Former international 470 campaigner and now Melges 24 tactician and coach Michael Miller sends us this report from Glen Lake, MI:
This weekend the M17 Nationals are being held on Glen Lake, Michigan. You may recognize some of the names lined up to duke it out on the pristine waters. Vince Porter of Full Throttle family and Coye Harrett who has Melges glass in his veins, have both won major events. Well-known Melges 24 sailor Mike Dow won this year’s Blue Water regatta with his wife Stephanie. Mary Anne Ward has won regattas and is the 2008 National Points series (Larry Brand Memorial trophy) champion. Lesa Gutenkunst skippering with husband John as crew won the Midwinters and currently leads the 2009 National Points series. Brian and Deb McMurray are always in the hunt. Add Tommy Munroe crewing for father Tom Munroe, and regatta co-chairs Brad and Jandy Sprouse, and the M17 proves family teams are equally competitive. Every regatta this year has had a different winner! This shows how close the competition is!
What is a Melges 17? It is a scow but a new Reichel-Pugh design. It does not have a typical scow sail plan. Think 49er rig (with big, masthead asymmetric kite) on an updated (85 lb lighter) MC scow hull. It does have two boards which have asymmetrical camber to promote lift, and is faster than the Melges 24 downwind. A retrieval line on the big chute makes the douses easy. It tacks on a dime, gybes quick, and accelerates fast enough to give you whiplash. Add some of the nicest, most supportive people on the planet and you get the M17 class.
Regattas range from midwinters in Lake Eustis, Florida to the always windy Easter regatta in Charleston, South Carolina to the summer circuit in the scow homeland of the upper Midwest (Geneva, Minnetonka, Pewaukee, Crystal, Torch). Rumor has it with John Kolius acquiring a dealership in Texas, the White Rock and Ray Hubbard fleets will be forming soon.
Check out the action from the nationals at www.melges17.com and personal updates on Sailing Anarchy.