Chestnut Hill native explains the science of sailing
BOSTON (WHDH) -- Of all the New England Olympians, Stu McNay is the one who grew up closest to Boston, just a few miles away in Chestnut Hill.
McNay’s love of the water and the science of sailing seemed innate and over the years he’s perfected the craft of dingy sailing, including the fact that he cannot alter his weight by one pound.
An impressive photo shows a 6-year-old McNay on a boat that he built -- he grabbed his brother and they set off into the waters off Wareham, Mass.
“I’ve always loved boats. I would get excited by boats,” said McNay.
As McNay grew, so did the size of his boat. Before going to London, he sat down with 7News’ Anne Allred at the MIT Sailing Pavilion where he used to sail sunfish on the Charles River.
McNay moved on to sailing 420s and laser radials. He is now a two-time Olympian and competes with a boat called a 470, one of the smallest boats in the Olympic Games -- 4.7 meters.
Because it’s dinghy sailing there are not a lot of bells and whistles. It’s not about technology; it’s about skill and finding the optimum weight of McNay and his teammate.
“My teammate and I weight substantially more than the boat and all the equipment, so we really have a lot of control over how it sails through the water and you need to use that control to the best of your ability to make the boat goes as fast as possible,” said McNay.
After years of training, McNay and his teammate decided the two of them combined have to weigh 303 pounds. They are both on strict diets to maintain that exact weight -- just a few extra pounds could throw off their entire race.
“In light wind, the more you weigh the slower the boat accelerates and the more it displaces in the water,” said McNay.
With the right weight and wind, the Yale graduate hopes to bring home the sixth sailing medal in his alma mater’s history.
“I’d really love to be a part of that group who can have an Olympic medal,” said McNay.
McNay and his partner Graham Biehl have some catching up to do to get a medal. As of Monday morning they were in 26th place after six rounds of men’s 470 competition. There are four more rounds with the next round on Monday.
The top 10 teams will eventually qualify for the medal race.