John Porter's Full Throttle Leads The 2008 Melges 32 Rolex Big Boat Series
11 September 2008
The first day of racing at the Melges 32 Rolex Big Boat Series was stellar with two races completed and Lake Geneva's John Porter on USA-32 Full Throttle seated in first place overall. Porter carries four points overnight, tied with Pieter Taselaar (New York, N.Y.) in second place on USA-169 Bliksem. In third is defending champion Philippe Kahn (Santa Cruz, Calif.) on USA-166 Pegasus 32.
It was a somewhat foggy morning start for the nine Melges 32s. Winds were around 5-8 knots and building, calm seas and blue skies slowly but surely opened to give way to some warm welcomed sunshine — the perfect compliment to San Francisco's cool, breezy racing conditions. Fast off the pin end was Taselaar, Porter, new boat owner Don Jesberg (Belvedere, Calif.) on USA-162 Viva and Michael Illbruck (Munich, Germany) on GER-401 Pinta all taking to the left. Upwind it was a heated battle between Taselaar, Illbruck and Porter with Taselaar taking the lead several boat lengths ahead of the fleet at the first weathermark. Porter and Illbruck were left to battle it out for second place, both hugging the left side as the breeze was gradually increasing. Porter took over second place downwind rounding through the gate only half a boat length behind Taselaar, and Illbruck in third. Joe Woods (Torbay, UK) on GBR-700 Red made up ground on the the downwind run rounding fourth. Back upwind it was a real dogfight between Taselaar and Porter going into the mark. Taselaar managed to edge out Porter for the lead, but it was obvious he was loosing his grasp. Porter eventually took over the top spot at the final gate of the race with Woods and Illbruck charging in as well. Porter separated himself from the fleet with an aggressive upwind performance for the win. Taselaar, now several boat lengths behind was left to deal with Woods and Illbruck. Taselaar held his own for second and Illbruck was third. Woods settled for fourth.
The second race was a challenge, even for the race committee as they struggled to set the starting line for the fleet with a frequently shifting breeze. It was optimum sailing conditions as the breeze was now pumping around 20-22 knots — perfect city front racing! Illbruck blasted off the starting line, shooting out almost an entire boat length ahead of the fleet on the pin end. Along with him was Taselaar and Giovanni Maspero (Como, Italy) on ITA-999 Joe Fly and Porter on the left. There was much to be learned from the locals on race two as Kahn, Jesberg and Stephen Pugh (San Francisco, Calif.) on USA-158 Taboo stayed only a little left of center. Kahn and his Pegasus 32 team made good use of the ebbing tide, smooth water surface and great big breeze for the win. The downwind planning conditions were incredible as all the teams seemed to enjoy to opportunity to sail their Melges 32s at maximum speed. The finish line was conveniently positioned right in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Spectators lined the balconies as all the competing fleets finished race two.
The regatta is young as more races are scheduled for Friday, and again on Saturday and Sunday.
FULL RESULTS (After two races)
1.) John Porter, Full Throttle; 1-3 = 4
2.) Pieter Taselaar, Bliksem; 2-2 = 4
3.) Philippe Kahn, Pegasus 32; 5-1 = 6
4.) Michael Illbruck, Pinta; 3-4 = 7
5.) Joe Woods, Red; 4-7 = 11
6.) Giovanni Maspero, Joe Fly; 7-5 = 12
7.) Stephen Pugh, Taboo; 8-6 = 14
8.) Don Jesberg, Viva; 6-8 = 14
9.) Caleb Everett/Andy Costello, Stewball; 9-9 = 18
For media photos and/or additional information about the Melges 32 at the Rolex Big Boat Series, please contact JOY DUNIGAN, INTERNATIONAL MELGES 32 CLASS PRESS OFFICER on e-mail, or via phone at +1 (912) 398 5776.