Spring Training Aboard Lucie

“We’re so lucky. On Day One, we had four knots to start, and up to 15 in the afternoon,” said Craig Healy, Lucie’s skipper. “That allowed us to go through the whole sail inventory.”

Lucie’s opening day of spring training started in 4 knots and ended with 15. Sailing photos by Jens Lange

In late April, Craig’s St. Francis Yacht Club team of John Hayes, Tom Ducharme, Isabelle du Moulin and Keith Stahnke arrived in Portsmouth, R.I., for four days of preparation and practice. Except for Keith, all had sailed Lucie at the 2018 6-Metre European Championship, and with two days of practice, finished 9th of 20 boats. This year, they are ready to take it up a notch as they head to the World Championship in Finland.

(From left) Craig Healy and John Hayes discuss sail inventory with Doyle’s USA Head of Design Glenn Cook and coach Ed Adams.

On that first day, with coach Ed Adams and Doyle Sailmakers’ Glenn Cook and Moose McClintock observing, the team set all of their sails—more than a dozen—then came ashore for a lengthy debrief. A 6-Metre can carry a wide variation of sails of different shapes, sizes, and weights, and discussion ranged widely, from mast bend and complementary mainsail luff curves to spinnaker shapes, stabilities, and cloth types.

Tom Ducharme goes up the mast to adjust tension on the runners.

Sailing in the 6-Metre’s Classic Division, Lucie’s mains and jibs are made of Dacron, which doesn’t hold its shape for long. It’s crucial, therefore, to choose the right sails and preserve them for the most important regattas.

On the last two days of practice, coach Wally Henry ran the team through lots of maneuvers and crewwork. Heavy, gusty winds on Saturday provided a good test, coupled with light winds on Sunday.

The team gets set for one of many mark roundings over four days in all winds.

“We did more than a dozen sets and takedowns on Sunday,” said Craig. “And we did our best to make it difficult for ourselves, with lots of jibe takedowns.”

Jens Lange, boat restoration expert at Baltic Boat Works and Lucie’s primary caretaker, spent the weekend in Lucie’s support boat. Jens had built a new wood mast for Lucie in 2018, and said, “This was the best test yet for the mast. The crew played with all the options—mast bend, stiffness, the jumpers. It was a better test than the Europeans because we took her out in 25 knots. The mast was fine, but my heart rate went up!”

One day, the breeze on Narragansett Bay piped up over 20 knots.

According to Craig, the crew will return at the end of May for three days of boathandling practice, sailing with one or two other 6 Metres. The California crew also plans to sail in the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta before the boat is shipped to Europe for the championship regatta in the first week of August.

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