Thank You, Hank Stuart - The Championship Coordinator Of The Melges 24 Class!

6 January 2016

Hank Stuart at the 2014 Melges 24 Europeans in Balatonfüred, Hungary - photo Pierrick Contin

January 6th, 2016 - IM24CA - After ten years with the Melges 24 class, the current Championship Coordinat
or of the International Melges 24 Class Association Hank Stuart announced his retirement this autumn. Hank has been either the PRO or the Class Representative for every IM24CA continental championship since 2006. His presence in IM24CA and at the championships has been creating lots of respect and admiration of officers, organizers, sailors and people around the globe. Huge Thank You, Hank Stuart!

As a great and very valuable legacy for the class Hank has helped to improve the race management of the Melges 24 events both at the sea and ashore during all these years.

We are happy to share with you Hank's story with the class since the beginning up to 2015.
"I started with Melges 24 events in 2002 when my good friend the late Dick Jennings invited me to Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, FL to be the PRO for an invitational Melges 24 event that was 20 boats. It was a true "invitational" as you had to be invited by Dick to attend. Suddenly Dick has many new friends. After doing that event in early December of 2002 and 2003, the idea of hosting the Melges 24 Worlds at Ocean Reef Club blossomed. US class President of those times Karen Gottwald introduced and won the bid for 2005.

Ocean Reef Club hosted Melges 24 pre-Worlds in early December 2004 and had about 50 boats. The following year's Worlds were attended by 99 boats, the biggest fleet in the USA to date. It was fun and a challenge the now famous 3 boat start line process was introduced to the class. The challenge of open VHF communications and OCS recalls gave birth to the phrase "Break...Break...Break" as a way of announcing that the sequence of OCS recalls is done.

After a successful 2005 Worlds event, IM24CA called me to be the PRO for the 2006 North Americans in Santa Cruz and it was at that time that my relationship with IMCA began. I have been either the PRO or the class rep for every IMCA continental championship since 2006. It has provided me many fond memories and introduced to me many new sailors who all have been great friends.

As many sailors will have heard my wife Mary has accompanied me on many of these events. She is the voice on the VHF radio for the count-down to the warning, preparatory, drop of the preparatory and start signals. She wanted to be heard at 10 seconds before the call, so I advised her to key the microphone at 12 seconds and then sailors would hear her say 10. To get in the cadence she would say 11..10..9..., and so began the signature radio call of the lady that always starts with 11. You will know her as Mary Stuart - Mrs. Eleven - on the radio if you hear

These and many other stories have made the journey of working with IM24CA so much fun. The sailors want fair and safe racing, we have tried to provide that as best we could. The Melges 24 class has and I have no doubt will continue to be the best in the world for fun, fair and safe sailing. Best regards and thank you for the opportunity to have been the IM24CA Championship Coordinator. Break....Break....Break."

The International Melges 24 Class Association has been very lucky and happy to have an officer like Hank Stuart working for the class. The Chairman of IM24CA Jens Wathne has had the privilege of working with Hank Stuart in IM24CA, but has many times raced also under his supervision.
"'Good morning, Melges 24 competitors' and 'Break-Break-Break' are signature-sounds of his. The clear voice and vision from the Rochester-based sailor has made many memorable moments in the class. Hank has always wanted to inform and perform in the presence of sailors. As a championship coordinator mediation and working along organizing committees, he has ensured the high level continental and intercontinental championships for the IM24CA.

Hank has expressed his desire to continue his work as a PRO for IM24CA and any other clubs - I know this will please many sailors in the international Melges 24 community.

Thank you for your huge efforts for the Melges 24 class, both on and off the water. My appreciation and respect for you continues. See you out on the race course soon!"

After the discussions IM24CA has decided to divide the job of the Championship Coordinator between two persons covering different hemispheres. The new Championship Coordinators will be John Abel from Victoria, BC, Canada for Western Hemisphere and Asia Pacific; and Benedek Fluck from Budapest, Hungary for Europe. Both of them will be introduced to you shortly.

Hank and Mary Stuart at the 2014 Melges 24 Worlds in Geelong, Australia - photo Fiona Brown.

Hank Stuart at the 2014 Melges 24 European Championship in Hungary - photo Pierrick Contin

2005 Melges 24 World Championship in Key Largo with 99 boats