After two days of breezy conditions and six races, Jack Franco’s 3 Ball JT won the J/70 Winter Series event #2 by 21 points. How did he manage to get that far ahead? North expert Allan Terhune, who finished 5th overall, caught up with Jack to find out.
What did your team focus on during the practice day?
“We had a very concise plan for our practice day on Friday. Our team concentrated on boat handling (both up and downwind), then worked on transition items like when to go to the wing, and when to sail higher and plane. We would go for 30-45 minutes, then take a 10 minute break to discuss what could be done better. This helped keep everyone fresh and allowed us to make the most of the time we had to prepare. The North Sails practice races were invaluable to us, as I had several poor starts during the practice day Friday (including a pretty spectacular crash). Going through the motions for those six starts was extremely important and got me prepared for the racing, after not being in the boat for a bit.”
You won all but one race, but you were in trouble from time to time. How did your team fight the traffic and work your way back up to the front?
“Our tactician Bill Hardesty is a big believer in sailing our own race and having a game plan for each leg. We discussed the leg we are about to begin a minute or two before each mark rounding, with the main goal of working towards the best pressure on the course as quickly as possible. We also would choose to stay in marginal lanes and eat some bad air just so we could stick with our plan as much as possible. You often see teams abandon their plan without a fight due to a poor start or bad lane. The decision to abandon your plan often has dire consequences, and typically results in losing contact with the leaders and taking you out of position to fight your way forward.”
What do you enjoy about racing in Tampa, FL at DIYC, and the J/70 class?
“The folks at Davis Island are great hosts and this is always a well-attended event. There are tons of things to do around Tampa when you are not sailing, too. The J/70 class is among the strongest in the US and as someone that has sailed in many classes, I particularly like the fact that all class leaders are willing to discuss their tricks of the trade so that everyone can improve their program. The North Sails debrief on Saturday night is a prime example of the ways that the pros really give back to the class. Surprisingly, it’s not all that common in other classes I’ve sailed.”
You’ve been at this game a long time. For those looking to improve, what are two things you would focus on to make a significant improvement?
Have a plan to improve
“Then you can focus on things you are not so good at. Always use the time that you have on the water as efficiently as possible. We often see teams waste their limited preparation time before events fixing their boat, or not having everyone ready to sail. This really limits your ability to improve. Spend time talking to your friends after sailing, not before.”
Have a routine for each day
“On 3 Ball JT we have a pre-planned time that we leave the house, leave the dock, etc. Each person is responsible for items in the morning like diving the boat, making sure the batteries are charged and ready, preparing and packing our food, water, etc. This routine carries right to the race course. We leave the dock well ahead of the first race. We check the starting line and make a plan for the first beat. We check the wind at the same time before each start and try to be in about the same position on the starting line each race, before we decide what end to start on. If you base your decisions on a routine, then you have fewer unknowns which leads to a higher likelihood of success. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail…”