MC Sailor Ron Curio Won Big At This Years MC Midwinter's
18 February 2006
In the interest of youth sailing at the Lake Eustis Sailing Club Andy Burdick from Melges Performance Sailboats volunteered his time and MC racing experience to a raffle. Whoever won the raffle would be able to two boat train before each days racing with Andy, debrief the days racing and get helpful hints on tuning, boat set up and preparation for the regatta. Three days of intense information. Participants in the regatta could purchase tickets for $5 each. Over 300 tickets were sold! The winning announcement came at the skippers meeting. Most importantly, over $1,500 was raised for LESC Youth Sailing.
The Winner Is: Ron Curio from Madison, Wisconsin
MC: Congratulations Ron! Thanks for contributing to the youth sailing program at Lake Eustis. What were you thinking when Andy Burdick picked your winning ticket in front of all those sailors?
Ron Curio: My immediate reaction was, "I've won the lottery!" That's what I related to my wife who was thinking Powerball. I was thinking: three days training with Andy! Priceless! What a great opportunity to be coached for three days by one of the best sailors in the history of the class.
MC: What was the first thing Andy did when he viewed your boat?
Ron Curio: Andy made sure that I'd done my mast rake measurement. Andy indicated that my forestay should be taped in order to protect the ring-ding from catching on stray booms. He stressed the importance of keeping weight at an absolute minimum by removing all non essential items and stowing my life jacket and throwable forward. Andy had me apply sun screen on shore so the container would not be aboard. In lieu of carrying a complete old music tape he cut one piece of appropriate length for a telltale and taped it to the stern support. I removed the roll of electrical tape and my old rusty knife. Absolute minimum means absolute minimum!
MC: Describe Andy's focus and what he wanted to accomplish during this two boat training session? How did this directly benefit your regatta and your MC sailing skills?
Ron Curio: Andy's focus is to develop a comprehensive race management system consisting of observational, analytic, strategic, and tactical components. Get out on the course early, observe the wind across the entire course, analyze which part of the course has more wind, check for the favored tack and favored end of the line, determine where on the line you want to start, and where you will sail the first leg. Andy's goal was to teach me to utilize this approach for every race. This system will not bring my skills up to Andy's level but with discipline, focus, and concentration will allow me, or any skipper, to fully utilize and improve the skills we possess. After the first day I compiled a list of 32 specific boat handling skills that Andy indicated could use improvement. I was not even aware of some of these deficiencies. As I focused on improving these boat handling skills my boat felt better and faster. I began to feel an increasing sense of confidence that I COULD be a skipper who sails not one or one and a half good legs in a race but an ENTIRE good race.
MC: How did the two of you team up to determine the favored end of the line, which side of the course was favored? What was Andy looking for?
Ron Curio: Before each race we determined which part of the course had the most wind. We split tacks and sailed for three minutes on each tack to determine the favored tack. In each of the races one tack was heavily favored. In the prevalent light airs we always sought to sail to pressure(the next streak). We determined where to start on the line and what position would allow us to reach the favored tack quickest with clear air. Andy was looking not only for a clear air start but what position on the line would allow him to be sailing the favored tack in clear air two minutes into the race.
MC: Did the two boat training help your performance in the regatta? We see you had a 9th in race #2. That is excellent! Explain your thoughts.
Ron Curio: Oh, it definitely helped! One of my weaknesses has been starting. Using Andy's suggestion of being half a boat length clear ahead of the boats to windward and leeward(not exactly a slam dunk in the MC class) I was able to make a clear air start at my chosen spot on the line in each race including the funky port favored start in race#2. I think the most important pointer Andy gave me in our training was to mark the spot on the main where it exits the leeward block to note the place to trim for good light air speed. This reference was invaluable during racing. I found that my tendency is to over ease in light air. By trimming to this mark on each tack I was able to maintain speed and then make any required adjustments. Andy emphasized sailing in clear air in light air races. A decent start greatly increased my chances of sailing in clear air both upwind and downwind. Andy emphasized constantly taking "snapshots" of the course during the race. Another of my flaws is to get so tuned in when the boat is moving well that I don't look around thereby quickly sailing into oblivion. At the second windward mark most boats in my pack immediately jibed to port. On the upwind during my "snapshot" process I saw a streak filling on the right. I remained on starboard to reach that streak. Since there were fewer boats on that side of the course my air was clear and I was able to ride the streak to the leeward gate. Andy also emphasizes constantly trimming the main downwind in light airs - to trim in and head up whenever the boat slows. With the luxury of clear air I was able to do this to pick up several boats. There had been a starboard lift on the far right side of the course all day but the huge port lift at the leeward gate dictated going to the left. Andy emphasizes sailing to pressure. With the boats to weather of me running out of air and the boats that went right early showing a starboard lift I eased sheets a bit to get to the new air. This paid off big time as the boats that went too far left were out of air and the boats that went right early were not yet in the good breeze. I was able to cross the boats that went right early on port before tacking onto the starboard lift to the finish. Now, there was a lot of luck involved in this finish but applying some of what Andy talked about allowed me to be in a position to take advantage of a few breaks. I was in position for a decent finish in race#3 but lapsed into old habits. I did not analyze my "snapshots," did not keep clear air downwind, and lost boats on the last two legs. By failing to maintain concentration and focus on Andy's advice I sailed half a good race but not an entire good race.
MC: In Summary, what did Andy coach you on? What did you improve and what did he say you still need to work on?
Ron Curio: I think the best description of my experience with Andy is that he coached me to break down all my mental and physical roadblocks to racing success by completely focusing on boat handling, hyper vigilance (taking "snapshots" ahead, to windward, to leeward, and astern), pre-race preparation, starting technique, and sail trim. I can overcome these roadblocks by taking my focus to a higher level that I have previously attained. By completely, totally, and absolutely focusing on the racing environment I will look for opportunities to improve my position rather than roadblocks to improving my position. Andy mentioned that I need to work on focus and boat handling. I did feel that I improved in starting, boat handling, sail trim, and downwind speed. I love racing. It was an adrenalin rush to stick my nose into the first row at the start and come out with speed and clear air.
MC: Do you plan on attending the 2007 MC Midwinter's?
Ron Curio: Indeed. It's such a pleasure I love racing on Lake Eustis in March when the lakes back home are still frozen. Then there's the Oyster Troff and Café Gianni in Eustis. In closing I have to say that training with Andy was a blast. It was really fun. Thanks to Andy and the Lake Eustis Sailing Club for the opportunity. I owe a big debt to Andy for the insight he provided to me. It'll be a great summer attempting to apply what Andy taught me. The MC Class is a great class with amazing competition and wonderful people. And, oh yeah, in my position as Regatta Chair of the North American Spring Regatta at Pewaukee Yacht Club I want to invite everyone to join us for some great sailing the weekend of May 6/7.
Congratulations again Ron! Sounds like a pretty incredible weekend of sailing and sharing racing information with Andy. See you at the MC North Americans in Pewaukee!