Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Melges 32 Gold Rush

A record-breaking twenty-three teams confirmed for competition at the 2009 Melges 32 Gold Cup Regatta, hosted by the Lauderdale Yacht Club, December 4-6.

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. - On December 4-6, hosted by the Lauderdale Yacht Club (LYC) in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the International Melges 32 Class Association (IM32CA) will celebrate the fourth running of the Gold Cup Regatta supported by Henri Lloyd. A record attendance level is expected with twenty-three teams entered, up three from 2008.

"The Lauderdale Yacht Club would like to extend a warm welcome to all Melges 32 sailors that will be with us for the Gold Cup," said Bob Meagher, Event Regatta Chair. "We are especially pleased that the event has already exceeded expectations with a record number of attendees. We expect great racing, stunning conditions and the very best in competition. Getting ready for this event has been a united effort consisting of many LYC volunteers. We've all worked very hard to ensure this event maintains its 'first-class' reputation."

Since the first 'tune-up' events held in 2006 and 2007, the popularity of the Melges 32 has steadily increased. The sole purpose of those 'warm-ups' were to better familiarize new owners with the intense style of Melges racing. It also helped better prepare them for the steep competition expected in Key West during the later part of January and the Miami Grand Prix in early March. The tradition lives on in 2009, as the Gold Cup participation level is only six shy of the recent World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy.

"We are thrilled with the turn out for this year's Gold Cup," said Stephen Pugh, North American Fleet President. "The competition will be magnificent. This class is a shining example of what one design racing should be. It is a very level playing field, but a tough one at that. A challenging one. To see new owners here is an indication that 2010 will be another great year in North America for the Melges 32 as we work our way toward Nationals in July, then Worlds in September on the West Coast."

The entry list is clearly a 'who's who' of the sailing world — Dave Ullman, Gavin Brady, Harry Melges, Mike Beasley, Allan Terhune, Jamie Lea, Johnny Lovell, John Bowden, Anthony Kotoun, Brad Boston, Jud Smith, Dave Lenz, Jeremy Elliott, Michele Paoletti, Mark Ivey, Scott Nixon, Andy Horton, Terry Hutchinson, Seadon Wijsen, Charlie Smythe, Tom Burnham, Steve Hunt, Wally Cross, George Peet, Stu McNay and Charlie Enright just to name a few. View The Full Crew List.

Two members of the reigning World Championship team Bliksem will sail. Winning tactician Jeremy Wilmot will be crewing with Malcolm Geftner (Newport, R.I.) on Celebritas and Alex Clegg will accompany Alex Jackson (Riverside, Conn.) on Leenabarca. Three of the four sailors recently awarded the esteemed title of Melges 24 World Champion will also attend. Helmsman Chris Larson will offer his expertise as tactician aboard Geoff Pierini’s (Bernardsville, N.J.) Shakedown and Richard Clarke is slated to call the shots for Philip Lotz (Newport, R.I.) on Arethusa. Curtis Florence will also sail with Jackson.

Lotz and Geftner are among several new owners including Robert Hughes and his legendary Heartbreaker program, Rod Jabin returns to the fleet on Ramrod, and Michael Dominguez on Bronco will join the fleet for the first time.

Difficult to measure with any degree of certainty, is who will actually do well and come out on top. Looking to fill his Gold Cup once more is defending Champion Marty Kullman (St. Petersburg, Fla.) on New Wave with Doug Fisher as tactician. 2009 ACURA Key West Race Week Champion Jeff Ecklund (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) on Star has home court advantage and always competes well. John Kilroy’s (San Francisco, Calif.) Samba Pa Ti is always a strong contender. Stacked to the max, Kilroy has Sam Rogers alongside on tactics with the help of Eric Arndt and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Stu Bannatyne. Jason Carroll's (New York, N.Y.) Argo is another team to watch. Carroll helmed his way to a fantastic fifth place finish at Worlds. To see him at the top of this league will be no surprise, as he is long overdue for a big win. 2009 North American Champion Don Jesberg (Mill Valley, Calif.) on Viva will be a force to reckon with comp eting at the Gold Cup for the first time, as will 2009 U.S. National Champion Andy Lovell (New Orleans, La.) on Rougarou.

