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Relative Obscurity Top American J/70 at KWRW

Relative Obscurity  ( Allen Clark / Photo Boat )

A windy and cool Key West Race Week wrapped up last week, with 48 boats racing in the J/70 class. At Doyle Sailmakers, we were very pleased with two boats in the top ten and Peter Duncan’s Relative Obscurity clinching second place to be the top American finisher. We were able to have a conversation with Peter after the event for his perspective on the event. Peter was quick to note the merits of his exceptional team of multiple world champion winners Moose McClintock and Karl Anderson, as well as North American Champion Victor Diaz. They were sailing in the range of 730-740 pounds, which Peter finds to be a comfortable weight in all conditions, but particularly in waves where having weight on the rail is important.

While Duncan primarily campaigns his Etchells, the transition to the J/70 has been a good one, and Relative Obscurity was 7th at the 2015 Worlds in La Rochelle, France. While the Key West fleet was still smaller than Worlds, the top end of the fleet was still incredibly competitive with the top three finishers at World’s competing against each other again.

Relative Obscurity

Comparing the two events, Duncan noted Key West was breezier, with much bumpier seas, so they had to work to keep the boat powered up more.  Because of other commitments, and the weather just prior to the regatta, the preparation was condensed and forced the team to make sure the boat was well prepared so there were no hiccups in the event.  Each day of the event, Relative Obscurity was able to do a couple of hours of two boat tuning with my team on Africa. Both boats were using Doyle Cross Cut Class Main, Pro Radial Jibs and VMG Spinnakers for the regatta.  We were able to test not only tuning for the conditions and weight placement, but also learn a lot about the course with five minute split tacks and split gybes on each side of the race track.

The team primarily relied on Commanders for weather and forecasting, which the race committee kept heavy tabs on as well and Duncan found to be very good throughout the week.

Starts were extremely important with such a large fleet on a short starting line. I asked Duncan about his regatta and starting strategy. At first, they were tentative, but they switched to a more aggressive mode and ended up over the line early twice. On one occasion, they were able to come back and win the race, whereas the other OCS was more difficult to dig out of and they placed 21st, their throw out. These made them more conservative, trying to attack the line without pushing it too hard. They tended towards the favored end of the line, but prioritized less crowded areas. Peter figures they sailed the first weather beat fairly conservatively, never really losing contact with the fleet. Their results were very consistent in this competitive fleet, which they achieved by getting to the edges, without ever going for anything really extraordinary. Each crew member clicked into a specific role on the boat, with McClintock in charge of overall strategy, Diaz calling boat to boat tactics, and Anderson keeping his head in the boat for tuning and sail trim.

Moose McClintock, who has now sailed with a number of different J70 programs, had some interesting

Relative Obscurity ( Allen Clark / Photo Boat)

observations regarding the Jib in particular. “I was impressed with the ease of using the sails.  I prefer pull and go so I can keep my head out of the boat and I think you achieve this in your designs.  I think we learned a lot about the inhaul use on the Pro radial Jib over the course of the week, having Victor aboard was critical for us as he used the same inhaul technique on the Jib that you used at North Americans.  He did say after sailing Friday that the inhaul was the key on Friday as he ended up with the same jib sheet setting and played the inhaul depending on how much power he needed, mostly a different way to get to the same end.   Eye opening for me.”

With fast upwind and downwind speed and an obviously harmonious team, Peter is planning to do Bacardi Cup, North Americans in Texas, Europeans in Germany, and Worlds in San Francisco, hopefully with a similar team depending on everyone’s schedule.

KWRW Results

Relative Obscurity ( Allen Clark / Photo Boat )

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