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Melges IC37 US National Championship - Day 1

by Melges Performance Sailing 3 Oct 11:31 PDT October 2-4, 2020
Melges IC37 US National Championship - Day 1 © Melges Performance Sailboats / Morgan Kinney

After less than a week since the Melges IC37 Class competed in Race Week at Newport, the teams are back on the racecourse for the National Championship.

With little time to prepare for the season's premiere event, teams wasted no time practicing in the weeks leading up to Nationals. While many sailors are returning to the Melges IC37s, it's only the second event for Michael Goldfarb's Waka Jawaka team sitting in third. "We're keeping things loose and having a great time sailing these boats," said Goldfarb. "We've been making the most of our practices and debriefs to get up to speed."

Class Coach Greg Fisher has been providing daily debriefs after racing and running practice sessions for the Melges IC37s. During the pause in racing, Fisher was also moderating webinars designed for class development.

After a delayed start and four races, Pacific Yankee has fortified an 11-point lead ahead of second-place Blazer II. The forecast has called for a light-air event, so the Race Committee optimized time on the water working the fleet until near sunset. Drew Freides and Bill Ruh's Pacific Yankee had the physical and mental endurance to place in the top three in each race of the day.

An eager fleet pushed the line in Race One prompting a general recall. Pacific Yankee was hot off the line with Waka Jawaka tailing their stern. Phil Lotz's Arethusa was able to make gains on the downwind sifting through the fleet to come in third.

Chris Culver's Blazer II shifted gears recovering from a mid-fleet finish in Race One to a first in Race Two. However, the Race Week winner didn't have a strong showing at the start. John Brim's Rima 37 and Peter McClennen's Gamecock were first around the top mark only to fall short on the downwind getting passed by Pacific Yankee and Blazer II. While Culver handily secured first in the final downwind, it was a dogfight for second between McClennen and Freides/Ruh with Gamecock warding off the West Coast team in the end.

After another general recall in Race Three, the boats were stacked up at the start. Those who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in the second row appeared to be stuck in the mud. 2019 National Champions, Members Only, found their stride leading the fleet around the top mark with a cluster well behind them. As the pressure dwindled across the course, it became increasingly important to head to the right side as those boats were able to chip away at the frontrunners. Pacific Yankee closed the gap on Members Only with an early gybe on the final leg and came in for a photo finish narrowly edging out the reigning champions.

As rainy, overcast skies passed over Narangasset Bay, the Race Committee patiently waited for the breeze to return with hopes of adding a fourth race to the bank prior to the weekend. A slight delay paid off as an initial gust blew down the course followed by a depreciating 15 knots. Sailing flat and fast, Pacific Yankee was able to jump off the line while Alexis Michas's Midnight Blue gained trees in the first leg. Hoping to break free of the fast-approaching flying octopus spinnaker, Pacific Yankee split away on the final downwind to the middle of the course. Midnight Blue was able to work the revitalized pressure on the left side to move into a first-place finish.

Day Two of racing is scheduled to start promptly at 1100.

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