PS: When was your first experience with Melges 24? How was it? What was inspiring you?
Stu: I began sailing Melges class boats in 2009. In fact, Dave and I were on the same boat when I first helmed an M24. In 2015, I returned to the class with Team Embarr at Key West 2015. It was great to be back. First of all, Team Embarr is a great team to be a part of: fun people, passionate sailors, and tough competitors. Second, the US M24 class has a great vibe: competitive, but also low key. Everyone wants the best for the class and high quality racing. Third, the boat itself is fantastic. I love the feeling of the helm upwind. But, downwind, the boat really comes to life. The bow comes out, the boat goes faster, and then goes lower. It's a great feeling.
Dave: I can't quite remember the exact date, but I first sailed a Melges 24 around 2004. Vince Brun really took me under his wing and taught me the boat. I could not have had a better introduction to the Melges. Vince and I partnered on a number of different projects, including Key West and the World Championships. Over the years I've been fortunate enough to sail with more of the class' champions, such as Harry Melges and Chris Rast.
PS: There are lot of former or current 470 top sailors competing on Melges 24 - how can you compare these two boats? Or how can you compare events for the Olympian and non-Olympian classes?
Stu: There are lot of former or current 470 top sailors competing on Melges 24 - how can you compare these two boats? Or how can you compare events for the Olympian and non-Olympian (like Melges 24 is) classes? The biggest similarity between the M24 and the 470 is the quality of racing. The 470 happens to be an Olympic class, but both classes have top quality sailors, race management, and great venues. Additionally, like any Olympic class, M24 teams spend a lot of time preparing themselves for the major championships. The teams that win must have a combination of superior skill and a little bit of luck. It's a surprisingly natural transition between the M24 and 470 because they share similarities in their performance on the water. Both boats have tweaky tuning and have multiple modes upwind and downwind. In both classes, the racing is very tactical.
Dave: The Olympic Regatta is the one event that transcends our sport. No other event in sailing does this. Olympic-level racing needs to be viewed through a different lens than all other racing. It's not racing a class "that happens to be in the Olympics." The Olympics is its own beast. The wholistic scope of the Olympic project -- even the number of hours dedicated in a given year -- creates a distinct flavor to the training and competition.
That said, we bring to the Melges many lessons from the Olympic circuit. I'm sure I speak for all the Olympians in our fleet. Professionalism in training is one aspect I really appreciate about the Melges 24 class. All parties share a willingness to train and race hard, and that is not unlike the Olympics!
In a direct sense, the Melges 24 and the 470 have much in common. There is something about the geometries of both boats that require similar instincts to sail them at their highest levels. I am often surprised and amused by the similarities. So, if you're thinking the Melges is a superb boat, guess what? You'll love the 470. And, vice versa! They are truly kindred classes.
PS: You finished 4th in Rio 2016 and were 5th at the ISAF Worlds 2014 (Stu McNay and Dave Hughes), your crew also on Embarr. You are making a great team on 470 and you just finished second at the Melges 24 U.S. Nationals at Lake Geneva. What are your expectations to the Miami Worlds?
Stu: It's great to sail with Dave on both projects. He is an exceptional teammate. On Team Embarr, we have a team of five and each person brings key skills to the team. Our performance goal is to win the M24 worlds. To do that, we will need to focus on our process goals: one day at a time, one race at a time, one shift at a time. Our goal, then, is put forth our best performance. The result on the score card is not 100% in our control, but we recognize that and we are ready to do battle on the racecourse.
Dave: The 470 is a wonderful boat and fleet. Stu and I are most proud of our European Championship title, as well as multiple World Cups and medals along the way. As with any top-level team, we are constantly working to put ourselves in the best position to win with the Melges 24. The goal for any championships is to head into the final race of the series with the opportunity to win. Our challenge remains the same -- getting the most out of ourselves.
PS: What have been your greatest or enjoyable moments and achievements in Melges 24 class?
Stu: Hopefully, our greatest achievement is yet to come. Sailing with Team Embarr has been an exciting project and I look forward to this World Championship.
Dave: Frankly, all the regattas are enjoyable and create special memories. Our 3rd place at the 2011 Worlds holds a prominent place in our team's history as it was our first event together. I was excited to win the Porto Venere AudiTron and Key West regattas last year. Embarr's greatest achievement, however, might be the overall string of podium results she's enjoyed throughout her career. In the end, it's all about the fun and growth you have as a team. That's all that matters.
PS: What do you like about the Melges 24 class?
Stu: High quality racing and after hours camaraderie in the fleet!
Dave: Right now, what I most like is that the World Championships are coming to my hometown of Miami!! I love sailing here.
International Melges 24 Class Association is happy to have such team in the class and wish them enjoyable World Championship in Miami, fun and competitive sailing and good luck!