Iggy Labanauskas Leads the 2007 Melges 17 Nationals

Iggy Labanauskas Leads the 2007 Melges 17 Nationals

25 August 2007

25 AUGUST 2007 ? Consistency paid off big for overall leader Iggy Labanauskas from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin today with his 1-(4)-1-2-2-3 finish. He leads the twenty-four strong fleet of Melges 17s at the 2007 U.S. National Championship at Crystal Lake Yacht Club in Frankfort, Michigan.

After a short postponement, the first race got off around just after eleven with abundant sunshine and winds out of the northwest at 5-7 knots and building for the start. It was what the locals referred to as 'the perfect Crystal day.' There were a lot of nerves at the beginning as the first horn resulted in a general recall. With the first race jitters out of the way for the moment the second start was much more successful. Reigning Melges 17 National Champion Art Brereton from Chicago, Illinois launched off the pin end looking fast and sailing smooth. His ultimate rival, Labanauskas took to the right, looking specifically to challenge Brereton. The right paid off big with Labanauskas way out front. With a little trouble on his first set of the event and right behind a cluster of competitors rounding he frantically struggled to get the spinnaker set. Once set, he cranked downwind and turned on the speed, gradually stretching his lead, through the gate and back up to the weathermark with Jerry Gill from Virginia, Illinois and Brian McMurray from Whitehall, Michigan challenging for second and third. He continued downwind to the finish for the bullet. McMurray took second and Gill was third.

Race two started almost immediately following race one. Again a lot of nerves with yet another general recall. Mark Unicume from Colorado shot off to the left gradually finding some nice clean air jetting out to the front. The remainder of the fleet was tight. Unicume pulled away and rounded comfortably in first followed be Gill, Mary Anne Ward from Cocoa Beach, Florida, Tom Munroe from Muskegeon, Michigan and Brereton. Gill turned on the speed as did Ward closing the gap on Unicume. Back up at the top Gill closed the gap further with a nice match-up alongside of Unicume challenging for first. Gill took the lead by half a boat length ahead of Unicume and taking it all the way to the line for the win. Gill snatched the lead leaving Unicume to settle for second place and Ward in third.

A third race was held prior to lunch around one o'clock. With the winds now a steady 8-10 and puffy the excitement built on the course. The start was clean with a couple of individual recalls. The fleet was split square down the middle, Labanauskas, Gordy Bowers from Wayzata, Minnesota and Gill taking to the right. McMurray eventually took the top spot at the weathermark, Ward was right on his heels then Rob Terry from Flushing, Michigan in third. Next time around McMurray held the lead followed by Gill in second and Ward in third, Labanauskas also made a move on the fleet coming in from the left. Into the mark it was intense with McMurray still out front. Labanauskas aggressively slid into second just ahead of Ward. Popping around the leeward gate Labanauskas, Gill and Ward challenging McMurray still. It wasn't long before Labanauskas nabbed the lead and the win from McMurray who finished second, followed by Ward.

A BRERETON KIND OF AFTERNOON.
After a great lunch served up by the Crystal Lake Yacht Club race four kicked off just after 3 o'clock. Fantastic blue skies prevailed! Breeze still on at 8-10 knots. Gill made another power move out to the left with the rest of the fleet following closely. It was Gill at the top, Brereton, Ward and Labanauskas trailing. Brereton pulled a fast one on Ward and Gill right at the mark taking charge of the lead. Ward and Gill were in hot pursuit. At the gate, Brereton found himself with company knocking. A pack of about six teams were all in contention for taking the lead including, the younger Unicume - Blaine also from Colorado, tucking in right ahead of Brereton at the mark. They were neck-and-neck upwind looking for a nice lift on the right, then back to the left for pressure. Brereton came out on top again chased by Labanauskas and Unicume. Still struggling to catch the lead back were Ward and Gill. While Brereton ran away with the win, Labanauskas and Unicume fought to the finish with Labanauskas taking second right at the last moment. Unicume was third.

As the last boat crossed the line, race five virtually commenced. With two general recalls on the start and a black flag in effect this start was destined to be tough. Around first was Hans Meyer, Kirk Donaldson was second, Terry was third, Brereton was back in action rounding fourth followed by Labanauskas as the fleet headed back left. Back upwind Brereton pulled ahead once more. Both Labanauskas and Kirk Donaldson from Lake Whitemore, Michigan chasing. At the mark it was Brereton, Labanauskas, Donaldson, Terry. Brereton took it to the finish followed by Labanauskas then Bill Wiggins from York, South Carolina.

With thunderheads building in the distance, a shortened course and the breeze steady on, race number six took place during the late afternoon hours. The clouds closed in, and the wind died down. At the weathermark, Wiggins, Brereton, Labanauskas, McMurray and Terry followed. Despite being over at the start, Brereton fully recovered to take the lead at the second weathermark. Wiggins and Labanauskas followed respectively, then Gill and McMurray. Brereton put on a spectacular show winning the final race of the day. Wiggins finished second and Labanauskas was third. Ward grabbed fourth and McMurray took fifth.

Going into the last day of racing Labanauskas leads the overall standings with nine points total followed by Brereton with eighteen points and in third is McMurray with twenty-four.

TOP TEN RESULTS
1.) Iggy Labanauskas
2.) Art Brereton
3.) Brian McMurray
4.) Mary Anne Ward
5.) Jerry Gill
6.) Blaine Unicume
7.) Bill Wiggins
8.) Hans Dickel
9.) Coye Harrett
10.) Rob Terry


FULL RESULTS

The 2007 Melges 17 U.S. National Championship is proudly sponsored by MELGES PERFORMANCE SAILBOATS, NORTH SAILS, QUANTUM SAILS, WEST MARINE, HARKEN, LATIS YACHTING SOLUTIONS, CASS COMMUNICATIONS. and BELL'S BREWERY.

Full results, daily reports and photos (on request) will be made available each day as well as published online at the official web site of the Melges 17 Class Association ? MELGES17.COM.

For further information about the 2007 Melges 17 National Championship and Melges 17 Class Association please visit MELGES17.COM or contact Joy Dunigan, Melges 17 U.S. National Championship Press Officer at (912) 398-5776, on email at JOY.DUNIGAN@MELGES17.COM, or skype joysavannah.
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