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North Sails debrief Melges 24 Worlds with Dave Hughes, tactician on Embarr

The 2016 Melges 24 World Championship was held in the open ocean off Miami Beach, November 29-December 3rd. In five days of racing, Conor Clarke’s Melges 24 team Embarr sailed an amazingly consistent regatta (finishing just on race out of the top five). Tactician Dave Hughes credits onboard communication and teamwork to their World’s success.

Hi Dave, how does it feel to win the Melges 24 World Championship?

Winning is a mixture of elation and fatigue!  This was a long, hard-fought event. It’s wonderful to prove to ourselves that our preparation and approach to the event was a winning formula.

What would you say were the three key factors to your success this week in Miami?

A heads-up, alert attitude to the race course is key in any regatta and definitely helped us in the big fleet, big waves conditions in Miami. In addition, always sailing the boat hard no matter our position and working with our coach, Morgan Reeser, kept us going fast.

What was the biggest “take-away” you gained from this event?

World Championships throw a lot of curve -balls at you, both on and off the water. Rest up, shoulders back, and keep fighting.

If you could share with your fellow competitors one thing that you would consider the most critical part of your set-up this week, what would it be?

Set-up wise, we kept a near-constant discussion of how the boat felt and what it needed in the moment. We weren’t timid on changing hard and soft controls.  Within the “noise” of the race, being totally honest about a boat’s performance is one of the toughest challenges.

What did you find to be the most successful in your upwind strategy?

Lane management.

What was the most unexpected contribution to your win?

Where do I start?!!  Truth be told, it was surprising just how many people had a hand in making this win happen, both on and off the water.  Our ‘thank you’ list is long! You can’t win a major event without help along the way.

What are your crew positions/jobs?

Conor is the owner of the boat, hardest hiker, and responsible for about 100 things onboard. Aoife is the bow extraordinaire. Maurice (AKA ‘Prof’) was on the spinnaker.  Stu drove the boat and I was on the jib and tactics (both good and bad!!)

What’s the next event for your team?

Uncertain at this point, we need to take a breath first!

What was your team dynamic like compared to your Olympic Campaign on the 470?

The similarities are fairly obvious with Stu driving and me on jib/tactics.  As a boat, the Melges 24 has a great number of parallels to the 470 (a reference the Embarr team is definitely sick of hearing!). However, as with any boat, the team takes on its own character and personality. In the end, hard work is the key.

We all saw your downwind technique. Where did you learn how to move like that?

The 470, of course!

What was your funniest moment of the event? (Any funny sayings you had on the boat/ or a funny thing that happened on the water)?

The Embarr team has its fair share of go-to sayings, re-told jokes, and “I can’t believe that just happened.”  I’ll leave it at that…

Learn more about North Sails Melges 24 products at: North Sails One Design