Teammates in two of the past three Atlantic Cup’s, Mike Hennessy and Rob Windsor are joining forces again for 2014 in the hopes of another podium finish. Following their second place finish in 2011, Michael and Rob finished a disappointing 6th overall in 2013. Said Hennessy of his biggest challenges for 2014: “Joe Harris has yet to quit and Ed Cesare has proven to have a very fast learning curve. But Dragon has gone through a comprehensive refit over the past 6 months and her modifications reflect the lessons of racing her for the past 4 years. She is better than ever!” With two seasoned Atlantic Cup sailors and a spruced up boat, look for Dragon to make big moves in 2014.
Did you go to University? Yes, Yale
Describe yourself in one word. Happy
Did you or do you play any other competitive sports? Rowed Crew in college
How did you get into competitive sailing? As an adult, entering my C+C 35 III in the Around Long Island Race.
Describe sailing to you in one word. Happiness
In what way are you superstitious before a race? No particular superstitions.
Number of transatlantic crossings under sail: One
What is one of your goals for your sailing career? I am living my goals.
What are your sailing strengths? Organization, preparation, navigation, determination.
What do you like most about being offshore? What do you like least? I like everything about being offshore. The solitude, the beauty, the challenge…its all great. There is really nothing about it that I don’t enjoy.
What is your favorite sports team? I am more about the short handed sailors. Mich, Thomas, Francis.
What is your favorite type of music? Anything. Shuffle is an awesome feature.
What’s your favorite thing to eat when you’re offshore? Least favorite? A few slices of saucison sec and a hunk of Parmesan cheese helps alleviate the boredom of freeze dried.
What is your favorite movie line? Currently? “Release the Kraken!”
What do you do to relax during your free time? Umm…sailing?
Do you have any hidden talents? I keep my talents at procrastination well hidden.
When you’re in the open ocean what is the biggest concern for the boat? Racing shorthanded on boats likes these, you don’t worry about one “big” thing but instead the accumulation of hundreds of smaller things. Whenever things go pear shaped, it is because there has been a cascade of errors that could have started with something as simple as not having done your morning check of the boat.
Is the mental or physical aspect of the Atlantic Cup hardest? Keeping the focus for days on-end. With inshore racing you have a concentrated period where you are fully committed to the boat and the race. But with a race like the Atlantic Cup you need to keep on it for hour after hour.
In one word describe the Atlantic Cup experience. One word is hardly adequate to describe the fast, competitive, challenging, fun Atlantic Cup experience.
What is your biggest fear being alone on deck? Being alone on deck is something to embrace, not fear.
What does carbon neutrality mean to you? Leaving no trace as we slide across the globe, other than the wake that fades behind us.
What is your 2014 race schedule? Dragon will be competing in The Atlantic Cup, the Newport Bermuda Race and the Route du Rhum. I may try to squeeze some additional races into the summer such as the Corinthians race from Stonington to East Booth Bay, or the Ida Lewis Race, but that will depend on the shipping schedule to get the boat to Europe.
Who’s your co-skipper and why have you chosen him or her? Rob Windsor is back on board Dragon for what will be our third try at Atlantic Cup glory, excluding the one year he raced with another boat. Rob is piling up the Class 40 miles, and is a fierce competitor. We know each other’s relative strengths and know how to use our combined talents to maximize Dragon’s speed.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for this year’s Atlantic Cup? As always, the competition. These boats offer a fantastic platform and close racing, and it always comes down to the decisions and performance of the individuals on the boats.
Who do you see as your toughest competition? They are all formidable. Joe Harris never quits and Ed Cesare has proven to have a very fast learning curve. Any one could be at the front of the fleet.
Did you learn anything from last year’s race that will change your execution in this year’s race? I made a number of tactical errors that I don’t plan on repeating!!
Have you made any new improvements to your boat? A nearly endless list. Dragon has gone through a comprehensive refit over the past 6 months and her modifications reflect the lessons of racing her for the past 4 years. She is better than ever!
What’s your first major tactical decision after the start in Charleston? The race through the harbor and down the channel to the open sea is a straight forward drag race, with boat-on-boat decisions. The first major decision comes after clearing the channel, and is all about deciding where and how you are going to interact with the Gulf Stream. In New York? In New York, the first challenge is how to deal with the sometimes tricky winds that swirl forth from the concrete canyons of the city. Then, the next major choice comes when you clear the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and need to decide how you get through the lower Harbor to the open ocean. Wind and current conditions play a big role in that decision.
Will you play zone or man-to-man defense in this year’s race? Dragon is going to play offense in this year’s race.
How do you decide to go around Block Island? Tide and wave state, combined with prior experience at figuring out how those factors create opportunity or pitfalls on the shore of the island.
Is it true that if you sleep on the offshore legs you’ll lose? Sleep too little and you start making bad decisions. Sleep too much and you start losing speed.
Because of the limited number of sails you’re allowed to carry how does sail preservation and damage figure in your strategy? I would be a fool to say no! The loss of the use of a sail can ruin your chances for the leg you are racing, but also can seriously hurt your prospects for future legs of the Atlantic Cup because of how little time you have to make repairs.
