15 November 2014
Tampa, FL - The saying goes, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” and on the first day of the 2014 U.S. Melges 24 National Championship hosted by Davis Island Yacht Club (DIYC), PRO Eric Robbins made good on his promise. It was a long day with the completion of five races, leaving the fleet with weary grins, and a well earned session at the new DIYC tiki bar. Despite light and tricky breeze in the morning, then shifty and puffy breeze in the afternoon, the racing was stellar and the perfect reminder of why Melges 24 racing is still the best.
Early in the day, clouds covered the racing area and a light Northwest breeze allowed for two races to be completed. The tricky conditions gave way to huge areas of no wind on the course, followed by 8 kt puffs and big direction changes. With tight racing from top to bottom, former U.S. National Champion Bora Gulari aboard New England Ropes/West Marine Rigging was able to navigate the minefields the best and take bullets in the first two races.
For the third race of the day, the clouds broke finally, then the breeze died and it looked the like the fleet might be migrating back to the dock. But just as the heat started to rise, so did the wind and without missing a beat, the 31-strong fleet of Melges 24s was able to complete three more races. A steady breeze built sometimes touching the mid-teens and allowing teams if only for a moment, to put their bows up downwind and catch a ride. Brian Porter’s Full Throttle won two of the three afternoon heats, while longtime Melges 24 veteran Bruce Ayres on Monsoon championed Race Four.
While the standings are tight overall, the real action is in the Corinthian fleet where Australian entry Kevin Nixon and his Accru+ team has locked horns with Roger Counihan’s Just Add Water to maintain a slim two point advantage. With almost half the fleet qualifying as Corinthians (all-amatuer), there will be plenty to watch on Day Two.
Post racing, the fleet gathered on the lower level of DIYC to hold a debrief on what did and didn’t work on the first day. The panel consisted Marty Kullman (helm on New Wave), Jeff Madrigali (helm on Mikey), Porter and Gulari, who helped spread their knowledge of how to sail these boats as fast possible. The forecast is for light wind the remainder of the weekend, but if there is breeze the fleet can expect a lot more racing.
FOLLOW THE RACING
Three incredible days of racing are in store for 2014 U.S. National Championship competitors. Plenty of great action on- and off-the-water can be expected — and the class will capture it all! Be sure to bookmark the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association Website and watch for the latest racing updates at the USMCA’s Official Facebook Page.
TOP TEN RESULTS - OPEN (After Five Races, One Discard)
1.) Bora Gulari, New England Ropes/West Marine Rigging; 1-1-2--4 = 8
2.) Brian Porter, Full Throttle; 3--1-5-1 = 10
3.) Marty Kullman, New Wave; 2-3-4-3- = 12
4.) Jeff Madrigali/Kevin Welch, Mikey; 6--6-2-2- = 16
5.) Bruce Ayres, Monsoon; 7--3-1-6 = 17
6.) Steve Rhyne, mojo; -7-5-6-6-3 = 21
7.) Kevin Nixon, Accru+; 10-2-16--9 = 37
8.) Bent Dietrich, Kleine Rainbow; 8-4--17-10 = 39
9.) Roger Counihan, Just Add Water; 5--9-14-11 = 39
10.) Ryan Glaze, Gringo; 9-18-8--7 = 42
TOP THREE RESULTS - CORINTHIAN (After Five Races, One Discard)
1.) Kevin Nixon, Accru+; 10-2-16--9 = 37
2.) Roger Counihan, Just Add Water; 5--9-14-11 = 39
3.) Ryan Glaze, Gringo; 9-18-8--7 = 42