Smooth start for Porter

Good opening day for Full Trottle at Melges 24 North Americans

Friday May 19th 2006, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
For the 31 strong Melges 24 North American Championship fleet in Santa Cruz, California, it was a demanding first day on the water on Thursday as the weather gods played fast and loose with the normally reliable sea breeze.

The mist held on and without the sun's warmth ashore the wind was reluctant to put in a proper appearance making conditions throughout the first two races generally light and variable at between 5 and 12 knots. Conditions finally began to pick up on the final run of race two and fortunately held for the third race of the day with the teams enjoying some good surfing in 16-18 knots.

After three races Brian Porter and his Full Throttle crew of Harry Melges, Dave Navin and John Porter have a seven point lead over Dave Ullman with Bruce Ayres third and Jeff Littfin fourth.

The first race got away at the second attempt under Z and I flags with Dave Ullman, and Bob Stoll both called over. Ullman was at the port end and immediately went back around but unfortunately wasn't spotted by the committee boat. Ullman was naturally surprised to hear his number called again but at first thought there might be a general recall so started to turn back before realising it must be an error. At the finish he crossed 6th, but was scored OCS. Fortunately a Jury boat had seen the incident and back ashore Ullman was given redress back to 12th place (6th plus a 20% Z penalty).

Away from that little drama it was Jeff Littfin who led the fleet at the first weather mark of race one with Stephen Pugh 2nd, Bruce Ayres 3rd and Germany’s Alba Batzill, helming for Eddy Eich, 4th. Batzill made an impressive first run to pull into the lead at the leeward mark whilst Sean Bennett moved into 2nd with Philippe Kahn 3rd. At the second weather mark Batzill looked to have a nice lead but Brian Porter had sailed a storming second beat to come from 9th to 2nd and continued to pile on the pressure until the two boats were neck and neck in the closing moments of the run. Porter appeared to have gained the upper hand but he failed to lock Batzill out at the buoy end and Ullman just slipped past him. On the water Philippe Kahn took 3rd followed by Littfin, Pugh and Ullman.

The second race remained light until the final run when the wind started to pick up. Ullman took the lead on the second lap and was never really challenged. Bruce Ayres had led at the first mark but held onto 2nd after Ullman passed him. Brian Porter sailed another nice race moving up from 6th at the first mark to 3rd at the finish just ahead of Seadon Wijsen and Jeff Littfin.

For the final race the teams finally saw the classic Santa Cruz conditions they’d been waiting for and this time Ullman put his stamp on the race from the start leading the whole way round the course. Behind him Porter was equally attached to 2nd place while Ayres and Batzill fought it out for 3rd with Ayres eventually taking it.

Overall Brian Porter (USA600) leads on 7 points. There are just 3 points separating 2nd through 4th with Dave Ullman (USA505) on 14, Bruce Ayres (USA637) on 16 and Jeff Littfin (USA397) on 19. For Friday, three more races are scheduled, with the first start set for 1230.

Full results here.

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