LUCK OF THE IRISH - ERIN GO MELGES 24!

The third act of the Melges 24 World Winter Series got off to a good start on Friday. Melges 24 teams that traveled from Estonia, Ireland, England, Canada and throughout the US to get a taste for the venue for this November’s World Championship. Sailing outside in the ocean, in the only class that could even plane in today’s wind (7-14 knots) was an added bonus.

"Glorious day out there on the Melges 24 with tight racing from a challenging fleet," says overnight leader Conor Clarke from Ireland whose team includes Brazilian Olympics-bound, 470 World Champions Stu McNay and Dave Hughes.

McNay on the day: "We had good starts and the team worked the boat well. I would say that neither side was heavily favored. We played the shifts and found ourselves sometimes in the middle and not really hitting either side."

After the first three races Clarke’s Embarr, with a score of 3-1-2 is tied for first with Bruce Ayres’ Monsoon’s 1-4-1. Tim Healy’s Helly Hansen, Travis Weisledder’s Lucky Dog and Tonu Toniste’s Lenny of Tallin, Estonia round out the top five for the day.

It was tight racing, to be sure. After each 1.5 mile 18-20 minute beat half of the boats were overlapped which made for interesting mark roundings. After a long winter in Wisconsin 2013 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, Brian Porter’s Full Throttlehad a couple brushes and chose to withdraw from Race Two.

Mike Buckley, tactician of Bruce Ayres’ Monsoon representing Newport Beach, California, currently tied for first. "It was a good team day for the Monsoon. We battled back from two tough starts and a crash. Bruce (Ayres) had the boat going well upwind and the bow team did a nice job at the gates to help us stay in the hunt. ‘Long way to go, but we are happy to have survived Day One."

After an average first race Team Lenny, of Tallinn, Estonia came back to finish the day with a 9-3-5. Olympic 470 Silver and Bronze medalists Tonu and Toomas Toniste are former Corinthian World Champions say that they were drawn to the Melges 24 by its strong similarities to the 470 with respect to dynamics and feel. Longtime crew Maiki Saaring, Kalev Kaal, Andres Rohtla also of wintery Tallinn were happy to be in shorts and barefeet in Miami.

In the thick of the fleet is Frank Davenport, Lake Geneva Scow sailor of over six decades and part of the Melges 24 Class for more than a decade. "Glad to be down here. We really like sailing the in the ocean with this group and are looking forward to the Worlds in November."

The Melges 24 Madness Regatta carries through the weekend. The final Act of the Melges 24 World Winter Series will be in Charleston in mid-April.

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