The International Melges 32 Class Association will celebrate its third, and largest ever U.S. National Championship on July 25-27 in Newport, R.I. The regatta will be held in conjunction with the New York Yacht Club's Race Week at Newport, presented by Rolex. Twenty entries have been confirmed.
Three international teams, all from the UK are bringing some spectacular talent of their own to the event. 2008 Melges 32 East Coast Champion Joe Woods on GBR-500 Red occupied his spring sailing season by competing in Annapolis and in Europe at the heated 2008 Audi Melges 32 Sailing Series. Last year Woods scored a third place at Nationals, this year he will take another shot at the top spot.
Peter Rogers on GBR-121 Highlife first entered the fleet this past January at ACURA Key West 2008 and is looking to do well. Stuart Simpson on GBR-84845 Team Barbarians also debuted in Key West. For Nationals, he has assembled a team that includes double Melges 24 World Ranking Champions Jamie Lea and Nigel Young. The excitement and energy generated by this one design performance yacht is unique and attracting some of the world's top sailors.
Former relief helmsman for Dean Barker during the 2003 America's Cup, Cameron Appleton from New Zealand will assist Derek Campbell on USA-138 Banshee.
2005 J.24 World and North American Champion Anthony Kotoun will set sail with Melges 32 Class veteran Edward Tillinghast on USA-151 Dark N'Stormy. Bob Hesse has retained the talents of 2006 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Jud Smith on USA-153 Lake Effect.
Marty Kullman and Mike Carroll have employed the efforts of 2008 Melges 24 Charleston Race Week winning tactician Scott Nixon on USA-131 New Wave. John Kilroy will sail his brand new USA-1313 Samba Pa Ti Melges 32 for the first time. It too has been christened with the skills of Eric Arndt and 2003 Melges 24 World Champion Brian Hutchinson. The only returning Melges 32 National Champion is Jeff Ecklund on USA-32 Star.
His 2008 crew includes multiple World Champion Harry Melges calling tactics alongside of Scott Norris, Sam Rogers, Ladies Match Racing Champion Lindsay Bartel with brother Clay Bartel, Jamie Randall and Peeter Must.
'We are going to take inventory and focus on having good starts, getting around the corners and going fast. Two of the most important things to remember in this class are — getting good starts and having great boat speed. We are hoping to do both,' says Ecklund regarding his goals for the upcoming championship.
Despite the very impressive sample resumes above, the class maintains a very strong and vibrant corinthian persona. Jason Carroll on USA-128 Argo helms an all-amateur crew. Young and enthusiastic, Carroll's team has been steadily climbing in the results. On Dan Van Heeckeren's USA-139 Vanpire32 it's a family affair with Willem and Christian among the crew.
Teams have already begun to arrive in Newport for Nationals, some looking to warm-up a couple of days in advance. Weigh-in and registration happens on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by three days of racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.