Wet, Wild and Windy Charleston Harbor Satisfies Melges 24 Fleet

19 September 2008

Charleston, S.C. - The first day of racing proved that the Melges 24 Class's U.S. National Championship is not for the faint of heart. Sponsored by OSA Sailing.com and hosted by the Charleston Yacht Club, gorgeous sunshine and full power breeze propelled the final tally of 44 teams around Charleston Harbor today.

Three races were completed leaving Simon Strauss (New York, N.Y.) on GBR-592 Simplicity in first place overall. Chris Larson (Annapolis, MD) on USA-655 Lightwave is seated in second place, tied in the points standing with Alan Field (Los Angeles, Calif.) on USA-587 WTF in third.

Overall, the fleet enjoyed three great races, resulting in three separate winners under what most would consider ideal planning conditions for the Melges 24 — big lumpy seas, current, spring tide and sustained winds of 20-25 knots occasionally gusting to 28-30+ reeked havoc. Needless to say it was a fascinating spectator sport from start to finish.

The first race got underway on schedule with the vast majority of the fleet getting off clean. It was a tough start though for Scott Nixon (Annapolis, MD) on USA-751 Quantum Racing. "I was so excited at the first start. I pulled the trigger just a little too quick. I thought we made it at first, but then they got us. Otherwise, it was a great day of sailing,' said Nixon following racing at the Friday evening Margherita party. Nixon wasn't alone. Local favorite Steve Kopf got caught up in the excitement as well having to return to the line for another start. Other favorites seemed to do fairly well, such as Field taking to the right side, while Larson and defending champ Brian Porter (Winnetka, Ill.) on USA-749 Full Throttle duked it out for the duration of the race. The two came screaming into the first weathermark, Larson with a comfortable lead. On board with Larson is Finn Champion Eric Oetgen, multi-faceted Mark Kroening and Melges 24 Class crew regulars Bill Wiggins and Sarah Callahan. Downwind Porter made an unsuccessful attempt to close the gap with Larson increasing his distance slightly. At the gate, Porter looked for pressure on the right while Larson took to the left but quick to tack to cover. On the last run, Porter jetted off to the left looking for something different. Larson now several boat lengths ahead, Porter's effort just wasn't enough to make a difference. Larson took the win, Porter was second. The fleet's one and only competing helmswoman Kristen Lane (Tiburon, Calif.) on USA-623 Brickhouse 623 stepped up to take third.

As the day went on, the racing just got better and far more intense. After a reset of course, the breeze insisted on pounding the fleet with steady heavy air and chaotic seas. The second race was as dramatic as the first with Porter back in front of the fleet with Reggie Fairchild (Charleston, SC) on USA-626 Wireless, Field and 2004 Melges 24 North American Champion Argyle Campbell (Newport Beach, Calif.) on USA-630 Rock n' Roll getting in on a piece of the action. At the first weathermark, Fairchild came in strong along with Porter. Downwind, Fairchild slipped a few positions giving Porter permission to take the lead for the first time in the regatta. Followed closely through the gate was Nixon and Peter Lane (Tiburon, Calif.) on USA-539 Brickhouse 539 right behind. Ultimately, Field played his speed card surpassing Nixon and Lane to take second behind race winner Porter. Nixon took third.

The final race was not only probably the hardest race due to the prevailing 20-25+ breeze, but the endurance and concentration required to do well was essential. The start was seriously aggressive. Nerves were definitely on edge as the first attempt was a general recall. The current in the harbor was obvious. At this point Porter was clearly the regatta leader. Despite a nice punch off the line alongside of Kristen Lane and Nixon, Porter suffered what appeared to be a temporary equipment malfunction. As Porter watched the fleet pass him by, his crew was quick to resolve the issue, but not in time to save them from being dead last. This was Nixon's race as he rounded the first weathermark first, got out front and stayed out front for the race win. Strauss sailed a superb race taking second place, with Field awarded third.

Racing continues on Saturday with another three more schedule races. Conditions are expected to be at a premium as the fleet anticipates an almost carbon copy of today.

TOP TEN RESULTS (After 3 Races)

  1. Simon Strauss, Simplicity; 4-6-2 = 12
  2. Chris Larson, Lightwave; 1-8-5 = 14
  3. Alan Field, WTF; 9-2-3 = 14
  4. Brian Porter, Full Throttle; 2-1-17 = 20
  5. Scott Nixon, Quantum Racing; 17-3-1 = 21
  6. Stuart Simpson, Team Barbarians; 7-4-11 = 22
  7. Reggie Fairchild, Wireless; 6-7-9 = 22
  8. Argyle Campbell, Rock n' Roll; 10-5-8 = 23
  9. Kristen Lane, Brickhouse 623; 3-9-13 = 25
  10. Allan Terhune, USA-738; 5-10-14 = 29

Full Results

The 2008 OSA Sailing Melges 24 U.S. National Championship is hosted by the Charleston Yacht Club and takes place on September 18-21. The Championship is sponsored by Ocean Sailing Academy, Yacht Scoring, Charleston City Marina, Cre843, ASB Flower Design, Coral Reef Sailing Apparel, Quantum Sails, Sadler and Hamm , Aqua-Safaris.com, Sail22 and the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association.


The Melges 24 is designed by Reichel Pugh and considered the most unique one design sportboat in the world as well as one of the fastest-growing classes of high performance yachts. For more information visit the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association (USMCA) and the International Melges 24 Class Association (IMCA) on the web.

For more information or press photos, please contact:
Joy Dunigan
2008 OSA Sailing Melges 24 U.S. National Championship Press Officer
U.S. Melges 24 Class Association Communications Director
+1 (912) 398-5776