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samurai warrior

on board

samurai warrior

Tony Rey, calling tactics for the Japanese Melges 32  Yasha Samurai writes in about life on board at the Worlds.  For those who’ve not met Tony, he’s a got a helluva a resume as coach, crew, and Americas Cup tactician is in person a wonderfully smart, calm, cool and collected guy who in this case skillfully ducked our questions about the Americas Cup.  Thanks for the great write-up Tony. We’ll get you later on the AC stuff!  

The Berkeley Circle is a cool place to sail, but in anything over 15 knots, it turns into a Mans Racetrack. Because it’s rare that 15 knots doesn’t turn into 20+. The six races we’ve sailed so far have been full on. We’ve had a few spectacular wipeouts, some upwind/downwind near-misses that shouldn’t have been misses, we even randomly lasso’ed some poor guy’s foot from another boat with out kite drop-line. And, at one point our GPS recorded a boatspeed burst of 20.5 knots. In flat water.

On the Melges 32, upwind we are riding on The Chairlift of Misery, but downwind it is a running loop of Sportscenter moments that are freaking awesome.

At this point we are exactly mid-fleet in the standings, and while we’ve had plenty of positives, and it also feels like we’ve left dozens of unclaimed points on the race track. I’m sure nearly everyone in our fleet has the same story. But none of them are racing with a 63 year old Samurai who speaks very little English.

In Japan, Ishida-san studies an ancient Japanese martial art called "iaido", that involves a really big, really sharp sword and takes years of discipline to master. It’s seriously intimidating. At our dinners, we sit any new crewmembers next to Ishida-san so he can show him video of his sword work. No one is ever late for boat call.

Ishida-san’s previous previous sailing experience is in a Swan 45 and a J24, so the 32 is a massive step in a different direction. But his approach to learning is disciplined and focused, just like the Samurai path, and it’s really cool to work with him and watch him improve. We’ve got a strong team on board backing him up, Hamish Pepper, Gerry Mitchell, Chafee Emory, Matt McDonough, Rob Emery and Cameron Biehl (also known as ‘buck-40’), and myself.

Communication is definitely our biggest challenge, but Ishida-san understands the basic sailing terms (even with accents, we’ve got 5 different nationalities on board), and we’re using a few hand signals on the racetrack to fill in the gaps. He’s got ice in his veins when it’s jungle ball racing, and the boats get close. Super-fun guy to sail with.

I’m in the middle of a 5 week tour that started in Porto Cervo for the maxi worlds on the Wally 95 Magic Carpet, 32 Worlds this week, then St. Tropez next week on the Wally, and after that San Diego for an IRC52 regatta with some great friends on the Stark Raving Mad. But it’s hard to imagine the other regattas being as much fun (or as much work) as this one. At least on the Wally I don’t hike quite so hard.