Friday, March 5, 2010

Miami Delivers, Cruette Takes The Melges 32 Lead

PHOTO CREDIT: ©2010 JOY International Melges 32 Class Association
Miami, Fla. - It was an amazing day of racing for the 23-strong Melges 32 fleet at Premiere Racing’s Miami Grand Prix. Abundant sunshine, a shifty, oscillating 15-18 knots of breeze combined with cooler that normal temperatures whipped up some of the best and most challenging conditions for three very nice races. Leading the fleet by a phenomenal 11 points, Jean-Francois Cruette (La Rochelle, France) on Teasing Machine turned on some serious speed to finish the day with a 5-1-1 scoreline in this ever-increasing, tough, talented fleet.

Racing got underway without hesitation, starting on time with the fleet finally getting their shot at a start just before 11 o'clock. The start was clean with John Kilroy (Los Angeles, Calif.) on Samba Pa Tipunching out, taking a strong early lead. Just when it looked as though Kilroy had the win within his grasp, 2009 Melges 32 World Champion Pieter Taselaar (New York, N.Y.) on Bliksem, current Midwinter Ranking Series leader Joe Woods (Torquay, UK) on Red and Jeff Ecklund (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) on Star charged ahead at the last leeward gate to the finish. Taselaar aggressively took the lead and won, Woods took second, Kilroy third, Ecklund and Cruette finished respectively in fourth and fifth.

The second race was equally exciting. A course 4 at 325 degrees with 1.8 nm set the stage for another heat — Miami Melges 32 HEAT! Another clean start placed Cruette around the top mark in first, Alex Jackson (Riverside, Conn.) on Leenabarca, Taselaar, Ecklund following. Cruette extended his lead as the race progressed leaving Taselaar and Jackson to fight for second place. By the last run, Cruette, Taselaar, Jackson and Ecklund broke away from the fleet. John Porter (Lake Geneva, Wisc.) on Full Throttle moved up into fifth. Cruette was launched for the finish, taking the win, Taselaar was second, Jackson was third.

Race three was a Course 5, providing Cruette the perfect opportunity to steal the show. The weathermark revealed another new leader, 2009 Melges 32 North American Champion Don Jesberg (Belvedere, Calif.) on Viva in first followed by Taselaar in second and Ryan Devos (Holland, Mich.) onVolpe in third. A big shift on the first downwind run turned the fleet on its ear at the leeward gate with Yukihiro Ishida (Tokyo, Japan) on Yasha Samarai just barely overtaking Jesberg at the gate, the two splitting the difference. With Jesberg to the right and Ishida left, Cruette moved into third position. Porter and Ecklund (who rounded the top buried deep in the field), came in from the right to round fourth and fifth respectively. Jesberg moved back into the leader position for the final weathermark with Jason Carroll (New York, N.Y.) on Argo in second, Cruette held firm in third. Patiently, Cruette worked his way down the final run to over take the lead on the finish beat to win. Carroll took second and Jesberg was third.

More racing is yet to come for Friday with similar conditions.

Top Ten Results
1.) Teasing Machine, Jean-Francois Cruette; 5-1-1 = 7
2.) Red, Joe Woods; 2-10-4 = 16
3.) Bliksem, Pieter Taselaar; 1-2-14 = 17
4.) Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy; 3-6-12 = 21
5.) Full Throttle, John Porter; 12-5-5 = 22
6.) Fantastica, Lanfranco Cirillo; 10-7-6 = 23
7.) Calvi Network, Carlo Aberini; 6-8-9 = 23
8.) Argo, Jason Carroll; 9-14-2= 25
9.) Ninkasi, John Taylor; 7-11-8 = 26
10.) STAR, Jeff Ecklund; 4-4-19 = 27

Full Results