Indianapolis M17 Regatta and Demo

1 October 2009

September 25 – 27, 2009

By Sean Fidler

The first annual Indianapolis Fall Regatta & Melges 17 (M17) demo is in the books as a great success. The event was hosted by Eagle Creek Sailing Club on September 25, 26, and 27 with 6 M17’s in attendance. The regatta (not part of the 2009 M17 Regatta Circuit) was only conceived about 4 weeks prior, so the turnout was excellent considering the short notice. Friday afternoon featured demo sailing with 4 boats on the water all afternoon. A big thanks to Mike & Stephanie Dow, Jim Hilgard and Coye Harrett from Melges Boats for attending the event and supporting a potential new M17 fleet in Indianapolis!

About 15 local sailors took turns driving and crewing on the M17 in 5 to 12 knots of breeze. It was clear, based on the size of the smiles, that people really loved sailing the M17! Many were surprised by how easy it is to sail the boat and how well a M17 performs in light breeze. Comments about how fast and responsive the M17 is compared to their current boats were common throughout the afternoon! It was great to help such a large group get out on the water and see the excitement the boat delivers!

The weekend regatta portion of the event was competitive, but also focused on providing the local Indy sailors with the opportunity to race as much as possible throughout the weekend to better experience the M17. The goal was to bring the Indy group up to speed so they can jump right onto their boats once they purchase them heading into the upcoming 2010 season. The current M17 owners conducted a basic on-shore clinic, and nearly every attendee sailed with every skipper during the weekend. It′s fair to say that we accomplished the goal of getting the group up to speed and ready to hop into their boats!

Nine races were held in total for the weekend (5 Sat / 4 Sun) with winds ranging from 5 to 12 knots with some higher gusts late on Sunday. Lead changes occurred frequently and sailing was close all weekend. A huge thanks from the M17 class to the Eagle Creek Race Committee for an outstanding job running races which were virtually flawless in length and direction all weekend! I look forward to returning to Eagle Creek! It’s a very fun place to sail!

This event would not have happened without the enthusiasm of Indianapolis sailor Bryan Sarber. Thanks to Bryan for conceiving the idea for an Indianapolis M17 demo event and helping to generate great participation from the Indianapolis sailing community! A very special thanks to local Eagle Creek Melges 17 owners Tom, Karen and son Ben Lauer. The Lauer family, to put it mildly, proved to be EXCEPTIONAL hosts and regatta organizers! Not only did they provide housing for all 4 of the out-of-town boats, but they threw an outstanding Saturday evening party for the entire regatta (RC, competitors, friends, family, etc). This is in addition to arranging race committee and also arranging the venue.  The Lauers made all of the out-of-town M17 sailors feel absolutely at home.  Huge thanks from the Melges 17 class for their exceptional hospitality and kindness!

From an Indianapolis M17 fleet perspective, it was clear that Indianapolis was impressed with the M17! Local couple Tim & Cori Conder purchased a demo boat from Melges on the spot Sunday afternoon. Bryan Sarber has also purchased a M17 bringing the total number of boats in Indianapolis to three. Congratulations Tim, Cori and Bryan on their boats and welcome to the M17 class! We look forward to joining you in Indy and seeing you at the regatta’s in 2010!

The remainder of the rapidly forming (& close knit) Indianapolis M17 fleet is very excited about the prospect of joining the Melges 17 class and starting a local fleet. At least 3 more teams are seriously planning to make a M17 purchase. This could result in as many as six total boats sailing in Indianapolis by next spring, if not sooner! Bryan Sarber is hoping to have a solid M17 fleet at the final Indianapolis Sailing Club (ISC) regatta of the season in late October 2010.  Anyone interested?

We are already discussing a fleet kickoff event for 2010 and perhaps adding Indy to the official Melges schedule. I’m betting that Indianapolis is going to become a great Spring or Fall stop on future Melges 17 calendars!

Stay tuned...

Sean Fidler

M17 USA 183