Please select your home edition
Edition
Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - LEADERBOARD

An interview with Drew Freides on winning the 2021 Melges IC37 Nationals

by David Schmidt 27 Jul 08:00 PDT July 16-18, 2021
Pacific Yankee en route to winning the Melges IC37 National Championships © Image courtesy of Drew Freides/Yankee Clipper

It's always a very big deal when the New York Yacht Club selects a new One Design boat to compete at their signature events, such as the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, and the Mark Mills-designed IC37 is no exception. The boats are fast, fun to sail, and offer fantastic One Design racing. The NYYC purchased the first 20 boats in the series, which members can charter from the club (they need to provide their own sails), but the other build slots went to private owners.

The result is one of the most competitive 30-something-foot One Design classes afloat, with winter racing taking place on Floridian waters; the class' summer racing is largely a New England affair.

The class recently held their 2021 National Championship regatta (July 16-18) on the waters of Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, which attracted 18 well-sailed boats. After seven races, Pacific Yankee, which is co-owned and co-skippered by Drew Freides and Bill Ruh, claimed top honors by a spread of seven points.

I checked in with Freides, via email, to learn more about his team's racing programs and their win at this national-level event.

How long has your team been sailing together? And did the program start with the IC37, or did you guys sail on a different platform pro to IC37s?

We have had almost our entire team since we acquired our boat in mid 2019. Once in a while we lose a person or two to a scheduling conflict, but our core group has been together since 2019. We actually sailed both the 2020 and the 2021 Nationals with the exact same team.

Your vessel name portends a split-coast mindset. Can you please tell us about this aspect of your program?

The name simply refers to my personal background. I grew up on the East Coast (in Larchmont, NY) went to college at MIT and then immediately upon graduation I moved to the West Coast to become a yacht designer in San Diego at Nelson/Marek Yacht Design. I have lived in Southern California ever since, but find myself commuting to the East Coast to race frequently.

Logistically, what does this look like? Are we talking about two boats, one on each coast, or does the boat spend time traveling the interstate highways? If it's the latter, how tough is it to plan and juggle events?

Our boat was built at Westerly in Costa Mesa (one of the two original builders), we took delivery in San Diego, but have since kept the boat on the East Coast because that is where the remainder of the Melges IC 37 fleet is based.

There have been 35 boats built-split between the East Coast, the Midwest, ours on the West Coast, and the UK. Aside from the one trip our boat took across the U.S. from San Diego to Florida, our boat has been commuting up and down I-95 from Newport to Fort Lauderdale (the location of our Winter Series).

It makes the travel slightly more difficult for me, but most of the remainder of our crew (aside from Max Hutcheson), is located either on the East Coast, or the Mid-west.

Building on that last question, what are your favorite East Coast and West Coast events? Are there some regattas that you never miss? If so, which ones and why?

As an East Coaster at heart, I always love the NYYC's Annual Regatta. When I have more time, I also love Block Island Race Week.

In the past, a favorite was also Key West [Race Week].

When racing out here, I have always been fond of the San Diego Yachting Cup along with the St. Francis [Yacht Club's] Big Boat Series.

What do you see as the biggest keys to your great win at the IC37 Nationals?

Our keys to success are summed up in three words - People, Process and Platform.

We have, in my humble opinion, the best team in the fleet. There is not a weak member of our crew from stem to stern. We practice harder than any other team, practicing for a minimum of two days prior to every event with our coach, Ed Adams (we have racked up quite a record with Ed in various classes - three National Championships and three World Championships).

To our team, everything we do is about establishing a repeatable process. We also always make sure we have the best equipment. Thanks to our captain, Charlie Smythe, our boat is always impeccably prepared. We also always make sure we have the newest and best sails possible.

We aren't faster than any of the other teams. I think we are simply a little better at getting up to speed quicker, reacting quicker, adapting quicker to changes in conditions, and shifting gears quicker when needed.

As with all tight One Design classes, the little things turn into big deltas when you can "poke" your bow out and control your own destiny.

