Audi Melges 20 U.S. Nationals Will Race On Friday

25 August 2011

Eye to eye with Hurricane Irene, the 2011 Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Championship, hosted by Sail Newport is proud to welcome 30 teams to Newport, R.I. 

The event is the largest gathering of Audi Melges 20s in North America since its racing debut in early 2009. It seems like yesterday, but in two short years the Audi Melges 20 has catapulted to the forefront of sportboat racing, mostly in part to its impeccable build and production by Melges Performance Sailboats and furthered strong support by Melges Europe (where 30+ on a starting line is now commonplace) and Melges Asia Pacific.

Front and center, one of the few teams considered at the top of the Audi Melges 20 food chain is defending National Champion Michael Kiss on Bacio, from Macatawa Bay, Mich. Kiss came on strong at the 2010 Nationals, pulverizing the competition and taking home the well-deserved title. At the end of the day, a modest Kiss was virtually in disbelief that he had done so well, and over time has become increasingly more confident as an Audi Melges 20 helmsman. Kiss, a true stalwart of the class and has not only committed to racing 'a lot' in North America, he has also ventured beyond U.S. borders to compete in the highly-acclaimed Audi Melges 20 Sailing Series in Europe.

On an evident upswing is Cedar Lake, West Bend, Wisc.'s Paul Reilly on Red Sky Sailing Team. Winner of two major regattas in the Audi Melges 20 class and recently crowned the 2011 C Scow Invitational Champion, Reilly has clearly got his groove on and expected to be one of Kiss' biggest adversaries this weekend.

Emerging, slowly but surely and long overdue for a big win is Steve Sisson at the helm of Tony Tabb's Elevation Racing. Their story, along with additional crew member Justin Hood, is one of 'almost, but not quite.' Having observed this team from the very beginning, they really do have what it takes and this National Championship, could be their moment. After scoring second place overall at several events, and within striking distance on more than one occasion, Tabb and team are destined to win a marquee event. It's just a matter of time, and that time could be now.

The rest of the field of competitors is filled with talented crew and an impressive league of intense owner/helmsmen and women. It would be no surprise to see Kent Haegar on Mach Schnell, Mary Anne Ward on M&M Racing, Russell Lucas on Shimmer and John Arendshorst on Blink 20/20 out front and doing well.

Despite all the hoopla, the topic on everyone's mind is that of Hurricane Irene. There was much discussion throughout the day, amongst the owners as well as organizers as to what to do. Cancel? Cut it short? The Audi Melges 20 Class traveled to Newport to race, and now a powerful storm, whose effects span almost 300 miles threatens the Rhode Island coastline, with a potential direct hit slated for New York City late in the weekend.

Everyone waited in anticipation as PRO Anderson Reggio delivered his intentions for the race weekend. "The top question on everyone's mind is what is happening with the weather. Obviously Sunday doesn't look like it will be the greatest day for racing. As far as Saturday is concerned," said a very serious Reggio. "we think that by 07.30 a.m. on Friday, August 26 we can make an accurate decision as to whether or not racing on Saturday is doable."

Friday's racing schedule has been bumped up so that racing will commence at 09.30 a.m. An announcement will be made at 08.00 a.m. to the fleet. The forecast for Friday is dicey, so Reggio looks to squeeze in as much racing as possible.

After the Skipper's meeting, the North American Fleet conducted a very impromptu Owner's Meeting. The main topics of discussion were regarding the 2012 Nationals, potentially to be held in San Francisco, CA.

The International Audi Melges 20 would like to extend a sincere gesture of appreciation to Melges USA, in particular Harry Melges III, Andy Burdick and local Melges Representative Anthony Kotoun as well as Sail Newport and the Newport Shipyard for supporting the 2011 U.S. National Championship. Special thanks to Layline for supplying the suds each day after racing, clearly they understand Audi Melges 20 sailors are very thirsty after racing - hot and super fast in Newport!

1.) Michael Kiss, Bacio
2.) Rhonda Joyce, Batteries Not Required
3.) Pat Eudy, Big Booty
4.) Jon Messenger, Black Sheep
5.) Pieter Taselaar, Bliksem
6.) John Arendshorst, Blink 20/20
7.) David Pollock, CAN-142
8.) Rob Wilber, Cinghiale
9.) Tate Russack, Diesel
10.) Tony Tabb, Elevation Racing
11.) Erik Wulff, Endorphin
12.) John Kimura, Evoked Potential
13.) Marc Hollerbach, Fu
14.) Sid Gorham, Funner
15.) John Hamilton, Hip Shooter
16.) Daniel Theilman, Kuai
17.) Burke Blackman, Lemonhead
18.) Travis Weisleder, Lucky Dog/Layline/Gill Race Team
19.) Mary Anne Ward, M&M Racing team
20.) Kent Haeger, Mach Schnell
21.) Chip Till, Murder Incorporated
22.) John Taylor, Ninkasi
23.) Tom Bowen, USA-119
24.) Paul Reilly, Red Sky Sailing Team
25.) Marc Ewing, Riot
26.) Russell Lucas, Shimmer
27.) Geoffery Pierini, Sicktrix 20
28.) Rob Butler, Touch2Play
29.) Tom Ritter, Tramp
30.) Guy Mossman, USA-132

Official Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Championship Event Website
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Full race reports, interviews and photo galleries will be posted online each day after racing. Stay tuned to the Official Audi Melges 20 Web SiteMelges.com and Melgeseurope.com for all the latest details. You can also friend the Audi Melges 20 on Facebook, follow on Twitter and/or subscribe to the Official Audi Melges 20 You Tube Channel.