Chris LARSON (USA), driving Scott HOLMGREN's (USA) West Marine Rigging entry, scored a one-point victory over Britain's John GIMSON, driving for owner Eamonn O'NOLAN, to win the Pre-Worlds tune-up with a string of finishes of 16,5,1,4, one of the more consistent performances in winds ranging from 5 to 23 knots over the weekend.
Only three boats - LARSON, 2003 World Champion Samuel (Shark) KAHN (USA) and Brian PORTER (USA) - had three single digit finishes in the four races. All four Pegasus Racing teams finished in the top ten - KAHN third, Mark CHRISTENSEN (USA) fourth, Dave ULLMAN (USA) ninth and Philippe KAHN (USA), Shark's dad and the event title sponsor, tenth.
O'NEAL's crew, one of 24 Corinthian (amateur) teams competing, shared amateur honours with Bruce AYRES (USA), but all of the above will count for little when the championship racing starts on Tuesday. Ten races - two each day - are scheduled through to Saturday, starting at 12:30, conditions permitting.
The race winners Sunday were LARSON in the first two-lapper around the 1.4-nautical mile windward-leeward course and Britain's Jamie LEE, driving Stuart SIMPSON's (GBR) Team Barbarians, in the second.
The latter missed Saturday's races in rough conditions when they returned to port after the first race was abandoned. Then, in lighter, smoother conditions Sunday they finished 37th place in the first race before finding their stride with a win.
'We liked the end of today's results better than yesterday's,' tactician Nigel YOUNG said. 'We felt more comfortable in today's conditions.'
LEE said, 'Today's first race saw a very big shift that left us in the wrong place. But in the second race it seemed to settle in quite nicely. I was a very nice race for us going into the world championship.'
In their first visit here they discovered that the secret of navigating the oversize seas on Monterey Bay is to get out in front with clear air and room to play the swells. 'With a good start you have room to drive through it,' LEE said.
Sunday's first start looked like a jailbreak. Principal Race Officer Hank STUART's race committee radioed about a dozen individual recalls, which may have caught only half of those who were over early, but STUART sent a message: general recalls will be a last resort to keeping order this week.
'I wasn't trying to, but I think I got a message through,' STUART said. 'If we can identify the boats that are over I'm not going to do a general recall. But you'll never hear me say I won't do general recalls.'
The Santa Cruz YC hosts have a full schedule of activities planned ashore. The hospitality will include onsite concessions run by local businesses offering specialty coffee and pastries by Java Junction, pre-ordered race lunches by Erik's DeliCafé and bottled water by Crystal Springs, available by the case.
There also will be post-race social events, with a complimentary beverage most evenings provided by sponsors like Sierra Nevada, Pusser's Rum and Seabright Brewery. Hors d'ouevres will be available each night, with dinners on two nights, featuring Polynesian specialties from Aloha Grill and BBQ'd tri-tip by club member/restaurateur Walter Oliveri of Aldo's.
There will be daily prizes for top place finishers, sponsored by Harken, and giveaways from Pusser's Rum, West Marine, Starbrite and New England Ropes. There will also be some great raffle prizes, including a custom M/24 transport cover from Lohmann Sails and Covers. North Sails is providing skipper's bags, and all participants will receive discount tickets to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Full information, including Notice of Race, entry form and media info and registration, will be available at www.melges24worlds2007.com.