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Joe Woods third at Melges 32 - Acura Key West 2008

'Melges 32 - Championship Key West 2008'    Tim Wilkes ©

Jeff Ecklund (USA) on 'Star' is the Melges 32 Acura Key West 2008 Champion. Second place went to all-amatuer Kullman/Carroll 'New Wave' team and third was early regatta leader Joe Woods on 'Red' from the UK.

This is a very special event for the Melges 32 as it is also its Midwinter Championship. With Harry Melges calling tactics and crew of Eric Hood, Scott Norris, Tom Burnham, Lindsay Bartel, Debbie Capozzi and Genny Tulloch, Jeff delivered a performance well worth the win.

'Key West is a big event for us, so we are very happy to have won. There are some really great teams out there in the Melges 32 now. We had some good starts and nice boat speed.' comment Ecklund just before accepting the award.

One thing that Ecklund is quick to acknowledge is his crew. Bear in mind this is not just any crew. They are full of youth, energy, sailing experience and overflowing with talent. 'It was the usual me and Harry on board but everyone else is new — Eric, Scott and Tom. I think the fact that we had three girls with us really says something about this boat. Lindsey has sailed with us before, but to have Debbie and Genny there too was a real treat.'

The fleet headed out to the course an hour earlier than originally scheduled with the mindset of getting as many as three more races completed. The conditions were to the max — 20-25 knot winds with little gusts here and there and a substantial sea chop. Ecklund literally blasted off the starting line. Claudio Recchi from Italy on 'Let's Roll' was not so fortunate. As he tried to start at the pin end, he caught the anchor line attached to the pin end boat causing him to start far behind. But Recchi was quick to make up ground.

At the weathermark it was Philippe Kahn on 'Pegasus 32' taking the lead and speeding downwind putting some distance between himself and the rest of the fleet. Both Ecklund and Marty Kullman and Mike Carroll from Tampa, Florida on 'New Wave' were hot on his transom. Ecklund caught Kahn at the gate and worked hard to bring the challenge back neck-and-neck on the upwind beat. Kahn eventually got the best and took it to the finish. Kahn's team is an exceptional one as well — Richard Clarke, Bruce Mahoney, David Giles, Erik Boone, Curtis Florence and Allan Megarry.

For race two of the day, it was Michael Illbruck from Germany on 'Pinta' stepping up to the plate and taking the win. Illbruck's team was no slouch either. He was accompanied by Cameron Horne, Vince Brun, Ross Halcrow, Don Cowie, Glenn Horne and Andrew Finnick. Together they dominated over Kahn who scored a two and Jason Carroll (Sean Doyle, Brian Fox, Peter Strotherman, Kai Cox, Patrick Mauro, Sam Rogers and Clay Bischoff) from Larchmont, New York on 'Argo' took third.

The third and final race of the day and the Key West series brought out the best in Recchi as he won over Armando Giulietti on 'Hiroshi from Milan, Italy scoring second and in third was Carroll again.

The final results with one discard put Ecklund at the top, two points ahead of the spectacular, all-amatuer Kullman/Carroll 'New Wave' team — John Jennings, Steve Liebel, Alex Shaffer, Judah Rubin, Ron Hyatt and Jay Kuebel. In third was early regatta leader Joe Woods on 'Red' from the UK. Woods' team is quite a group as well that includes Ruairidh Scott, Tim Powell, Paddy Bettesworth, Jamie Binmore, Shane Hughes, Tim Edwards and Sophie Esson.

Melges 32 -Final scores

1 Jeff Ecklund Fort Lauderdale, FL 5 2 4 3 1 2 -12 8 25
2 Carroll/Kullman Clearwater, FL 3 4 3 5 3 5 -8 4 27
3 Joe Woods Torquay, GBR 4 1 1 8 -10 3 9 6 32
4 Claudio Recchi YCI, ITA 1 3 5 7 -14 13 4 1 34
5 Philippe Kahn Honolulu, HI 7 8 2 10 -13 1 2 5 35
6 John Sherlock Port Credit, CAN 9 5 9 1 6 4 7 -11 41
7 Michael Illbruck Munich, GER 10 10 7 -18 2 10 1 7 47
8 Jason Carroll Larchmont, NY -16 15 11 4 9 6 3 3 51
9 Stephen Pugh Sausalito, CA 13 7 10 2 5 7 13 -17 57
10 Pieter Taselaar NYYC, NY 6 -19 8 15 4 16 6 13 68
11 Jim Swartz Edgartown, MA 8 13 15 -23 8 8 15 9 76
12 Bob Hesse Buffalo, NY 14 9 6 12 11 14 -18 12 78
13 Armando Giulietti Milano, ITA 2 11 27 - 28 dnf 24 12 11 2 89
14 Steve Rhyne Seabrook, TX 11 18 12 14 15 17 16 -20 103
15 Rogers/Duckworth Hamble, UK -19 6 14 16 16 19 19 19 109
16 Amy Neill Chicago, IL 15 17 -26 19 17 9 10 22 109
17 John Taylor Big Sky, MT 17 16 16 17 12 18 -20 14 110
18 Doug Strebel League City, TX 12 14 13 11 7 - 28 dnf 28 dns 28 dnc 113
19 George Gamble Pensacola, FL -22 21 20 9 20 21 5 21 117
20 Tad Fairbank Bainbridge Isl, WA 18 12 18 13 -23 23 21 16 121
21 Stuart Simpson Torbay, GBR -26 22 25 20 19 15 14 10 125
22 Edward Tillinghast New York, NY 21 25 22 6 -27 22 22 15 133
23 Sean Guinness Blue Hill, ME 25 23 19 21 21 -26 17 18 144
24 Fathom Racing LLC Cleveland, OH 23 20 21 22 26 20 23 - 28 dnf 155
25 Jeff Wittenberg Chicago, IL 20 24 23 25 25 11 - 28 dns 28 dns 156
26 Robert Burgess Terrebonne, OR 27 26 17 24 22 24 24 - 28 dnf 164
27 Dan van Heeckeren Mentor, OH 24 27 24 26 18 25 - 28 dnf 28 dns 172

The next event for the International Melges 32 Class is the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta coming up February 15-17, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tampa Bay is a great place to race so be there!

by Joy Dunigan


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12:20 PM Sat 26 Jan 2008 GMT

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