Craig Thompson builds out Parker 9108

Great to see that Justin Shaffer’s Parker 9108 is getting a great build out, be interesting to see her on the water this year in action.

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Congratulations to Mike Holt and Carl Smit – great achievement in being the 2015 International 505 world champion’s.

Parker international 505
Congratulations to Mike Holt and Carl Smit – 2015 Int. 505 world champion’s.

Pure boat speed, empty race track, lots of time on the water and a man who now know’s how to win, in the best sailing class in the world.

Once may be lucky (I don’t think so), but twice in a row magnificent!

Will he match the great Peter Colclough by delivering 3 in a row in Weymouth 2016?

Watch this space!

Who will win the South African International 505 world’s.

Well it’s hotting up again in the 505 fleet, Mike Holt has hardly had time to polish his trophy from last year win in Germany and it’s up for grabs again (that’s if they find the container)!

So with only 35 boats at this year’s world (Parker’s actually offered to ship our moulds to South Africa 18 months ago to build the class for the event, but the offer was refused! – maybe a mistake) it’s going to be a bit of drag race to the finish.

So tactics, may not be the biggest play this year, but protecting your position will be as a right or left big shift if not covered could really mix up the final placings. So in reality there are only 10 boats in with a shout, but with so much space on the race track, a bad leg may not kill the opportunity to post good numbers.

So here goes. Mike Holt has to be the favorite, back with Carl Smit his long-term crew, he has more time on the water than anyone else, tactically he is much better through the wind-range and keeping his head out of the boat. He is on form, fast, becoming reliable and love’s the big winds and seas, so South Africa will suit his style.

Jan Saugmann is not a man to be mixed with twice world champion and now settled into his new Polish built boat, he is a fearsome competitor and is very hot on the first windward leg, he will post good numbers and has a real chance to take this title. He is using a boat with a port-side launcher (similar to the waterat’s of the past), will it be advantageous to have that greater projected sail-area on the first beat?

Then Ian Pinnell, a professional sailor, multi-talented, previous world champion will post some serious numbers and is very comfortable through the wind range, if he can post some early numbers on the board he will be a consistent danger throughout, tactically – the best.

Ted Conrads with Brian Haines, have posted many wins at the worlds, but just not been able to string the numbers in a consistent manner to threaten a title win. Ted with his new family, is probably short on boat time, but he knows his way around a fleet and has some serious speed. One day he is going to be a world champion I have no doubt.

Howie Hamlin, is just Howie, always a threat and with Jeff Nelson on board Mike Martin’s world champion winning crew, he is a dangerous competitor, but with boat troubles (he has one boat in that container fiasco), he has had to rig a new bear hull from scratch along with foils, sails, fittings and set-up, this is a tall order. However, if anyone can do it, Howie can!

Sandy Higgins, will always be up in the top 10 – hot Aussie will post good numbers in the big wind and waves, so watch-out for him.

The disruptors, Stefan Bohm and Terry Scutcher, two very talented sailors and Terry in particular from his current laser performances and affinity to high wind sailing could cause some problems.

However, after this the fleet is weak, so my money’s on Holty (with Ian hovering around closely), being able to polish that trophy (again!) when it finally arrives back on the shores of California.

Mike Holt provides some insights into what makes him such a powerhouse in the International 505 class

David Parker had the opportunity to interview Mike Holt the latest International 505 World Champion who has been the heart and soul of the class for some considerable time and I consider to be the best “heavy weather” sailor ever to step into a 505. Mike kindly offered to be interviewed and provides some great insights into how he approaches sailing in “the most competitive fleet” in modern sports sailing.

Mike Holt Parker 505
Mike Holt wins the 2014 world championship in Kiel Germany

David Parker

Mike, you have changed up the set-ups of your 2 boats over the years, sailing a traditional “West Coast – Californian set-up” (transom mainsheet and Glaser sails) to a more traditional European set-up with center-mainsheet, P&B sails, why did you feel the need to do this and how has it improved your overall performance?

Mike Holt:

I have always had center sheeting, never could get on with transom sheeting! Historically I used P&B sails until 2008 when we switched to a Glaser/M2 combo. We had been on our own path with a Van Munster boat and P&B’s and decided with the Worlds in San Francisco we would go with the equipment we felt was fastest at the time, Rondar hull, M2 mast and for breeze, Glaser sails.

Early last year we started using a suit of P&B’s I had lying around and not used and we liked the look on an Alto mast. Felt that we could sacrifice some high wind speed for better low wind speed, especially with the amount of European sailing we planned in 2014. Basically we wanted to be competitive across the wind range and we felt we achieved this.

I’ve been watching you sail over the years and seen a dramatic change in a couple of areas, first you now believe you can “beat the best” and I think your overall performance through all wind conditions has improved significantly, how did you achieve such a shift in psychology and performance?

