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Entry open for Pensacola Yacht Club's Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup

by Talbot Wilson 26 Jul 2021 06:12 PDT 12-14 November 2021
Bora Gulari [USA820] with his crew of Kyle Navin, Norman Berge, Ian Liberty and American Magic's CEO/Skipper Terry Hutchinson stood second with a 4-5-1-2-2 record and 14 points. © Talbot Wilson

The Notice of Race for the Pensacola Yacht Club's 2nd 'annual' Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup [delayed one year by the pandemic and Hurricane Sally] has been posted and entries are now open. The regatta, which is also the Atlantic Coast Championships, is scheduled for November 12-14, 2021.

Pensacola Yacht Club's Bushwhacker Cup is also the final event of the 10-event 2021 U.S. Melges 24 National Ranking Series.

The 2021 NOR and regatta entry are now available at Pensacola Racing and Yacht Scoring. Race news and results will be there as well. All the Bushwhacker Cup news will also be posted on the event website, Facebook, and Twitter #bushwhackercup. For Pensacola information and lodging choices go to

As an added attraction for Melges 24 teams, Pensacola Yacht Club will include Melges 24 racing on a performance circle in its annual West Florida Ocean Racing Circuit regatta (WFORC) October 15-17. In addition to windward-leeward racing on Pensacola Bay, the WFORC may include a short 'ocean race' from mid-bay to the Pensacola Sea Buoy and back. WFORC information will be posted here.

For the Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup, Friday is registration, practice and clinic day, However, sailors are invited to bring their boats to the club pre-regatta for the WFORC, early practice, or storage. Boats may be stored at the club after the regatta before the long haul down to Miami for the Bacardi Winter Series.

Tom Pace, Jr, Commodore of Pensacola YC and once again chairman for this regatta, said, "In 2019 we had a fantastic Bushwhacker party and a great regatta broke out. 28 boats raced the inaugural event including two boats with potential America's Cup skippers aboard and some others with pros. The regatta also attracted a big contingent of Corinthian sailors. In 2020 we had damage from Hurricane Sally, so Melges 24 championships were moved to Mobile."

"Our hope this year is to attract 35 boats or more. Ask the Melges 24 sailors who raced in 2019 about the quality of racing and the fun. Ya'll Come, race with us at the 'South's Finest' yacht club," Pace added.

The inaugural 2019 event saw a fleet of 28 boats on the bay. The fleet sailed five 45-minute races on Saturday, but the sailors saw no wind and no races on Sunday. That's a rare happening on Pensacola Bay in November. PRO Hal Smith and his committee did a masterful job with the cards mother nature dealt.

Bruce Ayres' Monsoon [USA 825] from Newport Harbor CA with crew Brian Porter, George Peet, Chelsea Simms and America's Cup Challenger Stars+Stripes' CEO/Skipper Mike Buckley finished in first place with scores of 2-1-2-5-1 for 11 points. Monsoon was the winner of the inaugural Melges24 Bushwhacker Cup.

Bora Gulari [USA820] with his crew of Kyle Navin, Norman Berge, Ian Liberty and America's Cup Challenger American Magic's Skipper Terry Hutchinson stood three points back in second with a 4-5-1-2-2 record and 14 points. Gulari, a former Melges24 US National Champion, spent the winter months of 2018-19-20 sailing American Magic's Mule and their AC75 Defiant on Pensacola Bay. That almost makes him a local, certainly he has local knowledge.

The 2019 regatta served as the official championships for the Melges24 Atlantic & the Gulf Coast regions. Taking first place in the Atlantic region was Kelly Shannon's Shaka. Zane Yoder's FNG took the Gulf Coast Championship.

The 2021 Bushwhacker cup will only be sailed for the Atlantic Coast Championship, and it is the final race of the M24 National ranking series.

