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Every Second Counts

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Buttons Padin | McMichael Yacht Brokers 

There is an often-shared point-of-view that the Olympic bronze medalist gets more satisfied or is happier to be on the podium than the silver medalist. The second-place competitor is likely to spend the rest of his or her life trying to figure out how to have saved a fraction of a second. In sailing, while results rarely comes down to fractions of seconds, seconds on the clock do matter.

Take for example Texans Chris and Karen Lewis’s J/44 Kenai that is currently racing in and standing atop the leader board of the SORC Islands in the Stream Series. The opening race in December was the Wirth Munroe Ocean Race. Kenai raced from Miami to Palm Beach working the winds and Gulf Stream the best they could. Excellent sailors all, Kenai was a favorite having won two of the last three Series.

In terms of ocean races, the Wirth Munroe is a sprint with the longer course option (Miami to Palm Beach) being only 60 miles. Kenai sailed the course in 6 hours 19 minutes and 29 seconds, taking line honors in ORC C by over two minutes over her closest classmate. However, in handicapped ocean racing, line honors don’t always matter. When the dust settled, Kenai’s corrected time was 8:03:37...good but not quite good enough. John Harvey’s J/120 from Detroit crossed the line six minutes after Kenai but corrected out to 8:03:36...beating Kenai by ONE SECOND.

LIS sailor Andrew Weiss was crewing on Kenai and he agreed that he’s rather finish third than second. “I hate finishing second, all I do is end up trying to second guess where we lost that time!”

It could have been falling off one bad wave. It could have been a flawed spinnaker gybe. It could have been too much crew chatter on the rail distracting the helmsperson. It could have been anything.

As they say, that’s yacht racing. But it’s also a clear lesson that if you want to win the race it takes focus and, if you’re tired and can no longer focus, go off watch and let someone fresh take your place.

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