miami midfleet

on board

miami midfleet

The brilliant and beautiful Molly Baxter checks in after a mediocre finish in a monster of a fleet with Team Argo.  The Melges 32 is all that’s left of the US Grand Prix fleet, a shame for some but certainly not for the thriving and spectacular fleet, not the least of which because it includes sailors like Mrs. Baxter.

Miami Race Week just wrapped up, and aside from the cold weather, it proved to be another fantastic event.  The last day brought similar conditions to what we saw all week – choppy waves and cool temperatures with 10-20 knot northerlies.   Going into Sunday, Jean-Francois Cruette’s Teasing Machine was only 4 points ahead of Bliksem, followed by Star and Full Throttle closely behind.   There were plenty of boats over early in the two last races and conditions made it very difficult to be consistent.  With a handful of past Melges 24 World Champs aboard, Teasing Machine opened up the last day with an 11th place which then had to become their drop race, and Bliksem finished in 14th, allowing Full Throttle and Star (who finished 4th and 2nd respectively), to jump into the heated battle for the lead as they entered the last race. Pieter Taselaar’s boys did the one thing they couldn’t afford:  They hit the weather mark and had to spin.  Eventually they would bounce back to 5th, but it was only enough to avoid getting worse than 4th for the event.

Teasing Machine sailed a consistent last race finishing 6th, enough to stay on top and Full Throttle and Star were able to jump ahead of Bliksem for 2nd and 3rd place overall.  John Porter’s Full Throttle team looked sharp after a two year hiatus, and Star has been at the top of the Melges 32 class many times before so their 3rd was no big surprise.  Vince Porter pointed out that the finish in race 9, where Full Throttle nipped Argo at the finish, was the difference between second and fourth overall. Team Red helmed by Joe Woods with Laser Gold medalist Paul Goodison on tactics from Great Britain won the Florida Grand Prix which is awarded to the boat with the lowest combined scores at the Melges 32 Gold Cup, Key West Race Week and the Miami Grand Prix.

The level of sailing in the 32 class is still rising almost vertically with professionalism and long pre-regatta training becoming de rigeur.  The fleet was incredibly close in speed from top to bottom in Miami.  It was funny when our main trimmer Chad Corning said as we were approaching the weather mark of the last race, “everyone will be arriving at the weather mark at the same time”.   This is a fleet where literally every boat was sporting world -class talent. Tactician Andrew Campbell & Ninkasi finished 8th, Ed Baird’s first M32 event on Volpe finished 10th, Jud Smith & Lake Effect (who won a race) came in 19th out of 23.  The boat I was on, Jason Carroll’s Argo with tactician John Baxter, narrowly edged out Phil Lotz’s Arethusa, with Richard Clarke calling tactics, the same role he had when crowned Melges 24 World Champion sailing with Chris Larson.  At this event, nearly a third of the entrants are from outside the US and we are sure to see more and more teams from across the pond in anticipation to the Melges 32 Worlds this September in San Francisco.  With such cool boats to sail it’s no wonder why this class is having so much fun while growing so quickly.

I have to admit that it was nice to see Teasing Machine at the top; they are a great group of guys from France and clearly trained hard for this win [you can meet owner Jean-Francois Cruette during this Cocktail Hour show from last year’s Porto Cervo M32 Worlds. Part 1  Part 2Part 3  -ed] After a disappointing 13th in Key West, they bounced back hard and their coach AJ (Andreas Josenhans) undoubtedly had something to do with their wheels.  It was really cool to see AJ motoring up to the French team with a huge proud smile at the end of the event looking at his team who had clearly worked hard.   The next Melges 32 event is at Charleston Race Week and then the M32 East Coast Champs at American YC in Rye.

A big thanks from the whole crew to Argo’s sponsor – Sound Boatworks – for outfitting us in great SLAM gear and providing top service at this event.  Until next time…
Sharon Green Photo