10 May 2010

Melges 17 Spring Championship On Lake Geneva A Big Success

First, thank you to Mike and Diane Sherin for their excellent RC work. Bob Winter did the scoring and we always appreciate his help and dedication to our sailing a the LGYC.

The Melges 17 is the newest scow type sailboat Melges produces and the fleet is continuing to grow based on their grass roots approach to the sport.  Sailing Clubs from around the USA are getting into the Melges 17. Many fleets in Michigan are popping up as the Melges 17 is easy, fun and exciting to sail.

The Lake Geneva Yacht Club has hosted the Annual Spring Championship since 2006.  This year 17 Melges 17’s helped the LGYC to open the clubs door for the season.  Practice sailing and registration started on Friday.  A slight mist did not stop people from rigging up and practicing.  The forecast for Saturday was cold and big breeze so the fleet wanted to be prepared well in advance.

Lots of wind and cold air arrived for Saturday. The fleet tinkered and tuned their boats most of the day as we waited to go for a sail.  At one point a 2:30 start was called on however a rain squall came through, the wind increased to near 28 mph so the fleet put itself on hold until later in the day. Finally, Mike Sherin the fleets PRO decided to call it off for the day and call for an early start on Sunday.  9am kick off.

Sunday was perfect.  Sunny, forecast of 65 and moderate winds greeted the fleet.  Three races were sailed in shifty, inland lake conditions.  Peter Lane traveled from San Francisco, California to race in the event with his brand new Melges 17.  “Lakes are interesting”, said Peter.  Lane is the current Melges 17 Midwinter Champion taking the championship on a large inland lake in central Florida.  “The Melges 17 is fun no matter where you race it”.

The first race was dominated by Deb Gluek in USA-51.  Deb and her husband Jim showed great light air form downwind.  Deb sat on the lowside keeping the angle of heel just right.  She could see and anticipate the new wind coming which gave her a big advantage.  Of course having a great sailor like her husband up front helps but she won this race based on her technique and top scow form.  Jim Hilgard was second and Coye Harrett finished third.

Race number two had a total fleet inversion up the second beat.  Sean Fidler took advantage as he sailed up to the front on a big left hand shift.  Lesa Gutenkunst was second and Tom Munroe was third. Derek Packard did a nice job on the first run to be in the lead on a tight reach with spinnaker up.  Derek is the current Melges 17 Inland Champion.

The championship came down to the third and final race  of the day. It was very close between Gutenkunst, Fidler, Hilgard, Gluek, Harrett and Mike Dow.   On the first run it was clear that Gutenkunst and Harrett were going to blitz the fleet as they took off on this run with breeze and better technique.  Gluek and Hilgard tried to stay close but could not.  Fidler was back a ways but certain in striking distance with this shifty, spotty conditions.  In the end Lesa Gutenkunst with her husband John won the last race and the Melges 17 Spring Championship.  Witnessing their speed up close I can tell you they were ultra fast in the light air conditions.  Upwind and downwind but in particular off the starting line where they set the pace for each race.  Congratulations to Lesa on winning this big regatta.

Top 5 Results

1st  Lesa Gutenkunst    9 points
2nd Sean Fidler    10
3rd Deb Gluek     12
4th Jim Hilgard    13
5th Coye Harrett    14

Crystal Lake Yacht Club in Michigan will host the Blue Water Regatta Mid-June. We expect 25 boats racing in this event.  The Melges 17 Inland Championship takes place in early June on Pewaukee – be sure to hit these big regattas!

View the Spring Championship Photo Gallery.

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