2013 Melges 32 World Champion mast man and SA Staff Videographer Petey Crawford dusted off his sailing gloves for a little fall action this past weekend, and in our first piece of today’s Midwest Madness, he reports from the 18-boat Lake Geneva Melges 24 Fall Champs, with great pics from LGYC’s Michael Moore and a small gallery over here.
This past week I got a call from some friends in Western Michigan, and they asked if I wanted to go Melges 24 racing in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. After rescheduling a couple of things I jumped at the chance – I used to come to this even more than a decade ago when it was all J/24s, and Buddy Melges’ home club is always a great time. The lake’s empty of powerboats, the fall colors are popping, the breeze is almost always on, and the blue-collar LGYC never disappoints.
Imagine my surprise to pull up to the parking lot and find the clubhouse gone, and replaced with a construction site as the new Buddy Melges Sailing Center takes shape. With no facilities available at LGYC, the event moved across the lake to Gage Marine in Williams Bay, with the Gage staff doing a great job hosting every one of the ten out-of-town teams making the trip.
The Saturday forecast was a little on the brutal side, with expected temps in the high 30s to low 40s, and a mix of rain and snow. You heard that right – SNOW. Despite the hard core forecast, all 18 teams piled on the layers and sailed out through the wall of steam rolling across the water. The RC cranked off 4 races with wind ranges in the 12-18 knots, and it really wasn’t that bad once you got into it. My biggest problem was visibility; glasses on or glasses off, you couldn’t see much through the rain, but it was marginally better than getting the full wintery mix right into my eyeballs. It was a really fun day of sailing with good friends, and we were off the water by 2pm. That opened up the afternoon for us, and we took full advantage to up the fun factor. We were staying at a Methodist church retreat, and along with our upstairs neighbors from Muskegon, we probably broke just about every rule they had with all that time to kill before the 6 PM regatta party. We had about 3 hours of playtime on the shore of the lake with frisbees, volleyballs, wiffle balls, horseshoes, and even acorns flying through the air from all directions. It was pretty chaotic at times and I’m pretty sure we provided more than one topic of discussion for the group of college students who were staying there on an actual Methodist retreat. But goddamn, did we had fun.
Sunday morning started out with a similar forecast but with less warmth and less wind, but with the sun shining, it felt a comparative heat wave. The RC got us two more races to close out this year’s event and again, like it was on Saturday, it was a great day of sailing. Brian Porter and the Full Throttle team fully throttled us all and won every race but 1, but we won the most important race of the week, getting to the hoist first after an early finish in the final race.
We had a brand new VHF radio that must have been on a half-price sale because it only half-worked; we could transmit but could not receive. That was a problem all event, but especially when we were OCS on the last race; by the time the windward boat rolled us and we could hear them telling us we were over we were pretty far back. We swung the bat hard on the first beat hoping to make a gain to get back in the race, but with the breeze cranking, the boats in front of us hooked up on the downwind and were gone, we didn’t stand a chance of passing anyone and decided to take the extra point and get on the trailer first.
This is a great event and a beautiful time of the year to be racing sailboats, I have missed these events over the past few years with living in California and then Florida, and it was just perfect to be out there with friends, racing hard and having fun…even if it felt like we were inside a refrigerator.
-The God Damned Reverend, Out