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Surfin’ the Sou’Wester
Melges 20 Worlds kicks off in epic fashion with a perfect Southwest breeze at 18-23 kts, three races were completed in near perfect conditions
Tourists come to Newport for fall foliage and clam chowder. Sailors come for yachting history and the legendary Newport Sou’wester Breeze which arrived on Day One of the 2017 Melges 20 World Championship. Mixing together warm, sunny fall temperatures, great breeze and near perfect Melges 20 surfing conditions, three races were completed in efficient fashion with Drew Freides’ PACIFIC YANKEE holding the overnight lead with an impressive 1, 2, 2.
With a plan to start on time, at 11 a.m. eastern time, PRO Peter “Luigi” Reggio sent the fleet to course ‘Alpha’ or better known as the outside course. With wind at 15-18 kts, 2-3 ft waves and a solid southwest direction, Race One began with a clean start and Friedes leading at the top mark, followed by Igor Rytov’s RUSSIAN BOGATYRS, and John Kilroy’s SAMBA PA TI. In a duel of leaders of the North American and European World League leaders, Freides showed polished form around the track to fend off Rytov, and making a hard charge for third was Rob Wilber and his team of pork chops on CINGHIALE. With his race win, Freides said:
We had a good, consistent day today. We tried not to take too many risks and we were going fast, so we kept it conservative and let the boat speed do everything it could for us. We were in the right place for a couple big shifts, and the guys sailed great.
Wasting no time, Reggio fired off the warning signal for Race Two and it was Jim Wilson’s OLEANDER who tacked off the line and found a nice honey hole in the deep right corner. With a track similar to a Nascar oval, the teams that extended to the right corner on the upwinds and nailed the right corner downwind saw big gains. Wilson would hang on for the win followed by Freides and SAMBA. Wilson commented post race:
"We had ideal Newport conditions today. It felt great to win a race here at the Worlds. The racing was close and clean. It was full-on near the top end of the fleet. Lots of high speed action. On a day like today, there's nothing better than going downwind with the kite up!"
The final race of the day saw a general recall which was a much needed additional break for teams looking to catch their breath. With breeze continuing to touch 22-23 kts, the Melges 20s had a full gallop down wind while surfing big waves and getting the occasional mouth full of salt water. Using the mid-line sag to his advantage, Wilber punched off the line, tacked to port and extended to the right, and played the middle left taking advantage of the first lefty puffs of the day. After a brief tussle with longtime Melges 20 owner Daniel Thielman at the helm of KUAI, Wilber managed to hang on for the win, with Freides charging into second and Rytov in third.
“We kinda pulled it together on the last race of the day,” said Wilber. “We had a great first race, a tough Race Two, but we regrouped to take a bullet in the third race. There’s no better way to do that than to go out and win one. We are excited for Day Two.”
Post racing, Melges 20 sailors gathered at New York Yacht Club Harbor Court sponsored by owners Drew Freides and Rob Wilber, to relax and regale each other in stories from an epic day of Melges 20 sailing. With breathtaking views on the top of the hill at Harbor Court, daily awards were given as teams guessed at whether the race course will remain ‘outside’ for Day Two, or will the wind and sea state demand that the race course be moved to the ‘inside’ race course which would present a new set of challenges.
Thank you to the New York Yacht Club for serving as hosts, and our chief sponsors Melges USA and North Sails.
MELGES 20 WORLD LEAGUE GLOBAL RANKINGS
Top Five – After 12 Events so far
1.) Igor Rytov, RUSSIAN BOGATYRS (RUS) = 136 pts.
2.) Vladimir Prosikhin, NIKA (RUS) = 95 pts.
3.) Achille Onorato, MASCALZONE LATINO JR. (ITA) = 82 pts.
4.) Drew Freides, PACIFIC YANKEE (USA) = 77 pts.
5.) Alexander Ezhkov, PIROGOVO (RUS) = 73 pts.
MELGES WORLD LEAGUE, NORTH AMERICA RANKINGS
Top Five – After Four Events so far
1.) Drew Freides, PACIFIC YANKEE = 77 pts.
2.) Liam Kilroy, WILDMAN = 66 pts.
3.) Rob Wilber, CINGHIALE = 61 pts.
4.) John Kilroy, Jr., SAMBA PA TI = 61 pts.
5.) Jason Michas, MIDNIGHT BLUE = 58 pts.
2017 Melges 20 World League Preliminary Results
About North Sails
North Sails, the largest division of North Technology Group, is the world leader in sailmaking technology. North Sails holds the patent for 3Di, a unique composite construction process that produces high-performance sails that approach the shape holding of a rigid foil. North Sails is the sailmaker of choice on the majority of America’s Cup, Grand Prix, ocean race boats and Superyachts. North Sails offers a wide range of performance 3D and paneled sails for cruising sailors and is the world’s leading sailmaker for one-design classes with more National, World and Olympic Class victories than all other sailmakers combined.