Has the IC37 fleet changed at all as the result of the pandemic? Say, any new owners (or charterers) in the mix this year? Also, how would you describe competition levels year-on-year?

The fleet continues to strengthen, with new additions.

We have had great One Design competitors from other fleets join us recently, such as Michael Goldfard, Laura Grondin, Bill Lynn and Peter Duncan. Doug Newhouse also bought a new boat early this year, and won the first event of the year in Rye, New York.

How would you describe the IC37 class compared to other One Design fleets that you've raced in?

To me this is the modern Farr 40. It has many of the great attributes of that class, yet the modern characteristics of light, high-performance sprit boat.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

Our team has been fortunate to have the success we've had in this competitive and highly regulated one-design class. It has been really fun watching our team grow and learn.

As [champion sailor and world-class sailmaker] Vince Brun has always told me, "it is not the results that count, it is the journey and the path along the way that you will remember and take with you forever."

This journey has been a fun and rewarding one since it began in mid-2019. I've been blessed to have such a great [boat] partner in Bill Ruh, and to have such an amazing team around us.

Related Articles

Mixing it up
A few sailing events which are a bit 'out of the norm' As we head towards the end of September, I've been thinking about which events, and days out sailing, have been the most fun this year. There are a few to choose from, and overall it's been a good year for time on the water. Posted on 21 Sep
Michael Weber and Jeff Braddon on the Jackrabbit
An interview with Michael Weber and Jeff Braddon on the 2021 Jackrabbit J/22 regatta I checked in with Michael Weber and Jeff Braddon, who serve as advisor emeritus and chair (respectively) of the 2021 Jackrabbit J/22 regatta, via email, to learn more about this freshwater One Design regatta. Posted on 15 Sep
A shameful story and a warning to sailors
A shameful story and a warning to the sailing world Sometime in the recent past, a club hosted a small-but-well-attended regional regatta. A consciously unvaccinated individual attended, refused to wear a mask, and then tested positive for Covid-19. Posted on 14 Sep
Laura Grondin and Megan Ratliff on the M24 NAs
David Schmidt checks in with the chair and president ahead of the 2021 Melges 24 U.S. Nationals I checked in with Laura Grondin, chair of the International Melges 24 Class Association, and Megan Ratliff, president of the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association, via email, to learn more about the 2021 Melges 24 National Championship regatta. Posted on 14 Sep
Happy, happy. Joy, joy!
Without doubt, the best perk of this job is the reach and connection There are definitely some serious perks to this gig. Yet without doubt, the best is the reach and connection with sailors far and wide. The emails, calls, and chats on the quay still come in, and continue to inspire the entire team. Posted on 13 Sep
Paul Earl and Shan McAdoo on the Snipe NAs
An interview with Paul Earl and Shan McAdoo on the 2021 Snipe North Americans I checked in with Paul Earl and Shan McAdoo, co-chairs of the 2021 Snipe North Americans, via email, to learn more about this exciting One Design regatta. Posted on 8 Sep
Inspirational
It's such an important word in any sport It's such an important word in any sport, and seeing an inspirational performance in sailing fills us with enthusiasm. Posted on 7 Sep
Juana Rudzki on the annual Juana Good Time Regatta
David Schmidt checks in with the event chair to learn more... I checked in with Juana Rudzki, event chair of the 31st annual Juana Good Time Regatta, via email, to learn more about this fun-minded multihull regatta. Posted on 7 Sep
Gladwell's Line: Dalts told to walk the plank
Attempts to force the next Cup to be held in NZ are misguided at best. The current Defender and America's Cup trustee, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, are doing what they should be doing - which is to take the recommendation and decision from their America's Cup team and endorse it. Posted on 4 Sep
The big cats
Catamarans, and even more specifically, powercats is the name of our game here. 12-cylinder Jags, or lightning fast Cheetahs? Neither automotive, nor feline. Catamarans, and even more specifically, powercats is the name of our game here. Posted on 2 Sep
Get My Boat 2021 FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 2Lloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px2 BOTTOM