EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kirk and Ian Donaldson

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kirk and Ian Donaldson

29 April 2006

29 APRIL 2006 ? The dynamic father and son duo of Kirk and Ian Donaldson rocked the Melges 17 Easter Regatta with a one-of-a-kind performance. Under some of the most intense competitive pressure, these two amazing sailors managed to keep their cool and run away with the title!

M17: Both of you did very well at Lake Eustis at the Midwinter Championship. Looking from then until now, what improvements did you make in order to come on so strong in Charleston?

KD: I?m learning to tune the boat. The jib halyard tension, fore and aft balance is really important for balance on the helm. I sail very much balance oriented on the boat. Balancing things out on the boat so that the boat likes to drive itself. That?s how I try to steer. Then there?s boat handling stuff, well that?s boat handling stuff. There?s lots of little tricks on the Melges 17 with the chute going up and down. Things like that. Mostly tuning. Just getting a lot more confident at tuning. And for me, it?s a return to racing after taking about a decade off. So, I?m getting more used to being in the thick of things at leeward mark roundings and starts. I am relearning. Every once in a while I?m like ?oh yeah. I remember that now.?

M17: So, you took about ten years off from racing. Is this the first boat that you have bought in a decade? What was it about the Melges 17 that appealed to you? What made you buy this boat?

KD: Oh yeah, that?s cool. I used to sail Snipes and did that pretty hard for while and got burned out. I live on a little lake, Whitmore Lake in Northern Michigan. I wanted a boat that was real sporty, nothing ridiculous that would require me to have an Olympic Medalist to sail the boat. Something that was easy to sail, the kids could go out and have fun in. So, I had this idea in the back of my head for a long time and, then I saw that ad that came in the mail, Winter? about a year ago. It took ten seconds. I looked at that ad and said, ?that?s my boat?. So I called Melges and ordered it.

ID: My Dad?s description made it sound really, really cool. Really light, really fast without a whole lot of work, which is my kind of sailing. Everything about the boat appeals to me.

M17: Keeping in mind that this is a great boat for two people, Kirk, did you think of Ian right away or did you have someone else in mind to crew?

KD: No. There are some people that like to sail with me from the old days. I figured I would hook up with them and get them into sailing it, it?s a family boat, or maybe my wife would crew with me. But, Ian saw the advertisement and said, ?Dad, that?s like a cool boat, are you going to race that?? I said, ?Well, yeah.? And, he responded, ?Well, maybe I?d like to race with you.? Now, keep in mind prior to the ad he had zero interest in racing at all. We had the boat only a month before the first nationals, and I said, ?Ian. If you are going to sail in a Nationals these are going to be competitive sailors, you have to train with me. I have to teach you how to handle a boat.? So, we trained diligently. We did a lot of ups and downs. We set up a little mini course. We did tons and tons of practicing starts because I had to get my timing down.

ID: We got the boat and he started training me about a month before Nationals. We would go out every day.

M17: Would you attribute your success to lots of time in the boat and practicing all the time, constant practice?

KD: Absolutely. You go out there and you make mistakes under low pressure. Kind of scratch your head and think, ?how do we not do that again??. You learn by playing. And, that?s what I love to do is get out and play in a boat. Get it balanced out and then it?s easy. Pound for the pound, this is the most fun I have ever had sailing.

M17: So, with this great success. What is your next event? Can we expect to see you both in Lake Geneva for the very first Melges 17 Spring Championship?

ID: I think we are going to be in Lake Geneva for the Spring Championship and we?ll be ready for the 2007 Nationals in the fall.

Congratulations to you both again on your win at the Easter Regatta and we look forward to seeing you back in the winner?s circle at the 2006 Spring Championship in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
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