sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Debriefing the 2014 Melges 24 Worlds with Jonathan McKee-part one
Debriefing the 2014 Melges 24 Worlds with Jonathan McKee-part one

'Gill Melges 24 World Championships 2014, Royal Geelong Yacht Club, Geelong (Aus), Race 3 start'    Teri Dodds ©

When it comes to big-picture sailing skills, Jonathan McKee is easily one of the most accomplished American sailors afloat. A Seattle native, McKee won a Gold medal in the Los Angeles Olympics 1984 in the Flying Dutchman class with Carl Buchan, and a Bronze medal in the 49er class in the Sydney Olympics 2000 with his brother Charlie McKee, and 'JM' has also sailed in numerous America’s Cups and other Grand Prix events, including the Volvo Ocean Race and the Barcelona World Race.

In between, McKee has amassed a fine collection of trophies, including World Championships in several top-notch One Design classes. Recently, McKee has been spending a lot of time racing the different Melges designs, with a keen emphasis on the Melges 24.


McKee started sailing aboard Bora Gulari’s 'West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes' as tactician during the 2013 season, and he played this same role during the class’ 2014 Worlds, which recently concluded in Geelong, Australia.

The American-flagged team finished the event in third place out of a strong fleet of 36 boats. But unlike the majority of their competition, the 'West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes' crew first had to closeout Key West Race Week, where they were racing aboard separate boats, before immediately hopping flights for the long commute DownUnder.

I recently caught up with McKee at my kitchen table for part one of this two-part interview to talk about his experiences at the 2014 Gill Melges 24 Worlds, and to get his pulse on the state of competition and evolution within the Melges 24 class.

What was it like going directly from Key West Race Week (KWRW) to the M24 Worlds?
It was quite a trip! The whole thing required that our logistics went 100-percent smoothly, as we had tight connections at several airports and more than 24 hours of travel. But, fortunately, everything went smoothly, and we went sailing the afternoon that we arrived. We knew that all this travel would be our weakness, and it took us a couple of days to get up to good form. If we had had a few more practice days in Australia, it might have put us a few places higher up at the end of the regatta.

2011 Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Champions, STIG - (from left to right) Alessandro Rombelli, Jonathan McKee, Giorgio Tortarolo -  2011 JOY_|_International_Audi_Melges_20_Class Association ©  


Did a lot of other top teams also sail at both KWRW and the M24 Worlds, or were most contenders more focused on the Worlds?

No one else did KWRW-everyone else was sailing in the Australian Open Nationals. Our practice days were limited by KWRW, and we had trouble finding other boats to go sailing against when we got to Geelong as everyone else had been sailing hard for five straight days.

Was jet lag a big factor for your team?

The jetlag actually went really well on this trip. I think it was the timing of the international flight, as we were able to get some sleep on the plane. Ultimately, jetlag really wasn’t a factor.

Can you tell me about 'West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes' team? What’s it like to sail with Bora, Bear and the crew?

It’s a really great team. We have Norm Berge on the bow. He’s a young guy who works really hard and brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team. Next, we have Jonny Goldsberry, from San Francisco. He’s our high-energy guy, a really experienced sailor, and someone who hikes really hard. Then we have George 'Bear' Peet, who is an experienced and super solid sailor and someone who is great at boat preparation. Then we have Bora Gulari, who is our skipper. Bora and I have a great dynamic, with lots of mutual respect for each other. I feel like we’re learning all the time and that we feed off of each other.

Our team goal is always to have fun, to sail well and to see where we end up. There’s a really good feeling aboard the boat. I’ve sailed on a lot of international teams, but it’s great to sail on an American boat. I think it helps us relate to each other, both on and off the water.

How would you describe your team’s onboard communications? Can you walk me through the kind of dialog that you and Bora might have going during a typical race?

The Melges 24 is an interesting boat because of the way that you hike. You’re facing outwards, so you don’t have great vision. As tactician, you need to pick your times to look around the course or at the compass, so I need to rely on Bora to tell me what’s going on.

