20th of January, 2017

Soaking Up More Than the Sun in Key West

Bora Gulari has been inside an America’s Cup programme. He’s been to the Olympics, won major offshore races and led the charge to bring foiling technology to small boats. In short, he’s seen quite a bit in the sport of sailing. Nonetheless, his first two days participating in the 52 SUPER SERIES, as a member of Quantum Racing, have been eye opening for the Michigan native.

“It’s amazing, how close everyone is and how fierce the competition is,” says the former Moth world champion and 2016 Olympian. “I’ve never seen any sort of racing where everyone is this good. That’s all I can say, just very impressive.”

With Ed Baird – the long-time Quantum Racing helmsman and strategist – moving to Tony Langley’s Gladiator team for the 2017 season, the defending champions had to fill a key role. When owner Doug DeVos is sailing, as is the case this week at 2017 Quantum Key West Race Week, Gulari handles big picture analysis for tactician Terry Hutchinson.

“His job is to keep us in the pressure,” says Hutchinson. “He is handling the macros and I am handling the micros.”

For the events that DeVos doesn’t attend — including the second 52 SUPER SERIES event in Miami, March 7 to 11 – Gulari will step in as the helmsman. That means he’s got two big jobs this weekend: To help Hutchinson get the team around the course ahead of the competition, and to soak up as much knowledge as possible regarding the particular characteristics of the TP 52, the unrelenting approach of the Quantum Racing team, and the nuances of the ultra-competitive fleet.

Being the new guy on an established, world-champion team is never easy. But you won’t hear a word of complaint from Gulari. In the world of professional sailing, few programmes have a better reputation than Quantum Racing. Without even officially publicising the opportunity, Reynolds received close to 20 inquiries from some very credentialed sailors. Gulari, he says, checked off the most boxes, ranging from the unique fan base he acquired at the vanguard of the foiling Moth revolution to his unwavering passion for the sport and desire to learn. He’s also a darn good helmsman with plenty of experience steering other TP52s, albeit never before in a 52 SUPER SERIES event.

“We just felt the overall combination of somebody who was truly excited about the opportunity – and it’s not like [the other applicants] weren’t — but Bora was very excited, that kind of drew us in,” says Reynolds. “The other thing is the way Terry manages a boat and does his tactics and communicates, he can be a little harsh at times. Bora is a guy coming in with eyes wide open, knowing he has the opportunity to learn from what everybody on board the boat believes to be the best tactician in the world.”

Gulari confirms that racing with Hutchinson can be a testing experience, but it’s ultimately a rewarding one.

“I feel like I get to be Terry’s nipper,” he says with a laugh. “He’s hard on me a fair bit of the time. That’s fine. His heart’s on his sleeve, and as soon as a race is over, [any disagreements] are forgotten about. You learn a lot. He owns everything. It’s pretty impressive to see.”

That Gulari can express his admiration for his new teammates, but not get star struck at the same time is telling, and a good sign that Reynolds and the Quantum Racing crew knew what they were doing when they picked him to join the crew. But at this level, the ultimate proof is much more objective. The Quantum Racing team, and 52 SUPER SERIES fans around the world, will get their first hard evidence in Miami in March.

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