EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: KEN WRUK
6 April 2008
Lake Geneva's Ken Wruk is 2-0 for the Melges 17 2008 season. With an incredible Midwinter and Charleston Regatta behind him, Ken takes some time out with the class to share his thoughts and experiences on the Melges 17.
USM17CA: The Melges 17 Class has already held two major events in 2008 and you have managed to win both. That is a tremendous accomplishment when you look around the course and see some pretty amazing sailors. What was that experience like?
KW: As a relatively new fleet, the Melges 17, has surprised many with how much energy and spirit this fleet of sailors brings. Once I got involved with this fleet, I was taken by the strong positive attitudes, friendliness, and eagerness to learn, participate, and have fun! It was intoxicating and got me addicted. We started in the middle-to-back of the fleet, worked hard, asked lots of questions, and worked our way forward. My primary team-member, Kit Stricker, also got hooked and we have made it a priority to do the major regattas and get involved. The forward position on this boat is crucial, so I credit Kit tremendously for learning how to make this spunky little boat go fast!
USM17CA: You had two different crewmembers for Midwinters and Charleston, tell us about your crew for each of the events and more about what talents they brought to the team that made each regatta a big success?
KW: Yes, the logistics of travel made it work out well to team-up with some local southeast talent in Tommy Clough. Tommy is a fantastic sailor who taught me a number of valuable tips that I pass-on to regular members of my Lake Geneva team. I’d strongly recommend that skippers “mix it up” and jump on a boat with other crew members. You will learn and teach each other good tips and everyone benefits with better sailing!
USM17CA: Looking ahead to the next event — the Spring Regatta in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. You won this event in 2007. Would it be safe to assume you are aiming for a 3-0 record in 2008? What special preparations are you making or thinking about to ensure the win?
KW: We have found fast Melges scows to be incredible fun. In addition to the Melges 17, we also race the E Scow and A Scow. Participating on each of these additional boats serves as great practice and experience that certainly carries over to the Melges 17. We will be practicing on the bigger boats in the cold Lake Geneva water in coming weeks so we’re ready for the big Melges 17 Spring Regatta. We will have the boat tuned-up, ready to go, and take seriously the challenge of this upcoming major Melges 17 regatta! Oh yeah, it will also be tons of fun!!
USM17CA: What top three speed tips would care to share with the fleet?
KW: Sets and douses are critical. Tommy Clough taught us perhaps the most valuable tip ever to make sets and douses flawless. Sheet in the spinnaker completely, hand the spin sheet to the skipper, tighten the spin retrieval line, then release the spin halyard, crank-in the spin retrieval line and watch the chute float effortlessly into the cavity. We had this process all wrong for the past two years and Tommy finally set us straight. Using this sequence the douses work orderly and smooth. Naturally, a good douse enables a smooth set. Many boat lengths are gained with good sets and douses.
Also, solid boat handling enables both skipper and crew to “get your head out of the boat.” Once the boat handling works, reading the compass, watching other boats, covering, starts, all get more focus. Then things really start to work.
USM17CA: Is there any one item, be it a cool tool or lucky charm that you never think of going sailing on your Melges 17 without? If so, what is it and what are your reasons for bringing it along.
KW: The one-way bailer plugs are critical. They keep the boat drier and enable the boat to drain on each tack.
USM17CA: The Melges 17 is such a cool, fast, little boat. What would you say to someone looking to get into a Melges 17?
KW: If you like speed, competition, great social comaraderie and fun this spunky fast little boat offers an incredible fleet of good people and good times galore!
Ken, thanks for taking a few moment to share your thoughts. Best of luck to you at the Lake Geneva Spring Regatta and to a remaining racing year.