It was our pleasure to follow two gorgeous sailor chicks at the M32 Worlds last week for their skills as much as their ‘tude and looks. As you’ll understand if you know anything about the Melges 32, there’s no room for deck candy on these screaming machines – only real sailors, and aboard ‘Argo,’ our Sailor Chick honorees finished fifth at Worlds despite having only one bona fide professional sailor aboard, and according to owner Jason Carroll, the girls were a big part of the team’s success. Strategist and SA contributor Molly Baxter is a smart, quick, and talented dingy sailor who thrives under pressure and proved it as a 4-time college National Champ and 2-time All-American, while "Luscious" Julie Howe is also a former college National Champion and All-American who hiked her 108 lbs. as hard as any sailor we saw all week, and did a great job finding the puffs downwind – a crucial job on a boat that can pass a whole pack in one small puff. These girls are great people, full of attitude, sass, and skill, and they prove that girls don’t need to be mannish or muscular to make a huge difference to a top grand prix crew. Congratulations girls, and we look forward to hearing more of your escapades soon.
Here’s Molly’s final report from Porto Cervo:
Well, we finally made it back to New York City, still in awe of our experience at the M32 Worlds last week [and in awe of the fully debauched Fear and Loathing trip aboard their chartered private jet as well, so we hear… -ed] The final two days were filled with anticipation, excitement and accomplishment. By now everyone knows that the championship was more or less over after the Race 9 windward mark, when Team 93, who’d been working the port layline hard all week to take advantage of the generally overstood fleet at the starboard layline, used the tactic one time too many. 93 went for the lee bow on the leader a couple of lengths from the mark, played it too close, and banged into Bliksem, and never did her turns. Jeremy Wilmot took it to the room since there was contact, won the protest, and combined with an extremely consistent Day 4, won the regatta with a race to go.
On the final morning of the event, Bliksem’s crew took to the RIB to spectate despite Argo’s mascot "Terence McKnight" having carefully inspected their racing rig so carefully the night before, and getting stuck atop the spreader. The scent of last night’s Jagermeister wafted downwind from the victorious crew’s tender on the first truly light and shifty breeze of the week, while a reduced lump continued to roll in from the East.
Argo went into the last day in 7th place overall, and we all knew the final race would be a crucial one, with incredibly close scores from position 2 through 8 and tricky conditions to spread the scores around. After a mind-scrambling first beat Argo was well placed, but Team 93 found itself in another inside-the-zone lee bow at the weather mark, got protested, and lost enough positions in the mess to lose second place for the regatta. Tactician John Baxter put Argo in great spots all race, allowing us to edge out the excellent Mascalzone Latino by 5 points for the final spot at the Worlds prize podium – fifth place overall!
Taselaar and his Bliksem team were thrilled to become the first World Champions in the Melges 32 Class. “It was a very tough week; the other competitors were of a very high standard. We have been working hard for a year and a half now, you never know if it’s going to work but it would seem it has. I have a great team. We are absolutely delighted to have won this World Championship and there is absolutely no better place to do it than in Porto Cervo!” Taselaar’s mixed US / Australian crew included tactician Jeremy "Troll" Wilmot, Nathan "Nats" Wilmot, Michael "Cocko" Coxon, George "Bear" Peet, Alex "Clegger" Clegg, Pauly Atkins, and Willem "Creature" Van Waay, who actually shaved their sail number (69 of course) into his chest hair, and as if that wasn’t enough, shaved the Bliksem lightning bolt into his beard. And there are rumors of tattoos…
As fellow competitors and now close friends, the Bliksem guys were a true pleasure to race against the past few regattas. They always have a great attitude, work hard to meet their goals, tune with us before racing, share tips, and even allowed coach Morgan Reeser to provide us with pointers during the Worlds. This kind of feeling and camaraderie is what makes the Class special, especially among the US boats, and I know that many boat owners from other classes are taking a good look at this fleet. I have had one of my best ever years sailing in this class full of top talent and fun people, both young and old, and now with more big names joining the European class, momentum is strong. Harry Melges and Andy Burdick are doing the best they can given conditions in the US, but Federico, Luisa, and Paola are really blazing the way in Europe with the support of Audi and a unified, standalone series that is simply a blast. It’s certainly something that the US Class should be working towards if they are not already.
On a final note I must thank Argo’s owner Jason Carroll for the opportunity to be part of this incredible class, our sponsor Gul for supporting Team Argo, our rock star M32 Worlds PRO Peter “Luigi” Reggio, and of course, Vincenzo Onorato for stepping up to answer the begging we made on SA last week for some Mascalzone Latino jackets for Julie and me – I think they are perfect, so thanks Vin!
My final thank you is to Sailing Anarchy, which I’ve been reading every day for years for their great sailing reports, world-leading regatta coverage, and funny stories about the sport I love. Now that I’ve taken the time to write some of those reports myself, I will no longer take the site for granted – it is only as good as the work that its readers put into it, and while not easy, sharing our story on the front page has been truly rewarding. I also got to see, first hand, the huge dedication and seemingly endless work that Alan and Meredith put forth to provide the level of event coverage they do, promoting the sport for all of us. Grazie, i Cleani, and Ciao! Oh yeah, and those Argo boy shorts pics I promised.