Larry Huntington, 1990 winner, Denali
Huntington is a demon on preparation.
“I don’t sleep well before the race until I stop thinking about anything that’s left undone. Everything you can think about is fair game. If the preparation is as good as you can get it, then your mind’s free to think about how you can sail the boat and where you can take the boat. When shortening sail is no longer a safety question, it becomes a boat speed question.”
This confidence allowed Huntington to take chances. In 1990 he sailed his cat-ketch Denali west of the rhumb line in search of the southwest wind he believed would fill in. “We sailed for a while on the port tack but there was no southwesterly, so I said we should tack back to starboard. That’s when my son Chris said, ‘What are we doing? We’re chickening out!’ So we kept going until we were more than 120 miles west of the rhumb line.”
The southwesterly found Denali, she tacked, and she sprinted to the finish while almost everybody else, to the east, pounded upwind. Denali won the race by two hours. (photo credit: Tom Leutweiler)