Straight Bullets For Labanauskus

Straight Bullets For Labanauskus

23 July 2007

23 JULY 2007 Andy Labanauskus from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is the 2007 Melges 17 ILYA Champion as he racked up a string of bullets this past weekend. The Pewaukee Yacht Club hosted this event and they did it in style as Tammy Sawyer and Dave Decker put on a show for the start up Melges 17 fleet. What a championship! Exciting boats, great fun this past weekend! Better get into this new boat ? the Melges 17 is HOT!

The Pewaukee Yacht Club ? a legendary club with legendary racing sailors. This prestigious venue hosted the Melges 17's very first annual ILYA Championship and what an event it was. Four championship races, over 20 Melges 17?s jetting around the race course, a first class party on Saturday night with over 150 people in attendance and then a rock and roll trophy presentation. What a show!

There were some fun tune up races on Friday evening. Winds were out of the east and they were steady. Many people made it out for these races including some of ?travelers? with this boat. Mark Unicume from Denver, Mary Anne Ward from Florida and Bill Wigginns from South Carolina. Yes, the Melges 17 has spread nationwide so the fleet is diverse. It was great to show this group the ILYA and their standard of racing.

The regattas PRO Bill Dale brought the fleet together for a 10am start. Two races in the morning followed by two races in the afternoon. Right off the bat we had an exciting occurrence. Bill Fauntleroy from White Lake, Michigan port tacked the fleet on the first start of the ILYA Championship. A great sight as the many spectator boats followed Bill and the fleet upwind. Even with this start though there was no stopping Lake Geneva?s Andy Labanauskus. He rounded this first mark in the lead and he simply extended. Then he extended some more as he won the race by a country mile. Augie Barkow was second, Fauntleroy was third and Mary Anne Ward was fourth. Big gains and losses could be made downwind in this East 5-10 mph breeze. When you were in the breeze the boats were really jetting around the course. One spectator commented, ?this is the best bang for the buck out there. Did you see how fast those boats were downwind in the light breeze, amazing! Following and watching this fleet was a blast.?

Race two started up right away and Labanauskus started right where he left off ? in the lead. His USA-97 boat port tacked the fleet and Andy increased his lead from there. Impressive to say the least ? two races, two bullets for Labanauskus. Barkow was second, Fauntleroy third and Ward fourth again.

The PYC served up one of their famous lunches. Dave Decker (Dex) and Tammy Sawyer co-chaired this important event and they put on a show. Great meals, give aways for virtually all of the competitors, a winners circle for the race winners (can?t tell you what happened in the winners circle on Saturday night ? you need to go to the 2008 Melges 17 ILYA to see what takes place in that circle?.yikes!). Post lunch it was more racing with two races in the afternoon.

The spectator fleet bulged to over 30 powerboats watching the final two races of the day! It was one of the largest spectator crowds we have seen in years. Lots of people with a lot of interest in the Melges 17 and the ILYA racing. It was really great to see. The afternoon start gun sounded and this time we saw different people in the front of the fleet but still the same winner. Ken Wruk from Lake Geneva was up there, Hans Meyer from Pewaukee was in the hunt as was Hans Dickel from Minnetonka. All battled for the lead and while some had it for a moment there was simply no stopping the Labanauskus Melges 17 train. He was rolling and going fast. Andy won the third race taking a convincing lead over Augie Barkow and Mary Anne Ward. Bill Fauntleroy struggled in race three dragging him back to fourth overall.

One person that adapted well to the Melges 17 was Sailing World Magazine writer Dave Poewlison. He and his daughter Merideth sailed the boat for the first time and found themselves in the front of the fleet several times. This was great to see and it will probably help him write a fun article. Dave was covering the Melges 17 Inland ? officially reporting on this up and coming hot class, the famous Pewaukee Yacht Club and feature the ILYA and their outstanding traditions. Watch for this article in your upcoming Sailing World Magazine This team had their moments as they worked on their boat speed. Thanks to Harken for letting SWM use their Melges 17. Olaf, we missed not having you race!!

Race four started and the breeze was dropping. This was evident as we approached the end of the day. Still, Labanauskus was too slippery for the competition. He won his fourth race and now had a commanding lead over the others. After the four races the top four were Labanauskus, Ward, Barkow and Fauntleroy.

The fleet raced in for the start of the ILYA?s party. A great meal and a great party. Melges Performance Sailboats and North Sails Zenda provided give aways for the top boats along with the seventeenth boat registered, the boat with seventeen points after the first day, anyone finishing seventeenth in a race ? got the picture? We had a seventeen theme going for this new boat and class. Really fun as this type of presentation at night just prior to the band was a really show stopper. The Melges 17 made a big impression on the ILYA and the PYC.

The Melges 17 band played until 12:30am. (Thank you Melges and North Sails Zenda!). This was a blast as the fleet along with the PYC members rocked. Dex and Tammy know how to put together a great party.

No racing Sunday, no wind. The fleet waited until 11am. Four championship races though marked a first class championship. A short fleet meeting allowed the class to develop their first ILYA representatives along with a board representative. This was a short meeting conducted by ILYA Representative and PYC Commodore PJ Friend. Those individuals selected are Bill Fauntleroy as director for the Melges 17 Fleet, Hans Dickel, Hans Meyer, Ken Wruk, Mary Anne Ward and Jim Hilgard.

Thank you PYC and the ILYA. Candace Porter and the ILYA team then awarded the championship trophies to the fleet. The newly donated trophies put together by the PYC were simply breathtaking. Andy Labanauskus is honored to have his name on the trophy for the first time. The list of winners will grow through the years, just like this new sportboat from Melges Performance Sailboats.

Thank you PYC

The first Melges 17 ILYA Championship was awesome!
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