Tough Conditions Solved by Swift Magic

4 March 2016

Miami, FL - Despite a marginal forecast, with a solid 8-10 knots of breeze from the west, PRO Blake Middleton sent the Melges 20 fleet out on time for the first of three days of racing at the Melges Rocks Regatta.

Once to the racing area, as the temperature rose the wind faded and after a brief fight with an easterly seabreeze, the westerly gradient won out providing a nice 6-9 knots of breeze for the start of Race One. The true heroes of the day were the strong hands on the pin end and windward mark set boats who spent much of their time hauling marks and adjusting the race course to compensate for the ever changing breeze.

When the westerly settled, Russ Lucas shimmered deep into the left corner off the start, hooked up in huge left pressure and angle, then jumped out to take an impressive lead at the first windward mark. In what would be a common theme all day, the moment anyone began began to feel confident, a pack of boats would make a charge and shake up the leaderboard.

Taking a big chunk out of Lucas' lead on the first downwind, 2015 World Ranking Champion Dario Levi and his Fremito D’Arja team stayed in the pressure. On the next upwind leg, they passed Lucas at the mark to hang onto the win. Lucas grabbed second and Matteo Marenghi Vaselli on Raya rounded out the top three.

For the start of Race Two, PRO Blake Middleton and his Coconut Grove Sailing Club Race Management Team was able to set a square, fair race course without delay. While getting left was the ultimate goal, finding a good starboard tack to get there was not easy. Paul Reilly on Red Sky Sailing Team and current Series leader Liam Kilroy on Wildman found a nice starboard tack lane two-thirds up the first beat, carried it to the port tack layline and roasted into the top mark on a nice leftie.

On the ensuing downwind, Daniel Thielman on Kuai and Japan’s Naoki Hirakawa on Swift Magic gybed early and went against the grain to get on the other side of the shift, gybed back in big pressure and sailed a big down angle into the leeward gates with a healthy first and second place lead. Thielman put the hammer down for the bullet, while Liam Kilroy slid back into second and Hirakawa placed third.

Heading into the Day Two, Hirakawa is the overnight leader with a 5-3 scoreline and feels thankful for surviving a day filled with huge holes, pressure changes and big shifts. Liam Kilroy is seated second, followed by Levi in third.

Battling with the leaders all day, Canada’s Justin Quigg and his team on Character 2.0 sailed to finish an impressive fourth in the first race to grab the overnight Corinthian lead, followed by John Brown’s Blind Squirrel and Paul Currie on Wild Deuces who are tied for second.

With a forecast that has improved for Saturday, the fleet is hopeful for three quality races that are slightly more straight forward than today. The Miami Winter Series titles are still up for grabs and the next two days will be dramatic.

1.) Naoki Hirakawa, Swift Magic; 5-3 = 8
2.) Liam Kilroy, Wildman; 7-2 = 9
3.) Dario Levi, Fremito D’Arja; 1-9 = 10
4.) Paul Reilly, Red Sky Sailing Team; 6-4 = 10
5.) Daniel Thielman, Kuai; 12-1 = 13
6.) Matteo Marenghi Vaselli, Raya: 3-11 = 14
7.) Russ Lucas, Shimmer; 2-13 = 15
8.) James Wilson, Oleander; 9-6 = 15
9.) Rob Wilber, Cinghiale; 8-10 = 18
10.) Justin Quigg, Character 2.0; 4-16 = 20

1.) Justin Quigg, Character 2.0; 4-16 = 20
2.) John Brown, Blind Squirrel; 13-21 = 34
3.) Paul Currie, Wild Deuces; 17-17 = 34
4.) Russell Hopper, Crazy Horse; 22-23 = 45
5.) Lance Smotherman, Details; 24-24 = 48
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