Dennis Conner Invitational – RCYC Team reports

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Dennis Conner

The RCYC has a team competing in this event. Andrea Giovannini and his team will be sending regular reports. Here’s his first offering:

It’s 6.30 am and I have found a chance to fill all our supporters and sponsors in on our on goings in New York as we get ready for the 2014  Dennis Conner international invertational.

The guys have gone for there morning run leaving the hostel where we are staying quiete for the first time in a couple of days. The entrance where there is an empty bar and 4 or 5 tv’s hanging on the wall in a lobby that is only 6m x 4m is an odd sight. Why is there a bar? That doesn’t stock beers? Why are there tv’s strewn up on the walls where clearly I could entertain everyone who can fit in the lobby? And why is there such drastic video surveillance everywhere? These questions were answered when we found out that the hostel was a brothel that was shut down by complaining residents!

The other guests in the hostel have adopted our accents and slang phrases. We thought it was because of our delightful way of talking was contagious. However we realized that the Mexicans and other 3rd world countries that frequent this fine establishment thought our actual names where “bru” and “pal”.

Every evening we cruise down to the basketball court across from our brothel to hang out with the locals. There are these unofficial games that go down where money changes hands and intense games of basketball are played by local gangs from Harlem and the Bronx. Of course we didn’t know they where hardened street gangs and also that quite a lot of money changes hands when you play. To us it just looked like a fun game of touch rugby between friends.

We started out shooting hoops with our new friends and joining teams. They didn’t believe we had never played b-ball before and you take it for granted in South Africa where ball skills are just part of growing up. They were amazed when we joined teams and can hold our own in this game of hustle and street rules.

Duncan has become one of the favorites when he took a 6ft 6″ African American guy, who apparently played Colledge ball, clean off his feet. Earning the team who had adopted Duncan and myself a cool 100 dollar bill. We maybe should not be playing with these guys when money and blood changes hands regularly. How were we to know that these guys are hardened gangsters, maybe the tattoo’s on the one guys face was a clue or the fact that when the police came for a routine drive buy half our team jumped over the fence and ran away. We where a bit disappointed to be left on a court by ourselves and they took the only ball we had to play with …maybe we shouldn’t be playing with these guys?

But to be honest it’s such a cool game we carry on going back every night to shoot some hoops. And tonight I am sure our team mates “shafreek” and his friends “toothpaste”  and “biggy” will be expecting our help to defend the court.

We have been doing some sightseeing and tourist stuff on the way to the sailing. The yacht club is based right next to the twin tower building’s.  We have hung out at Time Square and spent a morning at the museum of natural history. Central Park is a cool place to eat lunch from the local hot dog suppliers. China town is pretty crazy and the pizza in Little Italy seems better than the one we had in Milan on our lay over flight. This place is a melting pot of all the various cultures from around the world. It is also the most expensive place we have ever been to with a beer costing a smooth 8 Dollars which is basically 100 rand a pop.

The sailing side of things is tough. We have been allowed only 3 training days,  as there is a rule on how much each team can use a boat. We have used up 2 of them. Our last one is scheduled for Thursday which will also include a practice race.

We race on the Hudson River where there is 4 knots of current which takes some getting used when rounding marks and choosing lay lines. The training on a boat we have never sailed in a venue we have never raced in is all about absorbing as much information as possible in the least amount of time. We have made some massive finds that will stand us in good stead when the event starts on Friday.

The international teams have all started arriving.

This event they invite 20 international teams from every corner of the globe who are amateur sailors. The term amateur is quite a loose term and according to the Notice of Race you may not be paid to do the event. However this event has a star studded line up. The current J24 world champion is the favorite. With the 2012 European champion also described as a hot shot. There are the national champions from Germany, Australia, obviously the USA national champion who is representing the host club and a host of other top teams from Asia and us representing Africa.

We started out trying to copy the top J24 sailors who hoist out of the back hatch and with the helmsman who trims the jib upwind etc. However we have decided to turn our J24 in to an L26. As this is how we know how to sail. So we are the only team who hoists out the front hatch. We also cross sheet the jib – and have added a host of other L26 systems and techniques on this J24.

The current is our main focus as when you have 4 knots of current surging down the course you end up going upwind at 2 or 3 knots in real distance and doing about 13 knots downwind. You constantly feel like you flying until you look up at the incredible New York skyline and realize you are still 100 meters away from the Statue of Liberty which is where you started. When the current turns the other way, doing 10 knots upwind makes the beats quick – and the racing feels like a major downwind race!

The boys are back from there run now and we are going to head off to see some sights and grab a bagel.

Best regards from the team of Vulcan racing powered by Choose Life high performance sailing. We are representing RCYC and the 9 club members who supported us financially to get us to New York. We thank you for your support and contributions that allowed us to go and compete in this event and hope to do you all proud.

To our families and girlfriends, with 8 Dollars a beer we will be home soon!

Dre, Markus, Henry, Shane & Duncan.