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Porter Goes On To Win Melges 32 Fleet At The 2008 Rolex Big Boat Series

15 September 2008

John Porter from Lake Geneva, Wisc. is the 2008 Rolex Big Boat Series Melges 32 Champion. Porter surrounded himself with some of the best the fleet has to offer — his son Corbet, nephen Bri Porter, Dave Navin, Harry Melges served as tactician, Sam Rogers and Charlie Harrett were crew. Porter won on countback, as second overall with equal points is Pieter Taselaar (New York, N.Y) on USA-169 Bliksem and in third was Michael Illbruck (Munich, Germany) on GER-401 Pinta one point out.

The final day of the racing for the Melges 32 class was one of long-distance endurance — 21 miles of excitement and the ultimate test of skill and technique. After Friday's 15-mile race, Illbruck eluded that this kind of pressure is routine. "It's wonderful to race here. The racing is very much like Volvo Ocean Racing,' said Illbruck. For Porter it was just another day of ultra-fast, competitive sailboat racing. "We're just going to try and go fast and have fun,' commented Porter just prior to leaving the dock.

The first start was on time and under Saturday carbon copy conditions — gorgeous sunshine, and a nice breeze filling quick. With Illbruck in first and Porter in second, each holding 17 points, the start was a real nail-biter. For the overall teams, the six point spread between them was a tell-tale sign that the regatta was far from over. This truely was anyone's race, a solid race that would be a great tactical challenge.

The start was clean with the overnight leaders taking the opposite ends of the line. Porter punched out to the left looking for some city front lift, Illbruck on the other hand got a mediocre start on the right with Joe Woods (Torbay, UK) on GBR-700 Red forcing him to tack to port almost immediately. With the flood of the bay in full effect, Porter and Caleb Everett (San Francisco, Calif.) on USA-145 Stewball hugged the wall, Stephen Pugh (Sausalito, Calif.) on USA-158 Taboo following. Everett made out like a bandit leaving Porter and Pugh to battle with Pugh ultimately getting the upperhand. Philippe Kahn (Santa Cruz, Calif.) on USA-166 Pegasus 32, Don Jesberg (Belvedere, Calif.) on USA-162 Viva and Taselaar soon joined the group as the city front appeared to be the place to be. For Illbruck and Woods it was looking grim. Their journey to the far, far right of the course put them both 4-5 minutes behind the regatta leaders. Around the mark in first was Everett with a comfortable lead, but Pugh was knocking on his transom, the Porter. Porter with a real knot in the chute took some time to solve with fleet closing in. The first upwind leg for Illbruck and Woods was a disaster. The two highly-skilled teams rounded last.

Downwind, the battle was on between Everett and Pugh. Everett at the second mark rounding lost the lead to Pugh. "It felt so good to be out in the lead. We've put a lot of time and energy into our program, so it was good to be out front. Occasionally we would look back. So much can change in this fleet, so quickly,' said Pugh. With Pugh far ahead of the fleet, the fiercest battle was between Porter, Jesberg, Kahn and Everett. A tragic turn of events at the mark, located behind Treasure Island was in store for Porter, who was just simply trying to maintain a decent score to win out over Illbruck. Porter hit the bouy, forcing him into a penalty turn. Illbruck was fast downwind and closed the gap substantially coming back upwind. The error evened the playing field with Porter back in the pack with Taselaar, Woods, Jesberg and Illbruck. The final upwind leg was all about the dualing Melges 32s of Porter and Illbruck with Kahn periodically getting in the mix. Now with the tide ebbing more to the center of the bay, all eyes were on the three as they had a lot of speed. For spectators, it became more and more obvious with each passing minute that the regatta winner truely would not be decided until the very end. Going into the final mark, the excitement was fever pitch as Pugh had long rounded in first, Jesberg was second and Everett was third. Porter, Woods and Illbruck were looking to create a photo finish as they teased onlookers standing three wide downwind. Porter found the speed he needed pulling across the line just ahead of Woods, then Illbruck.

The International Melges 32 Class wishes to extend a warm thanks the St. Francis Yacht Club and to title sponsor Rolex, especially to John Craig and Melanie Roberts. A very special to all the competitors that traveled near and far to be with the fleet, especially Joe Woods from the UK, Michael Illbruck from Germany and Giovanni Maspero from Italy.

FULL RESULTS (After seven races completed)

1.) John Porter, Full Throttle; 1-3-3-4-5-1-6 = 23
2.) Pieter Taselaar, Bliksem; 2-2-4-3-6-3-3 = 23
3.) Michael Illbruck, Pinta; 3-4-2-1-1-6-7 = 24
4.) Joe Woods, Red, 4-7-1-2-3-2-8 = 27
5.) Philippe Kahn, Pegasus 32; 5-1-5-6-2-4-5 = 28
6.) Stephen Pugh, Taboo; 9-6-8-5-8-7-1 = 44
7.) Don Jesberg, Viva; 6-8-7-10/RAF-7-5-2 = 45
8.) Giovanni Maspero, Joe Fly; 7-5-6-8-4-8-10/DNS = 48
9.) Caleb Everett/Andy Costello, Stewball; 8-9-9-7-9-10/DNF-4 = 56

MORE MELGES 32 RACING TO COME
The fun and excitement of Melges 32 racing is just getting started for the fall season. The next event for the Melges 32 is 3-5 October 2008 in Lerici, Italy — the grand finale to the 2008 Audi Sailing Series! And, the first ever 2008 Gold Cup Regatta happens early December 5-7 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. at the Lauderdale Yacht Club where some 30-35 boats are expected to attend. This will be the first of three 2009 Midwinter Sailing Series events.

SAILREV.TV EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS
Italy's own Sailrev.tv is offering a variety of competitor interviews at the 2008 Melges 32 Rolex Big Boat Series including Pieter Taselaar, John Porter, Michael Illbruck and Joe Woods! Visit Sailrev.tv today!

PHOTO GALLERY | DAY 01

PHOTO GALLERY | DAY 02

PHOTO GALLERY | DAY 03

FULL CREW LIST

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Visit the official event website of 2008 Rolex Big Boat Series. Also, see the official website of the International Melges 32 Class Association.

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.