32 Melges 32s
The International Melges 32 Class Association is just days away from commencing its second World Championship hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club over 22-25 September with a record 32 entries. The fleet is naturally dominated by 23 North American entrants, three from Japan, two from Great Britain and one each from the Czech Republic, France, Italy and New Zealand. The illustrious Rolex Big Boat Series has provided the perfect stage as a Pre-Worlds. It is the ideal warm-up opportunity that promises a full serving of Bay Area breeze and stiff current for the 26 registered teams as they hone in on the class’ World Championship trophy.
To no one’s surprise, the entry list is long and right on target with class estimates. It is also safe to assume that the World Championship in San Francisco will produce intense competition as a vast number of teams have an excellent chance of doing well. A quick glance down the Official Event Crew List gives every indication that not only is sailing’s elite present, but the racing will be tight, competitive, fast and seriously fun. From top to bottom it includes many of the season’s owner/driver regatta champions.
2010 Key West Race Week Champion John Kilroy with tactician Stu Bannatyne on Samba Pa Ti, Jean-Francois Cruette’s Teasing Machine and Miami Grand Prix winning tactician Christian Ponthieu, Gold Cup winner Rod Jabin on Ramrod with Chris Larson on tactics, East Coast Champion Alex Jackson on Leenabarca with tactician Rob Greenhalgh and Northeast Regatta Champ John Porter with tactician Jonathan McKee on Full Throttle will all be on task for a win.
The European contingent is equally strong. Front and center is 2010 Melges 32 European and USA Winter Series Circuit Champion Joe Woods on Red in true form with steady tactician Olympic Laser gold medallist, Paul Goodison. Recently crowned 2010 Audi Melges 32 Sailing Series Champion Luca Lalli on B-lin Sailing will be in very good company with tactician, double (reigning) Melges 24 World Champion Lorenzo Bressani. Also, among his crew is former America’s Cup helmsman Flavio Favini and triple Melges 24 World and multiple European Champion Federico Michetti.
"The Melges 32 is the most exciting one design class in the world." says North American Fleet President Stephen Pugh. "We are very excited about welcoming everyone to what is unequivocally the most beautiful and popular sailing venue in the world. The always exciting San Francisco Bay will fully satisfy the thrill seekers. Pair that with StFYC’s world-class race committee led by John Craig and you have the makings of a monumental event."
If one were to attempt to narrow down the field and examine who potentially is in best position for trophy contention, it would include Kilroy’s Samba Pa Ti. He has had a phenomenal year with exceptional high-end results beginning in Key West, simultaneously acquiring the prestigious Boat of the Week award. Kilroy has ventured beyond his backyard multiple times in 2010 in preparation for Worlds. He competed in Europe twice then returned in late August to win the inaugural California Cup/San Francisco Race Week.
Luca Lalli’s B-lin Sailing will be a force to be reckoned with. His strong and consistent performances throughout Europe in 2010 places him high on the list alongside of fellow European Woods. His collection of accolades span regattas in North America and Europe that include second place finishes in Ft Lauderdale and Key West, a fifth in Miami and a fourth in Harbor Springs. The icing on the cake was a more than well-deserved win in Cagliari at the European Championship.
Porter’s powerful Full Throttle should not be underestimated either. A nice finish in Miami, a win in Newport and a fourth at Nationals is nothing to take lightly. He is also a former Melges 32 Division Champion at the Rolex Big Boat Series.
Returning to Worlds in full defense of the title and trophy, is Pieter Taselaar on Bliksem. Like Kilroy, Taselaar realises the value in racing the European circuit and that it effectively raises the bar regarding crew work and pushes more aggressively for acquired boat speed. Two components, that Taselaar can attest, to win a World Championship is more than required, it’s mandatory.
RBBS/Melges 32 Pre-Worlds competition commences on Thursday, 16 September and runs through until Sunday, 19 September. Official World Championship racing begins on Wednesday, 22 September.
Full Entry List
1.) Phil Lotz/Rick Merriman, Arethusa
2.) Jason Carroll/John Baxter, ARGO
3.) Derek Campbell/Dalton Bergan, Banshee
4.) Martin Knetig/Martin Trcka, Black Mamba
5.) Pieter Taselaar/Jeremy Wilmot, Bliksem
6.) Luca Lalli/Lorenzo Bressani, B-lin Sailing
7.) Michael Dominguez/Anthony Kotoun, Bronco
8.) Naofumi Kamei/Kan Yamada, Bros.
9.) Malcolm Gefter/John Mollicone, Celeritas
10.) Ed Tillinghast/Charles Enright, Dark n’ Stormy
11.) John Porter/Jonathan McKee, Full Throttle
12.) Doug Douglass/Russell Coutts, Goombay Smash
13.) Bob Hughes/Chris Rast, Heartbreaker
14.) Alex Jackson/Rob Greenhalgh, Leenabarca
15.) John Taylor/Andrew Campbell, Ninkasi
16.) Philippe Kahn/Mark Christensen, Pegasus-MotionX
17.) Jim Swartz/Gavin Brady, Q
18.) Rod Jabin/Chris Larson, Ramrod
19.) Joe Woods/Paul Goodison, Red
20.) Andy Lovell/Johnny Lovell, Rougarou
21.) Kip Meadows/Andy Horton, roXanne
22.) John Kilroy/Stu Bannatyne, Samba Pa Ti
23.) Geoff Pierini/Brad Read, Shakedown
24.) Takashi Okura/Francesco de Angeles, SLED
25.) Jeff Ecklund/Nathan Wilmot, STAR
26.) Stephen Pugh/Mark Ivey, Taboo
27.) Stuart Simpson/Nigel Young, Team Barbarians
28.) Jean Francois Cruette/Christian Ponthieu, Teasing Machine
29.) Stefan Goldwater/Andrew Wills, Tirade
30.) Don Jesberg/Zarko Draganic, Viva
31.) Steve Howe/Morgan Larson, Warpath
32.) Yukihiro Ishida/Hamish Pepper, Yasha Samurai