Ecklund Delivers 1-1-1-1 Score To Lead Audi Melges 20 Miami Winter Event No. 1

Related topics:

12 December 2009

12 December 2009 (Miami, Fla.) - Jeff Ecklund (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) on STAR, with reigning Moth World Champion Bora Gulari on tactics and Melges 32 World Champion team member George 'Bear' Peet, has taken the lead of the Audi Melges 20 Miami Winter Series Event No. 1. "I was familiar with the Audi Melges 20 style of racing, beyond that I really didn't know quite what to expect." said Ecklund post racing. "I'm lucky to have Bora and Bear on the boat. They got the boat ready. All I did was sit back and drive. It was a lot of fun. It's amazing how fast these boats are for their size."

"This totally lived up to my expectations. The set-up here is perfect. Logistically, really handy." said second place overnight finisher Eric Wynsma (East Grand Rapids, Mich.) on Superfly. "This is so easy. The racing was great, very intense. As far as the conditions, it could not have been more perfect. The wind range was perfect. The Audi Melges 20 loves 15-20 knots. That's my favorite part."

"Today was a spectacular day of sailing," said third place overall Marc Hollerbach (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.) on Fu. "The reality is everybody was fast all day. We had great legs upwind. Ecklund was always in the right place and he made very few mistakes. His boat was spot on."

The conditions for racing today were more than ideal, they were absolutely perfect. Everyone anticipated cloudy conditions with decent breeze, however Miami exceeded expectations as a flawless race committee delivered four amazing races. Racing commenced on time, under beautiful sunshine, warm temperatures and a relatively steady 15-18+ knots of breeze featuring 1.2 nm legs at 095 degrees.

Ecklund, licensed for speed, shot out in front of the fleet on the first race of the day only to be called OCS. His recovery was steady as he clawed his way back through the fleet, and admits to having a little something special upwind. At the first windward mark the two lady helms in the fleet, Mary Anne Ward (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) on M&M Sailing Team and Meagan Kiss (Macatawa Bay, Mich.) on Bacio appeared fearless rounding respectively with Ecklund pulling up for third. The level of determination Ecklund and his team displayed was obvious as they slowly but surely found the right lanes to move to the front and across the finish line in first. Wynsma took a comfortable second, Kiss finished third.

In race two, Ecklund's aggression at the start was far more subtle than the first although speed techniques and boat handling skills served him well as he edged the fleet for yet another win. Fleet newcomer Robert Wilber (Stone Creek, Conn.) on Cinghaile got into the groove to take second, Wynsma remained in the hunt taking third. "The great thing about the Audi Melges 20 is that hiking and being physical doesn't necessarily give you a greater advantage, it's actually more about set-up and technique. It can be quite forgiving for a lot of sailors," said Ecklund.

After a short lunch break, the fleet went racing once more with Ecklund back out front, this time Hollerbach challenged for the lead. Ecklund took his somewhat substantial lead to the finish with Hollerbach settling for second. New to the fleet, Peter Kozicz (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) on CAN-142 finished third.

Race four, the final race of the day placed Ecklund OCS, but he rebounded well rounding in second at the top mark, behind Wynsma who was desperately trying to protect his lead. It was an exciting race as Wynsma appeared to have the win in the bag right up until the final jibe for the finish. Ecklund came in from the left, jibing into the mark just beating Wynsma to the line. Kozicz gladly took third, Hollerbach was fourth and in fifth was Ward.

This fleet has come a long way in a very short period of time. Hollerbach, who won Charleston Race Week this past April reflected on the class' progress, "The boats are much faster than when we first started. We have a better idea about tuning, rigging. This is very good competition."

Tomorrow should be interesting. Seven points separate Ecklund in first and Wynsma in second. In third is Hollerbach with Kozicz two points back in fourth. In fifth overall is Ward. The conditions are expected to be lighter on Sunday.

1.) Jeff Ecklund, STAR - 1-1-1-1 = 4
2.) Eric Wynsma, Superfly - 2-3-4-2 = 11
3.) Marc Hollerbach, Fu - 6-4-2-4 = 16
4.) Peter Kozicz, CAN-142 - 5-7-3-3 = 18
5.) Mary Anne Ward, M&M Sailing - 8-5-5-5 = 23
6.) Robert Wilber, Cinghaile - 7-2-9-6 = 24
7.) Joe Williams, Lift Ticket - 4-8-6-9 = 27
8.) Jim Higard, Crystal Spirit - 9-6-7-7 = 29
9.) Erwyn Naidoo, Bohica - 10-9-8-8 = 35
10.) Erik Post, Vaya Con Dios - 11-11-10-10 = 42

Official Event Website

View The International Audi Melges 20 Photo Gallery

Press releases, race reports and photos will be issued daily. Stay tuned to the Official Audi Melges 20 Web Site, the Official Audi Melges 20 Blog, and for all the details. You can also follow the Audi Melges 20 on Twitter. Join, bookmark and subscribe today to stay on top of all things Audi Melges 20.

The Inaugural Audi Melges 20 Miami Winter Series is hosted by Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Shake-A-Leg and supported by Melges Performance Sailboats. The series, comprised of three regattas spanning December through March, offers Audi Melges 20 sailors a great escape from the cold and snow to enjoy the Florida
sunshine, top flight competition, the very best in sportboat sailing conditions and high-level race management.

• SERIES EVENT NO. 1 - December 11-13 (Saturday, Sunday racing)
• SERIES EVENT NO. 2 - February 19-21 (Saturday, Sunday racing)
• SERIES EVENT NO. 3 - Bacardi Miami Sailing Week, March 10-13 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday racing)

The Inaugural Miami Winter Series leads off the eight high-powered events on the 2010 Audi Melges 20 USA Sailing Series schedule.