INTERVIEW: 2010 Audi Melges 20 Charleston Race Week Champion Michael Kiss

21 April 2010

April 20, 2010 - During early April 2010, Michael Kiss from Macatawa, Mich. was crowned Charleston Race Week Champion, his first major title accomplishment in the seriously hot, on-the-rise Audi Melges 20 Class. Kiss, along with tactician Chris Rast and scow sailor Dan Morris, poured on the heat to win out over 13 other intense competitors.

IM20CA: First and foremost Michael, congratulations on such a spectacular performance in Charleston. It must feel great to win at such a tremendous venue in a field of some of the toughest teams in the sailing world.

MK: It feels great. What a fantastic event, what an incredible location. It was well worth the trip. We actually travelled to Charleston two days in advance and had a chance to practice ahead of the event. We had two days of sailing prior to CRW that were exactly like the conditions we experienced while racing. We were warmed-up and relaxed, that was the trick. I have been to every event, trying to get better and better. So, it finally came together.

IM20CA: Tell us about your crew as you had some very special talent onboard. How did you go about assembling such a successful team?

MK: About two weeks prior to the event, all the guys I normally sail with were busy or on spring break with their families and I was running out of choices. So a friend recommended Chris Rast who based in San Diego. He agreed to come out and also called up a friend of his, a scow sailor, Dan Morris from Minnesota who could make it as well. It basically all came together about a week before the event. Even though it was short notice I ended up with a great crew and we had a lot of fun sailing together!

IM20CA: What would you say to someone looking to get into the Audi Melges 20?

MK: I like the Audi Melges 20 because it is simple and fun to sail. Only three crew with no worries about crew weight.  And only three sails – no worries about the proper jib or chute we should be using. It is more about sailing than equipment. It is also fast and exciting – no problem getting the kids interested.

IM20CA: You’ve been sailing a lot this year. You competed in the first Miami Sailing Series, now Charleston. What other big plans do you have for racing this year?

MK: In addition to racing all the big events here, including Detroit and Toronto, we are also going to do the second Audi Melges 20 Sailing Series event in Scarlino. We’ve chartered a boat so, I’m really looking forward to sailing with my kids in Italy — and the wine. It was great to hear there were 26 boats on the line in Lerici as well. We’ll be trying to talk some of the European teams into coming back here to do the National Championship in August.

IM20CA: The National Championship will be coming back to the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in Holland, Michigan this year for the second time in a row. Tell us can we expect much of the same great fun and excitement as last year?

MK: Absolutely. We are potentially expecting as many as 30 boats for Nationals. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone back to Holland and just in general, putting on a great event. Hopefully we can duplicate that great day of sailing we had last year on Saturday for all three days this year. After the Winter Series and Charleston there seems to be a high level of interest in the Audi Melges 20 in Michigan so watch for more local Michigan sailors.

On behalf of the International Audi Melges 20 Class Association congratulations to Michael on a job well done in Charleston!