Melges 20 Miami Winter Series: Reality Check
Saturday, December 10, 2016 8:12 AM
After three races completed in a stiff Northerly breeze, Jim Wilson's 'Oleander' leads the standings at the first event of the 2016-17 Melges 20 Miami Winter Series.
Miami, FL - For teams looking to shake the rust off after a few months away from Melges 20 sailing, Day One of Event No. 1 of the 2016-17 Miami Winter Series awoke sailors with a stiff 15-20 knots of breeze that quickly snapped the fleet to attention. PRO Blake Middleton successfully pulled off three solid races while the fleet enjoyed some ripping downwind conditions.
Leaving the dock teams were lulled into thinking it might be a nice 10-14 knot day of sailing, however halfway through the first race, the wind quickly piped up sending teams scrambling to make adjustments and figure out the changing conditions. After a general recall on Race One, the fleet blasted upwind like a tightly packed school of flying fish, and it was Jim Wilson's Oleander that found a nice vein of pressure down the first run to move from fifth at the first top mark, to first at the bottom gates. Wilson would eventually came out on top after a scuffle with Paul Reilly's Red Sky, followed by Drew Friedes' Pacific Yankee.
With the breeze still building, it looked as if class maximums were going to come into play, however PRO Blake Middleton used solid judgement and got Race Two off without delay. With a pin favored line and right side paying dividends, Friedes got off clean near the pin to make the middle left work and lead the charge around the top mark. Fending off Daniel Thielman at the helm of Kuai, Friedes was able to claim the bullet and showed solid upwind and downwind modes in the building breeze. Wilson was third. Drew Weirda's Merga and Rob Wilber's Cinghiale rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth respectively.
The start of the third and final race of the day saw a large left shift in the final minutes of the starting sequence leaving teams scrambling to start on time. As most teams tacked to port at the gun, several boats struggled to make the pin and ultimately founds themselves in an old-fashioned pin boat raft up. By getting off the line clean, playing a few shifts and showing solid speed, Thielman led around the top mark followed by Wilson and Friedes. After some tight racing on the final upwind and hairy downwind rides, Thielman hung on for the win and solidified himself in the top three overall. Reilly came fourth, while Weirda managed another top five finish.
The forecast for Day Two predicts a touch more wind out of the Northeast and the bigger challenge for the fleet than racing around the track will be making sure the breeze stays under class minimums.
MEDIA AND RACING COVERAGE
As with other Melges 20 events around the world, racing updates will be posted online at the Official Melges 20 Facebook Page. Be sure to also follow the fleet on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Tune in for the latest racing information, results, video interviews and photos at melges20.com.
TOP FIVE RESULTS (PRELIMINARY - After Three Races)
1.) Jim Wilson, Oleander; 1-3-2 = 6
2.) Daniel Thielman, Kuai; 4-2-1 = 7
3.) Drew Freides, Pacific Yankee; 3-1-3 = 7
4.) Paul Reilly, Red Sky Sailing Team; 2-7-4 = 13
5.) Drew Weirda, Merga; 5-4-5 = 14