Mike Holt Parker 505
Mike and Rob win a tight final race in Kiel Germany to take the 2014 world 505 trophy

We had been scoring good individual race results for a while, but not really able to put a good series together at a Worlds. So we have spent a fair bit of effort on boat preparation, calibration, and perfecting all our equipment and then on executing lower risk strategies when racing. Basically leaving no stone unturned. We also worked on fitness and weight.

Mike, you are renowned for your off-wind speed, what are you looking for on the leg, to gain the most advantage and how does you strategy change from being in the top 5 to down in the 20’s when you round the 1st windward mark?

The goal is always to be in touch at the top mark and then look for opportunities down wind. Once in wire running conditions you need to have a plan as to which side you believe is the correct one and what phase the wind is in when you round the top mark. Has it got left or right, what is it trending. Then execute the run at full speed. We basically just sail the boat down the run as fast as we can.

You changed to a new crew this year with Rob Woelfel to replace Carl Smit (due to business/family commitments) and have been almost untouchable since, what difference has Rob brought to the boats overall performance?

Rob and Carl are both very similar, both very athletic with a burning desire to do the best they can. The advent sailing with Rob last week was simply he could commit the time required to attend all the events and put together a practice schedule. The old time in the boat story…

Now you have one World Championship under your belt, I don’t think you are finished yet, if you were to emulate on of “the greats” of the class who would this be and why and if you sailed against him/her, what would your tactics be?

Mike Holt
Mike Holt, is a class act in the International 505 fleet, an astute heavy weather guru, but over the past few years has gained all round speed that has led him to dominate the class in recent years.

I think we are really lucky to sail against a large number of greats now, Wolfgang, Nico, Howie, Mike M, Jan, Holger, Julien, Ian P, Ethan etc. Earlier in my 5O5 career I sailed against Colclough and Bergstrom too. When we were all together at the Mid Winters in Florida last weekend, we were talking about the evolution of the way we sail the boats, wire running, HA foils etc. The tactics used to be very different, so it would be an interesting challenge to mix 60 years of sailors into a “dream” regatta!

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

Copy, copy, copy. Do not believe you can reinvent the wheel. Use the same equipment, mimic the styles and learn to sail the boat.

Mike, I’ve seen some great video of you inside the boat and there’s a lot of intensity in your sailing (almost to the point of madness!), you do lots of work on the helm which may be surprising to some, but how are you maintaining maximum boat speed?

Drugs. Or beer (ed. Mike grew up in Essex, so it’s part of the passing out ceremony for Essex boys when they leave the territory!). Or too much coffee. Back to the previous answer, I watched PC (Peter Colclough) sailing in breeze at a UK Nationals in Prestwick in 1987. He smoked me off the line, so I followed and watched how he sailed the boat. Very aggressive steering and mainsail trimming with the boat very flat.

Mike, thanks for sharing some insights into the class and your approaches to sailing the International 505, Parker’s wish you all the best in South African for the 2015 World Championships.

Mike Holt can be reached at mike@iointegration.com or see him in action at most events!

Who’s going to win the 505 Worlds?

As I predicted on August 17th after the 1st two races, the final day will be a thriller, with the key players from the 1st day still in the race for the final trophy.

Only 4 people can win Mike Holt leading with his incredible heavy weather boat speed and improving all-round condition sailing or the tactics from the Olympic and seasoned multi-class experts like Andy Smith, Peter Nicholas and Ian Pinnell.

In reality Ian has to post a 1st, not unrealistic with two 2nd places but in reality I cannot see him taking the world crown for a 2nd time. However, he is consistent, but Mike will have to come lower than 10th and not let the others in front, he has little control over his own destiny in reality.

So it’s down to Holty, Andy and Peter. Tactically Andy has to sit on Mike Holt and force him down the fleet just like Peter Colclough and Krister Bergstrom of old, pushing Mike down to 12th position or lower, but also watching out for Peter Nicholas, so this is not an easy task, also Andy has only come in front of Mike twice out of the 6 races, so it’s a 2:1 ratio to Mike so far. It’s not a done job by any means, while Peter has beaten Mike equally 3:3. So it’s a tough one to call.

Mike has to just drag race to the front, if he can get clean air it’s going to be difficult to sit on him up front in the fleet, with the possible breakaways, you need the cover and restrictions of other boats to keep a hold and cover on faster boats. If he stays in front of Andy and Peter he will be good for his first victory and what a victory that would be!

What is more impactful, it that there will be no German winner on home soil, at the beginning it could have been a white-wash, with the talent in this German team, but I think the high winds have just knocked on the door of there all-round game which is strong. I predicted that they would get 7 of the top 10 places, so I was wrong they will see at least 6 to once again dominate the 505 fleet numbers.

So who will it be as a winner for 2014, I think Andy Smith has shown incredible consistency and for this reason and his tactical capabilities he could just turn August 22nd into his first world championship crown.

On a personal note, nobody is more deserving of this title than Mike Holt, without Mike the class would be a shadow of itself a dedicated 505 sailor from a young age and one of the nicest people you will ever meet, I would love him to raise this trophy high above his head to justify the presence he has made in this class and his dedication to the sport over many many years.

The best of luck to all 4 of you!