James Whatmore's Goux Get Mama Surfs To The Win In Naples!
Congratulations to Tampa, Florida's James Whatmore on Goux Get Moma, 2009 Melges 24 Porsche Cup of Naples Champion. He is also the winner of the Porsche Cup of Naples Perpetual Trophy winner as well. The Porsche Cup was event number four of thirty nationwide regattas on the 2009 SLAM U.S. Championship Series.
Article courtesy of Tommy Clough and Gary Schwarting - The Naples Porsche Cup venue provided some of the best racing so far this year in extreme conditions. The race committee was on station 1 1/2 hours prior to the first starting signal on Saturday, and was measuring the morning breeze at 20 to 24 knots, with gusts to 28. Time to go Sailing.
All 10 Melges left the dock, with only 9 boats making it out for the first start. With 23 knot sustained winds, the committee started the fleet on time with a 1.1 mile course set at 175 degrees in 2-4 ft waves. It didn't take Jeff Duvall long to show everyone why he is always a contender, as he took the first bullet of the regatta with Goux Get Mama finishing 2nd, Obsession 3rd and BIG SKY 4th.
For the start of the second race, 2 boats withdrew due to hardware failure which left the remaining 7 boats to battle the elements. Race 2 saw some incredible boat handling by all the melges as the wind was now hitting 25 knot sustained winds and building seas to 5 + ft. Gary Schwarting on Obsession, who has elevated his game this past year, found the left side on the last beat to pay off and a spectacular downwind run for the win in race 2 with Scooter, Jeff Duvals Doc Holliday and James Whatmore, GGM finishing respectively.
For the start of Race 3, 2 more Melges withdrew. This regatta was taking its toll on the Fleet and with 4 to 5 races projected for the day, at this rate of attrition of withdrawing boats, it looked like it would be a last boat standing finish.
As the race committee, once again, getting off another quick start for race 3, it didn't take long for the remaining fleet to show why the Melges is a fun boat to sail. The first downwind saw some classic wipeouts, and the lead changing hands. But in the end, Bob McElwain on Scooter minimized the errors and capitalized for a race 3 win. Following Scooter was Doc Holiday, GGM and Obsession. First place was starting to get crowded.
The race committee called for 1 more race of the day, and with 5 Melges 24s left, it was going to be a fun ride. The last race saw at least 5 lead changes with the conditions now at 28 knots with gusts to 35 and the seas around 5-7 ft. The weather legs were 30 minutes long with the downwind legs lasting around 5. BIG SKY reported hitting 18 knots on their last run downwind. Maximum speed recorded on Schwarting's tacktick was 21.5 knots. What a ride!!!!
But the finish belonged to James Whatmore's, Goux Get Moma, with Obsession, Scooter, Doc Holliday and BIG SKY close behind.
The results for the day had 3 of the 5 finishing boats tied for 1st!!
The next day, the teams awoke not only to threatening wind conditions, but to threatening weather. The winds were 12 to 15 knots out of the west, but the major concern was a severe thunderstorm that was projected to hit the race course around the time of the first start. The race committee deliberated as long as they could before abandoning racing for the day due to lightening in the area. The approaching front delivered 40+ knot gusts and over 100 lightening strikes just north of Naples.
Goux Get Mama wins based on the tie breaker with Obsession in 2nd and Doc Holliday finishing 3rd. It doesn't get any better than this.
Thanks to the race committee for doing a remarkable job with communication and course management all day Saturday, especially PRO Jeff Butser. The Melges 24 fleet did not wait more than 15 minutes between each of the races that day.
A special thanks also goes out to Gary Schwarting for organizing the Melges 24 fleet and to Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club, for their accomodations and spectacular facility.
And a tremendous thanks to the main sponsor, Porsche of Naples, and also, most espeically to SLAM. The first through third finishers - the entire team received some awesome gear courtesy of SLAM - title sponsor of the 2009 National Championship Series. Next event on the circuit is Charleston Race Week, April 16-19 in Charleston, South Carolina.
With a remarkable facility, great venue, and close access to the ocean, this facility should think long and hard as this event is definitely going to continue as a Melges 24 hot bed for fast, fun sportboat racing and great competition.