ZIG ZAG Chalks Up Wins in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference

ZIG ZAG Chalks Up Wins in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference
Approaching the finish at Nassau

Andrew Clark's J/122 ZIG ZAG has been tearing up the 2023-24 SORC Islands in the Stream ocean racing series. They kicked it off taking first in class, 3rd overall, in the Nov 8th St. Pete to Fort Lauderdale Race. Then they took first in class, 6th overall, in the Jan 11 Nassau Cup Ocean Race. Most recently, they took first in class, first in fleet, plus the Navigator's Trophy, for the Feb 22 Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race.

The combined perfomance made them the overall winner for the Islands in the Stream series for the second year in a row. We asked Andrew a few questions about the racing:

Q: What is the Nassau Ocean Race, in broad strokes?

A: It's a 174NM race starting just off Miami and finishing just inside the entrance of Nassau Harbour in the Bahamas.

Q: How long did it take and what were the conditions?

A: It took us 1 day, 1 hour, 41 minutes and 33 seconds. Overnight we were beating into 15 knots and 4 foot seas. Driving was challenging; there was no moon and significant rain. But we finished in champagne conditions of 10 knots and flat water.

Q: Who was on the boat?

A: We typically race with 7 or 8. In the Nassau race, they were: me (Andrew Clark), Carlos Rodriguez, John Fryer, Kohl Brinkman, Gijs Gunneman, Marty Kullman, Vlastimil Kunc, and Spencer Ogden.

Q: Were there one or two key decisions (navigation or boat handling or whatever) that led to the victory?

A: The boat’s mantra is that it’s never one thing, it is everything that wins races. These races very often come down to seconds between competitors. We make some good calls, but our success is likely more closely tied to keeping after everything all the time (or until we just can’t!)

Q: Was there a highlight moment you can describe?

A: The last 10 miles coming into the finish were extraordinary. We were crossing tacks with a Farr 40, J121, and J44, and we all finished within 7 minutes of each other. It was true fleet racing after 174 nm of ocean racing.

Q: How did you organize watches and the team, or was it an all-out sprint?

A: We run with 2 watches of drivers/trimers and Kohl as the bowman floats. While this is a short race, sleep when practical was a priority. Any time the weight isn’t needed on the rail, the off-watch was below, grabbing a few winks.

Q: I think your team has raced together before — what makes it work?

A: The whole crew has been consistent for the last several years. We have learned that is a critical success factor in offshore racing. Having only 7 or 8 crew on a 40-foot boat means that everyone drives and everyone does deck work; we try to limit the need for off-watch folks to come up for sail changes, but that is not always practical. Equally important is we all get along off the water, we enjoy each other's company and certainly know how to laugh!

Q: If you could give 1 tip to someone who wants to do this race next year, what would it be?

A: Do it! It is warm and ends in the Bahamas!

Thanks Andrew and congratulations on the victory to the entire team 💥