Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jim Swartz Wins 2009 Melges 32 East Coast Championship

Photo by Joy
Rye, N.Y. (May 17) - Jim Swartz (Edgartown, Mass.) on USA-007 Q and his 10-Congressional Cup collective-tenure team comprised of Gavin Brady, Chris Larson, Jamie Gale, Ben Beer, Tim Klein, Sarah Callahan and Alex Baittinger are the 2009 Melges 32 East Coast Champions. This is the first major win for Swartz in the Melges 32 Class. "This has been fantastic. We feel incredibly lucky. It came down to the last race, and we had some interesting starts that got our blood pumping. But this team rose to the occasion." said Swartz.

In second overall, Alex Jackson (Riverside, CT) on USA-174 Leenabarca was second and in third was John Taylor (Jupiter, Fla.) on USA-1315 Ninkasi.

Today's breeze was just what the American Yacht Club ordered for the last day of racing in Rye, N.Y. The competition was tight and eventful. Flat water, clearer conditions and 8-10 knots primed the fleet with the first start. Swartz lashed out, right off the pin with speed, Taylor alongside. For most of the race, Swartz looked to have the win in the bag chased by Ed Tillinghast (New York, N.Y.) Tillinghast on USA-151 Dark n' Stormy, Taylor and Jason Carroll (New York, N.Y.) on USA-128 Argo.
On the last weather leg he simply went the wrong way pushing him to the back of the fleet. Instead, Taylor challenged for the top spot three-wide into the mark with Tillinghast and Meadows right behind who made a remarkable comeback after being called over early on the start. At the offset, Taylor and Meadows had trouble with the sets, leaving Tillinghast to slide right by and take the lead on the last downwind run. Tillinghast went on to win, with Carroll slipping in to take second at the finish. Meadows accepted third.

With a course bearing of 350, 1.8nm and five legs, the last race felt continued breezy conditions and a big shift right at the start that stirred the fleet's intensity and aggression. Meadows was called over early again, Jackson on the other hand was boxed out at the committee end. Taylor got another leg-up on the fleet rounding the top mark in first just ahead of Swartz and Carroll. Downwind and through the gate, Taylor held the lead with Swartz right behind. Back upwind, around the mark, then through the final gate of the race, Swartz took the lead only moments ahead of Taylor, followed by Carroll, Tillinghast and Pierini. He hung on for the win and sealed the deal for the Championship title!

A very special thanks goes to the extremely hospitable American Yacht Club, that went above and beyond to make the fleet feel welcome. Each afternoon teams congregated in the bar and out on the lawn for beer chat and a review of the day's racing. The race committee work was really great — very attentive to every shift. Nine races were scheduled and nine races were delivered. Thanks in particular to PRO Robin Wallace, the entire race committee, especially Bill Sandberg and Glenn Morrison. Thanks to Scott Florio who helped organize the young sailors on Take A Junior Sailing Day.

Be sure to check out the full results link. Interesting fleet facts: every team at some point over the nine-race, East Coast Championship series came in last; and five of the seven teams total won a race. It's these types of demographics that prove the one design, ultra competitiveness of the International Melges 32.

Top Three (Final, After nine races)1.) Jim Swartz, Q; 1-1-1-4-2-2-[7]-6-1 = 182.) Alex Jackson, Leenabarca; 2-3-5-2-4-1-2-[7]-7 = 263.) John Taylor, Ninkasi; 6-[7]-2-5-6-4-1-4-2= 30

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