19th of January, 2017

Ed Baird Steps in as Gladiator Tactician

Ed Baird has been here before. Both literally – Quantum Key West Race Week is an institution on the North American regatta circuit — and figuratively. As a seasoned professional sailor, he’s no stranger to being the new guy on a team. For Quantum Key West Race Week, which is the inaugural event of the 2017 52 SUPER SERIES schedule, Baird will be sailing his first regatta with Tony Langley’s Gladiator program.

“We love coming to Key West,” said the native Floridian and America’s Cup champion. “It’s been a great piece on the racing schedule for 30 years now. It’s particularly great to have the 52s here.

I’m the new guy [on Gladiator], I’ve got to fit in and see where I can help the most and learn the personality of the boat and how Tony likes to do things. It’s going to be a challenge this week to get all that right. But it’s exciting to start with new groups and see where we can get to.”

Langley was a founding skipper of the 52 SUPER SERIES, and sailed on the Med Cup prior to that, but the team struggled to find the groove last year. Baird, who spent many years as helmsman and strategist for the powerhouse Quantum Racing – the 52 SUPER SERIES defending champion – knows what it takes to win on this circuit. He’s also bringing familiarity with the Quantum Sails wardrobe that will be a new addition to Gladiator this year.

“If the whole team isn’t functioning with the same energy toward its goals, it’s really easy to get surprised, so to speak, and make mistakes on the racecourse,” Baird said before Sunday’s final practice race. “Being the tactician, my job is to place us around the race course and make sure we’re doing the right thing at the right time. But even in my role there are four people who have very strong input at any given time, and it’s not always the same four people. Learning the key words and what information flow works, when, is quite challenging.”

Not surprisingly, ahead of Race 1, Baird had a measured approach in mind, at least initially.

“You have to take steps at the right time,” he said. “In practice racing we’re going to find out where the limits are how and how the communication goes and the timing. But on race day, especially in the 52s, where every single race counts for the season, we have to be aware bravado is not always the best tool.”

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