A brand new Melges 20 (Hull #190) was waiting on us in Malcesine on Monday morning and my good friend Alain Stettler and I spent most of the day putting our sweet little new toy together. (Kudos go out to Federico and his team at Melges Europe for excellent service and always lending a hand if something wasn’t quite as it should.) After some more boat work and two days of practice we started racing on Thursday.
At Charleston Race Week this year we won the Melges 20 event, so the expectations from owner Michael Kiss were understandably high! But looking at the line-up at this event I knew it was going to be WAY harder. First of all we had all of the top Italian teams and they have been sailing these boats hard, REALLY hard and are way ahead of everyone else in terms of boat handling and tuning. Secondly, the tacticians and crews were more or less the crema de la crema in Italy and internationally. Names like Gabrio Zandono, Roberto Benematti, Matteo Ivaldi, Flavio Favini, Nathan Wilmot, Juan de la Fuente, Branko Brzkin, Chicco Fonda were starring down at me… Hmmm, this was going to be interesting and challenging to say the least.
A 6th place in the first race put us on the right track but our hopes for a top finish evaporated when our bow sprit unexpectedly broke in the second race and we limped into the finish in 23rd. To make things worse the fleet sailed another race and we’d have to score a DNC. Arrghhh....
Again Federico and his Melges Europe team pulled through and the next morning we magically had another bowsprit installed when we arrived at the boat. Which other class provides that kind of service, hellloooo!!!
For the rest of the regatta we now had to play it safe as we were already counting a 23rd and were using the DNC as our discard. We sailed a good series of single digit finishes which put us in 6th place overall in the end. Full results can be found here.
Oh and did I mention that almost all races were sailed in 15 - 20 knots and sunshine?
For our team this was mainly a good event to learn more about the tuning and for Michael to get more comfortable in boat-on-boat situations and managing tight lanes. We did a lot of spy work on the top Italian teams and were on par with them at the end of the regatta. So overall this has been an excellent opportunity for us to improve our skills and hopefully get a little jump on the US Fleet at the up coming Nationals in Holland, MI in about a months time.
What were the highlights of this regatta?
- Excellent service
- Spectacular regatta venue and race management
- Great food
- Outstanding crew (Alain)
- Very focused and trusting driver (Michael)
- A few good tactical calls
- Improvements in upwind speed
- Solid downwind speed
- Morning and evening bike rides along Lake Garda
What were the down sides of this regatta?
- Broken bow sprit
- It actually rained once
- Traffic through Torbole
|Bacio at leeward gate, Alain fighting with the kite|
|Bacio blasting downwind|
|All Ladies team "Troublemakers" showing how it is done!|
|Alain and Michael taming the beast, where's Chris?|
|Michael getting us around the leeward mark safely|
For more pics and video by Mr Clean visit the Melges Europe Facebook page.
So far sailing in this class has been a blast and I can't wait to get back on the Melges 20!