Editors Note: Congratulations to Erik Storck and crew Trevor Moore. The team will represent the US in the 49er class at the 2012 Olympic Games
I caught up with Storck at his family's home overlooking Long Island Sound to get his thoughts on sailing, his fast skipper/crew dynamic with Trevor Moore, and his future aspirations.
Can you tell me about racing with your family on the J/80?
We do a great deal of [job] rotating, and it's an immense learning experience. This leads to an incredible amount of trust—everybody knows their job and that it's going to get done. It's always quiet onboard—we've got the right communication happening. I try to bring this with me to the 49er.
How important is sailing to your family?
It's almost too important! My parents always made sailing available to us and supported us, but they left the coaching to the coaches. Now, sailing is how we communicate and stay together as a family.
Did you discover a Michael Jordan-esque "learn-to-love-the-game-and-then-learn-to-master-it" approach, or did you follow a different path?
The most important thing for me is the drive to be my best all the time. Sailing has such an individual aspect to it, and it's such a competition within yourself. If you go out and know that you've done your best and don't beat yourself [up over a poor result], you can accomplish great things.
How did you become involved with the Storm Trysail Club? Don't those guys race big boats offshore in bad weather?
I've got my Dad to blame for that! I did my first Block Island Race when I was in second grade, and my first Bermuda race in 2006. They were rites of passage. I really enjoy distance racing—especially the team aspect—and I'm looking forward to doing more of it after this campaign.
What's the communication and decision-making like aboard the 49er?
We try to be "binary"—a term that our coach, Dave Hughes, uses. Given such-and-such input, you have such-and-such options, and this is the option you take. I can't stand sailing when emotions get involved and decisions are made without good reason. Trevor and I always try to make consistent, rational, non-emotional decisions based on our experience.
How do you feel about going fast? How does it feel doing that final bear-away in 25 knots of air?
I love going fast! The final bear-away has never given me as much trouble as the gybes, which, for me, are harrowing. I need to mentally slow things down and focus on being perfectly accurate with my steering and with weight movement across the boat.
Tell me about your partnership with Trevor—am I correct that you guys only started sailing together in late 2008?
It's the most important thing that we have to focus on until August of 2012—developing our communication, our teamwork and our relationship. We proved that we can do great things when we're on the same page, but we constantly need to work on it. There's a huge trust factor; if that trust ever fails, the success of the boat will quickly go down.
Are there any Harken and McLube products that you don't leave the dinghy park without?
McLUBE: We use McLube products every day that we go sailing! We can't get our blades in and out without McLube, and we also can't hoist our mainsail without "McLubing" the track, due to the shape of the spar and the sail. We use OneDrop on all the blocks, and we use HullKote before every regatta.
HARKEN: We love the Harken T2™ blocks—they're great. We also use the Harken Micro blocks everywhere. There are a lot of places aboard where we'll immediately replace the boat's original equipment with Harken gear, especially the masts and spars. Harken blocks are by far the best on the market.