The second Melges 24 North American Championship got underway yesterday with four great windward leeward races run by the North Star Sail Club on Lake St Claire, Detroit, MI.
The thirty-boat fleet comprises crews from across the USA and Canada as well as three teams from Europe.
It was a day of broken skies and variable 6-12 knots winds from 170 to 190 degrees. Despite an initial 30-minute delay waiting for steady wind and a couple of general recalls the race committee, led by PRO Mike "Grizz" THOMPSON, did an excellent job of completing all four of the day's scheduled races. The fluctuating winds made for a demanding day's sailing and after ten hours afloat the crews were mentally if not physically exhausted. "It was incredibly tough out there today. We raced for nearly 6 hours and a moment's lapse of concentration could take you straight from the chocolates to the cheap seats.
" said USMCA President Jeff JONES after racing.
Despite a very strong field it was California's Argyle CAMPBELL, the 2001 Melges 24 Corinthian (all amateur crew) World Champion, sailing with Don JESBURG, Robert KINNEY and Aaron SERRENIS, who dominated by winning three of the four races and placing fifth in the other. Brian PORTER and his Wisconsin crew of defending North American Champion Harry MELGES, Andy BURDICK and David NAVIN put paid to Campbell's hopes of a clean sweep by taking the first race, however, their mixed fortunes score of 6, 14, 2 in the others was only enough for fifth overall.
Although no one could match Campbell's consistency it was Britain's John POLLARD, crewed by Rob SMITH, Lawrence CRISPIN and Philip RUMBELOW, who came closest with 3, 2, 3, 5 to take second ahead of Tom FREYTAG of Wisconsin, sailing with his brother Billy, Rob Rowe and "Junior" (6, 3, 4, 6) and local Michigan boys Chuck HOLZMAN, Pat DRUMMOND, Bora GULARI and Mike FIRESTON (4, 5, 8, 2). Tavis WEISLEDER of Virginia was the only other competitor with an all top ten scoreline (8, 8, 2, 8) putting him in sixth overall ahead of Mike DOW of Michigan, Britain's Joe WOODS, Evan JAHN of Illinois and Grant HILGER of Michigan.
Behind the leaders an interesting side competition is developing amongst the four women helms racing in the regatta. Laurie Bunn leads this battle by 4 points from Marty Jensen with Karen Gottwald and Cindy Cromwell tied overnight for third.
Four further races are planned for today and with bright sunshine and strong winds forecast the crews are in for a much more physically demanding day. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.