Brit challenge at Melges 32 Winter Tune-Up

TABOO and FAST FORWARD, two of the new MELGES 32 class - Rolex Big Boat Series 2007

Three challenging races whipped the eighteen strong fleet in tip-top shape today at the Lauderdale Yacht Club for the Melges 32 Winter Tune-Up 2007.

Leading the pack with satisfying finishes is the 'Pinta' team comprised of Michael Illbruck (helm) and John Kostecki (tactics). From Torquay, UK is none other than Joe Woods on 'Red' in third and in fourth overall is Alejandro Sole with Jay Lutz calling tactics on 'Black River Racing'.

The day started off in typical Florida fashion. Sunny, with tempatures hovering in the mid-80's — absolutely picture perfect sailing weather! Fleet coach Morgan Reeser presented by Henri Lloyd said, 'How can if get any better than this?'

The stage was set as the fleet lined up for the first heat at 11 a.m. Light breeze, lots of boats, excited crews, media boats and the Lauderdale Yacht Club's PRO boat and support boats all standing by, everyone awaiting the major action now associated with this tune up regatta. That's what is so great about this type of casual event. The goal is to learn and specifically — how to race these hot Melges 32s as fast as possible.

As the first race kicked off under a light breeze, Reeser had his loud hailer, still and video camera virtually all going at once. He said, 'the current is going to push the leeward end over. Watch out guys! You will want to make a quick tack to port and sail a long port tack.' True enough, as the gun sounded, three boats were called over the line at the leeward end. The boats that tacked to port extended to the right side of the race course and looked good. 'You sailed a perfect race from the coach boat.'

Melges 32 - Winter Tune-Up 2007 after 3 races

1st Pinta Illbruck, Michael STFYC 4 4 1 9 pts
2nd Star Ecklund, Jeff LYC 1 5 3 9 pts
3rd Red Woods, Joe Royal Torbay YC 2 1 10 13 pts
4th Black River Racing Sole, Alejandro Lakewood YC 3 3 11 17 pts
5th Taboo Pugh, Stephen STFYC 10 6 5 21 pts
6th Bliksem Taselaar, Pieter NYYC 5 13 4 22 pts
7th Arkle Mulin, Kate Port Credit YC 8 7 7 22 pts
8th Q Swartz, Jim NYYC, STFYC 6 9 9 24 pts
9th Roxanne Meadows, Kip NYYC 15 2 12 29 pts
10th Mojo Rhyne, Steve Lakewood 11 15 6 32 pts
11th Ninkasi Taylor, John NYYC 19.0 OCS 12 2 33 pts
12th Lake Effect Hesse, Bob Youngstown 14 11 8 33 pts
13th Pied Piper Jennings, Jack LGYC 13 8 14 35 pts
14th Summer Rental Carroll, Jason Larchmont YC 9 10 16 35 pts
15th Fast Forward Fairbanks, Tad Eagle Harbor YC 7 18 13 38 pts
16th Savannah Wells, Ben KYC 17 14 15 46 pts
17th Unknown McSweeney, Terry Edgewater YC 12 17 18 47 pts
18th Dark N'Stormy Tillinghast, Edward NYYC 16 16 17 49 pts

Last year, owner and class member Jeff Ecklund helped to organize the very first Winter Tune-Up Regatta so that new people could get into the Melges 32 class and learn how to get up to speed in just one weekend. Looking at the results and with the coaches we have this weekend, it may only take a day!

The result last year was tremendous and this year is no different. It was phenomenal to see progress in such a short amount of time. People are taking to the learning curve and excited about the progress they see from race to race. 'The coach has proof. Video. Cameras. So if I say something they don’t believe in – I can show them proof,' said Reeser.

Reeser is a world class sailor and the current Great Britain 470 Women’s Olympic Team coach. He refers to all of the sailors on the water as athletes. The amount and level of coaching delivered by Reeser is apparent.

The concept is first rate and the Lauderdale Yacht Club is doing a top knotch job this year for the Melges 32 Class Association. To see this many boats tuning up for the forthcoming winter championships is very exciting. Joe Woods and his 'Red' team traveled once again all the way from cold, snowy and wintery England. This is one of many trips for Joe.

He raced Melges 24s for years and has been doing all of the Melges 32 events. The effort shows as he won the first race and then followed up that accomplishment with a 'horizon job' in race number two. Very impressive indeed.

Wood's set up seemed to be a bit different. In these light air conditions Joe and his team featured the following:

- Aggressive weight balance sailing upwind so that the boat was racing at the proper angle of heel.

- A steady helm so that the boat was settled down and not 'rough' through the water.

- More backstay on than the competition, yet more headstay sag than most.

- Conclusion – a softer rig than most.

- More mast rake as his boom was lower.

UPWIND
Another thing Joe did well was his mainsail trim. In light air and flat water, Joe had his main trimmer add pressure to the main. They were trimmed harder than most everyone and they were fast.

DOWNWIND
When they turned the mark, their kite was up and full before the transom cleared the mark. Tim Edwards on the hoist is awesome! 'It is great to see a boat sailed clean and correctly,' commented Reeser. 'More angle of heel downwind in these light conditions allows Joe to sail lower and have proper sail shape in the kite. They look good.'

The rest of the fleet now has to catch up and learn some of these tricks.
Looking to tomorrow's racing, and the first day of the 'Take A Junior Sailing' program, Germany's Illbruck racing his brand new boat leads by four points. After being over in the first race he recovered for a third place finish.

From there, he progressively improved — in race two he scored third again and won race three by a slither in front of another new owner, John Taylor from South Florida. Costing Woods the game for the day was a troublesome third race — still fast, but simply went the wrong way. Today's conditions kept everyone guessing.

The racing and competition got closer and tighter as the day
progressed thanks to some good sailing and great advice from 'the tune-up' staff on the water.

After three races the fleet sailed into Bahia Mar Resort where they are being kept and taken care off. Over 200 sailors hit the dock virtually at once. Cold drinks, music, sunshine... It was a perfect day for Melges 32 sailing!