Pollard Leads the 2007 Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 St. Petersburg NOOD

From Joy Dunigan of the USMCA - Cold. Downright cold would best describe St. Petersburg, Florida as a very brisk front moved through the area on Thursday leaving behind frigid weather for the forty boat strong Melges 24 fleet. Out front is John Pollard from Torquay, UK on 'GBR-650, Xcellent'. Pollard, a past UK National Champion in the Melges 24, has Rob Smith calling tactics, so his outstanding performance comes to no one's surprise. "It was a lot like sailing in the UK today. It was key to not sail into the waves, so we tried really hard not to," commented Pollard.

Race one of the day commenced at a very early 9:30 a.m. under overcast, cloudy skies and temperatures ranging in the low to mid-50's. Unlike last year's tormenting light air sailing yet warm temps, the wind was out of the Northwest at 15 knots to up around 20 knots, gusting a little higher occasionally. Rough seas and a lot of spray added to the mixture. Pollard got a jump on the fleet early and as it went on, his lead stretched by a mile. Pollard was not alone. Fellow Irish/English team helmed by John Gimson at the helm for Eamonn O'Nolan (Gorington Thames, Oxon) on 'GBR-676 UltimateSailing.com Bateauneuf' desperately tried to catch Pollard, but Pollard was just too fast! Third leg into the race, the fleet was tremendously spread out with Pollard and Gimson respectively commanding the top two positions putting several minutes on the rest of the fleet. In third, working his way into the top three is Othmar Mueller Von Blumencron (Annapolis, Md.) on 'USA-679 Gannet'. One could categorize today's first race conditions a lot like sailboat racing in the UK and perhaps that is where Pollard really found his groove. He went on to win the race at least a minute and a half ahead of Gimson, then Blumencron in third. The real battle was in the the fourth, fifth and sixth position. John Jennings at the helm for Bob Dockery on 'USA-549 Barracuda' (Longboat Key, Fla.) was fourth, Bora Gulari at the helm for Rob Bunn (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) on 'USA-202 Rumblur' was fifth and in sixth was Doug Fisher on 'USA-515 Wireless' in a heated battle at the finish.

The conditions were a carbon copy for race two of the day with Pollard back out front, this time vying for second place was Blumencron. Othmar is a former German and Swiss Olympian is also one of the class' up-and-coming Corinthian competitors. At the top mark, racing was tight as the first five boats rounded a little more than a boat length apart — Pollard, Blumencron, then Scott Gregory from Marietta, Ga with Scott Nixon calling tactics on 'USA-559 Team Satisfaction' with Michael Schulz and Jeremy Tudor as crew. Chris Schoendorf from Sturgeon Bay, Wi. on 'USA-458 Taz' rounded fourth and Argyle Campbell from Newport Beach, Ca. on 'USA-630 Rock n' Roll' was fifth. Despite Blumecron's great chase, Pollard stampeded to victory taking the top spot for his second bullet of the day. Blumencron finished second and Argyle Campbell was third.

Finally in race three, the Florida sunshine shone through bringing a little — not a lot, but a little bit of warmth. This did nothing to deter Pollard as he went on to win the third race of this day as well. Blumencron was second and Jennings grabbed third.

Overall, John Pollard leads the fleet with three points total. Three bullets, first place! Othmar Mueller Von Blumencron is seated in second, just four points out of second place. "We need to go out tomorrow and do the same thing. We did pretty well today, but the condition will be different for tomorrow. I feel we are as strong in light air, but we'll have to wait and see," commented Blumencron. In third is Jennings, fourth is Gregory and in fifth is Gulari.

Day two of the St. Pete's NOOD is sure to be another extraordinary day of Melges 24 racing. The conditions are expected to be somewhat colder with the overnight temperatures dipping into the 30's. Saturday is expected to be mostly sunny, but the sailing will be under lighter conditions.

1.) John Pollard, Xcellent; 1, 1, 1 = 3
2.) Othmar Mueller Von Blumencron, Gannet; 3, 2, 2 = 7
3.) John Jennings/Bob Dockery, Barracuda; 4, 6, 3 = 13
4.) H. Scott Gregory, Team Satisfaction; 8, 4, 5 =17
5.) Bora Gulari/Rob Bunn, Rumblur; 5, 5, 7 = 17
6.) Paul Hulsey, Hoodlum Racing; 9, 7, 4 = 20
7.) Argyle Campbell, Rock n' Roll; 11, 3, 8 =
8.) Eamonn O'Nolan, ultimatesailing.com Bateauneuf; 2, 16, 6 = 24
9.) Shane Vowels, I'm With Stupid; 7, 13, 12 = 32
10.) John Hyatt, Gone Mad; 16, 10, 10 = 36


The weather on the course may have been cold, but the competition and level of racing the Melges 24 delivered was HOT and the 2007 St. Petersburg NOOD is proof! With a total overall fleet of forty-five boats, a record sixteen boats qualified to compete as Corinthians! Today's outstanding Corinthians are Othmar Von Blumencron in first with an incredible day — 3, 2, 2 also placed him in second overall! In second place, is John Jennings and Bob Dockery blaming their third place finish in the final race of the day as the cause for their spectacular performance in the Corinthian category. In third was Paul Hulsey.

1.) Othmar Mueller Von Blumencron, Gannet
2.) John Jennings/Bob Dockery, Barracuda
3.) Paul Hulsey, Hoodlum Racing
4.) Kelly Gough/Shawn Grisham, Bulls Eye
5.) Marty Jensen, Moxie