by Melges 20
2014 Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Championship - While the majority of the fleet struggled with tricky, variable conditions on the inside race course in Newport Harbor, Cesar Gomez Neto on Portobello from Brazil had no trouble posting three second place finishes to take the overall lead after six races. What appeared to be straightforward racing prior to each start, things quickly turned inside out as big oscillations descended on the course rewarding those who were able to sniff out correct side early in the race.
2014 Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Championship
Sometimes in sailboat racing you have to be behind to get in front. In the first race of the day, four boats were called OCS including Drew Wierda's W and Jason Michas' Midnight Blue. As they restarted and hunted for clear air, they both extended to the left side, found nice pressure and were able to come in on a nice leftie, rounding within the top three then lead just behind newcomer Cary Siegler's Heathen team.
There were plenty of head scratching moments throughout the race with Wierda taking the win, and Gomez charging hard to nab a well earned second place. And, just when the fleet thought it had seen it all, the bottom five boats all ran out of breeze, condensed into a small pack and drifted across the line for a photo finish.
After a brief wait, PRO Bill Canfield started another race, and instead of a big left shift, this time the boats that tacked right after the start and were patient stepped into a nice righty and pressure. Michael Kiss on Bacio regained his championship form to grab the lead and never looked back, again with the Neto on his heels and Weirda following suit. Despite the tricky conditions the cream continued to rise for Neto and his team comprised of Andre Forseca and John Bowden.
The last race of the day saw the steadiest conditions with a 130 wind angle at eight kts. Shortly after the gun, the fleet split left, center and right, and each team seemed to be searching in the dark for any advantage as the pressured looked consistent across the course. Leading through the middle left, Michas was able to sail smart and get around in first. Charging in from the right was Gomez around in second. Shaking off two tough races to start the day, overnight regatta leader Jim Wilson's Oleander fought hard on the first down wind to finish third, behind Michas and Gomez.
Once again, the fleet was treated to some cold beverages and solid appetizers to help sort out the confusion from a very tough day of sailing. Two final races are scheduled to decide who will be the Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Champion.
Top five results:
(After Six Races, One Discard)
1.) Cesar Gomes Neto/Andre Forseca, Portobello; -2-3-2-2-2 = 11
2.) Drew Weirda/Scott Nixon, W; -4-2-1-3-8 = 16
3.) Marc Hollerbach/Jonathan McKee, Fu; 1-1-8-6-5- = 21
4.) Jim Wilson/Sam Rogers, Oleander; 5-3-1--11-3 = 23
5.) Jason Michas/Mark Mendelblatt, Midnight Blue; 3--10-3-9-1 = 26
2014 Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Championship Preliminary Cumulative Results: