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2013 Melges 29er Midwinter’s West Regatta Final Day Recap

27 March 2013

Coronado, CA - The 2013 Midwinter regatta hosted by the Coronado Yacht Club set the stage for thirty Melges 29er teams from across North America and Canada last weekend in beautiful California. The event is known for warm weather, good wind and awesome racing out in San Diego’s South Bay. Competition was at its peak for three full days of racing from March 22-24 for the top West Cost Melges 29er regatta.

The Midwinter’s West regatta in known for getting young new sailors started in the 29er fleet with many of the youngsters becoming life long 29er sailors.  Many of the top teams look at this event as a warm up for either their European or U.S. summer campaigns. 

Day one of racing got underway with a daunting forecast. Once all the sailors got out in the bay a nice sea breeze filled in to around 8-10 knots from the northwest. The start of race one was met with a small shift to the left that favored the left side of the course. Duncan Williford and Matt Moleours lead the first race and were able to hold off Quinn and Dane Wilson for the win. Wilson finished second and Campbell D’Eliscu and Conner Kelter finished third in the first race of the event.

The wind began to build a little with a huge left shift at the start of race two making starting at the pin very challenging. Many of the boats that planned to start at the pin got flushed out and had to gybe around and head out on port ducking the entire fleet, but it was Williford and Mollerus that made it to the top mark in the lead and were able to hang onto the lead into the finish. Max Brill and Zach Malcolm put the pressure on finishing a close second with Patrick Snow and Strom Brown taking third.

As race three got underway the wind decided to shift again, this time to the right. The shift made the start line more even and a little more difficult to find a good, clean spot on the line to start.  At the gun it was Quinn and Dane Wilson that took early lead at the top mark then hit a few good shifts up the course along the way to take the win. Finishing second was Nic Muller and Kai Friesecke and taking third was Williford and Mollerus.

The final race for the day was sailed in about 10-12 knots of breeze. The wind on the right side of the course had filled in as well and the pin end of the line was favored. It was Williford and Mollerus that lead the fleet to the right side of the course with Quinn and Wilson fighting for the number one spot. In the end Williford and Mollerus were able to hold them off for the win with the Wilson brother taking second and Muller/ Friesecke taking third

The second day of the 2013 Melges 29er Midwinter’s West Regatta was met with little wind or sunshine. The Race Committee called for an on shore postponement that lifted after an hour and a half. The sailors were happy to get back on the water for another day of racing out on San Diego’s South Bay. 

Race one of day two got underway in 8-10 knots of breeze from the Northwest. The pin end once again was favored. Fort Lauderdale’s Yacht Club Duncan Williford and Matt Mollerus took the jump on the fleet for an early lead, but the Wilson brothers were hitting the shifts to make up for a challenging start. In the end Williford and Mollerus went on to take the win. The Wilson brothers took a close second followed by Patrick Snow and Strom Brown in third.

At the start of race two the wind had shifted a little to the left and the race committee decided to move the weather mark to the left to make the course square. With the pin side favored it was Adele Whitmyer and Katie Kelly who lead the fleet to the weather mark with Williford and Mollerus close on their heels. At the leeward gate Whitmyer and Kelly were able to hold off the boys as they turn upwind. Williford and Mollerus took the opposite gate mark and stepped into a bit more pressure and a shift to lead the girls back up to the top mark. The lead was still held by Williford and Mollerus heading into the top mark. They were able to hold the girls off to take another win with Whitmyer and Kelly taking second and Nic Muller and Kia Friesecke taking third. 

In race three of the day a battle brewed between the top three teams which began at the start line. The teams were jocking for the pin end when another boat came in from leeward and decided to take them all up just before the gun which concluded with a general recall. Once off and going again it was Campbell D’Eliscu And Conner Kelter that came into the top mark from the left side of the course in a big lefty. D’Eliscu and Kelter lead the fleet all the way around the track to take the win with Nic Muller and Kai Friesecke battling it out with the Wilson brothers for second place. In the end it was Muller and Friesecke who took second with the Wilson brothers in third.

At the start of the final race for the day, the wind lighten up a bit to around 5-7 knots making the start a little more challenging. Many teams were joking for the boat end of the line but it was Adele Whitmyer and Katie Kelly who took the early lead showing how to sail in these light conditions with the Wilson brothers nipping at their heels. At the finish it was Whitmyer and Kelly to take the gun with a battle for second heating up. Nic Muller and Kia Friesecke snuck in there to take second with the Wilson Brothers taking third.

Once the sailors were back on shore, guest speaker Howard Hamlin gathered all the sailors and parents for a fleet debrief. Hamlin led the group in a discussion with the top three teams from the day. The debrief was very helpful for all of the new teams to see how and what the top teams were doing to keep their boats going in the day’s conditions.

The sailors woke up to the final day of racing with thick fog in the air. A noon start time proved to be beneficial allowing for the fog to settle and the wind to fill in on the bay. 

At the start of race one for the day the wind had filled in nicely across the bay at about 9-11 knots but shifting 20 degrees left and right. The start was led yet again by Williford and Mollerus who took the left side while Muller and Friesecke took the right side of the course. At the top mark the teams come together from both sides of the course dead even. It was D’Eliscu and Kelter who snuck in right behind Muller and Friesecke at the mark. Heading into the finish it was Williford and Mollerus who took the win with D’Eliscu and Kelter in second and the Wilson brothers taking third.

With race two in sequence the wind had settled in with the left side of the course still very strong. As the teams headed up wind, it was the Wilson brothers who took the jump on the fleet to lead around the course and to take the win. A battle for second place between Williford and Mollerus and D’Eliscu and Kelter ensued.  Both of these teams were tacking and gibing on each other the entire race. In the end it was D’Eliscu and Kelter who came out on top to take second place with Williford and Mollerus finishing the third.

At the start of race three the wind started to build to around 11-13 knots and the heavier teams were looking forward to stretching out their legs and putting the power down. Muller and Friesecke led heading into the top mark with Williford and Mollerus right behind them looking to make the jump into the number one spot. Alex Demmler and Alex Tong from Seattle Yacht Club made a come back by playing a shift to hit the top mark in third. At the finish it was Muller and Friesecke who took the bullet with Williford and Mollerus finishing second and Demmler and Tong taking third.

With the wind holding strong for race four, it was Charlie McKee and his son Soren that lead into the weather mark. This event was Soren’s first every regatta and it was great to see him out there doing it.(Charlie had all 3 of his son’s sailing with him during the event). The Wilson brother’s rounded in second followed by Alex Demmler and Alex Tong rounding in third. At the leeward gate it was Demmler and Tong leading the fleet back to the weather mark. The crew continued to hold off the competition all the way to the finish to take the bullet and their first race win of the year! The Wilson brothers took second and Muller and Friesecke in third.

The 2013 Melges 29er Minwinter regatta was a very well run event by the Coronado Yacht Club. The Melges team wants to thank all of the volunteers that made this regatta possible.  Also, the Melges team wants to thank all of the sailors from around North America that traveled from near and far to sail this premier West Coast event. We can’t thank Howie Hamlin enough for taking the time to conduct great debriefs both Friday and Saturday after racing. Congratulations to all the weekend winners. We look forward to seeing everyone back on the water soon. 

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Sail hard!!
Matt Pistay
Melges USA