Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ecklund Leads Audi Melges 20 Winter Series Event No. 2

Joy Dunigan
February 20, 2010 (Miami, Fla.) - It was a day of racing that almost wasn’t. Just before three o’clock today, PRO Bruce Golison and his very skilled race committee fired off 2 races to commence the 2010 Audi Melges 20 Miami Winter Series Event No. 2, hosted by Coconut Grove Sailing Club, supported by Shake-A-Leg Miami and Melges Performance Sailboats. Around 2:30 p.m., the breeze just didn’t appear to be filling in, Golison then registered 4.4 knots (meeting the class minimum breeze limit) at the weather boat. Abundant sunshine accompanied the very light, fickle breeze with seventy-degree temperatures.

The fleet was just itching to go and becoming impatient. With the sound of Golison’s air horn the fleet assembled for the first start. A Course 4 and bearing of 155, the start was clean with series leader Jeff Ecklund (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) on STAR, Eric Wynsma (East Grand Rapids, Mich.) on Superfly and Rob Wilber (Stony Creek, Conn.) on Cinghiale heading left for pressure. Wynsma was strong rounding the weathermark in first, Ecklund in second and fleet newcomer John Lucas (Charleston, S.C.) on I-14 in third. By the final downwind leg of the race, Wynsma was ahead by a substantial margin with Ecklund jibing out for clean air and pressure in hopes of taking the win. Wynsma beat him to the line by a couple of boat lengths despite Ecklund making good progress taking a firm second place. Wilber was third.

Race 2 of the day was started almost immediately with Ecklund hammering the fleet with some nice speed and smooth boat handling for the win. Onboard with Ecklund is tactician Harry Melges and Bar Batzer of Morning Light fame. "I really pay attention to the angle of heel. It's everything. Keeping the boat flat is key. By doing so, I can feel the energy of the boat going forward. I watch the front end of the kite too for indications of what to do before it even happens. All this is especially important in conditions like today," said Ecklund during the post-race press conference/tech-talk. Out front early, off the start and around the mark in first was Erik Post (Winnetka, Ill.) on Via Con Dios. Post had a spectacular race, edging Ecklund for the lead up until the last upwind leg. The two rounded almost simultaneously, going to opposite gates. Ecklund looked right for and advantage and took the lead. Michael Kiss (Macatawa Bay, Mich.) on Bacio had a great race place coming from behind to take the second place position from Post who eventually settled for third. Well-known A Scow sailor Joel 'Rock Star' Ronning (Excelsior, Minn.) on Catapult took fourth and Mary Anne Ward (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) on M&M Sailing rounded out the top five.

On the way in, Audi Melges 20 manufacturer Melges Performance Sailboats made sure the fleet had plenty of beer in hand for the drive back AND more waiting at the docks when they arrived.

Melges’ Andy Burdick also conducted a very informative question and answer session. The conversation involved the only lady helm in the fleet, Ward and her tactician Sam Rogers, Ecklund, Melges and Wally Cross, tactician for Wynsma. For almost an hour the fleet listened closely as Melges and Cross divulged their rig and tune set-up secrets of the day, while the helms discussed where their comfort levels were while racing in conditions as tough and challenging as the ones witnessed today.

For Sunday, the fleet will be on its feet bright and early as the on-the-water excitement will start an hour earlier than previously scheduled.

TOP TEN RESULTS (After two races)
1.) Jeff Ecklund, STAR; 2-1 = 3
2.) Eric Wynsma, Superfly; 1-7 = 8
3.) Michael Kiss, Bacio; 9-2 = 11
4.) Mary Anne Ward, M&M Sailing Team; 7-5 = 12
5.) Erik Post, Via Con Dios; 11-3 = 14
6.) Robert Wilber, Cinghiale; 3-11 = 14
7.) Joel Ronning, USA-148; 10-4 = 14
8.) John Lucas, I-14; 4-10 = 14
9.) David Hammett, Simplified Sophistication; 8-8 = 16
10.) John Arendhorst, Blink; 12-6 = 18