Posts Tagged ‘Melges 20’
Sailing Anarchy’s undeniable awesomeness has little to do with its outspoken editors and their opinions; we are the world’s biggest and best thanks to the opinions and contributions of thousands of sailors over the years. Whether you’re a top professional, industry insider, or someone sailing your first major regatta, we want to hear your reports – and so do thousands of Sailing Anarchy readers all over the world.
That’s what top Midwestern pro Sam “‘Sheed” Rogers did when he read our somewhat critical report on the Melges 20 Worlds “It’s All In A Name” the other day. While many Melges 20 owners have responded with gratitude for our sharing their view, Sam disagreed, and instead of whining and bitching, he did what everyone should when they disagree with us; he wrote his own report on the event. Enjoy it, and thanks to Steve Bernstein and Joy Dunigan for the photos.
Originally a Key Largo fishing camp in the 1960s, the Ocean Reef Club developed into one of the most desirable communities in the country over the past decade plus. Home to 3 unreal golf courses, a private airstrip and the highest density of sexy sportfish and center console power boats you’ll ever see, it’s a fully self-contained community complete with movie theatre, medical clinic, fishing village, palm-lined trees, pools, and tennis courts. It’s not hard to see why so many 1%ers choose Ocean Reef for their home away from home.
Rarely known for sailing, the Reef played host to the 2005 M24 Worlds. With 99 boats on the line in incredible conditions, it went down in many people’s books as one of the greatest World Championships ever held in any class. Fast forward to 2013 when the Audi Melges 20 Class looked to make an impression with its first-ever World Championship while breaking the routine of racing in Biscayne Bay. The Class picked the venue for its ideal sailing conditions as well as its family-friendly nature; exactly what many Audi Melges 20 owners and sailors were looking for in a one-of-a-kind regatta experience.
As Sailing Anarchy noted last week, the Reef is a luxury community. Ferraris and Lamborghinis grace the driveways and Gulfstreams take off from the airstrip. But despite the exclusive appearance, a little work found affordable housing options, and if you paired up with another team and hired a cook, you could house 8-10 people for under 800$/night in a beautiful home complete with sweet golf cart. Unlike a hotel, the house/condo option meant a better environment for debriefs, dinner parties, and the kind of late-night partying you might expect when a couple hundred sailors take over a neighborhood.
As for the racing – no one could dispute the quality or amount we saw in a spectacular week. Each day brought a slightly different direction and condition, with more than half the races sailed in 15-20 knots in water the color of Blue-Raz Gatorade. 25 teams showed up with a legit chance to win the whole thing, and if you were fortunate enough to round the first windward mark in the top 10 and break out in the lead group, the racing was quite civilized. If you rounded outside the top ten, you were given a not-so-friendly welcome to the Peloton, and once in the Peloton, it was a full-on street fight with any hiccup to your speed or boathandling instantly costing you boats, and sometimes dozens of them. The margin from 15th to 40th was always one bad tack away, and posting a 20th has never been so exhausting. PRO Bruce Gollison and his legion of loyal volunteers from Coconut Grove Sailing Club did an amazing job banging off 10 high quality races with no drama.
There was no shortage of feel good stories from this Melges 20 Worlds, starting with John Taylor and his team on Ninkasi Racing. Having won races but never a regatta in his long sailing career, John picked a great time to get hot and put the fleet in a sleeper hold to take the title. Then there is the Eagan family who is one of the more bad-ass sailing families in the country, not only did they take the Corinithian title by a whopping 250 points, but they finished 2nd overall and made Ninkasi work for it in the last race. And my personal favorite, Rhonda Joyce was all smiles (as she usually is) for completing her goal of finishing in the 20s. Rhonda has been busting her ass trying to improve in this tough fleet, and not only did she nail her goal, but she was the top Canadian boat giving her some solid bragging rights to take back to Port Credit. And with an eye to the sky and the past, the fleet was left guessing at what departed Big Booty owner Pat Eudy would have had in store for this event.
For the Audi Melges 20 sailors that made the commitment to attend the first World Championship, the event was an undeniable success which left both Ocean Reef and the sailors wondering when we can come back and do it all over again. From top to bottom, the event had a special feel to it which is all you can hope for when you attend a Worlds; it’s an annual event that cannot be just another ‘average’ regatta. Originally wary of hosting another group of sailors after a rowdy closing night in 2005, Ocean Reef members rolled out the red carpet, opened up their homes and waterfronts to allow sailors to keep their boats and set up shop for the week, even going so far as to deliver homemade chocolate chip cookies to sailors post racing.
