USA45 Racing member Nevin Snow debriefs us on the great weekend the team had sailing in San Francisco! Pictures to follow shortly.
This past weekend, March 15-17, USA45 Racing traveled to San Francisco to officially begin on-water training for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. It was our first session sailing together after having been selected by Oracle Team USA to represent the United States, and it was shaping up to be a great weekend.
Weather forecasts predicted winds in the 12-22 knot range and they did not disappoint. Every morning we left the mooring at 10:00 am to get in a morning session of light to moderate breeze. These morning sessions were key to the success of the weekend because they allowed us to iron out any boathandling and communication issues before the wind picked up. Our main goals for the mornings was to make sure that we all understood our roles through each maneuver and that we moved consistently and efficiently as a team. We made it clear in our team meetings that we were not concerned with the speed of our gybes or smoothness of our tacks, but rather to set up a good base for these maneuvers. Our approach of taking it step-by-step proved to be extremely effective as we notably progressed each day.
Each afternoon provided a whole new challenge to USA45 Racing, with winds that were often breezy and puffy. Our coach for the weekend, Oracle Team USA’s Darren Bundock, set up a course similar to the one that will be used during the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and had us practicing racing the course. We went through everything from timing our starts to calling laylines and began to get a feel for when maneuvers needed to be executed around the racecourse. Often times we found ourselves underestimating just how fast we would approach the starting line, or a mark, but by Sunday we had noticed significant progress in our feel for the AC45.
Our main goal going into Sunday, the final day, was to build confidence on the AC45 by being able to confidently sail our way around the racecourse with consistency. To walk away from the weekend satisfied we wanted to be able to have a competitive start, consistent tacks and gybes, and clean furls, takedowns, and launches of the Code Zero gennaker. And we did just that. We ended up practicing multiple practice starts in extremely light breeze, forcing us to move most of the crew weight forward of the trampoline meaning the sails were being trimmed by only four sailors, a task we organized with relative ease. Once the breeze did pick up we executed our best race yet in consistent 13-15 knots on possibly our shortest racecourse of the weekend as well, putting even more importance on the cleanliness and efficiency of each maneuver. We wrapped up the day with a few races south of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and made our way to shore motivated after our first training session.
Special thanks to Oracle Team USA and Darren Bundock for hosting our training session. Darren was a great resource on the back of the boat, and his video debriefs at the end of each helped immensely in our progression on the AC45. Also, a big thank you to our sponsor Magic Marine for outfitting us in their latest technical gear. Despite the highs being in the low 70s, San Francisco Bay is still one of the coldest sailing venues and with the help of Magic Marine we were comfortable all day.
Photo Credit: Ellen Hoke / Sailing Photography