This past weekend, our team competed in the M32 fleet during Bacardi Sailing Week. As expected, Miami provided ideal conditions and Bacardi/the M32 class put on a great event. Our team managed to get two days of practice in before racing began on Saturday, March 11th. On board for racing were: Carson Crain-Skipper, Reed Baldridge-Tactician, Markus Edegran- Trimmer, Matthew Whitehead- Floater, and Ian Storck- Main Trimmer. We went into this event with a focus on our starts and the first reach. Having eight M32s on the line and some really good teams gave us the opportunity to gain valuable race experience against a talented fleet.
We pushed hard from day 1 and managed to round the first mark of race one in first. The breeze was around 6 knots and we came off the line like a rocket ship. Unfortunately, we made a few mistakes later on in that race, but we were very happy with our start. As the breeze increased, our scores got better and we managed to finish off the day with a 3,3,2. The team really came into form in those three races, with good starts and very good boat speed around the course. At the end of day 1, we sat in 3rd place with plenty to play for on day 2.
Day 2 was an early start for the team with all of us arriving at the gym just before 8am. We focused heavily on pre-race warm ups and post-racing cool downs during this event and did daily workouts with our strength coach, Mike Kuschner. On the sail out it looked like the conditions were going to be ideal for us. The breeze was up to 8 knots and we were feeling very fast. As we got closer to our noon start time, the breeze died to 3-5 knots. The M32 is such a high performance boat that this is still an exciting condition, but we preferred a bit more wind. In the first 3 races, we struggled a bit. Our starts were typically good but the speed around the course just wasn’t there. Part way through the day, we reevaluated and made some changes to our strategy/boat setup. This proved extremely helpful and we closed out the day with a 3,3. In the end, we finished up 6th out of 8 boats for this event. While the overall result wasn’t ideal, we learned plenty about our team and feel that we achieved the goals we set up pre-event.
Off the water this was an important event for the team as well. We placed a big emphasis on having a table and banner set up in the Bacardi Sailing Week Village so that we could tell people about our Red Bull Youth America’s Cup campaign. Each night, we spoke with other sailors and sold shirts to team supporters. The turnout was fantastic and it was a very encouraging to see how many people are following our journey to Bermuda.