Where did you grow up? Long Island, New York
Did you go to University? If so, where? North Adams State. No degree.
Describe yourself in one word. Fantastic
Did you or do you play any other competitive sports? Basketball
Are you single, in a relationship or married? Do you have any children? Married to Rebecca. 1 child. Robby, 15 year old boy.
How old were you when you first went sailing? Very young, around 2 years old. The first pictures of me are on a boat.
How did you get into competitive sailing? I started racing Blue Jays at age 8. Then, I got into keel boats and it took off from there.
Describe sailing to you in one word. Everything
In what way are you superstitious before a race? I always carry something that my son gives me and return it to him when I get back.
Number of transatlantic crossings under sail: 3
What is one of your goals for your sailing career? First, I would like to win the Atlantic Cup. Then, I would like to find a sponsor and compete in several events in 2013, including the TJV (2013 TJV – Check!). I would also like to do the next Barcelona World Race.
What are your sailing strengths? I give 100% all the time. I am good at preparing and paying attention on the race course. Never say die attitude.
What do you like most about being offshore? What do you like least? Like: I love the need to be self sufficient and being away from land for a bit. Dislike: Talking on a satellite phone, the delay sucks. Otherwise, I love being offshore.
What is your favorite sports team? NY Yankees
What is your favorite type of music? Rock & Roll
What is the most played song on your I-pod? Let it bleed. The Rolling Stones
What’s your favorite thing to eat when you’re offshore? Least favorite? Most people don’t like the freeze dried but I think it’s pretty good. Candy is my favorite food offshore, easy to eat and quick but my very favorite thing offshore is coffee. I drink gallons coffee. Whenever I am on watch and sometimes when I’m off I have a coffee in my hand. My least favorite food is veggie pizza pasta freeze dried. I’m more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy.
What is your favorite movie line? “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate” Cool Hand Luke
What do you do to relax during your free time? Watch TV
Do you have any hidden talents? All my talents are highly visible.
When you’re in the open ocean what is the biggest concern for the boat? I worry most about damaging sails. Not taking them down fast enough when the conditions change can be really bad if you tear up stuff.
Is the mental or physical aspect of the race the hardest? Mental for me, no question about it.
In one word describe the Atlantic Cup experience. Awesome. This is by far my favorite event in the US in any boat.
What is your biggest fear being alone on deck? Don’t have any. I love being alone on deck. Actually, the thing that scares me the most is going to sleep and getting up for my watch and finding my co-skipper is not there. For me that would be worse than me falling overboard.
What does carbon neutrality mean to you? I don’t have a big vocabulary but I think it means keeping our pollutants to a minimum. I am a huge fan of the hydro generator. It keeps us from having to run the engine when charging the batteries. That means we carry less fuel. Less fuel means less weight which means we go faster.
What is your 2014 race schedule? Dragon will be doing the Atlantic Cup, Newport Bermuda, and the Route du Rhum this year. I am on Dragon for the Atlantic Cup and I will be doing the prep work on her for the RDR.
Who’s your co-skipper and why have you chosen him or her? Michael chose me. I am flattered and excited to be back on Dragon this year.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for this year’s Atlantic Cup? We have a lot of work to do to get the boat dialed in with the upgrades that we are doing. Getting the boat sailing to her potential will be our biggest challenge.
Who do you see as your toughest competition? All the boats in this years event have a chance to win. They will all be tough.
Did you learn anything from last year’s race that will change your execution in this year’s race? I have learned something every year. Last year we didn’t do a great job of keeping our position in the offshore legs. We started strong but didn’t finish well.
Have you made any new improvements to your boat? The boat has a new mast and articulating bow sprit. These are pretty big improvements.
What’s your first major tactical decision after the start in Charleston? In Charleston it’s the Gulf Stream. Do you go out and get it or stay inside. It really depends on the weather. In New York? It really is after the turning mark at Barnegat.
Will you play zone or man-to-man defense in this year’s race? I think zone is the way to go. You can’t chase every boat that takes a flyer.
How do you decide to go around Block Island? Tide and wind, then your competition. Block Island is the biggest decision of the 2nd leg. In the first Atlantic Cup, we won that leg by going the right way.
Is it true that if you sleep on the offshore legs you’ll lose? No. If you don’t sleep for 3 days you can’t win. You will not be able to function at the level needed to win. On leg 2, it is shorter but I still think you need to have a few naps.
Because of the limited number of sails you’re allowed to carry how does sail preservation and damage figure in your strategy? It is super important. If you loose your A 2 and it is a down wind race, you’re screwed. You need to be very careful with your sails and how you use them. With the short time between legs in NY, if you break something or tear a sail really badly, you are in trouble.
Atlantic Cup Staff Note: Rob Windsor has raced in every edition of the Atlantic Cup and has logged hundreds of thousands miles offshore. He has also prepared multiple Class 40s and the odd Open 60 for racing. He wrote this after winning the 2015 Pineapple Cup on board Amhas. Preparation is the Key to Success By Rob[.....]
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