Although the fleet is predominantly American, there is a small, but strong European contingent that includes Stuart Simpson (London, UK) on Team Barbarians with Nigel Young as tactician and Joe Woods (Torquay, UK) on Red assisted by the currently ranked number one Laser sailor in world, Paul Goodison calling tactics. Lanfranco Cirillo on Fantasticaa is the token Italian team with tactician Daniele De Luca.

Another signature feature of this event is the Take A Junior Sailing Day. LYC is renowned for fostering America's next sailing generation with an extraordinary youth program. It has produced the likes of 2009 Opti North American Champion Christopher Williford, 2009 U.S. Junior Women’s Doublehanded Champion Chanel Miller, 2008 Florida State Junior Champion Dominique Wright and the phenomenal Erika Reineke. They are among those that potentially will have the opportunity to sail alongside of the best sailors in the world on Saturday, December 5.

Ecklund, a LYC member, championed the Take A Junior Sailing Day concept the moment the Gold Cup was conceived. "No other class of boat does anything quite like this. Being so close to something as unique as LYC's junior program is as unique as the caliber of sailors competing at the Gold Cup. Every year the Melges 32 Class sees this as a chance to encourage and inspire. It was really great to see the American Yacht Club in Rye, N.Y. adopt the idea at the East Coast Championship. We'd love to see many more do the same. It's a great way to give back to the sport." A complete list of junior sailors and the boats they will sail on will be published at the start of the regatta.

The 2009 Gold Cup Regatta is the first of three 2010 Winter Series events for the Melges 32 in North America. On January 18-22, the fleet will assemble in Key West, Fla. for Premiere Racing’s Key West Race Week and Miami Grand Prix on March 4-7. In April, the fleet will form for the first time at Charleston Race Week in Charleston, S.C., in May for the East Coast Championship and Newport in June. View The Complete Schedule. The USA Sailing Series will come to a grand close at the 2010 Melges 32 World Championship on September 22-27 i n San Francisco, Calif., hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.

In Europe, things will heat up with yet another round of Audi Sailing Series events starting in March and progressing throughout the summer months. It winds down in Palma for the fourth and final event. Stay close as more information will follow soon regarding the very first European Championship taking place on June 10-13, 2010.

Gold Cup Entry List
1.) Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy/Sam Rogers
2.) Viva, Don Jesberg/Dave Ullman
3.) Arethusa, Philip Lotz/Richard Clarke
4.) Ramrod, Rod Jabin/Gavin Brady
5.) Star, Jeff Ecklund/Harry Melges
6.) Ninkasi, John Taylor/Anthony Kotoun
7.) Shakedown, Geoff Pierini/Chris Larson
8.) Argo, Jason Carroll/John Baxter
9.) Team Barbarians, Stuart Simpson/Nigel Young
10.) Rougarou, Andy Lovell/Johnny Lovell
11.) Lake Effect, Bob Hesse/Brad Boston
12.) Red, Joe Woods, Paul Goodison
13.) Fantasticaaa, Lanfranco Cirillo/Daniele De Luca
14.) Leenabarca, Alex Jackson/Philip Werheim
15.) New Wave, Marty Kullman/Doug Fisher
16.) Celeritas, Malcolm Geftner/Randy Shore
17.) Volpe, Ryan Devos/Scott Nixon
18.) Delta, Dalton Devos/Terry Hutchinson
19.) Taboo, Stephen Pugh/Seadon Wijsen
20.) Bronco, Michael Dominguez/Tommy Burnham
21.) Heartbreaker, Bob Hughes/Steve Hunt
22.) Roxanne, Kip Meadows/Andy Horton
23.) Dark n’ Stormy, Edward Tillinghast/Stu McNay