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Posts Tagged ‘howie hamlin’

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Willie McBride and Dane Wilson were born to the sea; two quintessential California watermen with a long, long sailing future ahead of them.  Will that future begin in Rio?  Only time will tell, but we love the fact that these young studs are already pushing the limits with their training and their organization.  More from Willie below, and have a look at their good-looking website and donate to their cause here.

For those of you not currently following the daily tweets and posts of your favorite Olympic hopefuls or don’t live in Long Beach, CA, the traveling circus that is currently masquerading as the US Sailing Team arrived nearly unannounced in May at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, and immediately began setting up camp to take advantage of the clockwork-like sea breeze and messy seas west of the LA Harbor breakwater.

For Dane and me, this was the first chance to train shoulder to shoulder with the other 49er teams vying for a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team. We’re relatively new to the fray, having only been sailing the 49er for the past 10 months, but opportunity knocked, so we packed up our gear and abandoned our daily training grind in Santa Barbara to see where we fit in the fleet.

Day one was a bit jittery for us, as the other teams hoisted their sails plastered with sponsor logos, Olympic rings, and gigantic US flags. We were sporting an old set of Canadian sails. No matter – never judge a book by its cover – off we went. The agenda for the day was to speed test upwind until we ran out of runway, then turn around and send it downwind, best man wins. Somewhat to our surprise we hung in with the “senior class,” so much so that by the end of the session Luther and Fuzz awarded us the title of “greatest rookie team of all time.” We weren’t entirely sure if they were encouraging us or hazing us. Either way, day one was under our belt and all was well.

The highlight of the month was the private coaching bestowed upon us by the famed McKee brothers – legends to any high-speed sailor on the West Coast. We’d been staying on the water after the group sessions each afternoon to solidify the day’s lessons, and one afternoon Charlie and Jonathan stayed out to chase us around in a coach boat, with Charlie analyzing our crew work and Jonathan critiquing driving techniques. We made several changes that smoothed out a lot of the boat handling and helped with the rudderless aspects of our maneuvers. We were stoked to get the attention and hopefully to put it all to good use. Part of that process was sharing debriefs each night with longtime supporter and mentor Howie Hamlin. Howie was gracious enough (as always) to provide a roof over our heads while we were staying in Long Beach, and served up heaping bowls of ice cream each evening as we mused over the daily sessions, discussing tuning techniques unique to skiffs, boat handling nuances, and even the means by which we can collaborate more effectively in order to leap frog the US skiff talent in general, as he has always encouraged us to do in the 29er fleet. If that weren’t enough, he even volunteered to ferry around our buddy, and epic young gun photographer John Kelsey in his ridiculously cool helicopter to shoot some aerial stills and video. The footage in this video is just a snippet from our time in Long Beach. Expect to see a lot more from John in the near future as we’re collaborating on a movie about our collective love of the ocean.

In the end, it was an intense month of learning. We’ve now been training for nearly a year in the 49er and by far our biggest challenge has been getting good, consistent information and data to help us progress. It would be incredibly helpful if there were easily accessible institutional knowledge available for young teams here in the US, but unfortunately that knowledge base doesn’t exist yet. In our own program we’ve been compiling, tracking and archiving all of our training sessions, lessons learned, testing procedures and Ah Ha! moments throughout our campaign. It’s a bit of a mish mash of data at this point, but in time we hope to establish a baseline of open information that will be available to new teams getting started on the Olympic skiff path. Anyone willing, able, or interested in helping out can peruse our extended mission at

Big thanks to Trevor Moore for letting us use the American flag sail for the video and to all who made it a great month of training: Leandro, Luther, the McKees, Oakcliff, ABYC, and of course Sailing Anarchy for always highlighting young teams like ours.



June 27th, 2014 by admin

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5o5 NAC D4 14-17-54 P1150504

Craig gives us the day-by-day from last week’s International 5O5 North Americans.  Full results here, photo galleries here from John Navas, and get into the granular action on their Facebook Page here.

After a brief postponement to wait for the fog to clear, Day 2 of the North American Championship delivered two races in classic Santa Cruz conditions ranging from 18-28 knots. Downwind boat speeds approached 20 knots in the second race of the day as the top teams worked hard to keep their boat ripping and upright. There was some swimming and some carnage, including several broken rudder fittings and a broken boom. All boats should be back on the water tomorrow.

Mike Martin and Adam Lowry in USA 9106 won both of today’s races as they showed superior speed and boat handling. Mike Holt and Carl Smit in USA 9115 also showed great speed and consistency to finish the day with a 2nd and a 3rd. Howie Hamlin and Andy Zinn still hold the overall series lead, which now includes a throwout after 5 races. Other notables from the day were 505 rookie Michael Menninger and crew Matthias Kennerknecht as well as 45 year class veteran Jeff Miller and his crew Pat Diola; both boats finished the day with two top-5 finishes.

For those of you who don’t know, Mike Martin is the only 505 sailor ever to win the World Championships as both a skipper and a crew. Adding to the drama, Mike Martin won his first Worlds crewing for the regatta leader Howie Hamlin. Mike Matin and Mike Holt have become the guys to beat when the breeze is on ever since finishing 1-2 and the 2009 Worlds in San Francisco. Keep an eye on Mike and Mike if the breeze continues to rip this weekend.

