Unexpected Breeze Launches Nationals Into High Gear

Unexpected Breeze Launches Nationals Into High Gear

©2013 Meredith Block

* Winds up to 15 knots allow three picture-perfect races less than a mile from Michigan shore
* Three-time National Champ and Macatawa local Michael Kiss jumps out to 3 point lead aboard Bacio
* Class newcomer Dick DeVos in second position as a substitute for young Ryan Devos, who returns to drive Volpe on Saturday
* 20 year-old Morgan Kiss on Baciami leads Grosse Pointe, MI's Ian Hollerbach on Fuku for youth supremacy

Holland, MI - A long, quiet morning with winds out of the East at 5 knots was a bad sign, according to local sailors. "It will just peter out to nothing and that will be that," some said; a foreboding beginning to the 2013 Audi Melges 20 US National Championship presented by Audi Muskegon.

But to Race Office Bruce Golison, patience is sometimes everything, and after a long postponement ashore, the wind shifted. "The AP Flag will come down in 10 minutes at 12:55" his voice crackled over the VHF. "Your warning will be one hour after that."

Despite a terrible forecast for sailing, by 1:55 PM, a solid thermal breeze of 5-8 knots had blown in from the West, building to 10 knots by the second race. With the breeze continuing to build after two races, Golison said what the fleet was thinking. "Let's get another one in while conditions allow," he announced. The fleet reveled in a solid 12-15 knots of wind planing conditions for the final race of the day, with Cesar Gomes' Brazilian/Miami-based Portobello running away with a victory in the stronger pressure.

Regatta leader Michael Kiss's Bacio is used to the top of the Audi Melges 20 fleet - he's won three National Championships, one of them here at Macatawa Bay Yacht Club - and third-placeskipper Jason Carroll had his share of success in various sportboats named Argo. But the standout of the day was Dick DeVos in his first-ever outing in the Audi Melges 20. Onboard with DeVos was Volvo Ocean Race vet and America's Cup helmsman Cameron Dunn, who said none of the team had ever raced an Audi Melges 20 Melges 20 before, and the Volpe team are 'on a massive learning curve'. "This is the smallest boat I've sailed on in probably ten years, and we definitely need to give thanks for our luck out there," said Dunn. Hopefully Ryan DeVos can continue Dick's winning ways when he takes the helm tomorrow, replacing his father.

While one Michigan has to give up the helm, two other Michigan dads wouldn't let it go, instead donating their old boats to their children for this regatta. Marc Hollerbach may have regretted that decision when son Ian gybed just ahead of him on the final leg to the finish, pipping his dad for the finish by less than a meter. Michael Kiss was too far ahead for daughter Morgan to impact his day much, and while she spent plenty of time ahead of him on the race course, the elder Kiss's experience won out at the end of the day. "Dad's seriously fast, but we're getting there," Morgan said.

Longtime Class stalwart and local eye surgeon John Arendshorst (20/20 Racing) started with a strong 4,12 scoreline until disaster struck at the final start of the day. "We hit the pin boat, then we went back and hit the anchor line, then we somehow extricated ourselves and tried to go racing," Arendshorst said. "We could have dropped our sails and gone home, but instead we pulled ourselves up and went racing." Despite giving the fleet a nearly 4 minute head-start, Arendshorst passed 8 boats before the finish and lies mid-fleet. "It was like some kind of miracle," he said. "Imagine if we had a good start!"

Saturday's conditions remain a mystery, though race officials will attempt to start 3 more races.  After 6 total races, each team discards their worst result, making the next three races crucial.

Racing begins at 11.00 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow, and fans of sportboat racing can follow the Audi Melges 20 Facebook Page for up-to-the-minute updates from the course. The Class media staff will also post photos, videos, finish orders, and more as it happens.

For the first time ever, the U.S. National Championship Opening Ceremony was streamed live on the internet. It's available for viewing or embedding at the Audi Melges 20 Ustream Channel.

Friday night, six Audi Melges 20 racers got together with SailingAnarchy.com's Alan Block for a live, 30 minute talk show about tuning the Melges 20, the winter schedule and Worlds, the new mast, just how open the class is with information and tips, tips for newbie helmspersons, and much more. The video can be found at the Audi Melges 20 Ustream Channel.

TOP TEN RESULTS (After Three Races)
1.) Michael Kiss, Bacio; 1-4-7 = 12
2.) Ryan DeVos, Volpe; 3-6-6 = 15
3.) Jason Carroll, Argo; 7-1-8 = 16
4.) John Kilroy, Samba Pa Ti; 2-13-4 = 19
5.) Rob Wilber, Cinghiale; 18-3-2 = 23
6.) Morgan Kiss, Baciami; 11-5-9 = 25
7.) Cesar Gomes Neto, Portobello; 17-9-1 = 27
8.) Paul Reilly, Red Sky Sailing Team; 16-2-10 = 28
9.) Richard Davies, Section 16; 15-8-5 = 28
10.) Brian Hill, Atlas (Corinthian); 6-11-13 = 30
View Full Results
View Official Event Website
Photo Gallery - Meredith Block
Photo Gallery - JOY
View Video Preview - 2013 Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Championship presented by Audi Muskegon


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