Monday, September 17, 2007

Audi 2007 Melges 24 US National Champion: Record setting fleet set

In just over a week, some sixty Melges 24 skippers and crews will hit the waters of Lake St. Clair to decide who will be crowned the Audi 2007 Melges 24 U.S. National Champion.  With 56 entries received to date, and up to 8 more expected, this will be the largest U.S. Nationals in the 14 year history of the class – confirming the health of this ultra-competitive, high-octane One Design class.
U.S. Melges 24 Class President Scott Gregory and his Georgia-based Team Satisfaction were initially unable to make it to Bayview Yacht Club for the championship, but when the entry list hit 40 boats, they cleared their schedules. "We just couldn't miss an event like this up in Detroit," Scott said. "Those guys really get it – there are so many good sailors in the Detroit fleet, and they are the most enthusiastic group in the country.  They sail hard, they party hard, and they're always helping others improve.  We can't wait to get out there and mix it up."
Gregory and his team will have plenty of company.  Melges 24 events consistently draw some of the world's best sailors, and this one is no exception.  World Champion Dave Ullman, helming for Scott Holmgren on Rosebud, is clearly the favorite – but his challengers include some of the best in the business. Ullman's biggest obstacle is likely to be current North American Champion Brian Porter and his Full Throttle team.  Porter enlisted the help of two close friends from Lake Geneva to see if he can dethrone the legendary Ullman; Melges Performance Sailboats President Harry Melges III and VP Andy Burdick – both World Champs in the Melges 24.  Full Throttle was only seconds away from becoming the World Champion in Santa Cruz this past May when, on the final leg of the final race, a brutal gust of wind knocked her on her side, mast in the water.  Ullman's crew immediately dropped their spinnaker, giving them the control they needed to pass the disabled Porter and win the championship.
Star studded fleet includes World, National, North American champions
Other top sailors contending for the title of U.S. Champion include dozens of past Melges 24 champions at all levels.  Two-time World Champion Vince Brun will be on the course after a hiatus from the class, and other competitors of note include Bill Hardesty, John Pollard, Simon Strauss, Argyle Campbell, Mark Ivey, Michael Miller, Erik Shampain, and Bora Gulari.  Every one of these racers has the proven ability of a champion, as they've shown in everything from the Olympic 470 to the Transpac52.
Typical September winds on the lake are gusty and shifty, and local knowledge could prove to be the key to a solid result.  Local stars include up-and-coming match racer Nate Hollerbach, who heads off to Bermuda in a few weeks for one of the premier match racing events in the world – the Gold Cup.  Hollerbach is honing his skills on the helm of Zig Zag, although he'll have some very motivated opponents on the water:  Squaring up against Nate are his father, Marc and brother, Adam aboard Fu.
Penalty Box Productions to produce championship DVD
Event Chairman Paul Hulsey was pleased to announce yesterday that he had retained high-performance race filmmaker Peter Crawford's Penalty Box Productions to film the event. "With this many competitors, and the likelihood of solid breeze, it would be horrible to miss out on high quality video coverage," Hulsey said.  Crawford, a lifelong scow and iceboat sailor, has an eye for fast racing machines, as he proved with amazing footage from the windy 2007 Worlds in Santa Cruz.  Each team will receive a short DVD of the event, and interested parties can pre-order a full-length DVD that includes both the Worlds and National Championship footage.

Audi 2007 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship 
The Audi 2007 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship is hosted by Bayview Yacht Club, with the support of Sponsor/Partners Audi of America, Inc., the Detroit-Area Audi Metro Dealers, Barefoot Wines,, Latis Yachting Solutions, the Detroit Medical Center's Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, Rock City Marine, Tim Wilkes Photography, and Penalty Box Productions.
The Melges 24 is the most unique one-design sportboat in the world, and one of the fastest-growing one-design race classes in the world.  More information on the U.S. Melges 24 Class is available at


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