Porter Wins 2009 Melges 17 Spring Championship

Porter Wins 2009 Melges 17 Spring Championship ©2009 JH Peterson Related topics:

12 May 2009

With the 1st day of racing in the history books, the Melges 17 fleet pondered if there would be a second day with the wind forecast looking bleak.  However, once the sun broke over the town of Geneva, it was evident that there was going to be some good racing today. 

8-10 knots welcomed the sailors to the course and the race committee, once again, did a fabulous job getting the races off on time.  With the gun going off, Tom Munroe with his son, Tommy, extended off the line at the pin.  One of the only times that the left would pay big, Munroe cashed in, extending his lead by ten’s of boats around the first mark.  He would never look back.  Around the top were local boys Matt Ripkey with Coy Harrett, the Labanuaskas brothers, Iggy and Andy, and Ben Biwer, who had Kevin Jewett on board.  The positions didn’t change much through out the race as a 10 degree shift to the right seemed to solidify the standings for the 1st race of the day.  The father/son Munroe team took 1st, with Matt Ripkey holding onto 2nd, Iggy Labanuaskas 3rd, Ben Biwer 4th, Jim Hilgard 5th and the Minnetonka team of Hanson/Bowers took 6th.  Vincent Porter and Bill Wiggins came from the back of the pack to finish 7th and 8th, respectively.  The fleet standings were compressing.

The 2nd race saw wind conditions change constantly, ranging from 7-14 knots and moderate windshifts.  The boat end payed off for this start and Ben Biwer found himself leading at the top mark with Iggy Labanuaskas and Vincent Porter rounding close behind.  There were many position changes throughout the fleet, a real testament to the high skill level of all the sailors on the race course, but it was Vincent Porter, with Cousin RJ, that came back and took the bullet for 2nd time in the regatta.  Iggy Labanuaskas inched closer to the top with a 2nd place, as well as Ben Biwer with a 3rd, David Harrison had a great race, finishing 4th, captain consistency Jim Hilgard finishing 5th, and Lesa Gutenkunst 6th.

With the fleet standings now compressed, the last race would determine the winner as no less than 6 boats had a chance to win the regatta.  And with the wind piping up to 12-15 knots, this was going to be an exciting finish.  The last start would see its first general recall as the sailors were anxious to race.  As the fleet blasted off the line on the next start, the fleet stayed tight.  Rounding the top of the first mark was young guns, Ben Biwer and Matt Ripkey, showing the fleet how it was done.  Tom Munroe and Vincent Porter rounded closely behind.  The first downwind run would prove challenging as a few stingers would move down the course and wipe out a couple of boats.  One of them being Bill Wiggins, dashing his chances of a victory.  In the end, Matt Ripkey and Coy Harrett would beat out Ben Biwer, with Tom Munroe finishing 3rd.  Jim Hilgard and Mike Miller finished 4th, Lesa and John Gutenkunst 5th, and a great race from Kevin Ward finished 6th.  However, the drama intensified as Vincent Porter sped to the finish in the top six, and was suddenly zapped by a stinger only yards away from the finish line and capsized.  As Vincent and micro-crew, RJ, tried to right their boat in the biggest wind of the day, other boats were speeding by on a plane.  Vincent was watching his lead, and the regatta, dwindle rapidly.  But it was not to be this day, as Vincent and RJ righted their boat and finished the race 14th, winning the regatta by only 5 points.  It’s never over until it is over. 

Rounding out the top eight was current Easter regatta champ, Jim Hilgard and rockstar crew Mike Miller, who had a consistent regatta and it showed as they placed 2nd.  Tom and son Tommy Munroe also put together a string of good races securing 3rd place.  Ben Biwer, with Kevin Jewett on board, had 3 top 4 finishes to catapult him to 4th with Iggy and Andy Labanuaskas securing 5th place, holding off Midwinter’s Champs, Lesa and John Gutenkunst who placed 6th.  Bill Wiggins and Tommy Clough finished 7th and local sailors Matt Ripkey and Coy Harrett pulled out a 2nd and a 1st in race 4 and 6 to round out the top 8.  16 boats saw at least 1 top 6 finish in this regatta.  A real testament to the competitive ferocity of this fleet.

As the sailing season is now kicked off, the 17 sailors can look forward to some competitive sailing in the upcoming regattas, starting with the Blue Water regatta on beautiful Crystal Lake.  See you all there!!!!

1.) Vincent Porter, 2-2-1-7-1-14 = 27
2.) Jim Hilgard, 5-4-9-5-5-4 = 32
3.) Tom Munroe, 3-14-4-1-10-3 = 35
4.) Ben Biwer, 8-6-14-4-3-2 = 37
5.) Iggy Labanauskas, 7-18-2-3-2-8 = 40
6.) Lesa Gutenkunst, 10-3-6-10-6-5 = 40
7.) Bill Wiggins, 1-1-3-8-8-DNF = 42
8.) Matt Ripkey, 15-8-5-2-11-1 = 42
9.) Mary Anne Ward, 4-7-17-14-7-7 = 56
10.) Mike Dow, 17-5-8-17-9-11 = 67
11.) Tom Paine, 16-10-12-12-13-10 = 73
12.) Kevin Ward, 12-11-16-16-14-6 = 75
13.) David Harrison, 13-12-11-15-4-DNF = 76
14.) Brian Porter, 6-17-7-DNF-17-9 = 77
15.) Hans Dickel, 19-9-10-13-12-15 = 78
16.) Hanson/Bowers, 11-16-18-6-16-12 = 79
17.) Jeff Lewis, 14-19-13-9-18-DNF = 94
18.) Hannah Ripkey, 18-15-15-18-15-13 = 94
19.) Blaine Unicume, 20-13-19-11-19-16 = 98
20.) Bill Fauntleroy, 9-20-20-DNC-DNC-DNC = 112