Tahiti, Whistler Mountain, The Great Barrier Reef, all exotic vacation destinations. The build-up, the planning, arrival, unbelievable fun. Then what? Back to normal life and post vacation depression.
Photo Credit: Strictly Sailing.com
Enter the Tybee 500. The planning, preparation, excitement of arrival, maximum adrenaline of sailing on the edge, out of the skin heightened senses and the paranoia of failing for six days straight. Then what? Post-Tybee Depression (PTD). Yes, it’s an actual syndrome, not just for the sailors but for the support crews who also are on the edge, with the fear of failing….tying a knot wrong on the boat, sending the boys out with something just not right. What’s the cure? Easy, go sailing again. I swear it works.
While I’m struggling with my current PTD, I’ll stave off the symptoms for one day by rehashing the prior nerve racking week. We did manage to capture 2nd place in the F18 fleet, as well as 2nd place OVERALL.
I’ll explain our Tybee 500 in just a few words: Six day match race.
It started about two minutes after the start gun in Islamorada when Mischa and Eduard (Team Bugaboo) tacked on us after we made our first tack to port. After six days and 750 miles, they gybed on us for the last time about 30 miles from Tybee. Through virtually the whole race we were tied, not bungeed, together. We pumped and trimmed every single wave, and when either of us didn’t get 100% out of the boat, the other would make it painfully obvious.
We each had the conditions we excelled in. During the first 80 mile beat, Bugaboo was initially faster. Then we would make a setting change and pull ahead. Then they would make a change and pull ahead. This went back and forth all day long. In the end, we found we needed more spreader rake and rig tension from the first given settings (brand new boat design), which worked for the rest of the race.
On the second leg blasting reach in 85 degree clear blue water and two meter waves, we had the advantage. Even after a flip we were able to capture the leg. See Sailing Anarchy article here. I was singing that Top Gun song “Danger Zone” all day long because we were definately tweaking with the afterburners on.
Downwind, we had a very slight edge in depth single trap, and a bit more speed in the light stuff. The shocker was we weren’t as fast on the double trap spin reaches at the end of legs 4 and 5. We were passed just miles from the finish both days after digging out a lead over the course of the legs. These differences can probably be explained mostly by crew weight and sail cut. We were lighter with a fuller cut main, which is great for downwind but not so great for holding a line with full rags up. We also just had to learn the boat more. Of course, the new wind filling from behind doesn’t help either.
Defining Moment: In every race or regatta series it is important to find the defining moment of the team. For us, it was after flipping in the second leg, when I told Dalton to forget about the flip and don’t be afraid of the boat or conditions. He responded with a ferocity on the mainsheet allowing us to catch the leaders again. That led to more confidence in each other which grew throughout the race.
Biggest Lesson Learned: Don’t be greedy. Sure, I know this one already, but I just couldn’t help myself in the last leg. We set up with a great wind line that the rest of the fleet didn’t recognize on the last leg. We extended but didn’t consolidate with a gybe in when the pressure equalized. We had a nice lead and FINALLY some breathing room, which led me to go for too much. We did have 36 minutes to make up, but a leg win would have made enough of a statement.
Travel Tip on Land: Open container on Tybee Island beaches=ticket.
Travel Tip on Water: Keep an eye on the shipping lanes.
Best Spot on Beach:
Magic Marine also supported the top two boats in the race. Their gear is unbelievably comfortable in the ever changing conditions of distance racing. If you sail a cat, you should definately check them out.
Team Velocity also did all of our logistics for the race. If you’re thinking about doing it, call them up and they will make it unbelievably easy. Also, check them out for pics and streaming vids from the race.
I have my photo gallery for the Tybee here.
What’s next for me? I leave for Houston for the US Multihull Championships to defend the trophy against the toughest group put together since I’ve been competing.
Okay, I’m freezing my ass off here, so I think I need some reflection on warm waters and good times. It’s -6 here right now, damn that’s cold!
Standing on the beach at the Atlantic’s edge before the third leg, I must admit, we were disappointed. A change I made to the rudder system dramatically failed on the way to Jupiter. We scrambled all night to put the rudders back on the boat (see the leg two story here), with the help of Mario Noya, Rob Remmers, Team Whike, and the rest of our very helpful and resourceful Team Velocity. We stayed up until late making sure it was nice and sturdy, adding backing nuts and piecing together what we could.
So, we were disappointed but determined. We finished last for leg two, which put us in the second row leaving the beach. What began as a mirror when I woke up turned into a frothy ocean by the start. The balmy air was being driven from a massive dark cloud about three miles offshore, which made for a nice onshore ESE cranking breeze.
