Miami – As forecasted, an early morning cold front swept through Miami sending the mercury plummeting and leaving behind a stiff breeze out of the north for the first day of the 2016 Melges 20 Miami Winter Series (MWS), Event No. 2 – Winter Regatta. PRO Blake Middleton and the loyal volunteers at Coconut Grove Sailing Club (CGSC) got the fleet off to an on-time start. After an initial general recall, the first race of three at the Miami Winter Regatta got underway.
With a pin favored line and a slight favor to the left side of the course, those who were able to get clean of the line extended left and found themselves in a strong position at the top of the course. Twelve year-old Liam Kilroy on Wildman picked up where he off after winning the first MWS event by leading at the top of the first beat.
However, a small hiccup at the first windward mark resulted in Drew Freides on Pacific Yankee taking over the lead putting a big margin between him and the fleet on the first downwind run. Extending from there, Friedes took the bullet in Race 1 followed by the younger Kilroy, and longtime Melges 20 sailor Daniel Thielman on Kuai.
Similar conditions prevailed for the start of Race Two, however the favored left side of Race One was balanced by a few more righties that squared up the race course. Jumping out on a nice right shift fresh off the starting line was Wes Whitmyer Jr. on Slingshot. At the bottom gates the wind dropped and shuffled the leaders. With lead changes aplenty the reigning World Champion John Kilroy and his well-oiled Samba Pa Ti team stayed hooked up and won the race followed again by his son, Liam and the Canadians on Character 2.0 with Julian Plante subbing in for owner Justin Quigg.
What looked like a dying breeze re-filled with some authority, requiring Melges 20 sailors to muster up some energy and prepare for another hard fought race. Paul Reilly on Red Sky Sailing Team harnessed some true Wisconsin grit to grab a nice lead for the first 1.5 laps. But on the final downwind, John Kilroy was able to soak low in a few nice roasters getting ahead of Reilly on the gybe. Kilroy got his second win of the day, followed by Reilly in second and Liam Kilroy broke a string of second place finishes with a third.
Ending the day, the ‘Family Affair’ effect is intact with the Kilroy’s tied first and second with 7 points each. Reilly leads the peloton only a few points back. Once back to safe harbor at CGSC, the fleet gathered for a well-attended social and debrief featuring John and Liam Kilroy, Drew Freides, and Julian Plante who shared their thoughts for success on the race course.
Racing continues on Saturday – Day Two at the 2016 Melges 20 Miami Winter Regatta with a forecast of slightly warmer temps and softer breeze. Rain showers are possible as well as a shuffle in the standings.
Results after three races
1. John Kilroy, Samba Pa Ti; 5-1-1 =7
2. Liam Kilroy, Wildman; 2-2-3 = 7
3. Paul Reilly, Red Sky Sailing Team: 8-5-2 = 15
4. Drew Freides, Pacific Yankee; 1-6-9/SCP = 16
5. Julian Plante, Character 2.0; 4-3-16 = 23