EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Eric Hood Speaks with 2016 MC Invite Champion Ryan Grosch

2 August 2016

Congratulations are in full order for Ryan Grosch - 2016 MC Scow Invite Champion. In this interview, Melges Representative Eric Hood helps shed some light on Ryan's accomplishments and approach to success in the MC Scow.

Ryan I really enjoyed sailing against you last year in the ILYA Championships where you were right in the hunt with myself and eventual champ Malcolm Lamphere.  Looks like you are off to fast and strong start this year as we prepare for the two biggest events of the summer in the MC class the ILYA Championship and the National Championship on consecutive weeks this August. Can you share with the sailing audience reading today a little bit about yourself, when you started sailing and also share about some of your mentors that helped you get going in sailing? 

RG: Yeah, ILYA Champs was a blast last year. Can’t wait for this year’s event! I started racing Prams at age 6 on Nagawicka lake in Scow Country. After that, I saw boatloads of competition in Xs, scows, and college racing as a Golden Gopher. Great competition was a key ingredient in improving my racing. Many times that means you got to go to the competition, which is at regattas.  

I never had a single Jedi Master that taught me how to use the Force. It has been a learning process by picking up bits of knowledge along the way from multiple experiences, coaches, competitors, and racing articles. I do remember a few opportunities where I have been taken out by a fellow competitor who showed me how to go fast in a straight line.  Those one on ones were super helpful. If you can pass on your wisdom like that, you can build a great fleet.

Like most sports and sailing is no different we see those who finish well in big events have some routines with regards to preparation. Can you give us some gold nuggets on how you prepare both in season and even out of sailing season? I know I have always been a firm believer that half of your successes on the course happened before you even get to the starting line. We would love to hear about your routines and prep work.

RG: Off-season prep involves staying fit and keeping the racing juices flowing in the brain. Before the ice melts at Lake Harriet, the top racers and I put on free racing seminars. Teaching racing is an important aspect of logically organizing racing thoughts in my brain.  

As a result of these seminars, I wrote up an outline summarizing the most important things to think about during any race. As I improve my racing, I am always adding and subtracting ideas from the outline. If I have free time or want to review before a race, I can pull it up on the phone in a second. 

So the MC Class for me all these years has been so great because of how close all the boats are in speed when things are right with tune and care. What are your thoughts and feelings about the boat, tuning the boat and maximizing your opportunities with your gear? 

RG: My philosophy is "don’t be faster...or slower."  That means I stick pretty close to the Melges tuning guide. On the race course, I try to beat people with smarter decisions and better boat handling.

So the racing looks like it was pretty close the top four boats through the nine races. 41-49 points. Tell us a bit about the conditions over the event and the courses on this smaller tight circular lake. Also, you had a good series going but then you turned it on the last three races with 1,2,3 which flipped things around at the front. Give us some detail about how you felt after 6 races (not being in the lead) and then just bringing it the last three races to win the series. Some snapshots of the situations on the course would be fun to hear about.

RG: I got that win in the last Saturday race. That race was the 4th race of the day. By then, I had learned that the left side of the course had more breeze due to a shorter shoreline there. I played left more that race, and I found myself in the 1.  

The 2 and 3 happened on Sunday. Earlier that week, the NOAA predicted a light wind regatta.  Because of that, a well-respect sailor, I will call him Crewless Guy, told me that I wouldn’t need crew. I told him "never trust the weatherman." Sunday’s breeze built from 10 mph and climbed upwards all morning. I took my crew, Sarah, both races. We went 2, 3 in those races.

The 1, 2, 3 was a great comeback victory. I do have a comeback recipe. When I am chasing leaders, I expect them to sail perfect races. Then there’s no pressure, so I can stick to my racing principles.

You certainly have a bright future ahead of you with your sailing. What are you short-term sailing plans and do you have any long-term goals for sailing?

RG: Short-term plans are Inlands and Nationals.  Since these are back-to-back weekends this year, can we call this MC Race Week? Inlands is probably the best possible "practice races" for Nationals. Expect the top teams at Nationals to have tuned up at Inlands.

Long-term goal is to make my competitors (and me) better sailors.  I plan to do this at Harriet and wherever I am racing. Tougher competition means that I have to hold my racing to a higher standard.  But more importantly, better competition is more fun.  

Well Ryan we certainly appreciate your time. We honor you for the solid victory against a tough group of sailors getting ready for the big ILYA Championship at Lake Geneva. You’re the CHAMP, you have the floor. Any last thoughts you would like to share with the sailing community?

RG: Thanks Eric and thanks to everyone that raced MC Invite on our flat water nirvana at Lake Harriet. I want to invite everyone to come race in Harriet’s annual regatta in September, which is the best month of sailing in Minnesota. Also, I want to shout out to sailors that live in Minneapolis or may move here.  Come race with us! We have MCs for you.