Naturally there are some outsiders who wanted this event to fail, or even went so far as to label one of the greatest regatta venues as “silly” which could not be more off the mark. As for the complaints of the lack of media and publication, it’s true that it is crucial to promote the Class and the sport, but for the racers all that really matters is the sailing. And for 4 days and 10 races, Audi Melges 20 sailors were treated to some of the best racing conditions that can be found anywhere. It would be great to see more Corinthian teams get involved, and for any sailor looking for a challenge and to rub elbows with the world’s best sailors on the starting line, the Audi Melges 20 Class is it.
Those who experienced Audi Melges 20 Worlds first-hand can walk away proudly saying they were a part of the Ocean Reef Worlds. With two more iconic venues on tap for World Championships in coming years (Lake Garda 2014, San Francisco 2015), the Melges 20 fleet is primed for some solid years ahead, and strong consideration as the most challenging and rewarding amateur owner/driver One Design fleet in the world.
Huge thanks to the Ocean Reef Club, Card Sound Sailing Club, and the Race Committee for an unforgettable event.
December 16th, 2013 by admin
Along with Quantum pros Scott Nixon and John Bowden, Virginia’s Travis Weisleder and his Lucky Dog/Gill Racing team are showing their name ain’t a fluke, crushing the fleet at the first-ever Audi Melges 20 World Championship in Key Largo, FL by some 30 points over second place (and first-time Melges 20 racer) Jason Michas. It’s not like Travis is some kind of hack; the Collegiate All-American (Charleston) and long-time Melges 24 racer has won plenty in his day, but he’s never been close to winning a World Championship, and at the moment, with the only non-double digit scoreline in the 52-boat fleet, it’s his to lose.
With one of the most insanely pro’d up fleets ever assembled at a non-Olympic event, you’d think the amateurs would love to show up to play, and with probably a dozen past America’s Cuppers and more Olympic and Volvo sailors than you can shake a stick at, you’d really expect the sailing publications to send their ‘ace’ reporters down. And with an inexpensive boat to move and store, you’d think the Corinthians would come down en masse to pit themselves against the best of the best. And like any Worlds in almost any class (especially a high-profile one like the M20), you’d expect good video coverage, a website, and some top pro photographers shooting the event.
But none of that happened. There’s really no ‘B’ fleet at all like you’d see at almost any other Worlds. In fact there are only 6 “Corinthian” teams with no pros at all – that’s just 11% of the fleet (though one of them – Marcus Eagan’s Cajun Underwriting - is showing that a great amateur driver with great amateur crew can beat the crap out of most average amateur drivers with rock star crew). There’s no video, no website, and no ace pro photographers. In fact, other than Clean and Mer showing up for a day of coverage (check out some mark rounding videos from yesterday on our Facebook Page) there is not a single reporter from any sailing publication covering the regatta; they are at home posting press releases and low-res photo galleries.
There’s a very simple explanation for this bizarre state of affairs; the 2013 Worlds venue is one of the silliest places ever to hold a World Championship. It’s at the ultra-exclusive Ocean Reef Club, a place where folks don’t usually go without an Amex Black Card, an AARP membership, and a golf bag. There are literally no low-cost options for housing or food within 30 minutes’ drive – not a single one – and the resort, one of the world’s biggest master-planned communities, has only one hotel, and you can buy a new set of sails for the cost of a week’s stay. Just a handful of the teams are staying offsite on the cheap, and it is quite literally an hour’s commute to get back to the boat each morning. Add the $1800 entry fee to the food, lodging, and transport costs, and it becomes clear why there are just 52 boats competing, and you see why a couple of pro’s day rates is just a drop in the bucket – hence the 11% amateur fleet.
The Melges 24 fleet in the US has never really recovered from hosting their 2005 Worlds at the same resort; the 99 boat-starting line is still the biggest non-European Worlds in that class’s history. Our advice to other classes? Take this one off your list. They don’t want you there, and most of your members don’t want to go.
But it does accomplish something interesting for us spectators; we get to see a fleet of the best sailors ever assembled for a sport boat regatta. And we get to watch an old friend and one of the first Anarchists on the cusp of winning his first-ever Worlds. You can sort-of follow along too; the penultimate day of racing starts now, and you can follow along on the Audi Melges 20 Facebook Page.
Meredith Block photo.
December 13th, 2013 by admin
The first-ever Melges 20 Worlds gets underway in just 3 months down in the Florida Keys. 36 are registered, 50+ are likely, with Samba Pa Ti, Mascalzone Junior, Bacio, and Stig the favorites. Check out this little promo video and tell us again: Will you be there? If so, register!
September 4th, 2013 by admin
Michael Kiss/Chris Rast/Wille McBride horizon-jobbed the Melges 20 fleet on the final race to win the European Champs today; here’s a beautiful shot of the Porto Rotondo venue from new Studio Borlenghi acolyte Andrea Pisapia with a gallery here. Full results here.
