Lessons Learned from Dillon
After our first foray into the insanity of the Dillon Open, where our crew was just one of a hundred competing (100 keelboats, about 24 centerboard boats - mostly Lasers, with 450 registered skippers and crew members), we think we've learned some lessons. Before next year, we'll
train more seriously so we have more confidence in our abilities and can maneuver precisely among the chaos of a hundred boats and be a lot better at "multitasking" under pressure,
don't be afraid to mix it up more with the fleet and be better prepared to "defend our turf",
recruit crew early on for next year's Open (We may have a head start already!),
prepare and equip/clothe the crew to sail in the full range of local weather conditions,
arrange our schedule so we can arrive a week early, but not have to leave until the Monday or Tuesday after the race and don't have to drive home in the wee hours of the morning,
not take quite as much junk up with us, but do take a good set of tools and spares,
prepare the boat more thoroughly (and be prepared to touch-up the hull before launching),
practice close-quarters maneuvers and learn how to round marks in crowds without letting pesky little boats squeeze in on us,
figure out tactics for getting starts in chaotic traffic (open starting line with starting boats mixed with other fleets of upwind and downwind boats),
consider getting some coaching and more intense training right before the Open or try to get some crew rides on a boat in a more competitive area such as San Diego.
Towing a thirty-foot boat hundreds of miles across spectacular high country and alpine mountain passes and rigging and de-rigging the boat completely on our own for the first time ever. Not too many Etchells have been more than two miles above sea level!
Coping with various little emergencies, such as a broken trailer jack and Tadpole's lost eyeglasses. Surviving everything from Lake Dillon "flyswatters" to Poncha Pass rockslides.
(Attention Prospective Crew Members:) Taking advantage of the fully-equipped condo kitchen and outdoor grill to cook up all sorts of great meals, from Margarita Chicken to Chocolate-Chip Pancakes, never letting the fridge run out of beer, finding the local happy hour food and drink specials, enjoying a great local barbecue place, treating crew to pasta dinner at the regatta, and providing comfortable, civilized accomodations for all crew.
Finishing two of the three races held and learning that we could hold our own after all, in spite of conditions unlike any we'd ever experienced and our rookie nervousness. Completing the two races in good form without getting hit or hitting anyone or being protested. At least looking competent and competitive even when we didn't always feel that way.
Passing boats and finishing corrected in top half of one race despite challenging handicap, lack of local knowledge, a sleepless skipper, some lack of confidence, an underweight crew, a minimally experienced tactician/middle, Tadpole losing his glasses overboard the day before, not using spinnaker, getting a late start, and being generally freaked out by being in the middle of a hundred boats going every direction. Holding our own with just jib and main against some boats that were running spinnakers.
Fixing lots of little things on the boat during the week, such as mounting the compass, fixing sheet and line leads, fixing a jib fine tune, etc.
Meeting lots of folks and making friends and gaining admirers for Black Magic.
Learning something about local conditions and finding local resources so we now pretty much know our way around. Getting there a week early and renting a condo where we could cook many of our meals worked out very well.