Brian Porter is the first Cat 1 helmsman to win the Melges 24 Worlds in exactly a decade, and along with crew Matt Woodworth, Andy Burdick, and Federico Michetti, he edged out Flavio Favini by just 3 points to take the title last week in San Francisco. In a fleet of somewhat agro, type A tiller handlers, Brian is one of the kindest, gentlest guys you could ever meet, and he sat down for Sailing Anarchy’s classic “Innerview” to answer some of Mr. Clean’s questions after winning the title that’s eluded him for more than 15 years. Go here to see who Porter beat, and enjoy this Pierrick Contin photo with full gallery here, and go here and here for a couple of great highlight reels from the event from Vibrant Films.
SA: You’ve been trying to win the Melges 24 Worlds since they first began before the turn of the century. How does it feel to finally pull something like this off that’s been motivating you for almost two decades?
BP: It feels really good to win. I have worked hard at this sport my whole life. I got the monkey off my back, finally! The greatest moments in my life were the births of my four children. I don’t think anything compares to seeing a healthy baby come into the world. But I am definitely walking in the clouds.
SA: You are a trader on the CBOT (is that right?), a seriously high pressure job. Is racing M24s at this level still a relaxation, a break from that job, or is it just as pressurized as work?
BP: I find racing extremely relaxing. The pressure is nothing like trading. It has always been a haven for me to relieve life’s pressures.
SA: You are the first non-pro driver to win the M24 Worlds since Shark Kahn did it, though he was part of a three-boat team spending literally millions per year on the M24 program. What special prep did you put into this thing?
BP: We spent 12 days total out there for the worlds. We had one day of practice and then 4 days of the big boat series. We also did short practices on the two days in between. The last time I raced the boat was Key West. However, I did crew for my son RJ on Lake Geneva all summer where we have a 12 boat fleet. That was actually helpful to give me a chance to really look at sails and rig while not driving. I spent time talking to Vince, Andy, and Federico about sail selection. We kept it pretty simple all in all. We made our sail selection the day before the worlds.
SA: In Santa Cruz you were leading with one race left, and a last-leg broach ended your run, giving you your third or fourth runner-up spot at a Worlds. Was it easier being one point behind Flavio going into the last race?
BP: Actually in Santa Cruz we were one point back as well. For me it doesn’t make a big difference if you have to beat the other guy anyway. Having that tack line cleat blow on the kite and the resulting broach was tough but I think that was one of the best races I ever sailed so I didn’t feel that bad.
SA: Freddy Michetti, president of Melges Europe, continues to show that no one in the world has a ‘Silver Bullet” like he does when it comes to winning major Melges titles. He replaced Sam Rogers who was busy increasing the Midwest’s population…This was your first major regatta with Freddy – can you tell us the secret ingredient that Fred brings to the table that has allowed him to own an unbelievable 5 M24 World Titles, including 4 of the last 6?
BP: It was one of the single greatest privileges of my life to sail with Federico. He spent an incredible amount of time loving my boat. He made it perfect. His feel for the small adjustments is uncanny. His greatest attribute by far is his attitude. He carries himself so well in all situations. Very positive. We had many difficult moments during the worlds and the demeanor on our boat never changed.
SA: We were surprised to see Harry Melges back behind the helm, and we know all about your friendship and rivalry with him going back to the invention of the automobile. Is it more special to take a Worlds knowing your old friend and longtime rival and crewmate alike is driving around somewhere in your wake.
BP: Harry Melges III has been a great friend of mine for many years. I have sailed with and against many of the best sailors in the world. Harry is the best I have sailed with hands down. After all the regattas that he has dragged me around with him I hated not to have him on the boat. The same goes for my brother John. Those two were with me for all those seconds. Fortunately I was able to invite them up on the podium to share our victory. So, I was glad they were there to be part of it.
SA: After a few quiet years the M24 seems to be reinventing itself. A new Rules proposal is likely to make the boats a bit more like the smaller sportboats flooding the market, and the top pros, many of them now making a living in the M20/J70/M32 fleets, are coming back to the 24 as, perhaps, still the best cross-training platform in the world. T Hutch, Madro, Harry, Bora, Rast, Nath W – is this a temporary thing, or are we seeing a sustainable rebirth of the M24 as the “superior” sport boat?
BP: I sure hope it keeps coming back. We really need to take care of the hiking and weight rules to make the boat a little friendlier. I love these boats because they are high performance yet easy to sail. My favorite thing about them is that they create such a challenge to achieve maximum performance, and when you reach it, it’s just so incredibly rewarding.
SA: You certainly do your share of Scow sailing in the summers, but with your biggest albatross now free of your neck, Will we see a Full Throttle trying its hand at another major class?
BP: I will sail scows and 24′s as long as I can. I would love to try some other major classes but it is difficult to do the sailing I do now. If I had my way I would probably sail every day. So, you never know!
October 9th, 2013