An Interview with Parker Shinn – East Coast US 505 sailor

David Parker, had the opportunity to interview Parker Shinn who has been delivering some great results recently, so here’s some insights into sailing the International 505.

Parker 505

“What is it about the International 505 experience keeps you attracted to the class?”
Parker Shinn The 505 is in many ways the perfect combination. The boat is exciting, challenging to sail and offers excellent racing all around the world. At the same time, it’s hard to find better people in any class. There is a strong sense of friendship and camaraderie which is easy to see based on how much people are willing to help one another. It’s hard to to find anything better.

“If there is one innovation that the class must do to keep the class growing what do you think this should be?”

I think it’s important to strike a balance when it comes to innovation and thus far the 505 class has done an excellent job managing that process over the past several decades. I’m not sure there are any huge changes I would make to the boat, but one thing I think would be easy to do is lower the minimum weight since pretty much every boat out there carries corrector weights. With all the new materials now even the older boats are underweight and a lighter boat would liven it up a bit.

“Watching you sail, I get the impression that you read the wind shifts a lot.How are you calculating/co-ordinating the shifts with your crew and what changes do you make in the boat once you decide on a shift tactic?”

That’s a pretty complicated question, but I think it’s critical to have good communication with your crew. As a skipper in a 505 your hands are pretty full making adjustments and steering the boat well so I’ll consistently ask my crew questions about how certain things are unfolding on the race course. Usually we’re talking about compass headings, our angles compared to other boats, what mode we should be in based upon what we are trying to do tactically, and where pressure is on the course. If we’re consistently talking about these things it helps me to keep a mental picture of the race course. Then I can take shorter glances away from the boat to ultimately make a tactical decision.

“Which past or current 505 sailor inspires you and why?”

Howie Hamlin and Mike Martin have had the largest impact on my 505 sailing. They were the ones who helped me get into the class when I was young and gave me a lot of great examples to follow. The professionalism of their entire program was something that I hadn’t seen before and gave me an understanding of what it took to be the best, but it never detracted from their willingness to help other people in the class (myself included).

“I believe that the Barbados 505 worlds in April is your 4th 505 worlds event. What’s your personal goal?”

The last one I raced was in Adelaide and we had a respectable finish in the top 30, but I think there’s a lot plenty of room to improve. I learned after that worlds that I had been sailing with a centerboard beak that was too short for the past several years, which made it difficult to put the bow down in breeze so we always felt off the pace. The boat I’m racing now feels tuned really well so I’m excited to see how we do and I’m hoping for a personal best.

“Give a new-comer some advice on sailing the 505?”

Find the best people and ask them tons of questions. Sit next to them at dinner or find them after racing in the boat park and pick their brains on tuning, tactics, rigging systems, technique and anything else you can think of. The 505 is a complex boat but that’s part of the beauty of it. It takes a long time to learn how to tune it perfectly for every condition and you can dramatically speed up the process. There is a wealth of knowledge and most people are glad to share it.

Parker, thank you for sharing some insights.

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