Numbers: 20.28 knots

In sailing, numbers are ephemeral. One second, VMG is up; the next it’s down. Crews battle for gains that are won and lost in heartbeats: The New York Stock Exchange can be more stable (now) than the parade of numbers dancing across “the truth display” situated under the boom. But it's these cycles of feast or famine that make sailing an intellectual game, and that's why so many
Author:
Updated:
Original:
08KWRWnumbers



In sailing, numbers are ephemeral. One second, VMG is up; the next it’s down. Crews battle for gains that are won and lost in heartbeats: The New York Stock Exchange can be more stable (now) than the parade of numbers dancing across “the truth display” situated under the boom. But it's these cycles of feast or famine that make sailing an intellectual game, and that's why so many people are drawn to the mind-boggling thrills of moving crisply at 12 miles per hour. When you’re hot you’re hot, and boy does it ever feel sweet.

But. While some numbers constantly fluctuate, others hold strong, at least for a while. Example: 562.96 nautical miles (world crewed 24-hour sailing record set by a monohull, Seb Josse and “the kids” on the Volvo Open 70, ABN Amro Two); example: 794 nautical miles (world crewed 24-hour sailing record set by a maxi trimaran, Franck Cammas and crew on Groupama 3); example: breaking the 50-knot barrier (may this happen soon, and preferably by a sailboat – even if it has to be a multihull -- rather than by a windsurfer). And on a personal level: 20 knots, the elusive barrier that I’ve been chasing since I first signed on as a bowman on an old PHRF warhorse back in 1993 at the tender age of 16. Sure, my contemporaries may have been chasing other numbers (insert agenda for a typical 16-year-old virulent male), but for me, joining the 20+-knot club was the real deal.

So, when an opportunity came to join Dan Meyers and his friends aboard Meyers’s immaculate new weapon, the Judel/Vrolijk-designed IRC 66, Numbers, for a day at the Acura Key West race week I leapt at the oppurtunity. Perhaps my elusive number quest and Numbers could generate some sweet math. And Mother Nature did not disappoint: consistent winds of 20+ knots laid down a choppy sea, but as we sailed out of the harbor under main alone, easily cresting 10 knots, I knew that the good times were about to roll.

Flash forward—

08KWRWnumbers2

The first windward mark of the second race is two boat lengths away. Winches groan. The linked-pedestal system fires Herculean power to the halyard hoisting the massive masthead-Asymmetric spinnaker. The bowman rifles off hand signals. The trimmers start easing sheets. And Dan Meyers gracefully bears off, carving a perfect wide-and-tight arch in the turquoise waters as we round the mark and the yarns holding the kite explode. WHOMP! The A-sail fills, the racing blade drops to the deck, and the rudder returns to neutral. A puff hits and the boat surges, practically tossing crewmembers backwards as the bow lifts. The truth display flickers, its fast processing chips barely able to keep pace with Numbers’s raw power: 12.3, 14.7, 16.8, 18.3, 19.5. I hold my breath, my eyes glued to the fun-meter. Then, in a moment of pure magic, a puff coincides with a big stern wave and the boat takes off and the truth display flickers—20.28—before sliding south, vanishing in the spray, froth and wake as so many other numbers have done before it.

The moment is fleeting, but sweet.

Posted: January 23, 2008

Related

TSP-FB-DEI

US Sailing Invites Public to Diversity Panel

On Tuesday, August 4, US Sailing’s Leadership Forum is hosting a town hall style conversation to help individuals and organizations achieve diversity, equity and inclusion goals. The conversation will be centered on providing practical guidance for conducting outreach and best ...read more

LarryPardey

Eight Bells: Larry Pardey

Canadian-born mariner and author Larry Pardey will be remembered by his friends and fans as a generous spirit who inspired thousands of readers to become sailors and sailors to become adventurers. Whether building his own boats, circumnavigating twice sans engine or stretching ...read more

The-Sailing-Museum-Floorplan

New Sailing Museum Announces Exhibits

The Sailing Hall of Fame-America’s Cup Hall of Fame joint venture to bring a new sailing museum to Newport is moving ahead full steam. Fittingly but unsurprisingly, they’ve announced the name “The Sailing Museum” for the institution to be housed in the historic Armory building. ...read more

xm 1

SiriusXM Marine

SiriusXM Marine is graphical weather and fishing info for boaters. SiriusXM Marine service is available in the continental United States, southern Canada and coastal waters. Choose from a variety of features, packages an pricing. 100 Rebate! Purchase and activate any eligible ...read more

hcb-never-regret-ad-mockup-1-1

MÉR Companies

More than direction. More than ideas. A more complete business partner. MÉR is a full-service, full-spectrum business and marketing resource that helps its clients identify, plan, and execute success opportunities. To do so, we focus on several key areas that well exceed the ...read more

01-LEAD-ETNZ-_TA22_JS_0135

Updates from the America's Cup

The Covid-19 pandemic has been absolutely devastating with respect to international racing, with the 2020 Olympic regatta, currently postponed until 2021, the most prominent example. The 36th America’s Cup, however, continues to forge ahead, albeit in an abbreviated and, in many ...read more

MTczNzc4MDUwMzM1NDUwNjgy

Model Maker Group: Scale Model Specialist

If you have been to any of the boat shows held around the world, you will most definitely have admired the work of the Model Maker Group, which makes scale replica models of yachts and super yachts for the leading international yards. Based in Itri, a small town nestling ...read more

01-LEAD-Photo-viddy

Video: Building the Nautor’s Swan 98

Designed by longtime Nautor’s Swan collaborator Germán Frers, the Nautor’s Swan 98 was officially unveiled earlier this week and—no surprise—looks to be a truly incredible vessel. Billed as a “21st Century superyacht,” the 98-footer sports twin rudders and includes the option of ...read more