Looking at the weather forecast, I decided to leave Michigan early for this first ever Audi Melges 20 winter circuit event. To my surprise, I arrived at our HQ – Shake-A-Leg Miami, and saw that I wasn’t alone in my desire to escape the nastiness – many of the other teams were there too, basking in the sun as they worked on their boats.
It would be hard to find a better facility for our winter circuit, they’ve been super accommodating and have a perfect launch facility. Coconut Grove Sailing Club is the regatta host, providing great RC work and the Club served as social headquarters during the event. Many of us stayed at the Sonesta, right across the road–no rental car needed, and tons of walkable options for dinner and shopping just a block away.
The boats went together quickly, despite the Canadian’s attempt at slowing things down with a large cooler of (American!) beer. Glad to see the new teams however, and there are several here. Jeff Ecklund and his STAR team are newcomers to the fleet, with George "bear" Peet (Melges 32 world champ) and Bora Gulari (Moth class world champ) expertly driven by Jeff Ecklund (former Melges 24 world champ). The boat is new to their team, but the game is not and they were fast immediately. We have plenty of other talent here, and
the list of names on the crew roster is pretty intimidating. Andy Burdick, Jim Gluek, Harry Melges, Mike Wolfs, Sam Rogers, the list just goes on. Not to mention Justin Hood and Wally Cross on my own boat. They scare me too.
It’s not all just about the racing though,and the call was made early by Erik Post’s team (sailing Vaya Con Dios from Macatawa, mi.) to do some charter fishing before the regatta. The Chumbag Fishing Society was born, and early members include sailors from 4 different Melges 20 teams – and we scored two beautiful sailfish. The first took an hour to reel in, 8 guys taking turns, the second was hauled in 5 minutes by JP del Solar Goldsmith-all alone. Clearly JP is still dealing with some anger issues after getting jacked by pirates a couple weeks ago (see front page story).
As a long time vet of the ‘old’ winter circuit, I’ll miss doing Key West and SORC and such, but I must admit–I’d rather do a series of 2- or 3-day regattas than one regatta which consumes 10 days and probably more money than the entire Melges winter series. This is an easier and less burdensome way to get the winter ‘fix’ us northerners need, and is spread out over the
whole winter. It’s really ideal.
Saturday saw 20+, and the Star team was just playing a different game than the rest of us, ripping off violent jibes and jumping on a plane sooner, staying there longer. Ecklund and the mothies took four bullets. It was inspiring. Sunday’s light air switched things up a bit, and it was fun to see how different teams got through the ranges, with the tuning learning curve being steep for many! We had a good day, tying Star for the regatta after Laser ace and local Tom Lihan took the helm for Ecklund and didn’t have the best day. Star won on countback, though – every position counts!
After a gear-buster day in Saturday’s breeze, it was no surprise to find a sweaty Harry Melges and Andy Burdick working on boats as they had for the last couple days on that hot parking lot while we’re out fishing and tuning. All of us are grateful for their hard work, but man… It must truly suck to own a boat company!
Two more events constitute our Audi / Melges 20 winter series, one in February and concluding with the Bacardi Cup in March. Details at www.melges20.com. Not too late to join the fun, and some charter boats are available to prospective Buyers. Come check it out !
Results are here, you can check out more photos here, and below are three video interviews with some of the teams. Photo courtesy Joy Dunigan. Check out the following interviews:SuperFly ,Bora Gulari and Tom Lihan on the Audi / Melges 20, Mary Anne Ward (former SCOTW) perspective on the class.
USA 116 SuperFly