Day One At The 2009 Melges 17 U.S. Nationals A Smash Hit

Day One At The 2009 Melges 17 U.S. Nationals A Smash Hit ©2009 Andy Burdick | Melges Performance Sailboats Related topics:

28 August 2009


Article courtesy of Andy Burdick with Melges Performance Sailboats - We woke up to a beautiful morning on Glen Lake. Partly sunny, light cool breeze and sailboats all around the Glen Lake Yacht Club. It is race day! The Melges 17 National Championship was kicked off by championship organizers Brad and Jandy Sprouse along with Principle Race Officer Jamie Jones.

Nineteen boats are competing for this years title. The new and ultra exciting fleet drew people from all around the country. Mary Anne Ward says, "I will drive anywhere in the USA to race a Melges 17, they are incredible boats to race." Ward is from Eustis, Florida.

There are a lot of couples and father son teams on the water during this regatta. The boat is fast, fun and user friendly so many husband and wife teams enjoy going to new venues to vacation and race these thrilling Melges Sportboats.

Race one did not bring to thrilling of a condition. Light air at 5-8 but even with this minimal breeze the Melges 17 performs better than any other boat it its size range. The boat is a blast in the light wind – fast upwind and downwind.

After a brief postponement the PRO Jamie Jones fired up heat number one. Right away 4 boats blasted off the line and snuck away from the competition. Leveraging to the right was Coye Harret and crew member Meg Siz from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Mary Anne Ward, Sean Fidler and Mike Dow leveraged left. As the teams approached at the top mark Ward and Fidler battled for the lead and this battle continued down the run. These boats split at the leeward gate with Fidler going right and Ward going left. At first the left looked solid but the pressure favored the right in the end and Fidler rounded the next top mark in first with Ward just 20 yards behind. Harrett and Dow were close behind as well with a big gap to the 5th place boat which was Tom and Tommy Munroe.

At the end of race one Sean Fidler and wife Tiffany crossed the line with a victory and some high fives! Mary Anne Ward and super sailor Peter Keck were second. Coye Harrett and Meg Six were third and following close behind was Mike and Stephanie Dow. Great race with some exciting exchanges on the tack and jibes.

The breeze continued to move left as we approached race two. The forecast was for a more NE wind direction. Jamie Jones provided a square line for race 2 although Lesa and John Gutenkunst found something special as they blasted off the line and tacked to port. They continued to sail a stellar beat and had a nice lead as they set their jet Black kite. They continued to dominate and by the time they reached the second upwind mark they had over a 2 minute lead. It was difficult sailing too as the wind became very spotty. John Gutenkunst is a very good scow sailor from Pewaukee and he showed his expertise in these patchy conditions. Ward, Dow, Fidler were all in the hunt too. As Gutenkunst went down the last run it seemed they had the bullet in the bag but the breeze really filled from behind and in the end their big lead was widdled down to an important jibing duel with Fidler and Mike Dow. Sean and Tiffany Fidler sailed very well to go from seventh at the first top mark to be in the lead just at the right time in the second race - right at the finish. They received their second bullet of the day. Mike and Stephanie Dow were second and then Lesa and John Gutenkunst finished third. While disappointed, they were all smiles ready to go back at it for race three.

Minimal wind now so the teams are having lunch at Glen Lake Yacht Club. A beautiful site for Melges Racing. Crystal Blue waters, sandy beaches and wonderful people here at Glen Lake.

1.) Sean Fidler
2.) Mike Dow
3.) Mary Anne Ward

Jamie Jones plans for 2 more races later in the day - stay tuned!