Monday, May 18, 2015
ALL IN! "2006 FLASHBACK with Nick Scandone"
On Thursday June 8 about 10:00 A.M. the phone rings “ Len it’s Nick, can you go to Connecticut with me on Monday for nine days? Jerry Thomson hurt his shoulder and I need someone to help me out. There is a boat you can use in the race” It took me about two seconds, “I’m in, just let me run it by my family”. About two hours later I called Nick to let him know I was all in and to go over the schedule and what I needed to bring. First thing Nick told me was gloves and a good spray guard top. At first I thought I could pull out a top five finish but I was soon informed at Beercans that night that I would be lapped by Nick and would have my tail handed to me. I thought it was good idea to practice on Nick’s back up boat that was still at Balboa Yacht Club that Saturday. Getting into the boat I kind of felt like one of those big headed sports cartoon commercials. After about three hours of practice I learned four things I needed. Gloves, Spray top, learn how to drive this thing straight and how to get my big head under the boom. At this point I still had dreams of placing in the top seven. Like any good one design boat, a lot of time is needed for boat preparation and leaving the dock in good order. If you’re setting on sheets, halyards and dock lines and extra parts it makes for a tough start, which I came to learn very fast. The 2.4mR is not all that easy to sail. At a leeward mark rounding you have to move the mast aft, tighten up your outhaul, put on your back stay, retract the whisker pole, main & jib in, and keep the boat going straight. Try it sometime and you will see what it entails.
June 12& 13. Nick and I land at JFK and make it hotel without getting lost and over to the Noroton Yacht Club the following day to rig Nicks boat and get it ready for the race. After washing, silicone waxing and Mclubing all the moving parts Nick was ready for the race. Just then Peter Wilson came up and said hello to Nick and introduced himself. This is when I first saw the boat I was going to use this weekend. Expecting an old dog barley able to get out of it own way I was presently surprised to see a very lightly use one year old boat. Just then Tom Sergo, the owner of the boat, came up and introduced himself. Everything looked like brand new from sails to extra parts and everything was made available to my use.
Its amazing the respect you get when your hanging out with the world champion and Rolex yachtsmen of the year. After Tom left I looked at Nick “ Great, I said, now I have to worry about what I am going to break” Nick laughed and we pushed the boats over to the crane and splashed the boats. Nick and I are out about a mile offshore catching the last race of practice that day. After the race Nick and I elect to stay out and do some straight line tuning. We had been sailing for about thirty minutes and Nick is circling back to line up next to me when BLAM! . Nick, “ What the hell was that?” I said “ What do you mean what the hell was that, what the hell is a rock doing way in the hell out here”. We return back to the yacht club and on hauling out I find out that I will need a fiberglass guy. Just as we haul the boat out Nick looks over and asked Gene Hinkel if he can help me with my blunder. By half way through the next day Gene had repaired my boat and it looked like new. Nothing better than hanging out with the Yachtsman of the year especially when you have to call the owner of the boat and tell him you just sailed his new boat into a rock. Fortunately, Tom was way cool about it and even let me continue to use his boat.
1st day racing with wind coming in from the north, over the land, and creating large shifts, with a strong current through out the day. 1st race is blowing 12 to 16 from the north with the swell beginning to build. Big starting line and starting in the middle of the line most of the day, heading to the left side of the course and tacking in the shifts to stay in the middle of the course so you don’t get killed from one side or the other or over stand because of current. I missed the first two big shifts just trying to drive the boat in 16 knots of breeze, trying not to hit anyone and sail. Nick was in third and second most of the race and on the first beat he over stood the weather mark, because of the current, and lost five boats and finished tenth in that race.
