30 July 2006

30 JULY 2006 ? Brian and Deb McMurray are thus far, the only racing team to successfully capture two major Melges 17 regatta titles in 2006. They have been confronted with the toughest in competition many, many times and as revealed in this exclusive Class interview, tell us they look forward to much, much more!

M17CA: Brian - you have had quite a successful season in the Melges 17, in fact you and your wife Deb are the only team so far that has been able to capture two major Melges 17 regatta titles in 2006. How does it feel and how ever did you manage within such an incredibly tough field of competitors?

Brian: Winning two regattas by very small margins feels great! Sometimes winning a regatta is not a goal, because wins don't come often due to so many factors and conditions. However, it was our goal in our last regatta. I think the main factor as to how we were able to win is our time in the boat. We love to practice because the boat is so fun to sail, and we both love a challenge. I have sailed a great number of different boats over the years, and because of this, our boat speed is good, especially downwind. The Melges 17 is a high performance boat, so having a feel for getting the most speed out of it is both exhilarating and important. However, the main reason we have done fairly well is because of our desire to steadily improve by practicing our tacks, jibes, sets and takedowns.

Deb: I have fear and respect for the competitors. I'm amazed and beside myself to have succeeded and won because I know, at anytime, something could change and we wouldn't be in the same position.

M17CA: How long have you sailed together? Is the Melges 17 the first time you have ever crewed together? Tell us how your team came together.

Brian: We have sailed for exactly a year now, as Deborah had never sailed before we began dating. Our team came together as our family did over the last year. After work and when we have time when taking a break from caring for my children, we go out on the water to enjoy the boat speed, and to find ways to handle the boat a little better each time.

M17CA: What are your roles on the boat, the expectations you have for each position as well as the objectives you set before each regatta? Do you have a regimen prior to each event?

Brian: Deb?s roles are to be in charge of the jib trim and chute trim. She keeps her eyes on the water to anticipate the wind and other boats. As she has enough to handle with sets, takedowns, jib and chute race and sail, I do the boards. They are led to a position on the boat where it is easy for either person to do. During our sets, I try to grab the port spinnaker sheet to try to fill the chute right when she gets it fully hoisted. I often furl the jib after afterwards. During takedowns, I try to help tail the spinnaker halyard, but it is important to let it go down fast when she gets to that point.

Our expectations before regattas depends on how well prepared we are. We spent a great deal of time practicing before the Nationals last year, but not much time this spring. Sometimes our goals are simply to get better, as we know there is always room for improvement.

Deb: When something goes wrong, Brian wishes I could steer so he could retie the knot or fix the problem.

M17CA: What are your top three speed tips for the Melges 17?

Brian: Speed tips: 1. I rarely worry about tuning, if we think we are in the ballpark. We don't worry too much about how high we can point, because my theory is the faster we can sail, the higher we can point. On the downwinds, the faster we sail, the more we can head down. 2. Keep the boat from healing too much in gusts. Use the wind! 3. Practice a lot to find what feels the fastest and trust your feel.

Deb: We have made a lot of mistakes rigging, and have done a lot of experimenting. It?s important to constantly communicate with other teams. Main speed tip: Always ease the spinnaker. Keep trying to ease. Fill then ease. Keep experimenting.

M17CA: Are you planning on going to Nationals in September? If so, what are you doing to prepare?

Brian: We do plan to race in the Nationals, and our preparation will be practicing a lot, when we can find the time. We are far from perfect, and practice is fun. Mark roundings, steering with the sails, all types of maneuvers, and enjoying the boat.

Deb: Practice, practice, practice.

M17CA: Taking into consideration the level of competition in the class, who do you expect to be the teams to beat?

Brian: There are a lot of great teams and individual sailors out there. We have been mostly impressed with Ian and Kirk Donaldson, who have obviously spent a lot of time on the water practicing all their maneuvers.

Deb: The unknown, the Donaldson?s, Art and crew.

M17CA: What would you say to someone looking to get into a Melges 17?

Brian: Having raced so many types of boats and coming from scows, once I saw the design of the Melges 17, I wanted to sail it. I have been hoping to sail a scow that had asymmetrical blades and high tech light weight rigging. It sails better than I thought it would.

Deb: Don't all sailboats go this fast?

M17CA: And looking ahead to the Fall Championship and onward into 2007, what regattas are you planning to attend?

Brian: Our regatta planning it dependent on our family, but we plan to race the Western Michigan, the Nationals, then we will look into some fall and winter sailing if we have the time.

A special thanks to Brian and Deb McMurray for taking the time to speak with us about their tremendous accomplishments. Best of luck to you both at future regattas!
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