ECKLUND REGAINS THE LEAD ON DAY THREE OF THE MELGES 32 NATIONALS

22 July 2006

22 JULY 2006 With nine races completed, Jeff Ecklund aboard "STAR" regained the lead today with a solid 2, 1 finish. "We had really good boat speed and nice boat handling. The crew did a very nice job today. It was a lot of fun." said Ecklund of his "STAR" team now seated back in first place with a one point lead.

The excitement and anticipation of day three of the Melges 32 National Championship was noticeable on the docks. Teams hurried to prepare the boats for yet another day of hot Melges 32 racing when a one hour postponement was announced. However, the hour passed quickly, and all nine teams hopped aboard the super racers and headed for the course. A giant fog bank greeted them as they left the harbor and on the course was not any better. The skies were extremely overcast and heavy moisture hanging in the air.

Race one of the day commenced around noon, the fog lifted and the cloud cover was beginning to thin. It was another very intense start with four Melges 32s OCS including championship leader Marty Kullman (helm) and Mike Carroll on "New Wave", Jeff Ecklund on STAR", Joe Woods on "Red" and John Cooper on "Quick Fix". Their return to the line resulted in a clear view for Rick Orchard on "Grins" and Glenn Darden (helm) and Reese Hillard on "Hoss" both jumping at the opportunity for clean air and taking full advantage of 12-15 knots of breeze. On the first downwind run right behind Orchard and Darden was Ecklund and Kullman match racing to the leeward gate with Ecklund just beating Kullman to the mark, both shooting off to the right. At the offset, Orchard clearly commanded the lead just a couple of boat lengths ahead of Darden. Next on the agenda was some of the most incredible downwind planning seen yet. The Melges 32s looked like a shower of speeding bullets, screaming downwind. Grins out front, followed closely by Darden and Ecklund. Then Kullman. Orchard went on to capture the top spot, Ecklund stayed in second, Darden was third, Kullman finished a disappointing fourth, then Geoff Masters on "Melges Asia Pacific" in fifth.

The second race, an olympic course, got underway immediately after the first race was finished. Winds now up to 18-20 with periodic gusts as high as 22 and big seas, Darden finally got the hang of things and ran away with the lead, chased tightly by Ecklund. "We had a great start, really good boat speed. We had a nice tune for the previous race so we kept that same tune. We knew there was going to be an olympic course, so we were aware, and lucky we found the triangle mark, before anyone else. All of us were trying to remember when was the last time we sailed an olympic course - must have been at least ten years or more. We had to clue some of the younger people on the boat in on what an olympic course was. It has been a long time, since we've sailed those things. It was unusual, these boats aren't really set-up to do Olympic courses. We just did the best we could with the spinnakers, but none of us could get up to the mark. So, we dropped the spinnaker and jib reached. It was a good race to be leading, because it's hard to change positions." commented Ecklund. Ecklund's crew took the course in stride and left Darden behind. Kullman pulled up to speed as did Joe Woods. Right up to the finish, it was Ecklund all the way. Kullman passed Darden and took second place, followed by Woods in third. Darden, off in the distance, struggled with the spinnaker yet managed to finish in fourth. Geoff Masters again grabbed fifth.

It's groundhog day going into the final day of racing with Ecklund occupying the top spot. Only one point separates him from Marty Kullman in second place overall, and Orchard steady in third.

FULL RESULTS

1.) Jeff Ecklund, STAR; 1, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 4, 2, 1 = 17
2.) Marty Kullman/Mike Carroll, New Wave; 3, 2, 1, 1, 3, 1, 1, 4, 2 = 18
3.) Rick Orchard, Grins; 2, 4, 2, 4, 6, 3, 3, 1, 4 = 29
4.) Geoff Masters, Melges Asia Pacific; 6, 3, 7, 3, 2, 8, 2, 5, 5 = 41
5.) Joe Woods, Red; 5, 6, 5, 6, 4, 5, 5, 8, 3 = 47
6.) Glenn Darden/Reese Hillard, Hoss; 4, 5, 6, 7, 5, 6.5, 3, 6 = 48.5
7.) Doug Croker, Canvasback; 7, 7, 4, 10 OCS, 7, 4, 8, 7, 10 DNC = 64
8.) Walter Kennedy, Savannah; 8, 9, 10 DNS, 5, 8, 6.5, 6, 8 = 67.5
9.) John Cooper, Quick Fix; 9, 8, 10 DNF, 10 OCS, 9, 10 DNC, 10 DNC, 9, 7 = 82

The Melges 32 is taking one design racing to the next level, so stay tuned to the official web site of the Melges 32 Class Association - www.melges32.com as daily reports, results and interviews will be posted. Also, visit Melges Performance Sailboats online at www.melges.com.

Rolex Watch U.S.A. has been the exclusive presenting sponsor of the NYYC events since 1994. Supporting sponsors of Race Week include Mount Gay Rum and Heineken USA. For more information, visit www.nyyc.org or contact the New York Yacht Club Sailing Office, Harbor Court, 5 Halidon Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island 02840; phone 401-845-9633; fax 401-846-3303; email sailingoffice@nyyc.org

For further information about the Melges 32 Class Association and the 2006 Melges 32 National Championship contact Joy Dunigan, Melges 32 Press Officer on email at press@melgesperformancesailboats.com, phone 912-398-5776.

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