Photo by Bonnie Schloss
Scott Tonguis and team Zephyr won four of the seven races at the 2016 J/30 North American Championship in Annapolis, MD. We spoke with him shortly after the event.
1. What conditions did you encounter at this event and how prepared were you and your team?
We saw winds of 3-20 knots. We were armed with new North Sails designed by Benz Faget. We were the top fundraising team in the nation for the Leukemia Cup Regatta series (we raised $127,000), so the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and North Sails awarded Zephyr a 25% discount, which helped us purchase a great set of sails from Benz.
2. What was the biggest contributor to your success in winning this regatta?
Great sails along with proper rig tuning.
Having a least seven loaner boat J30 NAs under our belt. Our past experiences have proven that you can take a boat that may not have seen the race course in quite a while and clean the bottom, check the rigging, tune the rig, host some new North Sails, and go give ‘em a hand full. So we were confident that we would be in the hunt.
3. What was the most important part about your boat set up?
Making sure the rig tuning was close to optimum so the sails could do their magic. If the rig tune is right, then the sails are working great. If the sails are working great, then the boat is going fast. If the boat is going fast, then the crew can get their heads out of the boat to look around the racecourse for wind shifts and fleet management. If you are going fast, you can keep your lane. If you keep your lane, you can go to the side of the course you think will be favored.
4. Name three things that you and your team did during the races that proved to be fast.
– Rig tuning
– Due to the shifty winds, we seemed to sail most of the regatta with our bow down trying to speed across the course to the next shift. Whenever we were fortunate enough to find ourselves on the inside of a lift, we would press the bow down to speed to the next shift. Most of the time it worked out quite well.
– The J30 does not really like to accelerate, so while sailing downwind you want to make sure you use some of a header to build boat speed before turning a little deeper. Do not get it slow!
5. How long have you been sailing in the J/30 class?
I cannot believe it has been this long: 30 years, 3 decades! I was a senior in high school when my family purchased the original Zephyr, which was destroyed in Hurricanes Katrina & Rita. We hope to have a 30 year Zephyr reunion in late Oct. 2017 down in New Orleans, in conjunction with the J30 NA’s on Lake Pontchartrain at New Orleans Yacht Club. It is quite humbling to realize the Zephyr program is still very relevant after thirty years. I guess we are doing something right. I have been blessed to meet some wonderful people along the way, many of whom are my best friends and mentors.
6. What were your strengths on the racecourse? Which leg did YOU favor the most?
I know the strengths and weaknesses of the boat. I guess that is where thirty years of experience on the boat comes into play. If you are able to keep the boat out of its areas of weakness, you are usually able to avoid a bad situation on the racecourse.
7. What was your most memorable moment of the regatta?
I can tell you my least memorable moment, the first start, it was bad! Luckily we were able to tack to port just after the start and rumble over to the right side. Great boat speed along with a little righty got us back in the race.
Otherwise, my most memorable moment was catching up with friends! I no longer live in New Orleans, so I do not get a chance to spend too much time with my good friends who just happen to be my crew. Traveling to the NAs is special for us because everyone is away from the distractions of home, work, and family—a four day hall pass to hang with the boys.