View Full Version : Pacific Yankee Takes Nationals Whilst Eyeing The Worlds

08-21-2017, 04:13 PM
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Over the weekend, the 2017 US National Championships (clicky) (http://www.melges20.com/?p=news/&id=1983) were decided in Newport, R.I. and the winning
team, Pacific Yankee took home the title as well as some momentum heading in to the 2017 Melges
Worlds, also to be held in Newport in the 1st week on October. We tracked down Drew Freides for some insight into
his program and whats involved at this level of competition:

Congrats on your success in this weekend's US Nationals!
A few questions if you don't mind:

PD: Give us a bit of history about your team, how long togther on the Melges 20,
prior sailing, and the name Pacific Yankee?

DF: I grew up on the East Coast (NY) and moved to West Coast to become a yacht designer at Nelson/Marek upon graduation from MIT back in 1991. I worked at N/M until 1998, when I went back to business school at the University of Virginia (Darden School) to obtain my MBA. I then moved back to LA area in 2000 upon graduation and have been an investment banker since then. The combination of East Coast and West made Pacific Yankee a logical name (even though I hate the Yankees and love the stinkin' Mets). To be honest, my good friend, Chad Corning, who strongly encouraged me to enter the class, helped derive the name.

I began racing in the class in Dec of 2013 when the class had its first Worlds in Key Largo. I chartered what became my first boat, from Andy Rasdal. After I returned from the Worlds in Dec (after finishing 20th out of 60 boats), my mom unfortunately succumbed to her battle with lung cancer, Right before she passed, she made me promise that I would purchase the Melges 20.

From the outset, Charlie Smythe, my front crew member, ran the boat for us. In fact, aside from the 3rd event in Miami this past winter, he has raced ever event with me. We had Chad Corning as our 3rd early on, later replaced by Mark Ivey, who really helped us step up our program, resulting in a 6th place finish in the 2015 Worlds in San Fran. Eighteen months ago Morgan Reeser joined us. Morgan really helped elevate our program to the next level. Since he has joined us, we have not finished off the podium at any event the only Melges 20 in the world to do so during that time frame. I would be remiss if I did not give due credit to our coach, Vince Brun, a multiple World Champion in his own right. We would never have accomplished what we have without his tutelage.

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PD: You managed to beat Kilroy by 1 point, it doesn't get much closere than that,
what do you attribute your success in this event on?

DF: Our results this past weekend were due to consistency. John obviously had more bullets than we did, but our ability to manage risk (Morgan's), is what separated us. We had won the event without needing to sail the last race because our worst race was a 4th. That was a great luxury to have. John had some bad luck, getting caught on the wrong side of a couple of shifts that was probably the difference.

PD: The Melges 20 has attracted top talent since its inception, what was it that attracted you
to the fleet?

DF: What attracted me is what you mentioned the people. Amazing teams with very talented crews. To win here is to beat many of the very best. The boats are also incredible. We are essentially racing skiffs. I raced J70 for one event. The number of competitors in that fleet on the line is incredible, but after sailing a Melges 20, racing a J70 is like racing a station wagon vs a Formula One. Wing on wing downwind is not for me. I would rather be planing at 15-20 knots downwind. The exhilarating performance of a Melges 20 is difficult to match. The complexity of boats is also a great challenge, Getting the rig tuned properly and sailing with the correct technique is both challenging and rewarding.

PD: How many days a year would you say that the crew of Pacific Yankee sail together,
counting practice and actual race days?

DF:We typically sail approx 45 days a year together.

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PD: What would you say are the crucial elements in getting the most out of the Melges 20?

DF: There is simply no substitute for practice and preparation. The time we have spent practicing and tuning over the past year and a half has led to our improved performance. I also must give Charlie Smythe credit for having our boat impeccably prepared. It is essentially his boat, I just write the checks and pay the bills when needed.

PD: It's on to the Worlds now, also in Newport, What do you anticipate about the event, and what it will take
to get back on the podium again?

DF: This is the event we have been preparing for since we finished as the bride's maid last year in Scarlino, Italy. We need to improve between now and Worlds because we know everyone else will be as well. Not only will John and Liam Kilroy be tougher, but so will the Michas teams, and the other very competitive US teams we have been racing against. We will also be joined by some of the most competitive European teams, among them, Stig. We simply need to stay focused on our game and not let the distraction of a World Championship get in our way. We can only be as prepared as possible, sail to the best of our abilities, and let the chips fall where they may.