The compass is our most tactical tool, and we use it to talk about lifts or headers, but you don’t want to too much dialog, as the driver is also trimming the main and controlling most of the speed stuff. That said, I need information about what the other boats are doing from the driver, and I can get information about what’s happening ahead of the boat from the forward hands.

Sailing: Gill Melges 24 World Championships 2014, Royal Geelong Yacht Club, Geelong (Aus), 31/01/2014. Photo; Teri Dodds. Day 3 Racing - West Marine Rigging / New England Ropes (Bora Gulari) -  Teri Dodds ©  


As for our dialog, upwind, we talk a lot about where we are, for example our distance to a layline, and we’re always looking open paths back on the other tack. I try hard to paint the picture of what’s happening around us, and to hike hard. Approaching a mark, we talk a lot about our downwind game plan, and on the offset leg we talk about the spacing of the boats and where we want to go, for example high or low. Downwind, there’s more discussion on our mode-planing or soaking low. Determining the right downwind modes was one of the trickiest aspects of the 2014 Melges 24 Worlds.

Do you feel that it was a big disadvantage for your team to have missed the Australian Open Nationals?

It was definitely a disadvantage, but I think it affected us more downwind than upwind, where the mode is more straightforward and obvious. Downwind is tricky when the windspeed is between planning and soaking modes. We had a new spinnaker for this regatta and we struggled to make it go fast. So, for the last two days, we switched back to our old kite.

We dug a big hole for ourselves on day one of the regatta. If we had had a better first day, we would have been more threatening. The rest of our races were good and at the end of the regatta we were faster upwind and we were getting faster downwind. We knew that [missing the Australian Open Nationals] would be a disadvantage going into the regatta. We made some mistakes and we had a big deficient to make up. After the first day we were in seventh place, but at the end of the regatta we were in third-and almost second-place.

What was the level of competition like at the 2014 M24 Worlds? Were all of the top teams in attendance?

Most of the Top Ten teams from the 2013 Melges 24 Worlds were in Geelong, with the exception of Brian Porter, but most of his crew sailed with Harry Melges’ 'Star' team, so that boat was the proxy for Porter’s 'Full Throttle' team, which won the 2013 Melges 24 Worlds.

Also, we knew that 'Blu Moon' was going to be tough as they are the team that has put in the most consistent effort over the years. The wild card was Chris Larson’s 'Cavallino/McLube' team. We knew these teams would be hard to beat, and there were also some other top Italian and Australian teams that were well prepared. The total number of boats sailing wasn’t that big, but the depth of talent at the top was there.

I think that the heart and soul of the class has switched to the Corinthian teams. This is a good development and a cool thing about the class, as professionals and amateurs can all sail on the same racecourse, so everyone benefits.

Gill Melges 24 World Championships 2014, Royal Geelong Yacht Club, Geelong (Aus) - Audi (Riccardo Simoneschi) -  Teri Dodds ©  


Can you compare the 2014 Worlds with the 2013 Worlds? Which offered more competitive racing?

Surprisingly, conditions were not that much different between the two venues. In both cases, we had 10-18 knots, but the water was rougher and had more currents in San Francisco. Also, the two regattas were so close together that no one had time to make any equipment developments, so most people went right from one regatta into the next.

There were more boats in San Francisco, which meant harder starts and it increased the chance for more random things to happen. In Geelong, it was more like hand-to-hand combat, where you were fighting for individual points, not groups of points like in San Francisco. But I thought that both regattas were high-level, meaningful events.

Our team has been on a building trend since the San Francisco Worlds. We got our teething pains out of the way during the first days of the 2014 Worlds, and we continued to gain momentum and were sailing at a high level by the end of the event.

Both Worlds were really tough to win, and the boats that won had hot hands, lucky breaks and sailed downwind really well. Both teams that won [in 2013 and 2014] have been in the class for at least 15 years. I think that you need a little luck and you need to avoid the bad breaks to win, but I think it was easier to be in the Top Ten in Australia because there were fewer boats, although I think that it was equally tough to get onto the podium at both regattas.

