Feb 1, 2013, 9:30 AM
Post #1 of 6
NOT YOUR ORDINARY REGATTA
J/70 class at Key West Race Week 2013
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When nearly a third of the boats at Quantum Key West (Jan 21-25) are competing in one class, and when that class is a one-design boat that has yet to celebrate its first birthday, that class - the J/70 - quickly becomes the talk of the town. Working with the fleet was George Szabo of Quantum Sails who shares his experience:
I had the opportunity to provide coaching for the J/70 class at Quantum Key West Race Week 2013, and the entire experience was a bit out of the ordinary. To start, walking through the boat yard before the event I didn't feel that pervasive nervousness that you would expect to find. Instead, it was an atmosphere of teams with new toys figuring out how to put them together.
There was the comparison of rigging ideas, looking to see what the guy next to you was doing, lots of spinnaker bags and other covers being installed. When I asked people how much they had practiced, the most often heard response was "three days - it is pretty cold up north right now." The other common response was "I just received the boat, and I'm still taking off the plastic wrap from the factory."
My favorite rigging question before the event came from one new boat owner who walked up to another boat owner, and said "I've rigged my entire boat, and I have this one piece left over. What is it for?" I took a lot of photos of the different rigging ideas and have posted them on the Quantum Sails one design site for others to see.
I ran a clinic on the day before the regatta and noted a collective energy on the water. Teams were learning how to tack, jibe and douse efficiently. As that got sorted out, we began to work on boatspeed, tuning, and helping sailors get their rigs, travelers and jib leads in the right position. From there, tuning was the next thing up to improve, and the race was on to find the good rake number. Being a J boat, and the history of J boats having lee helm, the question was how long you could make your forestay and still go fast. The tuning guide was written, but the numbers were certain to change before the week was out. Got to love new fleet evolution.
Upwind wasn't the only education that teams were receiving. It was the same downwind. On the second day of racing, the fleet was planing off the wind. In race one, four guys on the rail was the fastest. By race three, a faster technique developed, that had three guys on the rail and one guy in the middle. By the next day with stronger wind, it was back to four guys on the rail being fastest. It was pure entertainment to watch that progression.
Being in a coach boat was invaluable. I could see the daily changes in the way the fleet was sailing and take photos of the changes while on the water. In the evening, I was able to share these photos with customers and offer suggestions for the following day, plus I was able to e-mail a daily debrief of the general trends and how they had changed from the previous day. It was time well spent and worth every moment.