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Surfs Up In South Florida

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Drew Freides and his Pacific Yankee claimed the first title of the 2016/2017 Winter Series
Drew Freides and his Pacific Yankee claimed the first title of the 2016/2017 Winter Series

Surfs Up In South Florida - Freides Wins 2016-17 Melges 20 Miami Winter Series Event No. 1



With a blustery weekend in Miami in the books, Drew Freides and his Pacific Yankee claimed the first title of the 2016/2017 Winter Series.


Miami, FL - After an unscheduled 'lay day' on Saturday due to high wind and an early afternoon of revelry in Coconut Grove for most teams, the Melges 20 fleet was hoping Mother Nature would take it easy for the final day racing on Biscayne Bay. Despite a brisk Northeast breeze, PRO Blake Middleton sent the fleet out for three races hoping that the forecasts that showed the breeze subsiding would be accurate.

Once to the racing area, a squall ripped through from Key Biscayne and sent the breeze into the high 20s. As the fleet hunkered down, the wind velocity dropped and allowed racing to proceed after a brief AP.

Showing world class speed, Drew Freides and his Pacific Yankee team started near the leeward end of the line, crossed the fleet and didn't look back winning the race and closing on the overall leaderboard. "Today was definitely a challenge to keep the boat on her feet and charging through the waves upwind. Downwind was an absolute blast. Our major goal was to avoid stuffing the bow at high speed into the big waves," commented Freides. Grabbing second was Daniel Thielman and his Kuai team, and finishing third was Drew Wierda on Merga.

With the breeze gusting to class maximums, PRO Blake Middleton left no room for speculation and started the second race of the day, Race Five in the Series without delay. With a steep chop and breeze in the 19-23 knot range, Freides once again showed they have another gear in the big breeze and took the bullet followed by Jim Wilson on Oleander and Igor Rytov on Russian Bogatyrs in second and third respectively.

The final race of the day saw the stiffest wind and with the overall win secured at the start of the race and the addition of the throwout, Freides gladly sailed to the hoist with an overall victory in hand and his new Melges 20 intact. Showing solid downwind speed all weekend, Wilson passed boats around the track and took the bullet to secure second overall. Thielman continued to sail well. With his discard in the final race, he happily claimed third overall.

In the Corinthian standings, Rhonda Joyce and her Canadian Grinning Streak team showed moments of brilliance, and Jay Golison on Midlife Crisis performed admirably with his team, however it was John Brown and his Blind Squirrel team that claimed the overall Corinthian title.

With a well attended awards ceremony, the Melges 20s bid adeui until the next Miami Winter Series event taking place on February 3-5, 2017.


With one event complete and two remaining (Feb. 3-5 and Mar. 3-5, 2017), the intense chase for the overall Melges 20 Miami Winter Series Champion title is on. Freides, with his win, now leads the Series while John Brown's Blind Squirrel takes charge of the Corinthian division.

View The Miami Winter Series Ranking (Overall and Corinthian)


A very special thanks to all the competitors for joining the fleet in Miami for the Winter Series opener, without you this event would not be possible! Thanks as always to PRO Blake Middleton and his league of fantastic volunteers at Coconut Grove Sailing Club (CGSC).

TOP FIVE RESULTS (FINAL - After Six Races, One Discard)

1.) Drew Freides, Pacific Yankee; 3-1-3-1-1-[18/RET] = 9

2.) Jim Wilson, Oleander; 1-3-2-[11]-2-1 = 9

3.) Daniel Thielman, Kuai; 4-2-1-2-4-[18/RET] = 13

4.) Drew Wierda, Merga; [5]-4-5-3-5-2 = 19

5.) Paul Reilly, Red Sky Sailing Team; 2-[7]-4-4-6-4 = 20

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