September 1st, 2013 by admin
With the C-Class stuff, some great scow films this year, and the upcoming E-Scow Nationals, Penalty Box Productions’ Petey Crawford is on a roll lately, and this 5-minute ‘story of the M20 Nationals’ is kickass from beginning to end. It gets you charged up, laughing, and makes you feel as though you were there; something precious few of the dozens of sailing reels we review weekly do. Check it out, and congrats again to the Audi Melges 20 Masters (and overall US) Champion John Kilroy! And if you think your club members’ kid with the nice HD camcorder and a pirated version of Final Cut is going to do your next national-level event proud, think again…and then give Petey a shout.
August 28th, 2013 by admin
California’s John Kilroy is a good example of where sailing is going in the USA, even for the guys that can afford to play on any level. From Maxis in the 90s and TP52s in the 2000s, Kilroy moved into the Melges 32 (and won the 33-boat Worlds last year), and last year, joined the Melges 20 Class. Like pretty much everyone who gets a taste, Kilroy has become a freak for one-design, and the smaller the boat, the bigger the victory for each player.
As the top of the M20 Class gets rolling on schedule to peak at the Class’s first-ever Worlds in December in the Florida Keys, Kilroy, along with tactician Jeremy “Troll” Wilmot and trimmer Jeff Reynolds, came from an overnight fourth-place to snake a come-from-behind victory from a deep field, winning the 2013 US National Championship in Macatawa Bay, MI. It was the first time in the four year-history of the Class that a Michigander didn’t win the US Nationals; Eric Wynsma (Superfly) in 2009 and Class standout Michael Kiss (Bacio) every year since, who both sail out of the gorgeous spot on the picturesque Eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Kilroy also grabbed the ‘Masters’ trophy for best over-60 skipper, Toronto badass Brian Hill took the Corinthian title, while 21-year old Morgan Kiss sailed daddy’s old boat to a 13th place and top female skipper and under-25 skipper.
Petey Crawford will be dropping a sexy highlight reel late tonight for your viewing pleasure; in the meantime, check out more Meredith Block photos like the one above at the Facebook Page or the Event site. All the racing action – well, most anyway – was reported in old-school OTWA style by our own Mr. Clean on the Class FB page as well, and the next few months should feature plenty of action there for the hottest amateur owner/driver 20 footer on the market – so stay tuned.
- Tags: Audi Melges 20, Jeff Reynolds, Jeremy WIlmot, John Kilroy, Macatawa Bay, Melges 20, Samba Pa Ti
August 27th, 2013 by admin
Petey Crawford’s tribute to Big Booty owner Pat Eudy premiered last night before the Melges 20 Nationals fleet, and there weren’t a lot of dry eyes once it was over. Here it is.
August 25th, 2013 by admin
The first On-The-Water Anarchy ‘Cocktail Hour’ in some time, Mr. Clean pulled a group of Melges 20 pros, amateurs, and owners together for a half hour of tuning tips and discussion of where the sexy sportboat class is headed. Jeremy Wilmot, Morgan Kiss, Cameron Dunn, Rob Wilber, Brian Hill, and Paul Goodison feature in this Ustream video from the Melges 20 US Nationals. With three races down and two days left, Michael Kiss (Bacio) leads first-time M20′er and former gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos…daily report here and photo galleries here and here.
Follow the action live throughout the day with Clean and Mer on the Melges 20 Facebook page. And be sure to check in late Saturday night for the world premiere of the Class’s video tribute to recently passed M20 racer Pat Eudy; Keep your Kleenex nearby.
August 24th, 2013 by admin
26 boats are on the line in Macatawa, Michigan for the US Nationals as the Melges 20 Class begins the build toward their first-ever World Championship this December in the Florida Keys. The world’s top sailors dot some boats while low-key family programs fill others; a nice mix for a sexy boat that’s now an International Class at a club that looks more Lake Garda than Lake Michigan for this well-branded Audi event.
Mer, Clean, and Petey are bringing their ‘lite’ OTWA program to the Melges 20 Facebook page; They’ll have photos, videos, and written updates, and a live-streaming program including tonight’s Opening Ceremony, an hour-long ’chalk talk’ with M20 owners, crew, and pros on Friday, and Sunday’s awards. Like the FB page for the most frequent updates; if all you want is live video, follow the Melges 20 Ustream page here. Meredith Block photo.
August 22nd, 2013 by admin
Here’s an idea for the next time there’s not enough wind to go Melges 20 sailing: Throw a great big party and get high — jet-powered high! Thanks to M20 and GL70 owner Lance Smotherman for a great party in Harrison Township, MI, and kudos to long time Bayview sailor Adam Hollerbach for pulling off the flight on his first try. Meredith Block iPhoto. Melges 20 Nationals will be on the other end of the Great Lake State August 23-25 in beautiful Holland, MI.
- Tags: Melges 20
July 8th, 2013 by admin