Dee Smith has been a professional sailing consultant with over 35 years of international experience. He has specialized in speed and rating optimization, project management, and ultimately, putting your boat in the winner’s circle.
See below for a breakdown of Dee’s expertise.
Professional Sailing & Racing
My take on coaching is first to define the goals of the Owner and team. Learn the skill of the team and boat involved. Then by applying wide knowledge base of sailing and yachts, build a plan.
All teams are at a different starting point. Boats with large crews might have a crew that has a wide range of abilities. The goal is to bring everyone up to the same level so there is no weak link, just a strong crew with equal goals. From my knowledge of all positions, I would help each member of the crew get better. Show how each member can help others do their job better and make the boat sail around the course faster and smoother.
During my Pro sailing career, I have raced on all sorts of boats, in positions. Raced short inshore raced to round the world races. Most of the work I have done has been as tactician. But I have also won world championships as a skipper/helmsman. During offshore events, besides being one of the speed guys, my main job is to make sure the boat goes the right way. I have done this mostly as a navigator. My tactical back round really helps this. Of course having a good navigation/weather base really helps my tactics in shorter races. I love to make sure the boat is sailed well and like to find opportunities on the race course to help the team win.
I have been lucky to been able to put race boats together for 35 years. My first one was a little ¼ tonner named Spread Eagle in 1975. Plan was to qualify and win the ¼ Ton Cup in Corpus Christi I 1976. I worked with the designer, the late Gary Mull, boat builder and spar builder to produce a winning boat. We won many races with this little boat and it was a great learning curve for me. As skipper, we ended up 6th in out of over 40 boats at the worlds.
It is great to be a member of a team from the beginning to have an influence on the boat through the design and build. I believe it is the sailors input that makes a great boat. Designers don’t spend as much time on the water as really good sailors. This is the reason you will find the best teams winning more often, they have great sailors working with designers to push the design in the right direction.
Over my career I have been involved with many new boats, all have been successful, and some winning races all races for over a year. Boats like Innovision, won Admiral’s Cup and 2 World Championships, Morning Glory 50’, won Cape to Rio and Trans-Pac, plus every race in a year sailed. Then there was my favorite project, Morning Glory 86. She won all races for 2.5 years and set records. My most resent project job and is still ongoing is Bella Mente. She was a dog when Hap asked if I could help. We ended up rebuilding the boat into a winner. You can check out what we did in a Seahorse article I wrote by clicking here…
Project managing can be from concept to finish line or as little as putting one event together on a boat that has a crew. It really is about understanding what needs to be done on a overall scale. Then making sure there is no excuse to lose.
Sail & Rig Development
Sails and rigs go together. One can’t really judge a sail until the rig is sorted and tuned right. A rig is not tuned right until it is tuned to what the boat needs, not the sail. With my knowledge of yacht design, I understand what different boats need in regard to tuning. Where do you put the mast fore and aft, first question? This is a question of balance. If the balance is not right you will be chasing yourself around forever. Then we work on the rig tuning. What works in different conditions for the boat? Now you can look at the sails.
I have over 15 years of experience as a sail maker. 12 years I have spent designing sails for all different kinds of boats, all over the world. I really enjoy sail concept work, inventory building and working with all sail designers around the world. This is a very important job, to develop the sail inventory first. Then working with sails is much easier. Putting them on the well tuned rig will give wider ranges with less chance of holes in the inventory. Good management is key.
As a project moves along you can work on sail development. This is from gathering data of what happens on the race course. Knowing when you are fast and not so fast. Sometimes we find out the boat likes a different nose on the jib or to help balance fullness of the main. As you learn what is good and bad on the race course, you can work on the sails and inventory to increase range and speed of all the sails. Good sail programs don’t stop when you get to the starting line. They never stop.
Rating & Speed Optimization
This is always fun. Finding that edge for a handicap race is always a challenge. One needs a good idea of what to expect on the race course. Racing for as long as I have all over the world and having a great understand of weather, I have a good idea of what to expect where and when the regatta is to happen. From there I would look at the boats strengths and weaknesses and build an idea with what to work on. Managing the sail inventory along with the goal of conditions to be strong in is very important.
I have sailed under (showing my age here or should I say experiences) CCA, IOR, IMS, CHS, IRC, ORR, TP 52, ORC, Volvo and America’s Cup rules. I have seen it all. I understand what makes boats go faster in setup for rating and if the boat will be fast enough to make a change that will help or hurt. Sometimes it is a new sail, other times it is making sails bigger or smaller. Of course the rig and boat set up for measurement is very important.
People spend all kinds of money for new sails and they can get that type of performance increase all the time with good rating work for much less money.
- Skipper- 2.4 Kanaloa, 2.4 Open Worlds, Finland, 7th overall, 5th Para, 102 boats, 2015
- Navigator- Wizard, TransPac, 2nd Barn Door, 2015
- Skipper- 2.4, Sail Newport Regatta, First, 2015
- Skipper- 2.4, Clagett Regatta, First, 2015
- Skipper- 2.4, Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, 2015
- Navigator- Wizard, SoCal 300, 2nd 2015
- Skipper- 2.4 Hyeres World Cup regatta, 10th 2015
- Skipper-2.4 Port Carlott LC regatta, First, 2015
- Navigator- Wizard, Newport to Cabo, First to Finish, 2015
- Tactician- Premier, Kings Cup winner, Phuket, 2014
- Tactician- Soto 40, Apolonia, Chiloe, Winner 2014
- Local Knowledge/Strategy, ETNZL America’s Cup SF, 2013
- Tactician- Rio, Super Series 2013
- Tactician- Bella Mente Caribbean 600, 2nd overall
- Tactician- Bella Mente 72, Mini Maxi world Champion 2012
- Technical consultant – Bella Mente 72, launch March 2012
- Technical consultant – Farr 400
- Project Manager — Refit of Bella Mente, R/P 69′ IRC yacht
- General Manager/Tactician — America’s Cup Team Shosholoza, 2006-2007
- Consultant — Construction and tune up of “Caixa Galicia”, TP52, 2005
- Consultant — Construction and tune up of “Swan” 601 Moneypenny, 2005
- Project/Team Manager — Morning Glory Race Yachts, 2002-2004.
- Winner — 3 consecutive Copa Del Rey’s as tactician, “Caixa Galicia”
- Winner — 2 consecutive Newport Bermuda Races “Blue Yankee & Morning Glory”
- Tactician/Navigator — Volvo Race aboard Amer Sports One, 2001-02
- Project Manage/Skipper/Tactician — “Innovision 7”, 1999
- Winner — Admiral’s Cup twice Jameson & Innovision 7
- Project Manager/Skipper/Tactician — “Jameson”, Admiral’s Cup winner, 1997
- Helmsman/Tactician/Navigator — “Kate”, Tour de France Yacht Race winner, 1999
- Skipper — “Chessie”, leg 5 Whitbread Round the World Race, 1998
- Winner — Six World Championships, and countless 2nd places…
- After-guard — America’s Cup, “America True”, 2000
- Hundreds of thousands of ocean racing miles, 2 Cape to Rio, 6 Trans-Pacs, 5 Sydney to Hobart, 8 Fastenets, 5 Bermuda races, etc…
- North Pacific
- South Pacific
- Great Lakes
- Gulf of Mexico
- Caribbean Sea
- North Atlantic
- South Atlantic
- North Sea
- Southern Ocean
- Baltic Sea
- English Channel
- Indian Ocean
- Tasmanian Sea
- Grand Prix Skipper
- Project Manager
- Sail Maker
- Sail Designer
- Boat builder