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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Race to the top: It starts at the 2024 Melges 24 U.S. Nationals in Santa Barbara, CA

by U.S. Melges 24 Class Association 8 Jul 08:29 PDT July 12-14, 2024
The 2024 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship takes place from July 12-14, hosted by the Santa Barbara Yacht Club in Santa Barbara, CA © Hannah Lee Noll / U.S. Melges 24 Class Association

With just a few days left until the 2024 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship kicks off in Santa Barbara, CA, 20 teams are gearing up for three thrilling days of sportboat racing.

Only a handful of teams will compete in the Open Division of the championship, while the remaining entries will vie for dominance in the all-amateur division. Among them are some of the strongest and most-committed teams in North America, increasing the possibility that the Class could see its very first combined overall and Corinthian U.S. National Champion.

In particular, Dan Berezin and his Melges 24 Surprise (CAN-629) team, the defending Corinthian U.S. National Champions, will be in attendance, aiming to reclaim the title for the second year in a row. Like many dedicated Melges 24 owners, Berezin did not start out owning a Melges 24. He began his M24 racing journey as crew for long-time Canadian owner Uri Saks. He really enjoyed the boat, and eventually, he wanted to helm it himself.

"Winning the Corinthian U.S. National Championship in 2023 with my son as crew is my most memorable experience in this Class," says Berezin. "I like the mix of professional and amateur teams in the Class. There is always something new to learn from the pros. It's fun to beat them too, well, when it happens!"

"Overall, the Melges 24 has taught me the importance of clear communication with the crew and the need to listen to their feedback as well. Anyone out there looking to get into the Melges 24 Class, look for crew who is willing to commit to the practicing and the regattas; establish practice days; and follow the tuning guide for your sails: there is a reason it has been published."

Additional teams on the Corinthian radar slated to do well are 2018 Corinthian U.S. National Champion Kent Pierce on Average (USA-549), Duane Yoslov's Looper (USA-855), Aaron Feves' Scoundrel (USA-801), Sallie Lang's Committed (USA-658), and Manfred Schmiedl's Brio (USA-838).

The Open Division entry list is packed with major talent also. Relatively new to the fleet is Cuyler Morris, racing Dark Horse (USA-863) with an experienced Melges 24 crew: John Bowden, Charlie Hibben, Mikaela Wulff, and recently crowned Melges 15 West Coast Champion Keiran Searle. USM24CA Secretary Geoff Fargo will be racing Sentinel (USA-856) with Jackson Benvenutti, Grant Janov, Willie McBride, and Haydon Stapleton. Andrew Picel's Take off (USA-801) carries some sailing heavyweights — Leland Hubble, Scott Nixon, Dylan Maney, and Samantha Gebb. Blake Hoffman's Nailed It (USA-798) will march into battle with Chay McIntosh, Rob Dawson, and Nick Fieggy. Canadian Philip Harland will race PCH (CAN-498) for the main title with Charles Harland, Alex Levkovskiy, Matt Lees, and the youthful Will Morris.

Absent from the 2024 lineup of competitors is defending champion Full Throttle (USA-849) — a name associated with holding an impressive 10 Melges 24 National titles. The Class caught up with legendary owner Brian Porter to see if he had any words of wisdom, guidance, and advice for the teams competing this year.

"I've never raced in Santa Barbara, so I'm uncertain as to what it is actually like to race there. I've raced plenty in Santa Cruz before, but never Santa Barbara, so I can't offer much on the tactical side. But Santa Barbara is such a beautiful place. We're really sad to be missing it this year."

Porter did admit, however, that a good pep talk before each regatta usually serves his team well. So what is the word on Full Throttle? "Everybody needs to do their job. If we all do our jobs, in the end, we'll be just fine."

The 2024 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship, hosted by the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, starts on Thursday, July 11th, with registration and a North Sails Clinic briefing ahead of practice racing, followed by a debrief once back on shore. Championship racing commences on Friday (July 12) and concludes on Sunday (July 14).

Everyone is encouraged to stay close to all Melges 24 communication channels as the Class will be issuing daily updates, stories, news, and events on the web, via email, and on social media.

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