Brian Porter Wins Melges 24 North American Title
The final day of racing at the Melges 24 North American Championship was, quite literally, a wash out with torrential rain and light cyclonic winds. The race committee, jury and 31 Melges 24 crews left the dock ready to attempt a 1230 start as scheduled but it was not to be. Periodically the rain stopped and everyone's hopes were raised as the wind did its best to fill in, but it never became stable enough to actually get underway so the championship comes to a close with only six of the ten scheduled races completed.
Fortunately six races is sufficient to constitute a championship and so Brian Porter from Winnetka, IL, and his Full Throttle crew of Harry Melges III, Dave Navin and John Porter are declared the 2006 Melges 24 North American Champions by just one point from Newport Beach's Dave Ullman sailing Pegasus 505 with Bill Hardesty, Brian Hutchinson, Casey Smith and Shana Phelan. Dave Ullman was extremely gracious in defeat - "It was a shame not to race today but those guys did a great job and really deserved to win. When your worst finish is a fourth you deserve to win." Third place goes to Seadon Wijsen from San Francisco sailing Pareto Optimal with Bruce Ayres from Newport Beach aboard Monsoon fourth overall.
For the Full Throttle team this win is long overdue. They have been stalwarts of the Melges 24 class since its introduction in 1993 and have won many national events but an international title constantly eluded them. Finally their run as bridesmaids has been broken. "I just love Santa Cruz and its hospitality. Brett Gripenstraw and his team who ran the regatta did a great job as did Hank Stuart and the Race Committee. There was some wonderful sailing despite the fact that we didn't get the typical Santa Cruz conditions and I really love racing against Dave Ullman - he's such a great competitor and to win against him feels real good. We're really looking forward to being back here for the Worlds next year and we're also hoping to be in Hyeres for the 06 Worlds too." - Brian Porter.
Bruce Ayres and his crew of Dave Shelton, Don Smith and Jon Pinckney win the 2006 Corinthian Melges 24 North American Championship for all amateur crews. Second place in the Corinthian Division went to Stephen Pugh of Sausolito and his team aboard Taboo with Germany's Alba Batzill, helming Courage X for Eddy Eich in third. "We need to sail more!" joked Bruce Ayres "It's too bad that we couldn't race the last two days but that's just Mother Nature for you. I think next year will be different as this is very unusual for sailing here. Despite the conditions we really enjoyed the racing. We were sailing with the same four guys we've had for the last four years and that makes a big difference."
Despite extremely unusual local conditions and the loss of two day's sailing the competitors all agreed it had been an excellent event with some very demanding and exciting sailing. Ashore the Santa Cruz Yacht Club's hospitality was fantastic and thanks to sponsors Pusser's Rum, Red Bull, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co and New England Ropes the party's all went with a swing. Particular thanks must go to PRO Hank Stuart and his Race Committee, to the jury headed by Chairman Leo Reise and to everyone at the Santa Cruz Yacht Club who worked so hard to make the event a success.
The class will be back in Santa Cruz for its 2007 World Championship from 1-10 April next year and will be hoping for a return to the classic Santa Cruz sunshine and strong sea breeze for their next visit! However, Dave Ullman, who regularly trains here as part of Philippe Kahn's Pegasus Team, pointed out that - "It's good to have a week like this because it's such a notoriously heavy airs place and people forget that anything can happen in a championship so this was a good wake-up call." The 2006 Melges 24 World Championship takes place in Hyeres, France from August
For more information about the International Melges 24 Class Association and the 2006 and 2007 Melges 24 World Championship in Santa Cruz please contact Fiona Brown, IMCA Press Officer, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel +44 (0)7711 718470, www.melges24.com.
Our thanks to event sponsors Pusser's Rum, Red Bull, New England Ropes & Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.