Gulari Takes The Lead At Melges 24 U.S. Nationals

30 September 2011

30 September 2011 – The first day at the 2011 U.S. National Championship, by Lake Geneva Yacht Club (LGYC), was nothing short of spectacular as PRO Hank Stuart fired off four heats, leaving Bora Gulari on New England Ropes in first overall, followed by Gold Medallist Nathan Wilmot at the helm of Ireland's Conor Clarke on Embar in second and reigning National Champion Alan Field on WTF in third. In the words of Field's tactician Steve Hunt, "today was breezy, shifty, tricky - a great day of racing, but really hard."

Four races and a final count of 38 entries kicked off the Championship series with a perfect 20-25 knots of northerly breeze. Gulari came on strong in race one taking the top mark in first with lead challenges from Melges and Wilmot. Downwind Gulari's lightening fast team launched their chute and punched the super speed button for an incredible downwind run, passing through the gate firmly in the lead. Melges rounded second, while Lake Geneva's Brian Porter on Full Throttle took over for third. Gulari extended for the win with Melges and Porter holding steadfast to finish second and third.

With the breeze still pumping nicely out of the same direction (350 @ 1.0 nm), the second race of the day gave 2002 Melges 24 World Champion Melges a commanding lead as he launched ahead of the fleet, feeling the effects of heavy opposition from Field. Melges, Field and Wilmot kept things tight at the top with Field moving into the lead, Melges slipping back to round second, Wilmot in third. Melges had great upwind speed playing the shiftier conditions on the right, regaining the lead and taking the win. Bruce Ayres on Monsoon finished in fourth, and Gulari in fifth.

The third and fourth races dealt the fleet tougher conditions as the diminishing breeze began to shift further. Wilmot nailed the start in race three giving him a massive lead to round the weathermark in first, with Doug Wilhelm on Wilco rounding in second, and Warren Kruell on USA-626 in third. Downwind Gulari picked up the pace to round behind Wilmot, Wilhelm hanging on in third. Wilmot took the win, followed by Gulari, then Wilhelm and Ayres in fourth. It was a dogfight on the right side of the course, to the finish between Kristen Lane on Brickhouse 812 and Porter. Lane edged out Porter right at the finish for fifth.

Race four spelled disaster for Melges and Ayres as both were called OCS, yet failed to return to the line. They were sitting pretty, as third and fourth respectively, but with heavy penalties they slid back to ninth and tenth in the overalls. Although Melges came across the line in first and Ayres in fourth, Porter took the official win after a great fight with Field who came second. Lane was third, Gulari was fourth, and Corinthian division entrant August Hernandez on High Voltage rounded out the top five.

More racing is scheduled for Saturday, where cooler temperatures, lighter and continued shiftier breezes are expected.

1.) Bora Gulari, New England Ropes; 1-5-2-4 = 12
2.) Nathan Wilmot/Conor Clarke, Embar; 4-3-1-6 = 14
3.) Alan Field, WTF; 7-2-12-2 = 23
4.) Brian Porter, Full Throttle; 3-17-5-1 = 26
5.) Kristen Lane, Brickhouse 812; 14-9-6-3 = 32
6.) Peter Cucci, Matador; 5-16-8-7 = 36
7.) Guy Mossman, Battle Rhythm; 9-6-11-11 = 37
8.) Douglas Wilhelm, Wilco; 10-27-3-9 = 49
9.) Harry Melges/Henry Colie, Babs; 2-1 10-39,OCS = 52
10.) Bruce Ayres, Monsoon; 6-4-4-39,OCS = 53

A total of 12 teams have qualified for the popular all-amateur Corinthian division. After a brilliant performance in the final race of the day, top player Hernandez takes the lead of the Corinthian division (9th overall). Former International Melges 24 Class Chairman Tom Freytag on Wicked Feetfrom Lake Geneva is seated second. Completing the top three is Fred Rozelle on RustlerView The Full Corinthian Entry List

1.) August Hernandez, High Voltage
2.) Tom Freytag, Wicked Feet
3.) Fred Rozelle, Rustler
4.) Charlie Hess, Funtech Racing
5.) Erwan Le Gall, Aborage

Full Results
Photo Gallery - JOY

If you are one of the unlucky souls not able to make Nationals in Lake Geneva, you can stay up-to-date with racing via SailingUpdates.com, sponsored by Sail 22. The USMCA will issue periodic updates on the official USMCA FaceBook page too. 

In addition, a team of reporters from Sailing Anarchy will be reporting both on the water and off. Daily reports will be posted, a live video talk show will take place on Saturday afternoon, along with live photo and text updates on their popular FaceBook Page. Non-FaceBookers can check out their live reports at this link.