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Melges 24 Atlantic & Gulf Coast Championship at Pensacola Yacht Club - Day 1

by Talbot Wilson / Pensacola Yacht Club 16 Nov 16:50 PST 15-17 November 2019
Bora Gulari [USA820] with his crew of Kyle Navin, Norman Berge, Ian Liberty and American Magic's CEO/Skipper Terry Hutchinson stood second after five with a 4-5-1-2-2 record and 14 points. © Talbot Wilson

Two teams, each with America's Cup challenger team members aboard, battled for the top two places after the first five races of Pensacola Yacht Club's inaugural Melges 24 Atlantic and Gulf Coast Championship. Bruce Ayres' Monsoon [USA 825] with crew Brian Porter, George Peet and Stars & Stripes principal Mike Buckley finished the day in first place with scores of 2-1-2-5-1 for 11 points.

Bora Gulari with his crew of Kyle Navin, Norman Berge, Ian Liberty and American Magic's CEO/Skipper Terry Hutchinson stood second after five with a 4-5-1-2-2 record and 14 points.

Ayres is from Newport Harbor CA and the reigning champion of the annual Bacardi Winter Series. Buckley, in addition to his ties to the Stars & Stripes Challenge, regularly match races with Taylor Canfield.

Gulari, a former Melges24 US National Champion, spent the 2018-19 sailing American Magic's Mule on Pensacola Bay. That almost makes him a local... certainly he has local knowledge. Gulari said, "I enjoyed getting back in this boat again. I haven't sailed her since the championships in Miami. We started if with a fourth and fifth, but then got in sync with three top-two's."

Kelly Shannon, a Lake Lanier Sailing Club sailor from the Atlanta GA area, sailed Shaka [USA 801] to third place with scores of 3-4-3-4-5 for 20 points. He commented on his first time on Pensacola Bay. "We are lake sailors and we enjoyed the flat water in the bay today. Melges24's do well in these conditions." Sailing with Shannon were Ben Lynch, Elizabeth Lynch, Jackson Benvenutti, and Tommy Sawchuck.

PRO Hal Smith, Pensacola Yacht Club's Fleet captain, managed the courses in the shifty northwesterly breeze to perfection. The highest steady wind was around 11kts and the lowest was 5kts, "With less than that in the holes." Smith said. "Our target was to run 40-minute races today. Only one of the five ran over that... around 58 minutes."

"All of the starts were clean except for the fourth race." Smith noted. "We couldn't identify all of the boats that were over the starting line early, so we signaled a general recall."

Racing continues Sunday with up to five more races scheduled.

This is the inaugural Atlantic and Gulf Coast Championship for the Bushwhacker Cup "We want to offer a fun, competitive regatta in our fantastic venue. Pensacola Bay is perfect for Melges 24 sailing," said Smith.. "To that end, we invite all the one class sailors to catch the magic on Pensacola Bay. Pensacola Yacht Club is ready to shine."

For more information visit website pycbushwhackercup.com, Facebook on PYCBushwhackerCup, and twitter at BushwhackerCup #bushwhackercup.

The complete entry list is available here.

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