Fleet Assembles on Eve of 2008 Melges 24 North American Championship
28 October 2008
On the eve of the International Melges 24 2008 North American Championship being hosted by the Eastport YC in Annapolis, Maryland this week, virtually all of the forty-nine competing teams are through finished registration and have successfully launched their boats. Today’s practice race had to be abandoned when the forecast thirty knot plus winds arrived with a vengeance. Despite the ferocious conditions, some brave teams did venture afloat for brief but spectacular training sessions. Some fared better than others. Giovanni Maspero’s Italian Team on ITA-550 Joe Fly, who grabbed an hour of practice this morning, afterwards recounted hair raising stories of downwind nosedives. Less fortunate were Bruce Ayres and his Newport Harbour, CA team aboard USA-747 Monsoon who sustained significant keel damage when they ran aground whilst travelling downwind at over fifteen knots.
The competitive nature of this championship is highlighted in the Corinthian division where identifying a likely winner at this stage is extremely tricky. Alex Shafer and his USA-744 Sweaty Betty crew will be hoping to reprise the form that saw them achieve an overall podium position at the 2008 Sperry Top-sider St. Pete NOOD regatta earlier this year. Another strong competitor for the Corinthian trophy will be local Eastport YC member Othmar von Blumencron on USA 679 Gannet. Othmar and his crew put in a legendary performance to win the Corinthian title at the 2007 Full Power Santa Cruz World Championships despite losing their rig on the final ‘big day’. Also looking to capitalise on his specialist knowledge of the local conditions and deliver a good result will be fellow EYC member Bill Carleton on USA 568 Tiburon. Amongst the several other teams capable of taking a Corinthian scalp this week is John Hamilton’s New York YC entry USA 658 Mustang who could easily upset the form book.
With the wind still screaming through the rigs here in Annapolis this evening the competitors are enjoying the Pusser’s Rum Crew Party. The official start of racing is scheduled for 11.00 tomorrow morning when weather conditions are expected to be a little better than today. However it is more than likely that the wind strength is going to be in the upper ranges which should make for spectacular racing for the competitors and spectators alike.
The 2008 North American Championship is sponsored by Pusser’s Rum, Pusser's Caribbean Grille, Coral Reef Sailing Apparel, Gill, Melges Performance Sailboats, North Sails, Velocitek, Annapolis Wireless Internet (AWI), Harken, Sail 22, Quantum Sails, Westin Annapolis, Atlantic Yacht Rigging and Stuart Simpson's Team Barbarians. The Melges 24 Class and the Eastport Yacht Club are extremely proud to be partnered with these outstanding companies and thank them for their generous support of the 2008 Melges 24 North American Championship.