The Legendary Vince Brun On Making Your Melges 24 Go Fast
Having started his sailing career crewing for his brother, multiple one-design keelboat world champion Vince Brun still seems happy to relinquish the helm to take on a crewing role. With two Melges 24 World titles wins already under his belt he will be crewing for Bill Hardesty at this year's championship in Annapolis.
We chatted with Vince to pick his brains a little and to find out his thoughts on making a Melges 24 go faster...
IM24CA: Having won World Championship titles in the Soling, Star, J24, Etchells and Melges 24 classes over the years, what do you believe are the common themes to putting together winning campaigns in these type of one design keelboats?
VB: The key to any boat good campaign is the commitment of an undivided focus and dedication from all members of the team. Choosing the crew is also an important part of any program, and ultimately has the biggest impact on one's performance. I clearly have been lucky on the crew department.
IM24CA: Looking at the Melges 24 specifically, what three (or more) tips do you have for helms for improving both their upwind and downwind performance.
Firstly work on you forward speed before anything else. The Melges 24 high performance foils perform best at higher speeds. The most common mistake is trying to point high below hull speed. This is particularly common with sailors coming from other keelboats with large area keels like the Star and Etchells, where pointing high is key to max performance.
Secondly, sailing the boat flat is how you will develop your best forward speed, so to achieve it ease both sails if necessary. The top boats always sail with the main and jib with lots of twist, so the boat is free and stable.
Thirdly, you need to tune the rig for the wind but also for the waves. If the waves are large for the wind speed, having the rig one step down (looser) will work best. The same is true in reverse. Nothing worse than having the rig too tight in choppy water.
My first advice is to sail with the vang softer than you normally would on any other boats with spinnakers. Having the vang tight will load up the helm and hurt your forward speed. This is particularly true in fresh breeze.
I firmly believe that keeping the jib unfurled in strong winds will help your speed downwind. Please keep in mind that jib should be trimmed on the soft side.
IM24CA: You have been back at the helm of a Melges 24 this year steering Bailout in Key West and very recently at the US Nationals. Who will you be racing with at the 2009 Melges World Championship in Annapolis?
VB: I plan to crew for Bill Hardesty at the Annapolis Worlds. We already have the crew picked and I'm looking forward to a good fun event. Bill is a good guy and I did enjoyed sailing with him on the Etchells events in Miami.
IM24CA: You sailed with Denis Conner in the 1987 multihull v monohulls America's Cup mismatch. What is your take on the current AC situation? Are you looking forward to a monster multihull Deed of Gift match or would you have preferred a more traditional monohulls multi challenger format?
VB: Unfortunately I'm not up to speed on America's Cup situation, other than what we see in the press. Like most people, I also don't know the details on what is happening on the legal process. With that said, it's disappointing that we didn't utilize the momentum we had from the last cup in Valencia. Like everyone else, I'm keen to have the AC back on track (out of the multihull scene) with other countries participating.
IM24CA: Have you had a chance to view the BMW Oracle tri at close quarters and if so what impression did it make on you? Who do you think will emerge victorious?
VB: Yes, I have seen them sailing and it really is very impressive. Quite honestly, I have no idea on who ultimately will win, but is fair to say that the challenge rules tend to be favoured towards the defender.
IM24CA: What other kinds of racing are you doing this year? You have said in the past that you enjoy crewing - why is this? What motivates your sailing choices these days? Are you still as hungry for victory as when you won your first Soling Worlds in 1978?
VB: I'm sure that I become a better sailor by crewing for other people. It's fun and very rewarding to see your effort help someone improve their performance and I'm sure you learn a few new tricks yourself along the way. I can honestly say that I have learned something new every time I crewed.
I still enjoy sailing, but most important to me these days is the tweaking of the sails and rig. The camaraderie at Melges 24 regattas is one of the best parts of our sport and is the one of the main things I look forward to.
IM24CA: What is the latest update on the long awaited North 3DL Melges 24 sails?
VB: We have tested a few 3DL sails this winter in Miami with the Italian Uka Uka team, but we still have more work ahead to surpass the current AP-3 and J-7 World Champion combo. Those sails are so well developed that is hard to improve, even when using a superior technology so we will continue testing new 3DL sails after the Worlds in Annapolis.
IM24CA: As a ‘rig guru' what are your thoughts on the new forestay system compared to the old method? Have you tried both and which do you prefer?
VB: There are some clear advantages on the new system over the older, but performance ultimately will be the deciding factor on which one will prevail. Brian Porter just won the 2009 US Nationals using the new fix forestay system, so it works! I have also heard that others had problems with the same system. Like any new system, it will take time to learn how it works and how to maximize performance. Harry has added a new rig-tuning chart for the fix forestay system on the NS Tuning guide.
IM24CA: Looking forwards to the Worlds this year, what particular challenges do the waters of Annapolis pose for competitors? Who do you believe will be the main contenders? Who do you predict will be on the podium at the end of the championship?
VB: Annapolis is most likely one of the most difficult sailing venues in US and I expect a higher than normal total score, wining the regatta. What is interesting about Annapolis is how much the conditions can change from day to day. Like always, good starts and all around performance will be the deciding factor. I would expect the European teams to be strong from the start but I also expect some of the US teams to get stronger as the event progresses.