Art Brereton Wins the 2006 Melges 17 National Championship
23 September 2006
Art Brereton and crew Harry Melges are Melges 17 National Champions for a second consecutive time. Brereton modestly admitted that it was luck that got them the win on race one on the final day of the championship, however that is what sealed the deal for them. For the remaining three races they sailed well, had consistent results and a whole lot of speed. "It's all luck. Gotta keep the pedal to the metal all the time. This is a Melges 24 on ritalin. The A Scow may be the ultimate ride, but this is the ultimate two-man ride, " said Brereton.
Sunday's conditions were a complete 180 degree turn around from Saturday. Glorious blue skies with prevailing sunshine, and the wind was good too. A steady 10-15 and occasionally a higher gust would blow through. This got the teams really excited.
Race one of the day got off right on time with Brereton taking his time at getting into the groove of things. "We had plenty of chances to make up for mistakes upwind, downwind. I felt like we were really fast upwind in the first race and then, found that same gear downwind. We had to stay in the puffs and in the right direction, but mostly it was about staying in the puffs. We were really lucky that we won that first race," contined Brereton. In that same race, Lake Minnetonka's Erik Bowers with father, Mark as crew handled the pressure from Brereton in stride finishing in second place, followed by Iggy and Andy Labanauskas in third.
Perhaps considered the underdogs, the brotherly team of Iggy and Andy Labanauskas were really the stars of the regatta. Energetic and by far one of the most enthusiastic teams on the course the Labanauskas' admit they are excited about the fleet. When they sail it is apparent. Never once during the five race series did they win a race, but they stayed consistent which helped them land the second overall championship position. "This was probably the best day we have out on the Melges 17 so far," explained Iggy. "Best breeze, it was a little funky out there. It wasn't typical Geneva, it was up and down, felt like I was on another lake at times, but when the wind was up, it was pretty awesome. It will be interesting to see when there is not just thirty boats out there, when we get seventy or eighty of them out there in a year or two. We are super excited about this fleet."
In the second race of the day, the newest arrival as he only took delivery on Friday of his new Melges 17 was legendary Melges 24 sailor Mike Dow and his crew, good friend Bob Clark. "It's really, really fun," said Dow. "We managed to get some time in the boat and could get it going. Then, get our head out of the boat so we could watch where we were going and that makes all the difference in the world. The competition in the fleet is excellent and a lot of fun." His next closest competitor was another class newcomer Harris Buddig with Andy Burdick as crew. Buddig is an aspiring youth sailor, that usually sails with his sister on a number of other youth boats, but this weekend he sailed his new Melges 17, "in comparison to what I have sailed before this is awesome!" said Buddig.
As races three and four unfolded, new leaders, new winners everytime! That's right the Melges 17 is the best in top-knotch, high performance racing. The one and only female helm, Mary Anne Ward with Sam Rogers onboard as crew got off to a great start and was awarded with a giant lead. "Sam made some really smart tactical decisions going upwind and we managed to keep the boat going. Downwind we were on the right track," said Ward. This put Ward so far out front that she actually thought perhaps somehow she had fallen far behind instead, only to realize she had done just the opposite. With the rest of the fleet well behind, Ward sailed in confidence and won. "This boat is so much fun." Ward continued, "It is just the best boat. Even when you haven't done well in a race, you still leave the boat thinking it was still great fun. Really great fun." If there was a battle elsewhere it was between the Labanauskas' and the Bowers with the Labanauskas' landing second after displaying some amazing downwind speed. Bowers persisted and crossed the finishline in tight, hot on his heels securing the third place position.
Going into the last and final race the Labanauskas' found themselves only one point out of winning the regatta, however disaster struck, resulting in their worst score yet — tenth. "We had a bad last race. We ripped our jib in the second to last race at a bottom mark. We came in to try and fix it, and just didn't get back out in time," commented Iggy. "I guess it wasn't meant to be this time. It's always nice to try and take down Art and Harry." Instead, the glory was bestowed upon Blaine Unicume and crew of Jamie Kimball as they got off the line quick and never looked back. They left the fleet to sail it alone with them comfortably out front, of course. "It was a lot of fun and exciting to have some wind," said Blaine, who traveled all the way from Colorado with his father, Mark Unicume to sail the championship. Brereton finished second and Lake Geneva's own Ken Wruk proudly took third.
Back on shore, the teams dismantled the boats and worked their way to another fantastic spread of food prepared by the Lake Geneva Yacht Club. The awards ceremony was well attended and hosted by Andy Burdick and Sam Rogers with Melges Performance Sailboats. A Melges "17" theme was the approach to the awards where Kirk and Ian Donaldson received recognition as the 17th boat registered and Bob Wynkoop was the 17th owner to take delivery. In addition, the 17th position in race one went to Erik Bowers; in race two was Larry Brand; race three went to George Buekema; race four was Brian McMurray and in the fifth race was Bill Fauntleroy. The 17th overall winner was the husband and wife team of Bill and Angie Wiggins.
The overall awards were then presented to the top seven winners including Mike Dow and Bob Clark in seventh, Erik and Mark Bowers in sixth, Blaine Unicume and Jamie Kimball in fifth, Ken Wruk in fourth, Harris Buddig and Andy Burdick in third, Iggy and Andy Labanauskas were awarded second place overall and Art Brereton and Harry Melges proudly accepted the first place overall trophy again, declaring them the 2006 National Champions!
A very special thanks goes to the Lake Geneva Yacht Club for a fantastic event, the entire race committee and most of all to the competitors for traveling the distance making this a championship to remember.
TOP TEN RESULTS
- Art Brereton, USA-101: 1, 1, 3, 5, 2 = 12
- Iggy Labanauskas, USA-97: 2, 3, 4, 2, 10 = 21
- Harris Buddig, USA-59: 5, 4, 2, 8, 6 = 25
- Ken Wruk, USA-71: 6, 6, 8, 6, 3 = 29
- Blaine Unicume, USA-145: 16, 7, 6, 7, 1 = 37
- Erik Bowers, USA-47: 17, 2, 5, 3, 12 = 39
- Mike Dow, USA-170: 18, 10, 1, 9, 4 = 42
- Mary Anne Ward, USA-157: 4, 9, 18, 1, 14 = 46
- David Harrison, USA-13: 20, 13, 20, 4, 11 = 68
- Jeff Lewis, USA-158: 14, 5, 9, 22, 18 = 68
Be sure to join in with the Melges 17 fleet at these upcoming events: October 21-22 in Charlotte, North Carolina is the 2006 M17 Fall Championship, the 2007 Midwinter Championship will be in Lake Eustis, Florida on March 9-11 and the Charleston Easter Regatta later on in April. The 2007 National Championship will be in Crystal Lake Michgan at the end of August. Stay tuned for more information on confirmed dates.