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Dave Ullman Leads After Three Thrilling Races in Annapolis

29 October 2008

After a spectacular day of racing in Annapolis at the 2008 Melges 24 North American Championship, it is 2007 World Champion Dave Ullman on Pegasus 505 who tops the leader board by three points from another previous world champ, Flavio Favini on SUI 521 Blu Moon. The final podium position at this stage is taken by local hero Terry Hutchinson on USA 751 Quantum Racing. In the Corinthian division it is Othmar Mueller von Blumencron on USA 679 Gannet who leads from David Dabney on USA 626 Wireless and Alex Shafer on USA 744 Sweaty Betty.

Conditions out on the racecourse this morning were undeniably chilly, but the sun was shining and most importantly the wind was a near perfect eighteen to twenty knots. The race committee went into sequence bang on time and after an initial general recall the fleet got away on the regatta’s opening race. With the breeze in the right phase for much of the first beat, it was the boats who had started at the committee boat end who got the early jump. Dave Ullman made the best of this to round the first mark comfortably ahead of the pack. Behind, Morgan Reeser sneaked in ahead of Terry Hutchinson, with Othmar von Blumencron hot on their heels. There were lots of early gybes from the leading pack to get out into the stronger breezes on the right of the course. Ullman extended his lead downwind whilst behind him there was a fierce five way battle going on. Second through the leeward gate was Reeser with von Blumencron third.

At the final windward mark, Ullman looked to have the race in the bag, but Favini had scorched up the previous beat and was now continuing his charge down the run. With Ullman now under severe pressure, he had to switch to defend mode in the final yards into the finish. He held his nerve however and took the gun just a couple of boat lengths ahead of Favini. The next five boats came thick and fast, with Vincent Porter on USA 576 storming through to take third ahead of Hutchinson in fourth and Bruce Ayres on USA 747 Monsoon in fifth.

In race two Terry Hutchinson led around mark one, ahead of lady helm Kristen Lane on Brickhouse 623 in second and Ullman in third. Lane took the fight to Hutchinson downwind and by the leeward mark she had managed to take the lead. With the bit now firmly between her teeth, Lane extended up the next beat and was around twenty seconds ahead at the second windward mark. Hutchinson held off a challenge from Ullman to get around second, with Reeser also in contention back in fourth.

The story now was all about whether Lane could hold off the fierce attack from Hutchinson, who was trying everything he knew to get overlapped to leeward. Showing remarkable composure, Lane timed her gybe in front of the rapidly closing Hutchinson to perfection and was able to hold her challenger out to the layline. Following this up with another impressive high speed gybe, she blasted through the finish line to take a well deserved race win. Ullman consolidated on his first race win with a third place.

With the temperature dropping further, the crews were happy to get race three underway quickly and accordingly played their part with a clean start. Gabrio Zandona won the start at the committee boat end and looked to be a comfortable leader halfway up the first beat. However it was Favini who was able to tack underneath him at the top mark to round first. With both boats hoisting simultaneously, Zandona’s crew faltered momentarily by partially trawling the chute. Seeing an opportunity to capitalise, Favini tried a quick gybe away, but was forced to gybe back almost immediately by a mass of beating boats. This enabled Zandona to get going properly and quickly retake the lead.

For the rest of the race these two teams were in a league of their own as they traded places at the front of the fleet. Zandona appeared fastest downwind with Favini demonstrating rocket ship speed upwind. The five legs posted for this final race of the day, enabled Favini to use his superior speed on the final beat to eke out a five length lead at the finish. The ever consistent Ullman clocked up another third to give him the overall championship lead ahead of Favini and Hutchinson respectively.

As the crews came ashore, they were greeted with warming clam chowder and some of Pusser’s Rum Painkiller tonic soon began to thaw themselves out after a tiring day on the water. A delighted Favini told us "It was a long day and it was cold. We were hoping to only have two races, but we had three, which made for a long day. The second race was tough, however the third race was a great battle with Joe Fly and we very much enjoyed it. We are pleased to be leading but there is a long way to go".

Corinthian leader Othmar von Blumencron was amazed to dicover he was leading. "Wow! We're in the lead? You mean Bruce Ayres is not? That's great. Today's conditions made for some really great racing, it was cold, but it was good tight racing. No one boat dominated so we feel like we have a great chance to do well here."

Racing at the 2008 Melges 24 North American Championship continues tomorrow with three more races scheduled, more on Friday and Saturday to complete the twelve race series, hopefully warmer conditions are in the cards.

TOP TEN RESULTS (After three races)

  1. Dave Ullman, Pegasus 505 - 1, 3, 3 = 7
  2. Flavio Favini/Franco Rossini, Blu Moon - 2, 7, 1 = 10
  3. Terry Hutchinson, Quantum Racing - 4, 2, 4 = 10
  4. Gabrio Zandona/Giovanni Maspero, Joe Fly - 9, 6, 2 = 17
  5. Bruce Ayres, Monsoon - 5, 9, 8 = 22
  6. Brian Porter, Full Throttle - 6, 10, 6 = 22
  7. Chris Larson, West Marine Rigging/NE Ropes - 8, 8, 7 = 23
  8. Morgan Reeser/Neil Sullivan - 10, 4, 17 = 31
  9. Kristen Lane - Brickhouse 623 - 12, 1, 19 = 32
  10. Vincent Porter, USA-576 - 3, 17, 12 = 32

FULL RESULTS

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.