Melges 32Melges 32

2007 MELGES 32 KEY WEST RACE WEEK REPORT: PURE DOMINATION

23 January 2007

The 2007 edition of Key West Race Week marked the 3rd year of Melges 32 racing in this world class yacht racing destination. In three short years at Key West, the Melges 32 has gone from one boat in 2005, to twenty boats in 2007. The numbers this year made the Melges 32 the largest one design class above 30ft and the 3rd largest class in the entire regatta.

The growth of the Melges 32 was the hot buzz of the week with rumors that even more world class owners, racers and sailors are ready to jump into this fast growing speed racer. The only thing more exciting than the hype built around the Melges 32, was the racing itself.

As Gary Jobson stated in one of his daily reports, the weather in Key West for Race Week was “Stuck on gorgeous.” This was certainly true as the 20 Melges 32s enjoyed five days of wind in the 9-12 range, 80 degree temperatures and sunny skies — perfect Melges 32 conditions!

DAY ONELet’s Roll Posts Two Bullets
Fresh off his first Melges 32 racing experience at the training regatta in Ft. Lauderdale, Claudio Recchi and his Italian team aboard USA-93 showed they not only adapted to the class quickly, but they have also learned a few new tricks as their boat speed was simply unmatched. Recchi, a two-time Mumm 30 World Champion and a highly talented skipper managed two clean starts and let his boat speed do the rest of the work. Glenn Darden, a former J.80 World champion was hot on the heels of Let’s Roll, posting two second place finishes, and in third place on the day, was the perennial powerhouse and current National Champion, Jeff Ecklund on Star. With similar conditions forecast for day two, the racing would continue to remain tight.

DAY TWO • Big Shift Dominates Racing
John Sherlock with Kate Mullin steering were the biggest beneficiaries of a huge right shift in race 3. Sherlock, aboard CAN-134, was on the right side of the course in about 15th place when a 60 degree right shift presented itself to the Melges 32 fleet. The decision was made to dig a bit deeper into the shift and John and his team finally flopped over, they were on top of the rest of the fleet. The shift was so big, they overstood the mark and were able to hoist their spinnaker for the last half of the leg. CAN-134 finished fourth in the race and was able to make huge gains. One of George Gamble’s two Melges 32s, Wicked Woman, was also able to take advantage of the shift and take the honors in Race 3. Overall on the day, Let’s Roll maintained consistency posting finishes of 3,1.

DAY THREE • New Wave Makes a Move
2006 Midwinter Champions Marty Kullman and Mike Carroll finally returned to their old form on Day three and posted finishes of 3,1 to put them in the hunt for the regatta. With solid tactics and sound boatspeed, New Wave looked untouchable on this day. The Italians maintained their overall lead on Day Three and with 3 races remaining, the regatta was heating up.

DAY FOUR • Recchi Shuts the Door
Just as New Wave was gaining momentum and poised to make a move, Let’s Roll dominated day four of racing, eliminating any lead changes a top the leader board. Just as they had done in the previous three days, Let’s Roll used superior boat speed to make their way towards the front of the fleet. Backed by flawless boat handling and sound tactics, Let’s Roll showed they are a force to be reckoned with on the Melges 32 circuit. Simon Williams and his team aboard Fresh Guidance in their first Melges 32 Regatta, showed they have found a groove posting a 1,5 on Day 4.

DAY FIVE • Boat of the Week Honors???
With the 2007 Midwinter title already secured, Claudio Recchi gathered his team for one more race with the hope of winning the prestigious Acura Boat of the Week Honors. With so many talented boats and sailors in other fleets, winning this award would certainly cap an already thrilling week for the Let’s Roll program. With a little more velocity than the previous four days, the Melges 32 fleet was able to stretch its legs a bit and do some planing. After a tough four days of racing, Jeff Ecklund showed he will be ready for the rest of the winter series taking race nine line honors in easy fashion. STAR lead every mark and made it look easy. The Italians battled with several other boats for second and eventually finished behind STAR. Despite a great performance, Let’s Roll did not get boat of the week honors which were awarded to fellow Italian sailors in the Melges 24 fleet, Riccardo Simoneschi.

The 2007 edition of Key West Race Week was the most spectacular week of racing in recent memory. Couple with the great conditions was the awesome, tight racing that took place in each of the nine races. Although there was a clear winner of this event, the Melges 32 class is gaining more experience and that talent level is rising. If the past three years have been any indication, 2008 will have 35 of these awesome racers competing for Key West glory.

The next stop on the Melges 32 Winter Circuit is St. Pete Nood and Miami Race Week. With confirmed entries in the double digits for both events, the winter racing in Florida is going to be HOT!


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