Jeff Ecklund, USA-32 STARJeff Ecklund, USA-32 STAR


20 July 2006

20 JULY 2006 The very first Melges 32 Nationals is already making news as a highly competitive fleet at the 2006 New York Yacht Club Race Week presented by Rolex after one day of racing. In the lead is none other than Jeff Ecklund on STAR, with Melges Performance Sailboats President, Harry Melges, III calling tactics. "We had a good day. We had really good boat speed. We found our own - finally!"

With Tropical Storm Beryl looming just south of New England, three races were held with Ecklund immediately taking charge. Race one commenced around eleven o'clock under overcast skies with somewhat light winds 5-8 knots. Nine Melges 32 teams approached the starting line with great anticipation. The pin end was favored by the majority of the fleet with two exceptions Walter Kennedy on "Savannah" and John Cooper on "Quick Fix" jetting off to weather. The battle continued at the top mark with Ecklund rounding first, followed by Mike Carroll and Marty Kullman (helm) on "New Wave", Rick Orchard on "Grins" and Glenn Darden (helm) and Reese Hillard on "Hoss" trailing right behind. Ecklund was quick to put the some speed on the fleet as he really put in gear on the downwind run. The second, third and fourth place positions were constantly being fought for with Orchard, Kullman, Darden and Joe Woods on "Red" taking it all the way to the first leeward gate. Ecklund safely rounded first, followed by Orchard and Woods respectively. The competition was down to the wire with Ecklund finishing first, Orchard in second and Kullman in third.

Race two brought on Ecklund's impressive need for speed as he clinched another bullet. Kullman was on the move as well, managing a second place finish. "Jeff had some really good speed. We got a little more tuned in on the second race," said Kullman. Geoff Masters on "Melges Asia Pacific" took third.

By the third race, winds had increased to 12-15 and large rolling swells were becoming commonplace. Traces of Tropical Storm Beryl were beginning to be felt with dark, gloomy skies hanging above. Rain drops, here and there were starting to fall. The fleet had a nice, clean start but once again, the excitement was fever pitch as Ecklund - looking as though he potentially would have a flawless day rounded first, followed by Kullman, then Orchard and Doug Croker on "Canvasback." Ecklund shot off to the right with amazing speed. Quickly he was miles ahead of the second place boat Kullman. Coming in hot on an extreme angle, Ecklund jibed into the leeward gate and a snafu on the spinnaker douse had a high price. The fleet practically made up the distance he had gained. As the STAR team hurried to get the spinnaker in the boat and back on the track, Kullman was now almost sitting on top of them, followed by Orchard. As the race progressed, Kullman managed to find the right speed and call the shifts, eventually overtaking Ecklund and grabbing first, "Jeff tacked a little too short and had to duck everybody. That allowed us the opportunity to win." Orchard also did well landing second. Ecklund was left to settle for third. Croker had a phenomenal finish in fourth. Woods was fifth.

Going into Friday, day two of the Melges 32 Nationals the battle will continue with overall leader Jeff Ecklund leading by a very slim margin with five championship points. Working equally hard throughout the day was Marty Kullman only one point out of first with six points total, and in third is Rick Orchard with eight points.

1.) Jeff Ecklund, STAR; 1, 1, 3 = 5
2.) Marty Kullman/Mike Carroll, New Wave; 3, 2, 1 = 6
3.) Rick Orchard, Grins; 2, 4, 2 = 8
4.) Glenn Darden/Reese Hillard, Hoss; 4, 5, 6 = 15
5.) Geoff Masters, Melges Asia Pacific; 6, 3, 7 = 16
6.) Joe Woods, Red; 5, 6, 5 = 16
7.) Doug Croker, Canvasback; 7, 7, 4 = 18
8.) John Cooper, Quick Fix; 9, 8, DNF = 27
9.) Walter Kennedy, Savannah; 8, 9, DNS = 27

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 - as daily reports, results and interviews will be posted. Also, visit Melges Performance Sailboats online at

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 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

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, phone 912-398-5776.