by Joy Dunigan
Things did not get any easier on the second day of racing at the 2011 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship, hosted by Lake Geneva Yacht Club (LGYC). Super tricky, light air conditions on Lake Geneva left some top teams right where they anticipated being score wise, others were left scratching their heads.
Nathan Wilmot, Embarr - Melges 24 Nationals 2011
Three more short and sweet races were completed leaving overnight leader Bora Gulari on New England Ropes and Nathan Wilmot at the helm for Conor Clarke's Embarr tied for first place in points. Gulari is seated in first on countback, Wilmot is second, while Melges is eleven points back in third.
Race one commenced under perfect fall like conditions with a light 8-10 knots of breeze out of the east. Tricky and super shifty conditions were in store for the 38-strong fleet with Wilmot, Dan Moriarty on TopNotch and Brian Porter on Full Throttle blasting up the left side, then catching some nice breeze as they approached the top mark, rounding first, second and third. Downwind Porter put the moves on Wilmot taking over the second position, Gulari stepped up his program to pass through the gate in third. Porter had great upwind speed, assuming the lead, with Kristen Lane on Brickhouse 812, moving up for second while Wilmot slipped to third. Porter continued on for the win. The Move Of The Day clearly goes to Harry Melges at the helm of Henry Colie's Babs. After a lack-luster start, Melges clawed his way from a deep fourteenth place first mark rounding to finish second. Wilmot settled for third.
As the breeze dropped off further, conditions on the course intensified the racing competition. Lane had a great, first upwind beat taking a huge lead. She led the entire race by a sizable margin, her next biggest opponent appeared to be Wilmot, and Philip Werhiem at the helm of Peter Cucci's Matador moving into attack position. About 100 yards from the finish, the top ten, which included Tom Freytag on Wicked Feet, Mike Dow on Flying Toaster, Doug Wilhelm on Wilco and Jeff Wittenberg on Tom Slick in addition to Gulari, Wilmot, Lane, Werhiem, Porter and Melges, crossed the line for an amazing, clustered photo finish. Porter, looked to the low side and was determined to remain in the hunt. Corinthian competitor and division forerunner Freytag, pulled off the win by a nose, Werhiem charged forward to take second, Wilmot took third, while the remaining aggressors fought for best finishing position.
At this point, Wilmot had the overall Championship lead, followed by Gulari, then Porter, each separated by a two point margin. With Sunday's predicted, possible super light conditions, race three would be mission critical.
With the shifting breeze, the Race Committee moved further east on the lake to accommodate a third race. Gulari had a killer start, punching the line, Bruce Ayres on Monsoon to leeward. Gulari staked his claim on race three rounding the weathermark first, Melges hot on his heels in second, Wilmot third, and Lane in fourth. As the race progressed the race leaders pressed on to the finish with Gulari and Melges match racing to the finish, Gulari taking a big win. Melges settled for second, Wilmot was third and Ayres moved up to finish nicely in fourth.
Melges 24 Fleet Action - Melges 24 Nationals 2011
It is certain that Sunday will be a serious showdown. It will mark the final day of racing at the National Championship. Light air conditions are expected to prevail for the grand finale.
TOP TEN RESULTS (PRELIMINARY OVERALL, After seven races)
1.) Bora Gulari, New England Ropes; 1-5-2-4--3-1= 16
2.) Nathan Wilmot/Conor Clarke, Embar; 4-3-1--3-2-3 = 16
3.) Harry Melges/Henry Colie, Babs; 2-1-10-[OCS]-2-8-2 = 25
4.) Brian Porter, Full Throttle; 3--5-1-1-7-9 = 26
5.) Kristen Lane, Brickhouse 812; -9-6-3-8-5-6 = 37
6.) Alan Field, WTF; 7-2-12-2-11-13- = 47
7.) Peter Cucci, Matador; 5-16-8-7-12-6- = 54
8.) Bruce Ayres, Monsoon; 6-4-4-[OCS]-13-24-4 = 55
9.) Douglas Wilhelm, Wilco; 10--3-9-10-9-23 = 64
10.) Argyle Campbell, Rock n' Roll; 19-7-14-[ZFP-26]-5-11-21 = 77
Lake Geneva's Tom Freytag moved into the Corinthian division lead, with a spectacular win in race two of the day. Freytag got in on the action early, taking the win right at the line. August Hernandez on High Voltage suffered a tough day on the water, sliding back to second overall. Fred Rozelle on Rustler hangs on for third. View The Full Corinthian Entry List
TOP FIVE RESULTS (CORINTHIAN, After seven races)
1.) Tom Freytag, Wicked Feet
2.) August Hernandez, High Voltage
3.) Fred Rozelle, Rustler
4.) Charlie Hess, Funtech Racing
5.) Edward Massey, Sweet as Bro!
Brian Porter, Full Throttle - Melges 24 Nationals 2011
Harry Melges, Babs - Melges 24 Nationals 2011
Kristen Lane, Brickhouse 812 - Melges 24 Nationals 2011
Full results here
US Melges 24 Class Association here