Please stay tuned for part-two of this two-part interview, later this week.


by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor


  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=119557

6:09 PM Wed 26 Feb 2014GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
2014 Melges 24 World Championship

Related News Stories:

03 Feb 2014  Gill Melges 24 World Championship 2014 – Final day photos
02 Feb 2014  Melges 24 World Championship - Battle for podium placings underway
02 Feb 2014  Gill Melges 24 World Championship Day 4 - More images by Teri Dodds
01 Feb 2014  Gill Melges 24 World Championship Day 4 - Images by Teri Dodds
01 Feb 2014  Gill Melges 24 World Championship - More day 3 images by Teri Dodds
01 Feb 2014  Gill Melges 24 World Championship - Day three photos
31 Jan 2014  Gill Melges 24 World Championship Day 3 - Australia Day all over again
29 Jan 2014  Melges 24 World Championship - Cocktail Party images by Teri Dodds
28 Jan 2014  Melges 24 World Championship - Strong winds keep crews ashore
16 Jan 2014  Gill Melges 24 Worlds Championship 2014 preview
MORE STORIES ...






News - USA and the World

It was windshift upon windshift upon shift upon windshift on Day 3 of the ISAF World Sailing Cup Miami sailed on Biscayne Bay Presented by Sunbrella, the premier regatta has attracted 599 boats and 768 sailors who were adjusting all day to one thing or another. If it wasn't the wind direction that was changing, it was the wind speed. ... [more]  

North U kicked off its 2015 season of youth match racing clinics around the U.S. with a successful clinic hosted by the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club in Kemah, Texas on Galveston Bay near Houston. Forty high school and college sailors spent two-and-a-half days learning about match racing and training in Sonars on flat water and 6-12 knots of breeze. ... [more]  

A fantastic week of sunshine, warm weather, big breeze and competitive sailing is what sailors were treated to last week in Key West. Several Canadians left the bitter cold of the north to partake in the fun filled week and a few even brought home trophies. Here's a peek at the fun in the sun! ... [more]  

Ben Ainslie Racing, the British Challenger for the 35th America's Cup, have shipped two foiling Nacra 20 catamarans to Bermuda and have become the first team to commence sailing operations at the Venue for the next Cup. The team conducted an initial training camp in Bermuda, last week. ... [more]  

At ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, presented by Sunbrella, if the Chamber of Commerce had stayed up all night working at it, they could not have served up a better day for racing. ... [more]  

On day 2 of ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella, the rainstorms of yesterday vanished but the excellent wind conditions remained in place on Biscayne Bay. A more conventional day of racing saw US Sailing Team Sperry athletes finish the day in the top 10 in 5 Olympic classes and 2 Paralympic classes. ... [more]  

Bringing Dragon Sailors from around the world to Antigua. Harmony Hall Yacht Club, with the support of the Antigua Yacht Club Marina and the Inn at English Harbour, will host the second Annual Antigua Dragon Yacht Club Challenge with nine races scheduled to take place over five days in fantastic Caribbean conditions on identical Petticrow Dragons. ... [more]  

There are so many ways that the Dongfeng Race Team could have lost the chance to win the light-air marathon from Abu Dhabi to Sanya in China. Leading from the first 24 hours to the finish, 23 and a half days later, 5,403 nautical miles sailed and eight different gulfs, oceans and seas, is not necessarily the most advisable way to try and take the spoils. ... [more]  

Sydney photographer, Michael Chittenden was on Sydney harbour last Sunday and captured these images from Race 4 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championships ... [more]  

New Zealand short-handed sailor, Conrad Colman is on his second two handed round the world race, this time aboard the Spirit of Hungary with Nandor Fa sailing in the Barcelona Round the World Race: I had noticed a couple of chafing zones on the mainsail so I prepared some patches and the Dr. Sails flexible epoxy glue so we could drop the main quickly ... [more]  

