Bob Heathcote Wins 2011 Lansing Melges 17 Regatta and Clinic
3 May 2011
Report courtesy of John Leferve - Twelve boats arrived for the first annual Melges 17 Kick-Off Regatta & Clinic at Lake Lansing. Nine teams took advantage of the warmer weather on Friday and arrived on time to get their boats rigged and get some sailing time in on Friday afternoon. Near perfect conditions with sunshine and 7-10 knots breeze made for great introductory sailing conditions. Sean Fidler was on hand to help new and newer teams with rigging and tuning to get their boats ready for racing along with Jim Gluek from Melges. Most teams were sailing for the first time this season and 4 of the teams were new to the Melges 17. Some marks were set and some video was taken of the crews on the water. A junior crew of Jake Erdman and Chris Lopez were the first to arrive at 10 am and it was great to have them join the regatta and Melges 17 fleet. They took advantage and got several hours of practice in on Friday evening and sailed very well. HD video of the practice session was later viewed at the LeFevre residence where several gathered for beer and pizza and to debrief on the first day of sailing. Watching instant video is a great way to improve your sailing.
Saturday arrived and the forecast was accurate – chilly and breezy. Winds were from the southeast at 15 with gusts to 20+ at times which made for very challenging conditions for the first day. For most of us it was our first time on the water for 2011. Four races were sailed in rapid succession and the race committee did an excellent job with race and time management.
Race 1: This race was led early by brand new Melges 17 owner Chad Coberly (Grand Rapids, MI) in his first Melges 17 race ever. Many lead changes occurred and a strong final run by Deb and Jim Gluek (USA 51) earned them the win followed by a strong comeback from Bob Heathcote (with JP Del Solar Goldsmith as crew), Brian McMurray, Lesa Gutenkunst and newcomer Chad Coberly.
Race 2: With wind building and some stronger gusts to 18+ several boats recorded speeds of 15 + in this race. After a start at the un-favored boat end Chad Coberly tacked and went fairly hard right with some local lake Lansing knowledge from crew Sean Fidler. Brian McMurray won the left end and was in a strong position until the right came in near the mark and Chad was able to jump ahead followed closely by a large pack. The first run was full planning with boat handling and nailing the take down being paramount. Chad hung on followed by Heathcote, team Dow, team McMurray and team Tom Monroe Jr.
Race 3: Getting windier with some gusts around 20. Upwind the right worked again and Chad did a nice job of protecting the right without letting go of the boats in the middle of the course. On the first run team Dow sacrificed themselves to avoid an acrobatic water dancing display from team Monroe and capsized in the high speed maneuver to avoid disrupting the performance. The rest of the run was flat out flying with solid wind in the 15+ range. Chad hung on to win again with Bob Heathcote recovering from a hard left position after the start that looked deep followed by Lesa and John Gutenkunst, team Gluek and team McMurray.
It was decided after four races (and forecasted winds to gust to 30 mph) that that would be enough racing for day 1. The group broke for lunch and some rest. Dinner was moved up to 4 PM at the nearby (and world famous) Blue Gill Grill overlooking lake Lansing. A big screen HD TV was patched in and the group enjoyed watching a slide show and videos of the day’s sailing while enjoying dinner. Some great footage of the action was captured by the race committee which was enjoyed by all the teams.
Sunday racing started early (9:30) with slightly warmer temps and lighter winds although they were still at 12+ from the south. The wind was much steadier without the “on-edge” puffs experienced on Saturday. The rain held off and we quickly got in 3 races and were back to the docks by noon. The third race gave us seven total for the regatta so we had one throw out in the scoring.
Race 5: Kicked off with a bold start effort by Jr's Jake Erdman and Chris Lopez. They went for (and just missed) an aggressive start at the heavily favored pin end. Team Dow took the pin cleanly although the line was short enough that the advantage was not massive. At mark one Brian McMurray led nicely with a strong upwind leg followed by a very fast Bob Heathcote and rapidly improving Mike Moody with crew Brad Kleihege. At the next weather mark Bob Heathcote had found the lead followed closely by team Dow, team Monroe and team McMurray. The final run saw team Dow right on the heels of Heathcote, followed by a strong comeback from team Gluek, team Monroe and team McMurray.
Race 6: Began with Jake and Chris nailing the pin and leading the fleet off to the left side of the course. Not bad for their first regatta in a Melges 17! At the first mark an amazingly consistent Bob Heathcote led followed by a rapidly improving team Monroe and always fast team Dow. By the next weather mark Heathcote was still in the lead but Dow was closing it up followed by a great sailing from Tom Monroe Jr. (with dad crewing) in third. Heathcote hung on for the win (barely)
Race 7: USA 206 (Moody) pulled the trigger slightly early at the pin allowing McMurray to take the start. Just behind, a great start on the hip of McMurray by team Gluek (USA 51) was immediately followed by a quick tack to port to cross the fleet. Team McMurray looked good early but a right shift up the middle of the beat gave a solid lead to team Gluek followed by the ever consistent Bob Heathcote, team Dow, team McMurray and team Gutenkust. Gluek maintained the lead downwind with Dow pushing Heathcote into the leeward mark. Dow got a knot in the takedown line and lost alot of ground to the lead pack. The 2nd upwind leg saw team McMurray pass 4 boats to take the lead followed by Gluek, Heathcote, Gutenkunst and Monroe. The final run an early jybe by Heathcote cost him boat as the wind lightened and shifted right 25 degrees. Meanwhile the Glueks closed up on McMurray. A photo finish confirmed McMurray held on for the win the win followed by Gluek, Gutenkenst who passed Heathcote for third and a solid performance from Tom Monroe Jr. in 5th.
Bob Heathcote won the regatta with very consistent sailing. In his scored races he was first or second in every race. Deb and Jim Gluek traveling from Wisconsin also sailed very consistently including a win in race one and two second place finishes to take second place. Brian and Deborah McMurray won race 7 on Sunday which helped them claim third place. Mike and Stephanie Dow from Traverse City took fourth place overall finishing second in races 5 and 6 on Sunday. Lesa and John Gutenkunst also traveling from Wisconsin took fifth place overall with third place finishes in races 3, 4, and 7.
This regatta was a great season kick off and is already on the calendar for next year. This gives Melges 17 teams a regatta to start their season and tune-up for the high anticipated Lake Geneva Regatta which is the following week. The Lake Lansing Sailing Club looks forward to hosting this event next year and sincerely appreciates all the boats that traveled to Lansing to participate.