Melges 24 World Championship
Hello! Sorry for totally abandoning this blog in the past month or so (if anyone is still reading). Things got a bit busy and I had a few frustrating sailing set-backs and I didn’t feel like blogging in the last month. But now I am back, and would like to do a re-cap of a really cool event I sailed recently: the Melges 24 World Championship, here in Victoria!
With the generous help of a lot of members at RVYC, Erik (normally my laser coach) procured a local boat for the event. We were on the boat “Gravy”, and stood out nicely in all the pictures because we were the only team with dacron sails. It was a great chance to sail in a competitive fleet at a big event, but without all the pressure and seriousness that laser sailing has for me right now. Also it was also really fun to race with a team, something I don’t normally do! Our team was all dinghy sailors: Erik, myself, Dylan Jones (49er sailor) and Adam Sorenson (laser) from RVYC, and Braden Gray (laser) from GSC. We all finally got together as a team only the weekend before the main event, much to the chagrin of some local teams who have been training together in anticipation of these worlds for a few years now.
The conditions were a mixed bag, with mostly lighter winds and a lot of strong currents. We were based out of the Victoria inner harbour, and racing off of Esquimalt, which is in general a great sailing venue in Victoria. It is well placed to take advantage of the prevailing southerlies and westerlies, and has slightly more straight forward currents than other areas around Victoria. We did well in the light winds, when our older sails and our inexperienced boat handling were not much of a disadvantage. I was the tactician on board (although not the driver) and I found my laser sailing was a great background for having aggressive and successful starts and good fleet tactics on the upwinds. I think we were in the top 5 boats in terms of winning starts. A new thing for me was trying to call tactics on the downwinds, with the asymmetrical spinnakers making for very different angles and strategies than I am used to! I think by the end of the week I had it figured out and could make more aggressive calls. We ended up finishing 24th out of 41 teams, which I am super happy with, considering almost everyone else besides me had not raced the boat before and our team only sailing together for 2 days before the worlds started. We had a lot of amazing moments and definitely earned some surprised and impressed looks for our starts and upwind racing. I hadn’t realized how vital a new spinnaker would be for the downwinds, and I think having an older one was one of the factors that hurt us the most. Our best finish was an 11th, we generally finished in the high teens in the lighter winds, and only really struggled in the heavy wind on the last day with our downwinds.
One of the highlights for me was getting to meet and race against a number of professional teams. There were quite a few boats with full-time crew, who clearly spent a large amount of time training together, testing and fine tuning their boats. Many of these boats were skippered by sailors with a lot of amazing results under their belts, and it was super interesting to talk to them about their careers. I had never really thought much about high performance sailing outside of Olympic classes or famous races like the Volvo Ocean Race, but there is some serious talent in boats like the Melges. I think I will definitely explore options like that in my future after Olympic sailing, as I really loved sailing the boat and the tight one-design racing. Maybe you will see me at more Melges 24 worlds!
For now it is back to laser sailing, as I am gearing up for the North American Champs in Long Beach in a few weeks. It looks like it will be a super well attended event, as it is the country qualifier for next year’s Pan Am Games, and LA is generally a great summer venue.
Thanks for reading!