2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami- Photos provided by Ocean Images. ... [more]  

Photographer Ingrid Abery was on the water at 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and provided this gallery of images. ... [more]  

2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami - It may have been a day late for Australia Day, but on the second day at the Sailing World Cup Miami, the Australian Finn sailors were on a charge with some sparkling performances. Giles Scott (GBR) still leads after winning the opening race of the day, while Jake Lilley (AUS) won the second and moved up to second overall. Ed Wright (GBR) is in third. ... [more]  

2015 Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race is set to begin Friday, February 6. The 32nd edition of the venerable Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race will start in Port Everglades, Florida, and send its 12-boat fleet on a challenging 811 nautical mile course to Montego Bay, Jamaica. George Sakellaris’s (Framingham, Mass.) 72-foot Shockwave will be the largest boat competing, so it should be interesting to ... [more]  

VX One momentum is growing with ever larger fleets showing the pure fun and easy performance of this true thoroughbred one design. ... [more]  

Last Friday, former Oracle Team USA team member, Matthew Mitchell issued a media release stating that he has lodged a complaint with the International Sailing Federation over the actions of a fellow crew member, Simeon Tienpont, and inaction by the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup, in San Francisco. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: A warm and colorful welcome for Team SCA into Sanya by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com NZL, Auckland, NZ
The all-female crew, Team SCA, arrived to a warm and colorful welcome including fireworks, Chinese dragons, orchid garlands and traditional costumes into the city of Sanya on Hainan Island in southern China early Tuesday evening (local time). 'It was a really different leg. I wouldn’t say it was hard in terms of the physical side but it just had lots of things coming at all angles ... [more]  

Touch2Play had the great fortune of participating in what would be the largest yet gathering of J88’s to date. Quantum Key West Race Week would serve as a chance to see how boats lined up against one another in conditions that covered the full range. For this event we had Rob and Sandy Butler, Steve Leibel, Keven Piper, Coleen Walsh and myself, Larry Huibers. ... [more]  

As the Barcelona World Race leaders race to the Crozet Islands, once again their paths have diverged – Neutrogena around 200 miles to the south-west of first-placed Cheminées Poujoulat on the water, and gaining around 40 miles in the past 24 hours. ... [more]  

For the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will announce on Saturday (31 January) at 10:00 CET the final line-up of sports. ... [more]  

On a high octane first day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami on Monday (26 January) Giles Scott, Alison Young and the Paralympian Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas saw the best possible start to their 2015 sailing seasons with double race victories. ... [more]  

On the opening day of racing at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, presented by Sunbrella, it was sunny and bright. It was storming and raining sideways. It was sunny and bright. ... [more]  

On the opening day of racing at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, presented by Sunbrella, it was sunny and bright. It was storming and raining sideways. It was sunny and bright. ... [more]  

RC44 World Championship Leg 1 gets underway on 24th March until 29th March 2015. The RC 44 Class is unlike any 40 foot sailing yacht ever designed, and the reason for that is simple. She is a high performance one design yacht created for top level racing in international regattas. If one was to compare this concept to racing cars, then we would be talking about the F1, NASCAR or similar. ... [more]  

On Day 1 of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella, America's premier Olympic and Paralympic classes regatta, featured the full range of what sailing in Miami has to offer. Over 850 sailors enjoyed strong breeze for the duration of the day, in addition to a brief but powerful rainstorm. ... [more]  

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami - Giles Scott (GBR) said last week that he hoped his unbeaten run would continue, and based on Monday’s form at the Sailing World Cup Miami, the 2014 World and European Finn Champion is giving it a pretty good shot ... [more]  

ISAF Olympic classes regatta Miami 2015 images provided by photographer Ingrid Abery. ... [more]  

