Project Sail - Team HydraProject Sail - Team Hydra

Project Sail - Team Hydra - On Board with 'The Kids'

4 December 2015

Check out this very special summary from Lexi Petter, floater aboard Project Sail — Team Hydra. Each day (as it is made available) we'll share her view from one of the hottest new entries participating at the 2015 Melges 32 U.S. National Championship commencing today in Ft. Lauderdale. Although we are currently under postment, take a minute to enjoy this great view from 'The Kids'... A very special thanks to Lexi Peters for sharing this with us. We look forward to getting the full scoop all weekend long!

On our first day of practice, six of our eight sailed on Hydra. Three sailors from the Volpe and Delta teams joined us to help introduce us to the various roles we would fill over the coming practice and race days. We owe them a lot—they treated us to some invaluable knowledge about racing the Melges 32. They also soaked with us in the seemingly endless squalls that rolled through that afternoon. We might owe them a little more for that.

The second day started with weigh in, the dreaded day that has stressed many of us out for weeks. Notably, Alex Post and Marty Kullman lost eleven pounds each; Matt Kaplan dieted intensely after his Thanksgiving dinner; and I trained hard, too, and lost 18.5 pounds for the team. None of us took weigh in lightly, so we all felt very accomplished to come in eleven pounds under the cut off. The ensuing feasting at breakfast, lunch, and dinner was reward enough, especially considering the delicious meals from our incredible chef Kerry. 

Although the forecast for today looked a bit bleak, a gentle breeze rolled in this afternoon that made a few practice starts and practice races possible. Marty and Farley coached us through our maneuvers so that we could improve our boat handling. Because we are largely unfamiliar with the Melges 32, our biggest challenge has been and will be our boat handling. Boat speed will come to us, but working on rolling the boat through pre-start, setting the kite properly, jibing smoothly, and the other nuances of the boat require practice. Marty consistently reminds us that we are going to keep it simple: fewer tacks upwind, fewer jibes downwind, and clean mark rounding will prove to be the keys to our success. 

During our practice races, Mitchell called tactics while Alex Post called the breeze. Mac kept the crew informed about the jib and kite trim. We all focused on proper body weight movement in order established an effective order during tacks, gybes, and wind shifts. Morgan skillfully helmed. While hiking on the upwind legs, we couldn’t help but look around at our competition. “It’s crazy being here as amateurs. This is like pro sailing,” remarked Henry Fernberger, Larchmont YC. Alex Brown, Macatawa Bay YC, noted that it’s incredible “being around these incredible sailors and being on a boat where everyone is so serious about getting better.”

We are lucky because our team chemistry springs partly from our shared history. Alex Post, Morgan Kiss, Mitchell Kiss, Alex Brown, and I sailed together in our early Opti days at Macatawa Bay Yacht Club. Matt and Henry know each other from their Opti years at Larchmont Yacht Club, as well. Mac Agnese is our local Floridian—he hails from Lauderdale Yacht Club—and he met the Kisses and Alex Post previously: “I went to youth worlds with the Kisses. Mitchell was actually my roommate there. And I met Alex Post college sailing.” Alex Brown echoed my thoughts. “It’s really fun getting to sail again with so many kids I sailed with when I was really young,” he said with a grin.

We are pushing ourselves to learn as much as we can during this condensed period of time. Our coach, Marty, pointed out on our first night that “the learning curve will be steep.” (He wasn’t kidding.) The shore support and tender (Farley and Tom, thank you) give us sage advice. Our daily debriefs are hugely informative. Even our email inboxes are full of helpful tips. Everywhere we turn, someone is helping us. Henry Fernberger, Larchmont YC, pointed out that we are here because “we sail hard and try to do the best we can but this… this is a whole new level.” Matt Kaplan, Larchmont YC, added that “the talent that’s here is awesome—in the coaches and sailors.” 

We stand to learn a lot, but that’s what Project Sail is all about: a chance to take our sailing to the next level. 

We would like to thank the the DeVos family, Jason Carroll, Tom Giesler, and the DV team for making this incredible opportunity possible for the sailors of Team Hydra. 

Positions are as follows:
Morgan Kiss — helm
Mitchell Kiss — tactician
Mac Agnese — trimmer
Alex Post — pit
Lexi Petter — float
Henry Fernberger — float
Matt Kaplan — mast
Alex Brown — bow
Marty Kullman — main trimmer, pro