When we pushed off in the second row we set off on a beam reach with bad intentions. We were a pissed off boat looking to maul anyone in our way. The Hobie Tiger was killing it on the reach, with me pumping my arms off on the main and Carrie driving off in the puffs, carving it up. We were absolutely hellbent on making our way to the front. We did. After about 45 minutes of reaching we were getting northwest of the cloud and the breeze started to go right. Out came the chutes. We were about three miles out by this time and the competition was getting edgy being out so far with the breeze starting to weaken. We were patient.
The shift kept coming and we were the last ones to gybe in. This gave us a small lead on Team Whike (Mischa and Eduard), but a huge lead on the rest of the fleet. Now the emphasis was on getting in position for the new breeze. We didn’t go all the way to shore and gybed on a windline about a 1/4 mile out. Whike went all the way to the shoreline and made a ton of trees on us, so we gybed in to consolidate behind them. After 15 minutes or so, the breeze went left and we were double trapped with the chute up. We couldn’t see the rest of the fleet.
Throughout the day, the warm onshore became less and less, to the point where we were in drift mode for the last hour and a half. Right after the sun went down we floated into toasty Cocoa Beach. When the wind goes light, leads get incredibly huge. Team Whike ended up putting a half hour on us. But our tenacity paid off for the day and we put about two hours on the rest of the fleet. We erased our 15 minute penalty from day one and the hour and a half breakage mistake from day two. What a great present for Carrie on her birthday……from last to second overall! She was greeted with a cake on the beach too….sweet!
I awoke on Tuesday morning with a fire in my belly. We sailed well in the first leg (second corrected), but due to a mistake we were docked 15 minutes for being over early on the only water start of the event. This meant we actually earned like a 15th place for the leg (Tybee site is down, so this is only what I remember). Of course, with this kind of event, your place in the standings after the first leg means almost nothing, but to be 17 minutes behind the leader isn’t exactly where you want to be after the first leg either.
In my early Worrell/Tybee days, I left too much for the team to take care of. I used to get out of bed about 30 minutes before the start, put my gear on straight away, and go out to the start to see our sails up and the team pumped to go. This year, I was always one of the first sailors on the beach checking the boat over, making small adjustments and putting the sails up.
On this Tuesday morning, I shot up out of bed, took my usual morning shower, ate a small breakfast, and jetted down to the boat to prepare for the long day. As I made my way through the large revolving door of the hotel, I was greeted by the sun like I was on planet Crematoria. I walked across the brick street to see our Magic Marine boat poised and ready for the day. I also noticed there was a glossy surface on the Atlantic ocean. When I arrived on the beach I stared out to the water hoping for a tiny miniature lick of wind. Nothing. I thought to myself, “It’ll come,” while I had sweat forming under my hat, rolling perilously down my cheeks..
Finally, the start came, and we pushed off in the light fickle southerly breeze, our spinnaker drawing barely. Through the morning, the wind freshened. We made a few niet so slim decisions that morning which landed us in the middle of the pack. We were noticeably edgy from the 15 minute penalty and the pressure of getting time back. We had to calm down.
Luckily for the fleet, inshore clouds were building….seabreeze! As the wind filled in we were pushing our way through the fleet, gybing for inside position sometimes, and staying out for windlines the rest of the time. All of the F18 fleet were together, with the mid pack of 20s. The light wind in the morning gave the 20 fleet an edge on us.
We took our final gybe in and found ourselves just inside and ahead of Team Whyke. By this tme, the breeze freshened enough for me to go out on the wire with the spin sheet in one hand, as I moved in and out with the pressure. However, there was a 20 going slow in front of us and we couldn’t break through underneath. After a few minutes we decided we had to go twin wire to roll them. We would have to fall in line behind Whyke, but we were losing there anyway.
I switched from the helm to the crew trap and Carrie popped out on the wire. Our speed jumped up when we heard a loud “Bam!” Our leeward rudder tore off of the transom and was skipping in the clear blue water behind us like a surfer on acid. Luckily, we weren’t flying a hull, cuz it would have been game over! I quickly jumped in from off the wire and doused the chute. Then, we reeled in the broken appendage, secured it, and discussed our options. We decided to call Mario (our team Manager) to tell him what happened, where we were (just north of Sebastian Inlet) and to be on the ready if we had to come to shore. While Carrie was on the phone, I stared at the horizon and saw the colorful spinnakers gradually disappear into the blue.
