Newport’s weather continued her wicked ways on the final day of the Layline/Oakcliff Sailing Center Melges 24 Nationals and Melges 32 Northeast Championship, with massive fog banks dropping visibility to less than a hundred feet at times, eventually killing chances for a final showdown and sending everyone back to the docks for an early awards party. This Meredith Block pic captures boats shortly after safety boats took off to Seal Rocks to keep half the fleet from running aground.
Fortunately both fleets had gotten in enough racing during days one and two to call it a championship, though the conditions both days were fluky and extremely shifty and not a particlarly accurate gauge on who’s fastest or smartest in these fleets.
Despite the unpredictability on the course, Alan Field proved why he’s one of the top amateur Melges 24 helms on earth with the hard-fought victory, his first ever Melges National Championship. His crew of Anarchists and closet anarchists – Steve Hunt, Jeff Reynolds, Erik Shampain, and Sarah Curren – have been sailing together since Field made the jump to the sportboat – and that makes all the difference. They’ll head out to Rochester for the M24 NAs in September after taking delivery of a brand new boat, but if former class stalwarts like Ullman, Nixon, and Porter continue to be occupied with bigger things, Field may have this one in the bag already. Though rumors of the omnipresent Bora Gulari driving his very own loaner may change things considerably…
In the 32s, John Porter’s Full Throttle is finally doing justice to the all-conquering scow and Melges 24 brand that the Midwestern family loves so well – and it was largely a family program that ran away with this regatta. Brother Brian owns something like four M24 National titles, so little brother has some catching up to do, but he’s off to a good start. The M32 fleet will be swelling up significantly for their next big event in Harbor Springs – Nationals – with the big names treating it as their pre-worlds, it should be all on. One interesting little fact: Despite this weekend conflicting with the A-Scow Nationals, a tradition for the folks that run the race boat company, President Andy Burdick and CEO Harry Melges were both here supporting sportboats. Sign of the future, or sign that the hundred-year-old family business is getting too big for some traditions?
We’ll have some more info on this regatta for you tomorrow, along with links to our live coverage, though with light air and a T-Mobile 3G network that imploded across 5 states, it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to watch. But you can bet we were taking some detailed notes as we prepare for our live streaming coverage of the C-Cats in the Little America’s Cup next month in the same spot. We’ve got our bandwidth sorted and our live onboard audio nearly set up, and it’ll be something to remember for fans of live racing everywhere!