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Six months to go and fifty one teams from fourteen nations are already signed up to compete against Irish world champion Conor Clarke and his Embarr crew. The Royal Irish Yacht Club crew will race at the 2017 Melges 24 World Championship that takes place from 28th July to 4th August in Helsinki, Finland. The Notice of Race has been published, online entry has been open for a while and Melges 24 sailors across the globe are invited to make their entries for this prestigious event organised by the Helsingfors Segelklubb (HSK) in co-operation with the International Melges 24 Class Association (IM24CA) and Finnish Melges 24 Class Association. 

Back in Helsinki after 14 years
It's been a while when the International Melges 24 fleet was racing in this part of the world. The first time for the international Melges 24 fleet of fifty six teams to race this north was in 2003 when Jacob's Creek Melges 24 Europeans were organised by the same hosting club HSK. Sailors might also remember the most recent title championship in this area organised by the Finnish-Estonian Melges 24 Class Association in Tallinn, Estonia in 2010.

IM24CA is happy to work again together with a bunch of people familiar from the past events' organisations to ensure the success of the title event. Perttu Rönkkö, 2017 Melges 24 Worlds Regatta Chair and Vice Commodore for HSK will be excited to host such international fleet of Melges 24s, especially for the Worlds this time: 'HSK is happy to host Melges 24 International fleet for the World title event. At the same venue the Melges 24 Europeans were held fourteen years ago, but the both club and surrounding area has been developing a lot during the last years. To serve our club members and foreign sailors better a new club house was inaugurated in 2010 which makes organizing such a great event even more comfortable here.

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Trickier conditions with a light breeze from 040° that filled in only in the afternoon, forced the Race Committee to raise AP flag until 2.50pm, moment when the fleet was eventually given the preparatory signal and allowed to sail the first and only race of the day.

Embarr IRL829, for the first time since the beginning of the Championship, got out of the top five and ended the race in fifteenth position: the result obtained today has been discarded as worst of the series and still left Embarr in first position in the overall ranking, with a margin of 30 points over the second, Maidollis 3 ITA822, tenth in the race of today. With just two races left to sail and a 15 as worst result to be discarded, the path towards success for the Irish entry by Conor Clarke seems, as far as today, the smoother ever; the Irish owner, though, doesn't want to celebrate too much in advance: "Everything can happen - he declared - there are still two races to sail and we will be in the water competing with the same concentration as if those of tomorrow were the first races of the series".

The fight for the rest of the podium, moreover, is still completely open: Maidollis 3 by Gianluca Perego and Air Force 1/West Marine Rigging USA820 by Bora Gulari are in play for the second and third place: the Italian boat is currently second with 51 points, discarding a 13, while the American is now third with 52 points and discarding a 26. Fourth and fifth place are respectively occupied by Brian Porter's Full Throttle USA849 (2) and Bruce Ayres' Monsoon USA851 (9), both having a total of 65 points and discarding a 20.

Leader of the day was the European vice-champion Bombarda ITA841 (1) by Andrea Pozzi, that eventually scored the first bullet of the series "We found a good rhythm today and the crew is happy for how we brought on the whole race. The start was good and allowed us to reach the first upwind mark in first position, then we managed to maintain the speed also downwind, even if the fight with Full Throttle, Air Force 1/West Marine Rigging and Slingshot has been tough," declared the tactician of Bombarda, Giulio Desiderato, then passing the word to the owner, Andrea Pozzi: "Today it has been like a dream for us: we obtained a good second place in the Europeans in Hyeres, but here we have some of the greatest sailors of the World so being able to put the bow in front of theirs is a great achievement for our crew," - declared Pozzi when back on the dock, and he proceeded: "The venue is amazing and Miami's race course is always demanding, for the wind and the oceanic conditions. The team is very united and we are enjoying each moment of this Championship: regardless what the final result will be, our main aim for tomorrow is to have fun".

In the Corinthian division the battle is, if possible, even harder than in the overall ranking: the leader is still Marco Zammarchi's Taki 4 ITA778 (2), 19 points and a 4 as discard. Second and third place belong respectively to Megan Ratliff's Decorum USA805 (3) and Tõnu Tõniste's Lenny EST790 (4): both crews currently have 24 points, the first discarding a 22, the second discarding a 6. The fourth of the ranking, Glenda and Kevin Nixon's Accru AUS812 (8) would have to recover a great gap of disadvantage, 24 points to be precise, in order to reach the leaders and try to strive for the podium.