2nd race 1st day, wind now up to 17 with puffs to 21. Nick takes off with the top four boats and these guys are in their own league and take a big lead and hold it to the finsh with Nick taking a 4th this race. Way back in the fleet I round 11th after the first beat and while heading down the first run the wind stays around 12 to 15 no problem. Just I approach the leeward gate and pick the right mark of the gate and try to get in on the inside of Peter Wilson we get hit by a 21 knot puff that brings back memories of the old IOR days with the rolling from side to side now just 10 boat lengths from the mark I go in to this HUGE round down and no idea were I will end up. Looking for the weather side to hold on to I some how come out of the roll, flat and flying at the mark and leave Pete about three boat lengths behind and going to the left mark. Somehow I think Pete was just trying to keep out of my way, when I got to the mark I was in fourth place and started on the second beat and again blew it at the end of the beat and rounded 9th and proceeded to lose two boats on the run and had my best finish of 11th in the windiest race. So, I thought the first race was 17th this race was 11th, I should make it to 7th by the third race. I was OK with this.
3rd race I get rolled at the start and tack away and then don’t see a starboard tacker and have to-do a last second tack, go back to the right and someone else tacks on me and I am in the back of the fleet that fast. I round the weather mark after missing a huge shift way way in DFL, dam embarrassing!! And complete the 1st run DFL. On the run I notice these huge 40-degree puffs coming in from the left side of the course. The whole fleet went to the right gate and since I was DFL I was going left. I was the only one out to the left by so far you had to call it something other than a flyer, maybe slingshot position. Yea that’s it sling shot position! During this time Nick has stayed in second place although at the 1st weather mark he had hit the mark and waited to do his circle until after the clearing mark. Nicks closest non-able sailor Bruce Miller was telling Nick he had to have cleared himself before the clearing mark? Nick went down the run holding onto 2nd place and took off to the right side of the course. Nick said, " I was in second when the left started to come in and I was going to wait until it shifted back and the wind just kept going left". Nick rounded 15th and the wind was now blowing around 18knots and we were all wet and cold which made it double for Nick. At this point Nick saw this race as his throw out and retired from the race. Mean while out on the left side of the course for the first time of my life the "Sling Shot” was working. I kept looking under my boom and I was now ahead of everyone in the back of the fleet and as the wind kept going left the next time I looked under the boom I was ahead of everyone other than the top three. I said " Ok time to SHUT UP AND DRIVE" and not going to look under the boom again until one of the top three boats crossed me everyone else was way back and could not even come close to me on starboard. Then it happens, I lose my steering with the foot peddles and go head to wind in 20 knots of wind in these little boats in a HUGE swell spitting salt water like a bilge pump. I was lucky and brought handheld VHF and called for assistants. Betsy came right up and gave me an idea on how to hand steer. Just when I was ready to throw in the towel I figured out how to control the boat and completed the race. Unfortunately I lost the whole fleet again practicing my 360 off to the left for five minutes and held on to my DFL. Came to find out that about five boats had dropped out because the conditions.
So off to West Marine for some 5200 and try to make the repair to the steering system. It looked good for the next day? That night I had a chance to meet everyone who was now at the event and try to wash all the salt water out my mouth. Good times meeting everyone from Canada, Puerto Rico, and around the U.S. Getting washed around in that little bath tub they call a 2.4 meter does work on you and the no-see-ums were coming out big so we elected to head back to the barn early that night.
Race day 2 three more races that day and Nick had his game face on. The forecast was for light winds out of the west. We had to wait a long bit for the wind to come in and it did from the north again. It filled to about 13 and lumpy. This time the leeward pin was favored and I hit it at full speed and might have crossed the fleet but I was still unsure of the boats and everything I had gone through already so I just stayed on starboard until everyone had tacked. Nick played it safer than me and started about five boats up and like always had great speed. He found a small shift and had been on port a short time and was coming across back on starboard heading back for the left. I was looking under my boom and it was to close for me to cross the starboard boats and I tacked back to the left and was doing just fine with the top of the fleet being just on my weather hip. Just then my steering goes out again and I go spinning out to the left again like a firework, into the hack bucket again. Nick goes on to win the race by a mile; Nick then takes the second race again by a mile. The third race Nick hangs and takes a forth in a dieing breeze and wins the day handily. Back at the dock everyone wants to know how Nick does it. I have seen Nick’s talent before when I was the sailing coach at OCC. The great battles I used to watch between John Pinckney, John Shadden and Nick was some of the best sailing I have ever witnessed. Nick always seeming to have the edge off the wind and proving that he was truly one of best. Watching this fleet of 2.4 with all the past champions, new champions and Americas Cup past winners Nick again is one of the boys and is truly the guy to beat. What world champion isn’t? Although this time Nick is racing for something more!