DAY 3 had three races totaling eight for the series leading into the last day of the event. We had an on-time start and the first race of the day was sailed in 10-18 knots as the seabreeze tried to establish itself. The second race of the day started in 18 knots but quickly pumped up to 25-30 knots for the rest of the day resulting in some fantastic racing conditions. The waves were larger than Day 2 which resulted in excellent surfing downwind and boat speeds in excess of 20 knots.

The top four teams set themselves apart from the rest of the fleet on Day 3. Howie Hamlin and Andy Zinn continued their streak of consistency, but unfortunately had to retire from Race 7 with a broken main halyard; they maintain the overall lead going into the final day. No surprise to anyone, Mike Martin/Adam Lowry and Mike Holt/Carl Smit moved up to second and third respectively. It will be a tough battle on Sunday for the Championship title, with the top three boats all within ten points of one another and another classic Santa Cruz forecast on tap.

The real story of Day 3 was Michael Menninger and veteran crew Matthias Kennerknecht who won the day with a 1, 3, 1 to climb the standings all the way to 4th place. Michael and Matthias are borrowing Mike Martin’s second boat, USA 8714, which won the 2009 worlds in Santa Cruz. Michael may be new to the 505 class, but he is no stranger to high performance sailing coming off last year’s Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. Michael is exactly the type of sailor we are trying to attract to the class, and we hope this got him hooked and he continues to race with us. Now is a great time to get into the class with many great used boats available and the 2017 World Championship taking place in Annapolis Maryland. I personally cant think of a better boat and a better group of people to spend my time racing against.

Day 4 – the final day of the 505 North Americans was raced in a mix of conditions ranging from 10-20 knots. There was high drama in the first race of the day, as Mike Holt and Carl Smit jumped out in front with the lead pack while Howie Hamlin/Andy Zinn and Mike Martin/Adam Lowry were back in the pack forced to grind their way back. Both chasing teams made big moves on the first downwind leg; choosing to gybe-set and stay in more pressure. On the second beat, Martin/Lowry had clawed back to third, while Hamlin/Zinn were deep enough that they would have lost the regatta lead without picking up more boats.

The courses sailed for the series were primarily the “505 Worlds Course” which now consists of a windward-leeward-windward-reach-reach-windward-leeward- finish. Before the class changed to the larger spinnaker in 2002, the Worlds Course had two sets of reaches and one run. As a result, the class veterans not only love the reach legs, but they are much better at them then the younger guys. This was very apparent as we saw Hamlin/Zinn grinding down boat after boat in Race 9 all the way back to 5th place by the last leeward mark. Unfortunately for them, Mike Martin had passed Augie Diaz/Fritz Lanzinger which meant that they only had a one point series lead. Hamlin and Zinn had a great last beat to move into 4th place, but Matt Woodworth and I passed them on the downwind and keep the overall standings close.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 10.40.09 AMThe race committee planned for two races to close out the series, but unfortunately the seabreeze faded to zero during the second race and abandoned the race on the second to last leg as the time limit of 80 minutes was approaching. This meant that Howie Hamlin and Andy Zinn had secured the 2014 North American title. This was Howard’s 7th North American’s victory and the first in over a decade (1990, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2014). Note that this year Howie turned 60 and has been racing in the 505 class for 38 years; to still be at the top of his game after all these years is an incredible testament to his hard work and dedication to the 505 class. A big congratulations as well to veteran crew Andy Zinn who wins his first North Americans after many hard fought years in the class. Pat Diola was awarded the Dave Cahn Sportsmanship award for 2014.

A huge thank you to the Santa Cruz Yacht Club for hosting an amazing event as well as all the sponsors, organizers, volunteers, race committee, and everyone who devoted their valuable time and energy to making this one of the best Championships that the class has hosted in recent memory.


May 28th, 2014 by admin

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More from Craig at the 5O5 North Americans in Santa Cruz, with thanks to John Navas for the photo.  Results here.

Today we had three races sailed in a southwesterly breeze that ranged from 6-10 knots. The conditions were atypical for this venue, but provided some great tactical racing that was fair and challenging. Holding lanes was critically important and the teams that kept their boats powered up and in the best pressure ended the day on top.

Two teams delivered standout performances; Howie Hamlin and Andy Zinn in USA 9080 and Augie DIaz and Fritz Lanzinger in USA 8808 ended the day with all top three finishes and all three race wins between them. Particularly impressive was in Race 2 when Howie and Andy hit the gate launch at the start, did a 360 to exonerate their penalty, and recovered to finish second in the race!

After racing, a competitor’s de-brief was held on the SCYC deck where the top finishers from the day led a discussion about what they were doing to get their boat around the course the fastest. One the best things about sailing in the 505 class is the open sharing of information and the ability for teams in the middle to back of the fleet to be able to ask questions of the top teams. This allows new sailors in the class to be able to get up to speed quicker and have more fun on the race course.

The forecast is for Day 2 is again on the lighter side, but the weekend should deliver a classic Santa Cruz thermal. Stay tuned as the series continues through the weekend.


May 24th, 2014 by admin