any particular race you can capture. If you get the start, you are hard pressed to make it to the windward mark, and if you get there you most likely pissed off some mothies by throwing a big wake their way. Mid event we found a secret cut through the reef that was off limits for them that allowed us to sneak by and make it up there when the wind direction was right. It was also the honey hole for some killer close ups as we could camp out inside the buoys and get them coming head on at us to their layline. Since it was technically a no fly zone we couldn’t be in their way. The money shot! Overall it was the classic “ Its usually not like this” type of event, although there was some great racing and it was a battle for the top spot between Bora Gulari and Nathan Outteridge with Bora getting the best of Nate this go around.
Day 37 Race days even though lighter than anticipated provided great action for the fleet. The mid event lay day was well appreciated getting to hit the North Shore and catch a bit of a building swell. That is also where some of us experienced one of the funniest things all week. The day was winding down, I think it was like 5:30 or 6 and a young Japanese couple had walked down with their kid to grab some beach time. There was nothing but open beach on both sides of us but they chose to make camp on a postage stamp sized area of sand next to us. Wedged between our group and some crazy locals that kept their boards in the tree above their heads, it couldn’t have been more of an awkward place to set up. Then as the sun was going down, they all lathered up with sunscreen and went for a swim. That setting suns UV rays are a killer I’ll tell ya. I think Bear, Jonny Nugs and I laughed for hours recalling that moment.
Day 39 No wind on the final day sealed the deal, Bora won the Worlds! It was an awesome week for everyone. Gretta did an amazing job at winning the hearts and minds of sailors around the globe and will definitely be back for some more on camera work with the Penalty Box Crew. One more thing to shoot, prize giving at the Kaneohe Bay Yacht Club, and one more shot at getting over served, yup check that box.
Day 40 Another last minute sightseeing trip on the island and then to the Sky Club Lounge to get some edits done before I get on the plane. This long ass trip is just about done.
That’s it …4 worlds in 40 days.