Team Alvimedica won a Leg 3 podium place in China after some of the closest racing ever seen in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Turkish-American team protected their position in the final stretch to Sanya, carefully navigating a course peppered with fishing boats along the Vietnamese coast and across the South China Sea to cap off a well-sailed leg to clinch third. ... [more]  

The finish of Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race in Sanya, China just before noon on January 27, 2015 marked an unbelievable end to a magnificent leg for Dongfeng Race Team. After leading the fleet virtually all the way from Abu Dhabi to Sanya in China, over more than 5,000 miles of intense ocean racing, Dongfeng finally crossed the finish line in first place ... [more]  

Winner of Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race, Dongfeng, have released footage taken from a drone launched from the Volvo Ocean Race yacht, as she sails in light airs on the last days of Leg 3 of the race. It is believed to be the first time a drone, launched from a competitor, has been used in a major ocean race. ... [more]  

World sailing history was created earlier today when Dongfeng Race Team became the first Chinese yacht to have a win in a premier trans-ocean racing event. Her win was also a first in the 41-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race. At 1131hrs UTC the Chinese flagged entry emphatically won Leg 3 in their home port of Sanya to take the overall leadin the 40,000nm event with six stages to go. ... [more]  

On the morning of the 26th of January, the Maersk Line ship MV Stockholm delivered the Team Vestas Wind's damaged VO65 to the port in Genoa, Italy. From here she will be taken to the Persico building facilty where the rebuild of the wrecked boat will be undertaken. The team's goal is to rejoin the race in Lisbon, Portugal in June, 2015. ... [more]  

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is considering backing Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup bid, in a move that would propel the fortunes of the Olympic gold medallist yet further. Sir Ben is believed to have asked the Virgin billionaire to consider backing the venture when he and his new wife, Georgie Thompson, spent time on Sir Richard’s Necker Island in January. ... [more]  

Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race - Changes
Alpari World Match Racing Tour - Monsoon Cup preview
Barcelona World Race - A game of chase
Quantum Key West Race Week: Four GC32's make spectacular USA debut
Volvo Ocean Race – Frostad says Caudrelier proving them wrong *Feature
Volvo Ocean Race - Last day drag race to Sanya
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 - Tense onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 - Dongfeng Race Team pushing hard!
Volvo Ocean Race: Leg 3 Finish - Video - Delayed feed
2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami - Countdown begins
Volvo Ocean Race: Donfeng set to create a piece of sailing history
Barcelona World Race - First of the iconic Great Capes has been passed
Classic 18fters racing on Sydney Harbour
Volvo Ocean Race - Can Dongfeng still hang on for a Sanya win??
Stephanie Roble, 2014 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year
Barcelona World Race - Taking advantage
Oakcliff Awarded Joe Prosser Award at US Sailing NSPS 2015
20 Nations head for 2015 St.Maarten Heineken Regatta
Volvo Ocean Race - Less than 500 miles to go
2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - Fantastic finish
Barcelona World Race: Weather beacons launched midrace   
2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - Day 5   
Mount Gay Round Barbados Race – Gala prizegiving marks end of event   
2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - Day 5 images by Ingrid Abery   
Volvo Ocean Race Leader - Dongfeng - the right place at the right time   
ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship - Notice Of Race online   
Currently doing scheduled maintenance.   
Volvo Ocean Race: Changes to Team Vestas Wind crew   
McDougall+McConaghy Moth Worlds: Highlight video released   
America's Cup: Oracle crew mate lodges complaint against Tienpont   
2015 Quantum Key West Race Week - Day 4 images by Ingrid Abery   
2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami - US Sailing Team preview   
Quantum Key West Race Week 2015 - A great day   
Volvo Ocean Race: Jump seat and Pro-Am race spots up for auction   
Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta overall   
Volvo Ocean Race - Dongfeng? Race Team suffer? damage   
America's Cup: Italy to host first America's Cup World Series regatta   
Breeze and Sunshine at Quantum Key West Race Week   
Images of the Millennium Cup and Bay of Islands Sailing Week - Day 1:   
2015 Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race – Three records broken   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT