Summer Arrives Early at Melges 17 Spring Championship

Summer Arrives Early at Melges 17 Spring Championship

14 May 2007

14 MAY 2007 ? It is not often when the weather forecasts are 100% correct for a regatta weekend. This past weekend for the Melges 17 Spring Championship the forecast was for weather in the Mid-70?s and breeze from the east at 10-15 knots.

This was exactly what the Melges 17 fleet was welcomed to on the first day of racing which allowed for Mike Sherin and his committee to fire off 4 solid races.

After a brief skipper?s meeting at the Lake Geneva Yacht Club, 21 Melges 17 teams from Michigan, Wisconsion, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio made their way out to the starting line. The breeze was out of the ENE at 12 knots with flat water which is ideal for Melges 17 racing. The fleet got off the first start clean and it was the Labanauskas brothers, who have been extremely tough on the Melges 17 circuit, leading at the top mark. On the first downwind, all of the Melges 17 racers got to experience what makes these boats so much fun to race downwind. Once the spinnaker is hoisted, it is time to hold on! The top ten boats around the mark split heading downwind; the top half elected to stay on starboard gybe and the boats that rounded later, decided to gybe out. Once the fleet was about as spread out as it could get with half on the South Shore of Lake Geneva, and the other half on the North Shore, it was time to gybe back and see who would be out in front. Ken Wruk, who battled back from a tough start, got in his downwind mode fast and was able to make big money on the South Shore. Andy and Iggy, who were leading the race, chose the North Shore and found themselves in the middle of the pack at the bottom mark. After 1 more lap around the W2 course, Ken Wruk would hold on to take the victory in race 1.

Race 2 was sailed with the same conditions as the first. At the start, a large left shift presented itself to the fleet and Blaine Unicome, a young Melges 17 sailor from Colorado started at the pin and played the left side up the first beat. Blaine rounded the top mark in first with Andy and Iggy right on his tail, who were followed closely by Melges 17 veteran, Brian McMurray. It did not take long again for the fleet to split downwind as Blaine extended on starboard while Iggy gybed out and played the South Shore. Again, it would be the South Shore that would pay off as Iggy and Andy Labanauskas found themselves with a large lead. Brian McMurray and Jerry Gill would also make huge gains on this run while Blaine Unicome learned a valuable lesson downwind; in Melges 17 racing, you need to be on top of all the shifts at all times! Iggy and Andy would go on to win this race with Brian McMurray close behind in second and Ken Wruk in 3rd.

After a quick lunch break served on the water, the breeze had piped up to a steady 14-15 kts with big oscillating shifts which made for some exciting racing. Unlike the first 2 races where the South Shore was paying off big, the third race rewarded those who started at the bottom half of the line and worked the middle of the course. Those who made a dash for the South Shore off the starting line found themselves sailing big knocks all the way to the windward mark. Deb Ziegler, a newcomer to the Melges 17 fleet, would take the bullet in this race with Brian McMurray in 2nd and Ken Wruk in 3rd. After three races, the standings were starting to get tight:

Ken Wruk ? 1,3,3
Brian McMurray ? 4,2,2
Iggy Labanauskas ? 6, 1, 4
Deb Ziegler ? 6,6,1
Jerry Gill ? 4, 8, 4

The fourth race of the day again saw the same conditions as race 3. Only this time, thos who found the South Shore first would make the biggest gains. Staying cool under pressure seemded to be no problem for Ken Wruk and his crew as they once again found themselves in the front of the pack. It did not take long for Melges 17 rookie Clifford Porter to figure out his new toy. Clifford challenged Ken until the very end of the race and made himself known on the race course. By winning the last race of the day, Ken would put himself into pole position heading into the final 2 races on Sunday. McMurray, Ziegler and Labanauskas would all have tough races giving Ken a even more of a cushion.

A great dinner was served for the group of tired sailors and in true Melges 17 fashion, the party was outstanding with a lot of energy. With the forecast for big breeze out of the SE, most sailors elected to wrap up their fun at a resonable hour and get some much needed rest.

Mother?s Day looked as if it would be another great day for Melges 17 races, but Mother Nature had different plans. Large storms in the area called for a postponement in the morning and eventually cancellation as the threatening weather loomed. Ken Wruk is the 2007 Melges 17 Spring Champion after sailing a solid event with very consistent finishes. LGYC has just announced that they have scheduled a Melges 17 Fall Championship for the 3rd weekend in September. If you are looking to get your blood pumping with some exciting racing, get into a new Melges 17 and get out on to the racecourse! Next up is the Crystal Lake Championship, Father?s Day weekend in June. Make arrangements today!

Top 5 Melges 17 Spring Championship
1). Ken Wruk (NS)
2). Iggy Labanauskas (NS)
3). Jerry Gill (NS)
4). Brian McMurray (NS)
5). Deb Ziegler
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