Corinthian sailors are integral to the Melges 24 class. Steve Suddath in Up for Debate was top Corinthian in the Atlantic/SE region. Glen Tonguis in Kryptonite was top Gulf Coast Corinthian and the Ratliff's Decorum was the best corinthian for all the other regions.

By all measures the First Annual Pensacola YC Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup was a success on and off the water. Burgers for lunch and 43 gallons of free Bushwhackers were served as the final treat.

Melges 24 owners and sailors choosing to charter are all invited to Pensacola and Pensacola YC for another fantastic regatta.

Sailing on Pensacola Bay

Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound are naturally protected by Santa Rosa Island to the south. The pass to the Gulf of Mexico is located to the southwest, across from the Naval Air Station Pensacola and divides the Gulf Islands National Seashore on Santa Rosa Island from the western park on Perdido Key.

The racing area is a matter of minutes from the Bayou Chico channel and the Pensacola YC marina. That's close racing... more racing and less transit time.

In summer months, sailors find a daily sea breeze that builds from a mid-day southeasterly to the afternoon 12-15 knot southwesterly they love. In other seasons, the winds are determined by frontal passages, temperature variables, sunshine and other factors. Tides are minimal, about one foot to one and a half feet.

Pensacola Bay is naturally deep with a white sand bottom. The water is clean, seasonally warm and just choppy in a breeze, but not often rough. The east-west shoreline in downtown Pensacola to the north is perfect for stadium regatta spectating.

All sailors— race or cruise, are invited to come sail on Pensacola Bay. Organizers of both amateur regional, national or international sailing championships and professional sailing events should contact Pensacola Yacht Club to discuss racing on beautiful Pensacola Bay.

The NYYC America's Cup team, American Magic, chose to train in the 'Mule' on Pensacola Bay in the fall and winter of 2018-19. They returned to Pensacola train in the AC75 'Defiant' in 2019-20 before heading to New Zealand after the first Prada Cup race series in Sardinia was cancelled.

Pensacola Yacht Club, the South's Finest

Pensacola Yacht Club is a championship sailing venue on approximately 22 acres at the mouth of Bayou Chico just west of downtown Pensacola, Florida. Part of that area is approximately 250 feet of sparkling white beachfront property on Pensacola Bay adjacent to the club marina in Bayou Chico.

PYC has been the site of numerous one design and handicap championships over the years. These include the 2000 USODA Nationals, and the inaugural Gulf Coast Championships in 2010 and the highly successful 2013 USODA Southeast Optimist Championships and the 2015 USODA Optimist National Championships which drew 320 sailors from 12 foreign countries and the USA to the competition. The 2018 Optimist Nationals drew 301 sailors and featured an opening ceremony keynote presentation by the team from the AC36 NYYC American Magic Challenge. The Kona National Championship was the highlight of fall sailing in 2018 wrapping up a super year.

PYC hosts the Junior Olympic Sailing Festival every year near the Fourth of July. PYC hosted the US Sailing Single Handed Championships in 2010. The club hosted several Flying Tiger East Coast Championships, and the Flying Tiger Nationals were held at PYC in 2011. The club hosted the Ultimate 20 Nationals in 2012, and the Thistle Nationals in 2011. In 2009, PYC hosted both the Corsair Nationals and the Snipe Nationals. Also in 2009, PYC hosted the Junior Lipton Championship, the Gulf Yachting Association's Junior Championship.

In 2019 PYC hosted the Thistle Class Southeast Championship in April, the 2019 Junior Olympic Sailing Festival presented by BBVA Compass in June, the Flying Scot North American Championship in July and the inaugural Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup — the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Championship— in November.

In 2021 the club welcomed the North Gulf Challenge (St Petersburg to Pensacola) in, the Catalina 22 National Championships in May, and looks forward to the reformatted WFORC in October, and of course, the Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup and regional championships in November.

Pensacola YC stages local regattas throughout the year and offers a youth Summer Sailing Camp in the summer and year around adult and youth instruction.

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