In another not so smart move, we took my Iphone as our team phone on the boat. Hello, dumbass! With our wet fingers we couldn’t make the screen work! We actually laughed quite a bit during this time as Carrie tried to dry her little fingers enough to make the call. Like a true champ, she got the job done and informed our ground crew of the crappy situation. It actually supplied some much needed comic relief.
Of course, we had to go on with just the windward rudder because to go in and fix it would cost us a ton of time. The bolts holding the gudgeon on had completely sheard and we had no idea how many of the bolts would be broken off on the hull. So we continued. We put the spin back up and with one of us on the wire we crept (still at 14 mph) as fast as we could to the beach in Jupiter.
As I drove, I started to feel the windward rudder wobble. I thought, “no way, I’m just worried about the windward rudder too.” I didn’t say anything for a while until I was sure it wobbled. We decided to beach because I didn’t want to do a Rod Waterhouse behind the boat for 30 miles (old Worrell story).
We made our way to the soft Florida sand and met up with Robbob and Mario who were there pretty much when we landed. That’s a great ground crew! We inspected the left rudder and noticed the bolts broke like Minotauro’s arm after a Fedor slam. 10 of the 16 bolt holes were salvageable, so we put in new bolts with backing nuts and pushed back out through the white froth. After talking about how much we could push it, we decided to just go for it. We had lost enough time already. I pushed out on the wire and soon after, Pow! Flailing rudder.
We pulled it back in again and continued. The windward rudder was making untoward movements again. We had some spare line and we jury rigged the gudgeon to hold it to the transom and continued.
We lost about two hours on this leg and were in last place. We took a big shot in the gut that day. This was my sixth Tybee and I never had a breakdown. On the bright side, the pressure was off. Our team worked all night on both rudders ready to continue our trek up the coast. What happened on the next leg was to Cocoa was truly amazing……………..
After quite a bit of time working on our Hobie Tiger, lent to us by Performance Sail and Sport in Melbourne, FL, it was finally time to put the battens in the black main 40 minutes before the start of the race. The first time we splashed the boat was on the way to the start line. Not exactly what I’d call perfect race preparation, but we thought we had an excellent boat that would make it the whole way up the coast with no problems. The worst part about these races sometimes is not the conditions, but the late nights spent working on breakages and details.
Going out to the start line, which was about a half mile off of the beach, we found a light northeasterly breeze, not much current, and a beautiful sunny sky small puffy clouds hovering over the warm water. Pretty much transcendant Florida Keys weather. The water was so clear it was hard to judge the depth. The only way to check was to look under the daggerboard to see how much water was between the board and the bottom.
Right on time, at 10 AM, the gun sounded for this leg from Islamorada to Hollywood, FL. We were in perfect position on the start line. Well, we thought we were. When we finished the leg, we found we earned a 15 minute penalty for being over early at the start.
At least we had clear air at the start, which is the most important thing in a distance race. Some time passed before we were rolled to weather by a Nacra 20, which didn’t feel good, but on a close reach in light breeze the large sailplan of the 20 has more power. Not much time passed after that when we looked over our shoulder to see Team Whike put up their spinnaker. It was a close reach, so we weren’t sure how they would do. We guaged with them for about 30 seconds or so, and noticed they were gaining on us, so we did the same. With Carrie Howe at the helm, I grunted the spin out of the bag and we were sheeted in and taking off. We were twin wired at that time, keeping the boat flat. It was working. We kept gaining on the lead 20s until we passed all but one as the wind increased. Mischa was offshore about a quater mile more than us, and when we saw there was a sandbank, we both dropped our spins and reached up the channel around Biscayne Flats.
Team Royal Yellow (Steve Lohmeyer and Jay Sonnenklar) did a sneaky move there. Wyke and us were holding a good line with the spins, with Wyke a little more on the outside. Royal couldn’t hold their chute as high as the F18s, so the dropped their chute and reached up. These guys really know the area, so when the popped their chute just outside of us, we thought we had a pretty good line, but then they dropped their chute again and started power reaching. We could just see the sand bar at that point, so we dropped and reached up as well, but they had a really fast line and pulled away some from both of us. Their move cemented their lead at that point.
After we rounded the most northeast channel we popped our chutes and went double trap for quite a while as the breeze increased from the east/southeast to about 10-12 knots. This was beautiful sailing with crystal blue water, rolling waves, WARM TEMPERATURE, and pristine coastline. We had a nice battle with Wyke for quite a while. Royal went closer to the beach and ended up with the leg elapsed time win. We were happy with our third place elapsed time, as we hadn’t really sailed much together and Carrie was getting over a pretty bad sickness. She really gutted it out on this leg to keep her concentration level up. With our 15 minute penalty we ended up 4th overall that leg.
