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SPECIAL CLASS INTERVIEW: Melges 32 Owner Ahmet Eker, Eker

25 April 2016

Ahmet Eker and the Turkish team of EKER are no longer simple rookies. We met them at the ACT 1 Sailing Series in Portovenere where EKER reached the first podium (3rd place) in its Melges 32 career.

The answers below :

IM32CA: Why did you choose to sail in the Melges 32 fleet?
AH: After racing several years in IRC handicapped racing in Turkey, I was looking to race in one design for some time. The main reason to choose Melges 32 is the cost vs level of racing. I think the class is the highest level compared to the budget you need. Also as the Sailing Series is held in Italy, flying from Turkey is easy and takes little time.

IM32CA: What is your experience in one design racing and/or in sail racing before Melges 32?
AH: I have been a cruiser sailor since I was a teenager. I started racing yachts in 2009. I have raced with Jeanneau SunFast 3200 and Archambault 35 with crew formed within my company. To increase my level I tried racing Farr 40 in IRC and then I ended up with Melges 32.
The Melges 32 is my first time racing in one design.

IM32CA: Who's gonna be on board with you during the 2016 racing season?
AH: We have made some changes on the team this year. We changed the bow and mast from last year. We have a young 470 sailor from Turkey, Engin Ozgen, as bow, and Emir İcgoren as mast. From last year's crew we kept our trimmers Burak Zengin and Doga Aribas and also our pitman Burak Baran. As for professionals we have decided to sail with last year World Champion Giorgio Tortarolo. We have also decided to have Chicco Fonda as tactician. I think we make a strong team to fight our way up for the season.

IM32CA: What's the main difference (if you changed something on the boat / sails / training methods or crew) between EKER 2015 and EKER 2016?
AH: The main difference for the boat is we got rid of the electronics for wind and gps and we only work with compass and speed. Also, we decided to switch to Quantum for sails. One of our big handicaps was I broke and dislocated my shoulder in a skiiing accident in January. Around the same week, Chicco also had an accident and broke one of his vertebra. We had to cancel one training session in Italy for this reason. Although we were sailing first time with Chicco we had great communication right away. I see the same kind of communication between Giorgio and Chicco. So I think this is a great help.


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IM32CA: What's your "secret weapon" for the upcoming racing season...if not Top secret or what's the main difference between your Team and rest of the fleet?
AH: We don’t have a secret weapon yet. We will try to do the best we can and hopefully do better than last year.

IM32CA: Which events are you planning to compete at during 2016?
AH: We are planning to compete in all four events planned in Europe. At this time we have not made plans for the Worlds in the U.S.

IM32CA: What's your main hobby/passion apart from sailing?
AH: I love cruising with my family and also skiing.

IM32CA: Where is your favourite sailing location? Have you sailed your Melges 32 there?
AH: My Favorite sailing location is the Bosphorus channel in Istanbul. I have raced several times in my Archambault 35 and 2 times in Melges 32. It is a great challenge with a lot of current and tactical games.

IM32CA: If you could change one thing about the Melges 32, what would it be?
AH: I love it just the way it is, simple, modern and fast.

IM32CA: What do you never go sailing without?
AH: My Red Camper shoes are a must.

IM32CA: What’s your target for the upcoming season?
AH: We would like to see the podium in at least one of the races. This would be a great achievement for a Turkish team in a high level class like this one.

IM32CA: How do you describe team EKER?
AH: We are an amateur team with an amateur state of mind. We never forget that we are here to have fun. We all like to race hard and try as hard as possible to be on the top but not forget that we are here to enjoy every aspest of sailing.

IM32CA: Who's gonna win the Series 2016? You or....?
AH: I see G-Spot and Mascalzone Latino as favorites for the season, but also INGA has a very good team this year.


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