Pewaukee Yacht Club Kicks Off The 2008 Melges 17 ILYA Championship

19 July 2008

Article courtesy of Andy Burdick - The Melges 17 has been one of the hottest scow classes the last few years. The fleet heated up this weekend at Pewaukee for this years Inland Championship. Nineteen boats sailed out to the first start this morning with a 10mph breeze. The fleet was out early preparing their basic maneuvers – good tacks, good jibes, spinnaker sets and takedowns. Most times a regatta is won or lost on the basics – boathandling. Some boats were out as early as 8:15am. An eager fleet for sure! The people racing these boats are indeed in love with them. Fast, responsive and tactical upwind and downwind.

The first race found Clifford Porter and Carl Roth sailing USA-0 leading up the first beat but a crafty local – Hans Meyer got by them at the top mark and then led much of the race. Then it became a 4 boat battle for the first win. Bill Wiggins traveled from South Carolina to compete (gas prices are no excuse to no attend an Inland Championship)! He was winning at the last mark but it was tight with Mary Anne Ward, Deb Ziegler and Hans Meyer all lined up. Ward with crew Peter Keck did a nice job of sailing low and inside Wiggins controlling them and keeping the Wiggins team from jibing. Ward jibed early and it paid off. Mary Anne Ward won the first race with Bill Wiggins and his wife Angie close in second. Deb Ziegler and then Hans Meyer rounded out the top 4.

Bill Dale is the PRO and he fired up another race right away. The wind was a little lighter but still, a nice summer wind to race in so the fleet fired up and got race 2 under way. The fleet spread out quickly. Rob Conley sailing his brand new Melges 17 USA-505 hit the left side of the course while Mary Anne Ward and a few others went right. It was the wind in the middle that jumped Clifford Porter and Bill Wiggins up to the front again. A few wind shifts and a few tacks in the breeze put them in the lead at the top pin. As the race progressed things jumbled around a bit. Vincent Porter racing with cousin Davis Porter put their Melges 17 into Full Throttle and was leading at the next mark. They went on to win race number 2 but again it was close with Bill Wiggins and Hans Meyer.

The PYC hosted the fleet for lunch then it was race number 3 for the day. After a brief on shore postponement the PRO told the fleet to get on the water. The breeze freshened and the fleet had a nice run down the lake to the starting line. Just prior to the start sequence the breeze fizzled out and the race committee decided they had seen enough – abandonment was called – a quick, firm decision but a good one. The breeze never filled in again.

So, after 2 races in this years Inland Championship Bill Wiggins and his wife Angie are winning. It is very, very close though. Tomorrow calls for 10-20 out of the SW – a great direction for Pewaukee. So, can Ward, Meyer, Porter or any others catch Wiggins? We will find out tomorrow as the racing begins at 930am. Two races get underway then. The official championship presentation will take place after the racing tomorrow and someone will be crowned the 2008 Melges 17 Inland Champion!