On a side note, the ultra fast Hobie Tiger we sailed in the Tybee is for sale at Performance Sail and Sport! This boat is a real performer and has a package including:
Tapered Robline mainsheet, spin halyard, spin sheets (all new before Tybee). Every single line on the boat was replaced
Continuous jib sheet
10:1 mainsheet system (Harken Carbo)
Staymaster shroud adjusters
It has the full race package and is just “Plug and Play”
Contact Performance Sail & Sport for more details. Thanks!
First thanks goes to Carrie Howe for getting me involved. Our teamwork was better and better throughout the week, and we sailed an excellent race together. She is a very smart sailor, and we easily developed gameplans for each leg and leg sections. Some legs were upwards of 12 hours long, but it was easy to stay relaxed and fast with her on the boat. She is a sweethart on land and a monster on the water. I’m happy she’s coaching us more this year too. I was proud to be on the same boat with her, challenging our skills for six days straight. I have some extra pounds to burn off now though, which I added to my frame so we could make weight.
Thanks to Magic Marine for making it possible for us to attend the event. I will definately do a write-up on the gear I was wearing because I was perfectly comfortable throughout the whole event in MX2 wear! I hope we did Magic Marine proud!
Thanks also to the other sponsors including McLube, who’s OneDrop worked perfectly, Robline for providing lines that never wore out and had great hand, Whirlwind Sails, WilderGFX, Barz Optics, Ocean Sailing Academy, and Sailing Anarchy for providing coverage for the race.
Thanks to “The Syndicate” AKA Team Velocity Sailing! Trey Brown and Tad Pecorak had the foresight to put together an excellent team of dedicated sailors and groundcrew alike. They put up with a lot of shit from all different angles, and made this race happen for a lot of people who otherwise would not have made it to the start line. On top of it, they sailed a great race. Thanks guys!
Thanks to Allison Jones for keeping everything together for basically seven teams! I knew she was under a lot of pressure to coordinate so many aspects of the race for us. She had a smile on her face the whole time, and resolved any potential problems so fast it was impressive.
Every time I turned around Derek Binkly and James Boicourt were there to help us through any turmoil we had going on. These two are top shelf people who selflessly put our needs ahead of theirs. Erin provided us with nice biscuits and other treats to help us through the day. Our gear was picked up every day with a smile by Annie, and she helped us with whatever we needed. Of course, Jen also is the sponsor sticker pro, and kept us happy throughout the journey. Thanks also to Ryan who came out of the blue to give us that push we needed on time through the surf. He is a freightrain for sure. I was having some back issues, like everyone else in the race, and Kate popped my back from bottom to top which made me lay on the ground for a few seconds stunned. I had to drink a lot of water after that because she must have released some toxins. I was dizzy for a while, but my back was absolutely perfect until…..well it’s still perfect. Overall, the groundcrew had an aire of happiness that is unmatched. They are all great friends with each other and it showed.
What can I say about our pusher and manager Mario Noya. He had such a great attitude and gave everything he had for us. He even had a busted up nose pushing us through the surf, and stayed up so late working on our boat, even missing fun parties with his friends. Rob “Robbob” Remmers also was there every minute of the way with Mario, making sure we had everything we needed to get to the finish line with speed and safety. Rob even drove with me back to Orlando to make sure our boat made it home. He always follows things to the end, a trait I have learned from him.
The race committee did a great job this year too. Sean, the PRO, was pulled in many different directions from the teams and sailors, but he was able to keep everything fair and fun. Claude almost didn’t make it to the start this year, but I’m glad he made it. Sorry we didn’t get to go sailing at some point, Claude. Neal, well in the beginning I was a bit scared of him, with his steely face behind those dark sunglasses. He intimidated me some years ago. Now, I have come to know his kindheartedness and great humor. Top knotch gentleman! Chuck and Judy Bargeron need no introduction. Of course, without them the race would not take place. Chuck’s hard line approach to the race is smoothed out by Judy’s charming demeanor, and I hope to see them again next year….for the 7th time! John Williams…he has crewed for me on many occasions and has given me great advice through the years. Together, we won the US Multihull Championship in 2007, were second last year, and hopefully get a shot at it again this year. He was always there on the beach to give support to his friends as they finished. I don’t exactly know what his job was, but I’m sure he did it well. Thanks also to Kevin Rejda for taking pics and being a great friend along the way. Why the hell haven’t you answered my email guy?
It was also great to see all of my friends during the race again. I think I’ll do profiles on them all at another time, because if I write about all of these unique individuals, this story will be so long, nobody will make it to the end.