Ecklund Is 2009 Melges 32 ACURA Key West Champion
26 January 2009
After a grueling ten race series, Jeff Ecklund (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) on USA-32 STAR with Harry Melges calling tactics, Sam Rogers, Clay Bartel, Lindsay Bartel, Adam Burns, Scott Norris and Sarah Callahan are the 2009 Melges 32 ACURA Key West Champions! "We made it difficult on ourselves with that one bad day. We had to come out today and get the job done and we did," said Ecklund. "It would be hard to do this without Harry. He is one of the best sailors in the world and I'm fortunate to have him by my side."
Going into today's races, the point standings were really tight making the Melges 32 fleet the class to watch on the final day. Ecklund led the series solid up through Wednesday. Yesterday's extremely shifty conditions toppled his lead and left Joe Woods (Torbay, UK) on GBR-700 Red sitting on top, one point ahead. Needless to say, everyone was on the edge of their seats for the start of Friday's races. The tension between all the boats was intense at the first start. Everyone knew that Friday's two races would be do or die.
The stage was set for race one — glorious sunshine, breeze on conditions at 17-20 mph, a course bearing of 020 and a moderate chop. The start was clean with the exception of Geoff Pierini's (Perth Amboy, N.J.) USA-178 Shakedown being called over, while Ecklund occupied the mid-line and Woods stuck closer to the committee boat, Marty Kullman and Mike Carroll (Clearwater, Fla.) on USA-131 New Wave shot off the starting line and the first to tack to port. At the first weathermark Derek Campbell (Seattle, Wash.) on USA-138 Banshee took the lead, but fumbled the set. Jason Carroll (New York, N.Y) on USA-128 Argo rolled Campbell and picked up where he left off. Carroll blasted downwind with Campbell, Ecklund, Kate Mullin at the helm for John Sherlock (Port Credit, Canada) on CAN-134 Arkle, John Taylor (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) on USA-1315 Ninkasi and the spectacular team of Kullman/Carroll. Woods got caught up in an altercation as he had to drop his kite and perform penalty turns, a real heartbreaker as this cost him the game. Campbell regained the lead and took it to the finish line, with Carroll finishing in second, and Taylor in third, Ecklund was fourth and Mullin was fifth.
For the final race, it was clear that Ecklund had retaken the overall lead, but it was uncertain as to how wide the margin. Ecklund had to focus and do well, no mistakes had to be the goal. The fleet got a really great start under primo conditions. Ecklund who almost immediately was out front, was chased by Bill Faude at the helm for Tom Neill (Chicago, Ill.) on USA-136 Nitemare, Alex Jackson (Newport, R.I.) on USA-666 Leenabarca and Woods. Taylor played the left side, moving him into contention along side of Ecklund and Faude as the fleet approached the first weathermark of the five leg race. Around the top was Ecklund in first, Carroll in second and Jackson in third. Kullman/Carroll, Faude and Campbell rounded respectively. Downwind the fleet was split down the middle with equal numbers right and left on the course. At the leeward gate, a course change was implemented for the second beat, Kullman/Carroll looked strong on the right. So strong, that the second weathermark found them now in the first position, Carroll still in second and Ecklund back to third. One last course change was on tap for the finish beat with Kullman/Carroll still out front taking it to the finish line with Ecklund on his heels taking second, Carroll was third. New fleet comer John Dane (Gulf Port, Miss.) on USA-196 War Canoe got a piece of the action taking fourth and Jackson assumed fifth.
Woods' Red Team was rightfully a bit crushed. "Well... Last year we were third, this year we were second,' said bowwoman Sophie Esson. "We suppose next year, is our year. We'll be first." she added with a smile. Woods has one of the most impressive teams in the Melges 32 fleet and they dealt with a lot this week — the struggle to the top, an injured tactician, a couple of hard knocks on the race course Friday and the difficulty of staying at the top in an extremely challenging fleet. Without a doubt we will see them again, in the winner's circle.
The International Melges 32 Class would like to extend a very special thanks Peter Craig, Jeanne Kleanne and Alison Snipes of Premiere Racing! If it was not for your hard work and dedication to sailing this event would not be possible.
A massive thank you to Shawn Grisham who unfortunately could not be with us this week in Key West, although had planned to be. Bruce Ayres and U.S. Melges 24 President Travis Weisleder also leant their support to the cause as well. Bill Wiggins our boat driver, kept us on the water and in position to bring you not only the live conversation and blog commentary, but photos and video too. Thanks to you all!!!
Last, but certainly not least — a sincere thanks to Justin Chisholm, Melges 32 European correspondent who graciously provided the Melges 32 commentary and helped keep the blog at its best in Key West!
TOP TEN RESULTS (Final)
- Jeff Ecklund, STAR; 1-1-10-1-1-5-11--4-2 = 36
- Joe Woods, Red; 2-8-3-5-3-1-8-7-6- = 43
- Jason Carroll, Argo; 3--5-4-8-11-4-4-2-3 = 44
- Marty Kullman/Mike Carroll, New Wave; 13-10-2-9 --2-2-1-8-1 = 48
- Derek Campbell, Banshee; 4-2-1-15--3-3-15-1-9 = 53
- Alex Jackson, Leenabarca; 6-9--7-2-4-10-3-7-5 = 53
- Savino Formentini, Bitipi; -3-8-2-10-15-9-8-9-6 = 70
- John Taylor, Ninkasi; 10 RDG-4-7-16-9-10-5-[-21 DSQ]-3-8 = 72
- Stuart Simpson, Team Barbarians; 9-7-9--12-8-7-6-10-11 = 79
- Carlo Alberini, Calvi Network; 8-5-13-6-5-7-13-13-12- = 82