Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Key West Sailing Interview- Dave Franzel

Dave Franzel interview- part deux(Key West, FL)- Brian Hayes recently had a chance to catch up with Dave Franzel to chat about his J/70 experiences in Key West, his first J/70 regatta (Dave in orange hat at right chatting with Dave Reed of SW fame).

BH: "Dave Franzel, with his team of Greg Anthony, Chris Hufstatder and Eric Barreveld, sailing his new J/70 for the first time at Key West Race Week, consistently climbed the leader-board and finished the week 8th overall and as the top Corinthian team (all amateur). Dave is certainly not a newcomer to top flight competition having Sonar World and North American titles to his credit. The former owner of Boston Sailing Center, Dave was looking for a vehicle to renew his excitement for racing and perhaps found it in the J/70.

Dave, congratulations on a great showing at the first J/70 midwinters! 8th overall and 1st overall in the  Corinthian is a great start. How did it come to pass that you ended up in a J/70?"

DF: "Thanks Brian!  I became interested in sport boats last year after sailing a Viper a couple of times.  But after seeing J/70s in Newport I asked Stu Johnstone to let me sail one and I found that as soon as we put the chute up and started going 12+ knots that I could not stop smiling.  It is less prone to wiping out than a Viper and kinder on old knees."

BH: "How much time did you and your team have to practice before the event?"

DF: "We arrived Friday night, set the boat up Saturday and practiced for a few hours Sunday.  The regatta started Monday.  However, our approach was to use this regatta to learn the boat and hopefully begin to achieve competitive speed."

BH: "Tell us your impressions on the boat. What did you find worked well to get you up to speed so quickly?"

DF: "Well I'm a little embarrassed about this, but on the first windy day which was the second day of the event, I noticed that Tim Healy's forestay was very stable and ours was not even though I had the backstay cranked.  I asked Tim about it after sailing and he patiently explained that the backstay has a course adjustment that gets it in range first, then the standard adjusting line.  There was also a minor issue around the fact that I have never actually used a Loos gauge before, but the backstay discovery was the main thing that helped get me up to speed."

BH: "Do you have any tips you found worked well for you either upwind or downwind?"

DF: "Upwind I tried playing the traveler first, which turned out to not be as fast as vang-sheeting in the seaway we had.  I'm going to guess that the trav will work better in flatter water.  The class allows two of the crew to sit, legs out, so we had the big guys in the front of the boat do that and Chris trimmed the jib using the windward winch.  It definitely seemed fast to ease the jib slightly in the big blasts and then trim back in.  I did not feel fast enough downwind to offer any suggestions, yet."

BH: "You sailed with 4, as you have in the Sonar for years. How did the jobs fall into place on the boat?"

DF: "Upwind Greg and Eric are constantly looking for velocity and telling me about speed and point compared with nearby competitors.  Chris is integrating the information as we discuss big picture strategy.  That let me really focus on trim and speed which was a huge help.  On the sets, Greg pulls the sprit out, then the tack line as Eric hoists.  Chris trims sheet.  In big breeze when we start to overtake waves and the bow digs in, Greg trims sheet and Chris stands behind me.  Someone is always looking for the next puff.  Downwind it was typical for our speed to range  from 7 knots in the lulls to 14  in the puffs so catching every puff and getting on a plane is a critical part of sailing these boats downwind.  We actually hit 16.7 knots once according to the Velocitek."

BH: "What was the best part about Key West Race Week (keeping in mind that this interview may reach a broad demographic!)?"

DF: "Very relaxed place, blue/green water, great breeze, excellent race management, 40 boat fleet, sun with temps in the mid 70s every day.  And then of course there was always enough going on in Key West to keep the whole team entertained when we weren’t racing!"

BH: "Your team always has fun at every event you go to. Any funny stories from this one?"

DF: "Not so much a funny story, but this: After decades of racing with inordinate concern about outcome--which may be necessary to acquire skills--I'm not certain about that, I finally realized several years ago that you can have more fun and get better results by finding a way to be less invested in outcome and more present.  I really enjoyed sailing with my team, sailing against excellent sailors and having the challenge of a new boat to figure out."

BH: "What’s next for the “SPRING” team?"

DF: "Miami, Charleston, Annapolis."

BH: "One word (or sentence) to describe the J70."

DF: "Good luck trying to wipe the smile off your face!!"

Hmm, that last one seems to be the natural outcome of having a blast sailing with your family and friends, as evidenced by Dave's J/70 colleagues doing the same in Monte Carlo, Monaco recently sailing the J/70s in the Primo Cup- Credit Suisse!   For more on Dave Franzel's J/70 interview, please read more here.