Ft. Lauderdale – The Melges IC37 Class kicked off its inaugural Winter Series event with the Fall Cup hosted by Lauderdale Yacht Club November 22-24. Florida pulled out all the stops to challenge the sailors for the event with a rolling sea state, oscillating breeze and winds varying from 6 to 25 knots.
The hard-fought event was won by Bill Ruh’s Pacific Yankee from California. The team had a meager two-point advantage over Midnight Blue going into the final day, but managed to extend their lead by seven points winning the final two races of the event.
On Day One, the Fleet learned the importance of judging current and lulls while picking their lanes. The three races of the day were each won by different boats. Pacific Yankee and Gamecock led the fleet, but it was Sandra Askew’s Flying Jenny that came from behind to handily win the final race of the day.
The light forecast for Day Two proved untrue and Race Committee was able to fire off three more hour-long races. Jim Wilson’s Midnight Blue managed to walk away with the first race of the day while Pacific Yankee claimed the second two races.
Teams were greeted with a southwesterly at 14 knots increasing with a storm for the final day of racing. Flying Jenny all but had the first race in the bag until the final leg sailing upwind to the finish when Pacific Yankee caught a shift. All boats finished within 10 seconds of each other.
“We didn’t have a good start in the first race, so we took everyone’s stern and headed off on a port tack,” said Ruh. “We slowly ground our way through the fleet and passed a couple people on the first run and the final beat. On the final upwind, we hooked into a really nice righty, so we wound up inside the two boats that were leading us.”
Showers passed through the area bringing the winds up to 25 knots and testing the team’s crew work for the second race. As rain pelted the sailors’ faces, the boats were reaching their top speeds of the weekend. “We had a fabulous downwind run hitting almost 19 knots in the rain that blew through,” Ruh smiled. Pacific Yankee put the final nail in the coffin after winning the eighth race of the event.
The class hired Coach Tony Rey to analyze the racing and offered debriefs after each day. “With Corinthian crews, events like this are even more important for class development and growth,” said Class President, Phil Lotz. “This was the first time that these teams have sailed against each other. Here in Fort Lauderdale, we had people from the West Coast, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida racing against each other, which made it more exciting.”
Lauderdale Yacht Club was proud to have a selection of their junior sailors racing onboard for the inaugural Winter Series event. “We enjoyed sharing our warm weather and beaches with the IC37 Class traveling from around the country,” added Regatta Chair Jeff Ecklund. “A Winter Series has become a must-do for so many iconic fleets that it’s amazing to see the IC37s adapt it so quickly.“
The Melges IC37 Winter Series continues with two more events January 24-26 and March 20-22.