The 2017 edition of the Melges California Cup was abbreviated to one regatta in an effort to buoy support for the NorAm Tour and, more specifically, the North Amercians held at the Columbia River Gorge earlier this summer.

The strategy may have served to benefit both events as twelve Melges 24s attended this year’s Santa Cruz event—double the attendance of 2016!

Santa Cruz did not disappoint dishing up plenty of its homespun hospitality and idyllic sailing conditions. Excellent race management yielded six quality races, three each on Saturday and Sunday.

The first two races were held in sub-planing (10-13 kts) and the third in lazy-planing conditions building to full-plane before the end of the last race.

Bay Area crew Posse always loves a chance to don their shorts and flip-flops for a weekend of sailing in Santa Cruz.  Helm Sallie Lang noted, "the flat seas and moderate wind on Saturday were fun, but we love it when it honks, and Sunday gave us some pretty juicy wind and waves. I glanced at the Velocitek on Sunday during a downwind run and saw 17.4 knots!"

The RC was hoping for an early start on Sunday, but the wind didn't cooperate, right up until it did. The fleet was sitting in a 4-kt easterly watching the white caps roll down from the west. The RC wasted no time sending the 12-strong fleet off on their renowned "Natural Bridges" course with a 32 minute upwind leg! Lots of hand-to-hand combat ensued as everyone was short-tacking the right side and trying to avoid the kelp. By the time the fleet reached the weather mark, the breeze was approaching 20 kts.

The second race on Sunday is where things got interesting, at least for Average White Boat. According to strategist Lauren Bell, "we had a good start near the boat end and led right. Pace wasn't special, but a good start and going the right direction is always a plus. We rounded the weather mark first, had a fun and fast full-plane run and led around the leeward mark. Our buddies on Looper weren't too far behind us and came out of the leeward mark with at least equal speed and much better height. We soon found ourselves on layline and tacked. Looper tacked underneath and we were drag racing to the weather mark. Full hike. Then . . . BANG! The loud noise was the sound of the stanchion and lifeline breaking."

Duane Yoslov and his team on Looper furled their jib and stood by while AWB’s skipper flipped around and picked up his crew. After a quick and successful recovery (everyone was wearing lifejackets) AWB went straight back into race mode and managed to finish third in that race! (Editor’s Note: Sorta third. Looper didn't file for redress because it wouldn't affect the overall standings, but clearly was entitled to it).

For team Shiokaze it was their first big out-of-town regatta and, you could say, their scoreline included a number of firsts. "It was a true initiation into serious racing. Sailing in a 12 boat fleet was a first. Sailing long courses in serious breeze was a first. Getting my boat up on a plane...an outrageously fun first. Dramatically blowing out our practice kite on the last race seemed perfectly fitting. Getting a new kite up on the next down wind and breaking 16 knots... ridiculous fun. We owned last place with pride. The Melges community made it all the more fun. Thanks to everyone for making us feel welcome and for respecting our efforts!"

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