Opti Sailor Dutch Byerly Continues a Family Tradition

Eighth grader Dutch Byerly started sailing Optis after admiring his older brother sail. Dutch decided to try it too and was instantly hooked. At 15-years old he’s approaching the end of his Opti career, but he’s set big goals for himself as he prepares for another run at making the national team.

When did you start racing? Why? I started racing Optis about five years ago because my older brother Dane was sailing and I thought it was really cool. I wanted to try it, so I went to Opti camp and it was awesome.

Where and how do you train? I train at the Lake Wood Yacht Club, one day a week during the school year and every weekend. During the summer I spend a week at sailor camp and sail every day. This summer I will be a counselor at Opti camp, teaching younger kids to sail. Then I go to Forth Worth camp, where I’ll be a counselor for a week and sail for a week. Then there’s Texas race week, Nationals, and practice in between.

What’s your favorite part of racing? The enjoyment of doing well in a competition.

What’s the hardest part of racing? Staying focused in the last few races of the day. When everyone else is tired and you’re tired, you really want to go in, but you keep going and have to stay focused.

What was your biggest failure? What did you learn from that experience? My biggest failure was team trials this year. I hoped to make North American team, but I got an OCS on last day. That put me down a lot, and really put me out.

I learned that I need to stay more in the game and that every race counts. You should never count on your drop to bring you back up to where you want to be.

What’s been your greatest success? What did you learn from that experience? My greatest success was the last team trials in Connecticut when I succeed at my goals and made Nationals. We ended the trip by spending an extra day in New York. It was my first time there, and we did everything we could in 24 hours.

At team trials I learned that I do have the ability to compete with top sailors, and even do better than some of them.

What are your sailing strengths? I consider myself pretty athletic, allowing me to move around the boat and not get too tired. I’m also pretty good at pointing. I can point a little higher than most people and still go pretty fast.

When did you start using Quantum® sails? Why? I started using Quantum sails about a year into sailing because my older brother was using them. I kind of got the hand-me-downs, but as I got older and got more experienced, I liked how they really let me point and still go fast compared to other sails.

How have Quantum sails helped your racing? They’re good, solid, all-around sails that let me point and still go really fast.

Who supports and encourages your sailing? How? Mostly my parents and coaches. My parents encourage me to sail, even when I don’t want to. My coaches push me to improve and help me learn a lot.

Do you have other interests beyond sailing? I play basketball and football for my school. I recently got my boaters license.

What’s next for you? Next year at team trials will be my last year in Opti. My goal is to qualify for Europeans, at the minimum, and make the National team one last time. After I age out of Opti, I’d like to sail FJ and International 420s for my high school team. I hope to qualify for high school nationals and the Sears and Rose Cups, like my brother Dane.

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How to Turn a Good Crew into a Great Team: The Secrets of Sailing Tradecraft

Whether racing or cruising, Quantum Pacific’s Will Paxton explains how to use spy tradecraft to position your crew for success.

So now that you’ve found a few good crew who want to go sailing with you on a more or less regular basis, how do you take it to the next level, to build that crew into a team? Quantum Pacific’s Will Paxton says the answer can be found in any spy novel.

Spy Boat Graphic v3 - small

“My own brand of organization on a sailboat is called ‘tradecraft.’ In spy novels, that’s how the CIA teaches their operatives to work in a chaotic environment. Tradecraft is learning to prevent everything that you can anticipate, so you can spend your time focusing on that which you can’t anticipate—that’s how you set yourself up for success,” he says.

Tradecraft is making sure the trimmers always have a role of tape in their pocket to mark lines on the deck or sheets to ensure that whatever you’re doing is repeatable. For boats that need active rig tune, it’s having a rig-tuning chart and one designated person who makes sure the rig is back at base at the end of the race. And when you’re out for a weekend cruise with friends and family, it’s your safety speech, letting your guests know where the life jackets are, where the fenders go, where the open thru-hulls are, and reminding them not to block the head.

You don’t have to be a pro to make tradecraft work—it’s applicable to both to racing and cruising boats, experienced crews and amateurs. “I’ve sailed on boats stacked with pros where too often their egos and experience are getting in the way, but on a boat full of Corinthian sailors who regularly sail together and are wiling to work with each other, things go a lot smoother,” Paxton says.

There are four main elements to tradecraft: leadership, communication, training, and repetition. Tradecraft is achieved in layers, and it starts with the little things, as small as tying (or not tying) stopper knots in the lines.

Element 1: Leadership

As a boat owner, the first step to implementing a tradecraft system is spending enough time with your boat to understand what works best, and then you need to be able to communicate that clearly and calmly to people. If you don’t know what you expect from your crew at any given time, they won’t either. “I have it down to the point where I tell you where to put your hand first when you get off the rail to put the kite up,” says Paxton.

Out on the water, one person, usually the boat owner or the tactician, whoever is calling the plays, is in charge of tradecraft. Having a clear, concise countdown for every tack and gybe ensures that no one gets off the rail early or cuts a sheet too late.

Element 2: Communication

Paxton says the most effective communication on the water requires no words at all. Each section or position on a boat should have a responsibility, and that responsibility has to mesh with the section next to it.

“Everybody should know what needs to happen and be tuned in and waiting for their cue. When the kite goes up, the bow secures the jib, gets the luff in the track and puts the frac on. When they’re finished, they turn to look at the pit, who should be ready and waiting to close the halyard clutch,” he says. Eye contact is key!

