Looking to take your team to the next level? Off the back of J/111 Worlds, North Sails catches up with Martin Dent on how he and the team on North-powered JElvis played their strengths to secure a world-class win in this highly competitive class. Narrowing it down, Dent shares 5 tips to up your game and approach the next regatta ready to win.
IT ALL STARTS WITH A GREAT TEAM
Most of us have now raced together since the 2014 Winter Series, add in some practice, and then finally some good fortune. We were especially lucky with the windy conditions, which played to our strengths.
Last year my wife and youngest daughter sailed on the boat in Newport, this year my elder daughter and 16 year old son did the bow and pit respectively. No Worlds places are guaranteed for family members (!) but these two both did the full training during July and earnt their spots. My wife did an amazing job this year, catering for the whole team in our house in Cowes and also being out on the rib for each race.
MASTER THE FAR ENDS OF “SAILABLE CONDITIONS”
We started training with the Round the Island Race on July 2nd. This was the windiest conditions that we’d sailed the J/111, and it is hard to imagine deliberately going out for a practice session in 25 to 35 knots. So when we found ourselves round the back of the island, wiping out on every other gybe, the process started to develop techniques that would ultimately pay for us in the Worlds one month later. Then in mid July, North Sails organized a training weekend. As it turned out we were lucky that during this training it was also blowing 20+ knots: again, the exact same conditions we were to face in the Worlds.
BRING YOUR A-GAME
It was noticeable, as with previous Worlds, that everybody raises their game. Whether it’s new sails, A-teams, a bit of practice, or just the general focus and concentration that everyone puts in, every team was sailing well. You get boats and teams from all over the world coming together at the warning signal and the true one design of the J/111 makes the racing so tight.
KNOW YOUR COMPETITION
Peter Wagner’s team, Skeleton Key, from San Francisco, were a hot ship. They always seemed to be in the right place going fast, and they were very competitive tactically: the tacking duels started on Day 1. Going into the final day, we were hanging on to a 2-point lead but we were carrying a much higher discard (15) than Skeleton who had only discarded a 5. So we knew that they would try to sail us down the fleet, it was just a question of whether they would do the damage in Race 1 or 2… Whilst we ate our pancakes at breakfast, Ruairidh, Annabel and I were drawing sketches of the various boat-on-boat scenarios that might develop… Sure enough Skeleton came at us in the pre-start on the first race. We went into a match racing dial-up, which then turned into a dial down. Somehow we got out of there ok and got a reasonable start, so going into the final race it was back to fleet racing.
KEEP YOUR LID ON
The final race was underway and we needed a top 5 finish, yet we had to work our way through the fleet having struggled to hold our lane off the start. We’d worked our way to 3rd at the leeward mark, only to get a bonner in the jib and let 3 boats through. After all that work it was a basic boat-handling mistake under pressure! So we’d have to work our way back up through the fleet a second time, which was no easy task as everyone was fighting for places. In the end we fought back to a second place finish, granting us the overall win with four points to spare.
Want more tips? Check out our full-length interview with Martin on OffshoreOneDesign.com