There are all the prerequisites to have a great show tomorrow in the water, for the last day of the 2016 Melges 24 World Championship. Preparatory signal is intended at 10.30 am and two races should be sailed. The prize giving is scheduled for the afternoon, in the Plaza of Jungle Island.

Corinthian Division (Top 5 of 37; 10 races, 1 discard)
1. Taki 4, Marco Zammarchi , ITA - [4] -3 -4 -2 -2 -1 -2 -2 -1 -2 ; 19
2. Decorum, Megan Ratliff , USA - 1 -1 -[22] -1 -6 -2 -4 -4 -2 -3 ; 24
3. Lenny, Tõnu Tõniste , EST - 2 -4 -2 -[6] -1 -5 -1 -1 -4 -4 ; 24
4. ACCRU, G. Nixon / K. Nixon , AUS - 3 -5 -3 -[12] -4 -3 -3 -10 -9 -8 ; 48
5. Team Kesbeke/SIKA/Gill, Ronald Veraar , NED - 6 -2 -1 -[38] -3 -18 -10 -8 -3 -5 ; 56

Overall Results (Top 5 of 74; 10 races 1 discard)
1. Embarr, Conor Clarke , IRL - 2 -1 -1 -3 -4 -5 -2 -1 -2 -[15] ; 21
2. Maidollis 3, Gian Luca Perego , ITA - 3 -5 -3 -9 -6 -2 -[13] -3 -10 -10 ; 51
3. West Marine Rigging, Bora Gulari , USA - 1 -2 -2 -16 -5 -[26] -12 -10 -1 -3 ; 52
4. Full Throttle, Brian Porter , USA - 9 -15 -18 -6 -1 -1 -7 -6 -[20] -2 ; 65
5. Monsoon, Bruce Ayres , USA - 10 -4 -13 -7 -3 -[20] -10 -4 -5 -9 ; 65

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A series long lead held this week by Irish Melges 24 Embarr continues in Miami, Florida today at the 74–boat World Championships. Skipper Conor Clarke has an eight–point lead over Italy's Gian Luca Perego. Third after six races is New England Ropes skippered by Tim Healy.

Sailing with Royal Irish based Clarke is Aoife English, Maurice O'Connell and American Olympic 470 duo David Hughes and Stuart McNay, who finished fourth at the Rio Olympics. Results are here. Racing continues today.

It was clear since the beginning that the 2016 Melges 24 World Championship would have been a tough challenge for the crews, both because of the demanding weather conditions and because of the extremely high level of the sailors and their coaches, among the lasts a couple of Olympic medallists (Morgan Reeser and Kevin Burnham), too - that would have been out on the water. The first two days of racing didn't in any way mismatch the expectations.

The oceanic waves that, differently than expected, didn't decrease during the races of today, put under high pressure the crews that were in the water for the second day of racing of the 2016 Melges 24 World Championship. A breeze blowing from 150°-160°, with intermittent gusts up to 20 knots and well-formed wave, in some moments put in difficulty the crews, causing also a few damages to some boats that were forced to withdraw from today's races.

The day when the discard has come into play, daily best has been Brian Porter's Full Throttle USA849 (6-1-1), former Melges 24 World Champion that scored two bullets in races number 5 and 6 of the series and is currently occupying the fifth place of the overall ranking. The leadership, though, still belongs to Embarr IRL829 ([15]-4-5), that had an amazing performance in the first race of the day: despite being called OCS at the start and being subsequent penalized, the boat of Conor Clarke managed to bring on a stunning recovery over the fleet, closing a race that would have been considered lost by most in a very good position. In a second moment, moreover, the Irish entry had a redress for the OCS that was declared wrongly called, hence scoring three points in the first race of today instead of fifteen (3-4-[5]), bringing up to 8 points the gap of advantage over the first follower, Maidollis 3 ITA822.

It was another good day for Gian Luca Perego's Maidollis 3 ITA822 ([9]-6-2): the couple helmsman-tactician Fracassoli-Fonda, consolidated and successful in the Melges 24 Class, was consistent in today's races, scoring a ninth - eventually discarded - a sixth and a second with the brand new boat that, as it seems, is reacting well also to the most demanding conditions. The Maidollis 3 team is now occupying the second place of the overall ranking: "It was a tough day for most of the teams, starts have all been difficult also due to the big waves, but in the end we somehow managed to recover well. We are halfway now, it is necessary to keep being consistent and concentrated all through the remaining races" declared Perego, once back to the dock.

