Melges 17 U.S. National Championships - Vincent Porter hangs tough

Melges 17 U.S. National Championship 2011
Jonathan Ahlbrand
Melges 17 U.S. National Championship, hosted by White Lake Yacht Club (WLYC), Whitehall, MI, USA was held from 26 to 28 August 2011.

Day two of the championship forged ahead with four more races for a seven races complete. Hanging tough is Vincent Porter on Full Throttle in first place with a four point lead. In second overall and making a nice jump in the overall standings from fourth to second is Sean Fidler's Ludicrous Speed. Mike Dow on Flying Toaster slipped a notch to third.

The fleet moved back onto the lake in the morning with the breeze out of the east around six to eight knots to start the first race of the day. The conditions were shifty and the racing was close. But Fidler found a way to hold off a hard charging Porter and Tom Monroe on USA-11 to finish first second and third, respectively. But this is White Lake and the home turf should have some advantage to the locals. And it did. But they would have to work hard for it.

Race two saw the breeze pick up to a steady eight and with a clean start the fleet was off. As everyone fought for the left side, it was Monroe and Brian McMurray on Catbird finding the perfect gear they were looking for to contend for the top. This race saw a couple of lead changes but in the end it was Monroe and McMurray holding off the fleet to take a first and second in race five.

The fleet went in for lunch giving the wind a chance to shift and fill in. And fill in it did. Just as the fleet was heading out to the lake, the wind shifted 50 degrees and started blowing a steady 15 for race six of the regatta.

With another clean start by the fleet, it was obvious that everyone wanted the pin end to get to the shoreline, except for one boat. Ben Biwer on Jakookin' tacked soon after the start and found better angles on the right side to round the weather mark in first. Now the real fun begins when sailing a Melges 17. Planing and wiping out were the words of the afternoon. New and experienced crews alike found themselves having a great time seeing what this boat can do. On the second beat, Fidler caught Biwer and the two rounded the weather mark together. Just then the breeze picked up more and Fidler recorded on his speed puck that Biwer and himself were going 17.4 knots downwind. What a ride! Fidler sailed on to win the race with Ben Biwer in second, Porter in third and newcomer Myles Gutenkunst on E-9 in fourth.

The last race of the day saw the conditions get pretty hairy some times and with another clean start, the fleet was off again. Vincent Porter sailed off the line like a sling shot and never looked back. Fidler and Porter dueled it out the whole race, covering and positioning. One false move and the fleet could sail right by. However, it was not meant to be as Porter held off Fidler to take first with Fidler second and Deb Gluek on Snackcakes finishing third.

Top ten results (After seven races)
1.) Vincent Porter, Full Throttle; 1-1-[4]-2-3-3-1 = 11
2.) Sean Fidler, Ludicrous Speed; 5-[13]-2-1-4-1-2 = 15
3.) Mike Dow, Flying Toaster; [8]-3-3-6-6-6-4 = 28
4.) Deb Gluek, Snackcakes; 2-6-[12]-4-7-8-3 = 30
5.) Tom Munroe, USA-11; 3-12-5-3-1-[18]-7 = 31
6.) Myles Gutenkunst, E-9; 7-8-9-5-[10]-4-6 = 39
7.) Benjamin Biwer, Jakookin'; [20]-4-15-7-8-2-9 = 45
8.) Brian McMurray, Catbird; 17-2-1-12-2-[26]-13 = 47
9.) Brad Sprouse, Yellfire; 15-9-6-11-5-[24]-5 = 51
10.) Jim Hilgard, Dragonfly; 10-5-10-8-13-[17]-8 = 54
View Full Results

Melges 17 National Championship website