West Side

West Side

For half a decade, one of the big mysteries in US sportboating has been "where did the California Melges 24 Fleets go?"

In the early 2000s, there were fleets dotted around, including a strong San Diego fleet with guys like Vince Brun kicking ass all the way to a World Championship.  But it all seemed to go away, and California has been a black hole for Melges 24 sailing until very recently.  And the rebirth of the class here coincides with a tough time for the US Class in general, with participation down and boat prices falling like Walmart prices, and fleets struggling to reinvent themselves in the face of a disappointing Worlds and big competition from Vipers and other Melges products.

But there’s nothing quite like the Melges 24, and there are few places better to sail sportboats than California.  So a bunch of anarchists have developed the California Cup, a three regatta series that touches some of the best places to sail in the state.  The South Bay of San Diego (April 30-May 2), Lake Tahoe (July 8-10) and San Francisco (August 20-22).  The series’ goal is to bring back what made the Melges 24 great:  Not ultra-high pro-level racing, not extreme hiking, not brand new sails for every regatta – the Cali Cup focuses on a laid back atmosphere with solid, adrenaline-filled competition in great venues with great parties.  And each venue is completely different from the others, and a world away from the same old East Coast venues that so many boats have been sailing in the two-year buildup to October’s Annapolis Worlds.

Hosted by the San Diego YC, Tahoe YC, and San Francisco YC, each California Cup event is tied directly in with the Clubs’ most prestigious (and well attended) regattas: San Diego Yachting Cup, Trans-Tahoe, and in San Francisco for 2010, the US Melges 24 Gold Cup.  And the Anarchists running the show have teamed up with sportboat experts and Melges reps to provide tuning clinics and "Experience Melges" test sails for both the San Diego and San Francisco events.

Check out the brand new California Cup site to sign up, or get in touch with the guys through the site if you are looking for an inexpensive boat to buy on the West coast.  It might be just the change of scenery that you need to start loving your M24 again.

Photo by Ultimate Yachtshots.