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Dirk de Ridder manages the traveller
Gilles Martin-Raget /BMW Oracle Racing
Dirk de Ridder manages the traveller
Dirk de Ridder, the man who operates BMW Oracle Racing's solid wing, tells us his secrets
Dirk de Ridder holds considerable responsibility for BMW Oracle Racing's result in this 33rd America’s Cup. While on normal softsail boats trimming the rig is the responsibility of a small troupe of trimmers, grinders, etc with the solid wing sail all these responsibilities fall on his shoulders, via just a piece of rope to operate the traveller (there is no mainsheet) and a rebuilt garage door remote control to drive the wingsail's other hydraulically-operated functions. As a sailor De Ridder has done the rounds. Nephew of the Checkmate Peter de Ridder, rather than the Mean Machine one, our man has done three Volvos on board Merit Cup, then winning with fellow BMW Oracle crewman John Kostecki on illbruck and then with Paul Cayard on Pirates of the Caribbean. He previously spent two years with BMW Oracle just before he left to join Pirates. He did a Star campaign with Roy Heiner in 2000. And to confuse the ‘de Ridder’ issue further in between all this he was a regular part of the Mean Machine crew with the ‘other’ Peter de Ridder. "It is a bit complicated," he admits. From his job doing traveller with BMW Oracle before he went to Pirates, when he returned to the American challenger under the new Coutts regime, his job on board the trimaran initially with the softsail rig was mainsail trim. Even this was very different to the mainsheet trimmer’s role on a monohull he says: "The traveller - you move it a little bit, but the problem is that we cant the rig so far to weather [up to 15deg] that all the load is on the leeward traveller, not the weather traveller - so you had to pull the traveller to leeward, rather than ease it. So we always ended up sailing more on