Team Zingara – Scott Nixon (tactician), Ben Lam (kite trimmer), Billy Gooderham (boat captain and bow), Richard Reid (helm) – recently competed in the 2019 Melges 24 Worlds in Italy. Richard Reid took a few moments to answer our burning questions about the regatta and what it takes to succeed at the world level. Enjoy!
1) Give us a bit of background on the 2019 Melges 24 Worlds in Italy
- What is Villasimius, Sardinia like?
Villasimius is on old port town dating back to biblical times, that has been raided and or occupied by the Phoenician’s, Greeks, Roman’s, Tunisians, Normans and Spaniards. It has several old forts and ruins as evidence of past conquests. The town is now a modest hill top town with all essential services and cozy little restaurants and bars absolutely ideal for a Melges 24 event.
- How were the sailing conditions?
- How many competitors were there? From how many countries?
2) Did you have a particular goal or strategy for the regatta?
Zingara had an absolute world class team put together: our tactician, Scott Nixon from Quantum Sails Annapolis; Ben Lamb who is a World Champion Laser and Etchells sailor as kite trimmer; Billy Gooderham as our boat captain and bow man. On hand for us was coach Richard Clarke (past world champion Melges 24 and Olympic Finn sailor) and yes me on helm.
My dream was to get a top 10 finish at this worlds and I can honestly say my team did everything humanly possible to make that dream come true…except it didn’t happen. We finished 18th out of 61.
3) What prep/training did you and your crew do before going to the Worlds in Italy?
This would be a book so I will break it down in point form:
- We practiced at least 2 days before every major regatta
- We decided early on which regattas we were going to do: the Miami regattas, we missed Charleston but did Alabama (US NATS), the NYYC OD Regatta, The NA’s in Traverse City the pre Worlds and the Worlds. It was about 45 days on the water in a Melges 24 in race mode at all times.
- In addition, I did all the regular racing in the Bennie 36.7 with Team Zingara and did additional sailing in match racing clinics, a super Sonar weekend with my crew, and Chartered a TP 52 for Antigua Sailing Week.
- In short I hogged about as much driving time as I could.
4) Can you highlight a few challenges or successes that you and your crew experienced during the regatta?
The big challenge was getting off the line with a decent lane and at speed, any Melges sailor knows that depending on the size and quality of the fleet that starting will be 50-70% of the equation (this assumes you already know how to go fast). I felt we were too timid on the line the first couple of days, choosing to start in safe low density lanes and count on our speed to be top 10 at the mark. This was a mistake, no matter how hard we worked we couldn’t get back places lost to boats getting off at the favoured end. It took me a couple of days to learn how to play the game at marks, very aggressive and tricky at roundings both top and bottom. Despite jury boats being present there was a lot of fouling and not many turns. (we did our turns).
5) Is there anything you would do differently? Or the same?
Fire in the belly, ice on the brain right from the first gun. You really can not be too conservative. State of mind is so important at the top level racing, it really does become more mental and less about your onboard skills as all the top teams know the boat and have the skills.
6) In your opinion, what were the strengths of the top 3 teams?
The top 3 teams had (IOB’s) Italians on Board! Go get some of those and stack your team…kidding, sort of…..Team Zingara has been at this (fleet) for 10 years now, we’ve gone through 3 boats we’ve worked our way up from the bottom quartile in the world to the top quartile. This is one of, if not the, deepest OD fleets in the world. There were at least 10 past World Champion drivers in front of us, they were not moving over to let us in, its going to take everything you’ve got and then some to move up. The big consolation for that, I suppose, is that this is the best one design boat in the world and is so much fun to sail, it helps take the sting away when all is not going right in your world!
7) What is your advice for anyone else hoping to travel to the Worlds next year?
Tough question, when I hit my numbers I think my advice could be more meaningful, in the meantime make sure you are enjoying the journey!
Congratulations Team Zingara on a great effort at the 2019 Melges 24 Worlds in Italy!! Charleston 2020 is just around the corner.