By: JACK CORDELL
Salty ocean water sprays the side of the ship’s hull while wind fills the Muck brothers’ sails, pushing them towards victory as they skip across Monterey waters to the finish line, pulling ahead of their competition in flawless coordination.
Dalton Muck, a junior at Carmel High School, and Nathan Muck, a freshman, have been sailing competitively together as of last year for the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club. While the brothers have been on boats since they were toddlers, they have sailed together outside of competitions for three years. Dalton has competed since he was 12, whereas Nathan has competed since he was 13.
Coach Giacomo Paoletti, has known and worked with the Muck brothers for five years, including this last year as their coach for competitions.
“I have seen [Dalton and Nathan] start off as young boys who did not always want to listen to their sailing instructor,” Paoletti says. “Now [they are] young men who are hard workers, know when to have fun and when to focus in order to achieve their goals.”
Dalton and Nathan pilot a Flying Junior sailboat, a 14-foot dinghy which requires two people to operate. A Flying Junior, commonly referred to as an FJ, is comparable to a small car in size, such as a Prius, and has a 20-foot mast.
Dalton Muck believes that being brothers gives them an edge over competition.
“During a race, the crew and skipper have to be in perfect sync,” Dalton says. “Being brothers has a unique advantage. It allows us to figure out issues fast, and also allows us to communicate better.”
Being brothers and teammates has not always been easy, however. Paoletti recalls a time in which being brothers made it difficult.
“When they started to sail with each other, being brothers made it hard for them to work well together, but after a couple of months sailing together they really were able to work past their differences,” Paoletti says.
The Muck brothers recently competed in the Stevenson Regatta, a sailing meet in which Dalton and Nathan placed first, beating out Stevenson and Santa Cruz Yacht Club.
Though sailing is a year-round sport, these competitions occur mostly in the winter. Regattas can last one or two days.
The night before a regatta, the sailors load their boat onto a trailer. The following morning, the boat and the sailors drive to the regatta, which vary in location up and down the coast. Once they arrive, the sailors unload the boats, rig them up and start sailing.
“In a typical competition, there are four or five races where we start going upwind, around a mark, down through the start/finish line to go to a leeward mark and sail back up to the finish,” Nathan explains.
A typical regatta can have anywhere between 50 to 100 sailors. The goal of a regatta is to have the competitors sail in as many races as possible so that results are fair and the sailors can get as much sailing in as they can. Once the regatta is over, the kids then load up on the trailer and head back home.
“I always tried to have the team meet up at an In-N-Out while headed home to grab dinner as a team,” Giacomo says. “I felt that this was a good treat after a day of racing, and it allowed for the team to build camaraderie.”
The Muck brothers have plans to continue sailing together for the foreseeable future.