Element 3: Training

None of this can be learned on the fly—it takes training and repetition to work, but you don’t have to spend every weekend practicing either. “Tradecraft is showing up an hour early to the start. Doing a few tacks, a set, a gybe, and a combat takedown (i.e. jib up and kite down around a real or imaginary mark). If you can find another boat to tune up with upwind, that’s ideal,” Paxton adds.

Element 4: Repetition

Again, repetition is key.  You want to do the simple things the same every time, from how you cross the boat on a tack to who is in charge of flaking the spinnaker halyard. If you keep changing up procedure, it won’t ever become automatic. Systems will change as boats evolve and grow, and when adding new skills to the playbook, just make sure there’s ample time to discuss and practice a new system before you have to use it.

“Chaos happens, that’s normal,” says Paxton. “The key is make sure the little, easy things always get done so they won’t trip you up later. You want to mitigate the risk of chaos as much as possible, and be prepared when it will inevitably happen.”

Tradecraft won’t come all at once, but with a little desire and dedication, it will. Leadership, training, and good communication skills will set up you and your crew for a successful sailing season as a cohesive team!

Stay tuned for our next post in this series on prepping your boat and your crew for a signature regatta.


Do you still need to get that great, loyal crew?  No worries, we've got you covered; check-out these to get the great tips from our earlier posts in this series: How to Find a Few Good Crew and 5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Crew Happy and Loyal!

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Quantum Sails Dominate, Leading Many Teams to the Top at 161st NYYC Annual Regatta

After three days of racing in light to medium breezes, Quantum sails put on an impressive show at the 161st Annual New York Yacht Club Regatta presented by Rolex. Quantum rep Randall Shore was there and reported some amazing results in multiple divisions, including Swan 42, J/111, and C&C 30.

Including the around-the-island (ATI) race, buoy racing, stadium racing, and navigation racing, the NYYC regatta provided plenty of competition and challenges. The weekend included light southerly winds on Friday and light 3-13 knot breezes Saturday, with more consistent 10-14 knot winds on Sunday.

In IRC Division 1, Interlodge – the new Botin HPR 44 that was christened last week – won both the weekend and the ATI, as well as a new Rolex. Quantum’s Dave Armitage, Rob MacMillian, and Paul Tingle were all involved with the program, who finished 1-1-2-1 for the event.

In IRC Division 3, Paul Milo and his full Quantum inventory on Orion finished just half a point out of first, while long-time Quantum customer Bill Sweetser on Rush won Division 4, winning two of his four races.

The one design results were even more impressive, with first-place finishes in the Swan 42, J/111, and C&C 30 divisions.

In the Swan 42s, Paul Zabetakis on Impetuous finished in fourth and third Saturday, but his two first-place finishes on Sunday set him up for a tie-breaker and overall win. One coach said Zabetakis’s last day was “the best sail and rig set-up in the fleet, by far.”

The 19-boat J/111 fleet used the NYYC regatta to prepare for worlds in Newport, and Quantum sails performed well, leading boats to first, second, and fourth place finishes. George Gamble’s My Sharona and Robert Hesse’s Lake Effect – with Quantum reps Scott Nixon and Marty Kullman respectively – tied with 14 points apiece. My Sharona broke the tie by winning the last race. Rob Ruhlman’s Spaceman Spiff, with Quantum’s Nick Turney, was the fourth place boat. During Friday’s ATI race, Will Smith’s Wooton, with Quantum’s Allan Terhune, finished second.

In the C&C 30 class, Quantum sails won every race. Dan Cheresh’s Extreme 2, sailing with Quantum’s Wally Cross, won the event, finishing 3-1-1-2 overall. Walt Thirion’s Themis, sailing with Quantum’s Dave Flynn, took second with 1-6-3-1 finishes. Quantum sails had good speed in the lighter conditions, but when the breeze hit 13 knots they quickly showed their real speed advantage. Themis also won Friday’s ATI race.

Dennis William’s Vicotry 83 won the 12 Meter modern division, scored together with the ATI race. Sailing with a full Quantum inventory, as well as Quantum’s Randall Shore, Williams was not only the first in the fleet, he was also the first monohull to cross the finish line.

Other notable finishes include:
2,4 in the S-Class
3,4 in the Big Boat Classic division
Second place finishes in IRC 4 and PHRH 2 at the ATI race

Congratulations to everyone on an amazing weekend!

161st NYYC Annual Regatta

Swan 42
1 – Paul Zabetakis, Impetuous

1 – George Gamble, My Sharona
2 – Robert Hesse, Lake Effect
4 – Rob Ruhlman, Spaceman Spiff

C&C 30
1 – Dan Cheresh, Extreme 2
2 – Walt Thirion, Themis

12 Meter Modern Division
1 – Dennis Williams, Victory 83

2 – Sheldon Whitehouse, Osprey
4 – Geoffrey Davis, Aquila

1 – Austin and Gwen Fragomen, Interlodge

2 – Paul Milo, Orion

1 – Bill Sweetser, Rush

Big Boat Classic (CRF Division)
3 – Jed Pearsall, Amorita
4 – Jon Taft and Tom Glassie, Fortune

For full results from the 161st NYYC Annual Regatta, click here



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