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Pensacola's Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup on track for record turnout

by Talbot Wilson 13 Oct 22:43 PDT November 12-14, 2021
In the 2019 inaugural Bushwhacker Cup, Bora Gulari [USA820] with his crew of Kyle Navin, Norman Berge, Ian Liberty and American Magic's CEO/Skipper Terry Hutchinson took second in the Bushwhacker Cup with a 4-5-1-2-2 record © Talbot Wilson

The Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup is living up to its reputation as a competitive, fun regatta. With one month to the first warning, entries are equal to the numbers in the previous Pensacola event.

Following a great Melges 24 US Nationals in the Detroit area, with 22 boats competing, the racing focus now shifts south, to Pensacola YC in Northwest Florida. The combined Gulf Coast & Atlantic Coast Melges 24 Championship sailors, plus other national and international sailors not only race for regional honors; but also for the overall prize, the Bushwhacker Cup.

The Bushwhacker Cup is the final event of the 10-regatta US Melges 24 Class National Ranking Series, too.

After a practice day Nov 12th, wind willing, up to 10 races are scheduled for two days of racing on Pensacola Bay. PRO Hal Smith has a knack for getting in quick, back to back races that make sailors earn their dockside Bushwhackers back at the Pensacola YC sailing center.

As of this week, 20 boats had already registered. Pensacola YC and the US Melges 24 Class Association are shooting for 30 total entrants. The NOR, Registration and the up-to-date competitor list is available on Yacht Scoring.

"We are expecting close to 30 teams," predicts Race Chairman Commodore Tom Pace. "Long time class competitors tell us to watch Bora Gulari USA in New England Ropes, Peter Karrie GER in Nefeli, KC Shannon USA in Shaka, and Richard Reid CAN in Zingara should be the big battle for the top three places. Steve Suddath USA in 3 half Men, KC Shannon USA in Shaka and Brent McKenzie in Ex-Kahn look good in the Corinthian field."

Gulari finished second overall in the previous Pensacola event while Shannon finished third as the top Corinthian.

"But all bets could be off once the first warning sounds." Pace added. "There are some very strong sailors on the start line. We are hoping that our new home town Melges 24 Phoeniceus, owned by Pensacola YC members Nathan and Jennifer Simonson, will be on the Corinthian podium... a dark horse. "

The 2021 Bushwhacker Cup is the first step toward the 2022 Melges 24 World Championships scheduled for May in Ft. Lauderdale. In December after Pensacola sailors will move to Miami for the Bacardi Series, racing in Key West and St Petersburg and then back to Miami for the Bacardi Invitational then up to Charleston Race Week and back down to the Worlds. Then the 2022 Melges 24 National Championship will be held in Pensacola in conjunction with the third edition of the Bushwhacker Cup.

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