Race Day 3 the forecast is very light breeze and we stay ashore until 1:30. This time instead of 5200 I tried epoxy on my steering bloke problems and I lose my steering again on the tow out and am about ready to throw in the towel. About two hours later everyone is towed back to the docks without a race being run this day.
Race Day 4 The forecast is better this day with the wind being projected at 6-10 out of the west. Nick took a look at my steering system and came up with a fix for the boat. This is after almost the whole fleet came by and gave their opinion on how to fix it the afternoon before. After the first day Nick had placed himself in a big whole and we had missed the extra two races needed for a second throughout. The first race I was on the upper third of the line and was told the current would be keeping us from the starting line. At the start I thought I had hit it perfect and the boat was working. I look up and Nick is crossing the fleet again and I get a very late call I was over early, so I was back in the hack barrel again. The wind was light and after clearing myself I was able to get off to the right and work myself back up to 8 the place and lose 4 boats on the run to the finsh. I still can’t get myself in the top ten. Nick has another great race and again wins by a mile. 2nd race of the day. The wind is now around 12 knots out of the west and Nick and I want the pin. Peter Wilson is on my hip and I am not about to push Nick at the pin end and we all come off the line well. After a short time of straight lining Nick has pinched me off and I am starting to get rolled by Peter Wilson on my hip. Nick and Pete go on to round 1st and 2nd and finsh with Pete getting the win and Nick in 2nd. I again Hack up the last run and lose four boats at the finsh line and get 13th. 3rd race of the day. The wind is dying and is moving to the northwest. This time I have my hopes up because I have a great start at the committee boat and have most of the fleet is ahead but well to leeward of me. Nick takes advantage of a small left shift and crosses. We lose a couple of boats using the current and jibing at the weather mark. Nicks in forth and I am in 7 at this point. Nick goes on and gets 6th and I hack up my last run and drop back to 12.
At the awards everyone is in good sprits and everyone is helping each other place their boats on the trailers and a number of competitors are shipping their boats over to Finland for the up coming worlds the end of July. Going over the race Nick again is surrounded by the competitors and asking him what there should have done here or there on the racecourse that day. Nick places forth in the regatta overall and wonders if he should have pushed the third place person at the starting line harder. He and Peter Wilson were down to the last race and who ever won this race between them would be the US Nat champion.
Observations and lessons learned.
1. Nick is fast and well respected.
2. Its good to hang out with the king.
3. Peter Wilson has found a niche in single-handed one design racing and is the perfect salesman for the fleet.
4. Nothing better than an old fashioned SAILING CLUB!
5. Check the chart out before sailing in new waters
6. Ask the people around the club where to sail and not sail.
7. When sailing a single-handed boat you have to remember to SHUT UP AND DRIVE
8. Betsey Alison is an outstanding coach that works extremely hard and truly cares about what she is doing.
9. When chartering a boat or before any big event you have to go through your boat from stem to stern.
10. Nick Scandone is a class act. He is the perfect ambassador for yachting. You can only wish for a public servant with the same passion, respect, and the support to others. Newport Beach, California, United States of America, the World! Needs Nick Scandone as their representative. This is the perfect opportunity that only comes around once in thirty years, to promote and support the perfect ambassador to the sport of yachting. Don’t get caught in five years wishing you should have helped!