Joe Mele, who keeps his Swan 44 Mk II TRIPLE LINDY right across the street from UK Sailmakers New York, is the only American boat registered in the 2016 Sydney Hobart Race. Mele and his crew are in the midst of competing in all the major international ocean races. In 2013, he finished second in class in the Caribbean 600, has competed in a handful of Newport-to-Bermuda Races, and is now off to do the Hobart Race, the Fastnet Race and the Middle Sea Race — each just over 600 miles long. The Hobart Race has the reputation for being the toughest of the bunch. The race starts the day after Christmas and, most years, the fleet gets hammered by a Southerly Buster, a powerful cold front with winds blowing directly from the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean.
Over the years, Joe has worked closely with Butch Ulmer at UK New York to keep his 2004 vintage Swan up-to-date. Before the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race, TRIPLE LINDY changed from symmetrical spinnakers to asymmetrics flying off a custom five-foot carbon bowsprit. And recently, Mele and Ulmer worked together to produce a full inventory of new Uni-Titanium upwind sails, desigened with the Bermuda, Hobart, Fastnet and Middle Sea races in mind.
When TRIPLE LINDY made the spinnaker switch, Butch Ulmer told Joe not to scrap his spinnaker pole even though the racing rules prohibit flying the asymmetrical spinnakers from it. Ulmer noted that the pole is the perfect size and strength to be used as a whisker pole for smaller jibs when running in too much wind for a chute. Butch has plenty of heavy air experience after decades of ocean racing and, low and behold, a week before the Hobart Race, Joe sent Butch the following e-mail, “The weather systems seem to move through a little faster down here. We’re focusing on honing our mainsail reefing skills and will put the practice chute to work today for some MOB drills. We poled out the #4 yesterday and were shocked and thrilled by how fast we sailed! Thanks, Butch, for suggesting we keep the old pole aboard.”
Joe was also thankful that the team went out in 30 knots of wind the day before Key West Race Week last January to practice with storm sails. TRIPLE LINDY was the only boat on the water and the team experimented with flying the storm trysail from a sheet led to a block on the rail and they also tried attaching the clew to the boom with a reef line. At Key West they decided that on TRIPLE LINDY it was much better to trim the trysail to the boom and that’s how they will rig it in the Hobart Race if the sail is needed.
For a terrific article about TRIPLE LINDY’s Hobart Race and the back story about the boat’s name, click here for THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper’s December 21st article.