The spectacle of a fleet of Melges 32’s racing in 20 knots on Pittwater was hard to resist, plenty of spectators out following the racing on day one of the Melges 32 East Coast Championships sponsored by SLAM and SOAK and hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
Saturday the wind was a gusty 20 knots from the South, racing kicked off at 1 pm, for the first three races. Après racing crews enjoyed drinks and diner overlooking the marina and relaxed to the ten piece live band 'United Notions' provided by the RPA long into the night. Sunday, the sun was out, a more subdued breeze but very shifty conditions for the following three races. PRO Steve Merrington and his team drew on their years of Pittwater experience to get three races away on Sunday.
The turnkey sailing setup provided by the Melges 32 class allowed competitors to fly in from Tasmania, and Queensland to compete.
Tasmanian skipper of 2 Unlimited Greg Prescott (Enzo) came into this event on a high after winning Hamilton Island Race Week and the Audi car. Greg gave the Audi to his mother, who is driving the streets of Hobart delivering her grand kids to Optimist training while Greg’s racing in Sydney. Apparently she’s a pretty cool grandma in their eyes driving a car with Audi Sailing down the side.
The 2 Unlimited team of Darren (Twirler) Jones, Michael Dunstan, Russel Ely, Mark Jeffery, Julian Sulter, Oliver Nicholas and James Corrie dominated day one of racing. In the heavier breeze they accelerated away from the fleet with great downwind speed and technique winning all three races. There is no shortage of knowledge and skill behind 2 unlimited performance. Michael Dunstan the London Olympics Australian Sailing Team’s rules advisor and multiple match racing champion called tactics. Darren Jones returning from the Melges 32 Worlds to compete in the Championship brought valuable class knowledge.
Day two, things didn’t all go the way of 2 Unlimited, in the lighter breeze, Simon Reffold The Business upset their plan and tactically picked the last shift on the run to win race four. In race five Barry Cuneo Envy Scooter’s purple spinnaker lead until the last run and looked as though the win was secured, however, the 2 Unlimited teams experience in the boat gave them the gun. In a show of determination in the final race of the series Envy Scooters picked the first shift and sailed well to put a win on the board and end the regatta on a high.
Angus Reid Maxstar was the main rival on day one for 2 Unlimited. The Maxstar crew winners of the inaugural prestigious Melges 32 Asia Pacific Cup Series for 2011-2012 were drawing on their crew work and downwind speed attempting to close the distance. Murray Walters calling the shots and brothers Andrew and Richard Stanning were working the sheets.
New to the class Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron sailor Barry Cuneo Envy Scooters and his Queensland team including Mark Bradford (North Sails QLD) calling tactics and twinkle toes Gary Van Lunteren swinging it down on the rail were amongst a star studded crew. Envy Scooters enjoyed their first opportunity to rate themselves against a fleet of Melges 32’s and looked like a professional outfit, one to keep an eye on at future events on the Cup Series. Barry enjoyed the 'short punchy racing format'. He was most impressed with the ease of the pack up commenting 'by the time the last boat was out of the water we were fully packed up mast down, covers on ready for the trip back to QLD'.
Martin Cross chartering Funnel Web stepped into the boat for the first time in this regatta and held their own. In race two they picked a good shift out of the left to lead around the top mark in the first rounding and planed downwind pulling off some good gybes to take the third to the Maxstar crew. Sailing with his wife Anna, Martin is an experienced One Design skipper, he thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and said he’s looking forward to more of it in the future.’
Melges 32 East Coast Championships 2012 - Tracey Walters
James Corrie 2 Unlimited said it was the 'Best Race Format', off the dock at 11am go sailing for an afternoon of intensive racing, packed up and back to the club by about 4.30pm.
The East Coast Title with a convincing win went to Greg Prescott 2 Unlimited ten points ahead of Barry Cuneo Envy Scooters finishing on equal points but in second place on a count back to Angus Reid Maxstar not able to hang on for race six finishing in third place overall.
The next event on the Melges 32 calendar is the NSW States at Lake Macquarie, which was a great success last year and provides plenty of water for the Melges 32’s followed in January by Geelong.
by Tracey Walters
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9:50 AM Tue 13 Nov 2012GMT
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