Kirk and Ian Donaldson Win 2006 Melges 17 Easter Regatta

Kirk and Ian Donaldson Win 2006 Melges 17 Easter Regatta

15 April 2006

15 APRIL 2006 ? After two days of intense racing, the dynamic father and son duo of Kirk and Ian Donaldson (14), from Whitmore Lake in Northern Michigan triumphed over the Melges 17 fleet to win the 2006 Charleston Easter Regatta.

Going into the final day of the event, the husband and wife team of Bill and Angie Wiggins found themselves in first overall, Kevin Ward was second and Donaldson in third. The second day of racing brought on equally glorious conditions as day one - plentiful sunshine and continued heavy air. Wind speeds at the beginning of the one and only race of the day was 19-22 out of the west (expected to shift to the Southwest as the day progressed), a nice even chop across the harbor and the current was a force to be reckoned with. Racing got underway promptly at 11 a.m. The conditions were peak as Donaldson got off the pin end of the line headed left with speed as the rest of the fleet made a solid, clean start.

On the first downwind run three boats separated themselves from the rest. Donaldson, USA-50 came screaming into the leeward mark first. "Sammy was right behind and he was close enough that I could compare what was better, to try to foot or to point," said Donaldson. "We really got the boat dialed in and balanced. So our second beat was our best beat. And, we kept the right angle of heel, good balance on the helm and we just trucked. We just trucked." He was followed closely by Blaine Unicume, with Sam Rogers crewing on USA-146 in second and USA-106 was in third place - all evenly spaced as they headed back upwind to the top mark.

The second downwind run is where things got interesting for the Donaldson team. "Downwind we were totally under control," said Donaldson. And then, an unexpected challenge. He continued, "We sailed really conservatively, nice, easy broad reach. We were planing really solidly. Cranked it up a little bit more. On the jibe I was just too conservative. I turned the boat too slowly. Ian did a great job getting the kite through, and the main didn't pop through. I had the main out too far and it just snapped through. I had to bring the boat up too much, the spinnaker filled and we got dunked." They got the boat back up quickly, but not quick enough. Just when the kite filled, the team of Unicume and Rogers sailed right past. As Donaldson got the boat back upright, both teams raced frantically to the leeward mark.

The two boats headed back upwind to the finish, Donaldson commented, "I thought after our second beat, that I might be able to grind on'em. But, he had us. With Sam being crew, I tried to do a quick double tack, to see if I could break from'em, but Sam was on top of that. So, we said second is good enough, we're gonna easy ride in. At that point we thought there would be more races and didn't want to wear ourselves out. So, we wanted to save our energy and jogged up the third beat. Ian did an awesome job sailing. This was really, really fun."

For the finish, the wind had increased to 23-27 as Unicume came across the finish first, Donaldson came across in second about ten to fifteen boat lengths back.

Afterwards, everyone went back to the docks and packed the gear, loaded the boats then prepared for cocktails at Sonny Meavers beautiful city front residence. Food and drinks were on order as Sonny opened his home to all the Melges 17, MC Scow and E Scow sailors as he has done now for many years. Master of ceremonies, Crayton Walters and Tommy Harken stepped forth and delivered the prizes. In addition to Donaldson taking the overall win, Kevin Ward and Dave Wall took second, Blaine Unicume and Sam Rogers was third and Bill and Angie Wiggins was fourth. A very special thanks to the event organizers, the Carolina Yacht Club, Sonny Meavers and all the racers, some of which traveled great distances to compete.

The next regatta is the Spring Championship at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin on May 14-15. Be there! Many of the racers you saw participate this week will be out in full force at the home of the Melges 17 - the Lake Geneva Yacht Club.

Photo: Kirk Donaldson and Ian Donaldson (waving) won the 2006 Melges 17 Charleston Easter Regatta