Third place in the overall ranking now belongs to New England Ropes USA658 (4-2-4) by Tim Healy, while Bora Gulari's West Marine Rigging USA820 (16-5-[25]) slipped in to the fourth position.

The fight was hard also in the Corinthian division, where the best of the day was Marco Zammarchi's Taki 4 ITA778 (18-16-6/2-2-1) with Niccolo Bertola in helm, that found in today's big waves and breeze its favourite conditions for sailing: once back on the dock, the crew expressed all its satisfaction for the good result of the day, but said that half of the Championship still has to come, so they cannot lose concentration, in particular in the next days when the lighter weather conditions will be a great challenge for them.

One of the favourites of the Corinthian group, the Estonian Tõnu Tõniste's Lenny EST790 (26-15-[OCS]/6-1-[OCS]), current Melges 24 Corinthian World Championship, had to leave the top of the Corinthian ranking to Megan Ratliff's Decorum USA805, due to the OCS they did clear themselves in the sixth race of the series, slipping down to the twentieth place in the overall ranking. "It was for sure a good day for us in the water" declared Megan Ratliff from Decorum "We've been able to find good speed, especially downwind with our pink kite! The fact that we've been in Miami for a while, trying to get to know the weather and the environment, probably is helping us to sail well".

Starting from tomorrow, the Race Committee intends to run two races per day, completing in this way a series of twelve regattas. Weather conditions, though, will have to be favourable enough to allow so: in fact, wind is forecasted to decrease sensibly, making the crews race in conditions that may be drastically opposed to those that they have been used to seeing in these days.

Overall ranking - Top 5 (74 Boats)
1. Embarr, Melges 24, Conor Clarke , Dublin, IRL, 2 -1 -1 -3 -4 -[5] ; 11
2. Maidollis 3, Melges 24, Gian Luca Perego , ARcore, ITA, 3 -5 -3 -[9] -6 -2 ; 19
3. New England Ropes, Melges 24, Tim Healy , Jamestown, RI, USA, 7 -6 -[14] -4 -2 -4 ; 23
4. West Marine Rigging, Melges 24, Bora Gulari , Detroit, MI, USA, 1 -2 -2 -16 -5 -[26] ; 26
5. Full Throttle, Melges 24, Brian Porter , Fontana, Wi, USA, 9 -15 -[18] -6 -1 -1 ; 32

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#keywestraceweek – Irish skipper Conor Clarke and his crew on Embarr continue to increase their lead in Melges 24 class at at Quantum Key West Race Week 2015. Stuart McNay and Dave Hughes, who are mounting an Olympic campaign together, are serving as helmsman and tactician aboard Embarr, which won Wednesday's lone race and now counts four bullets.

Very light and shifty today. We were wisely postponed ashore by the Race Committee for an hour and some breeze was filling in by the time we got to the race area. We started conservatively (after our OCS yesterday) and had to find a lane off the start then try to pick our way through the fleet. We made it to the first mark in second behind Chris Rast on Zingara. Chris is an 3 times Olympian and is just back from an amazing 7th at the Moth Worlds in Australia. These guys are very sharp and we had our work cut out trying to get past them.

We didn't quite manage it on the downwind leg though we both seemed to stretch a little from the rest of the fleet. Zingara took the right gate downwind and we took thee left, not sure who rounded first but they were better positioned out of the left gate heading back upwind.

The left gate wasn't favoured but we feelt we had to not engage with them and fight for the right one which was closer to them. We chased them out to the left of the course and then decided to tack back and try to outdrag them for speed to the next mark. Luck went our way and as we went up the track we found that we were actually starting to almost lay the mark with a slight left shift and some good pointing ability. As we tacked onto starboard they had to duck us before tacking and we rounded first.

Great tactical calls on the next downwind and great depth and speed thanks to Prof on kite trimming and calling the weight around the boat. Only one race today as the committee ran out of time due to the late start and light and difficult conditions. Another first leaves us in a really good position but tomorrow is set to be much windier and Friday windier again. Lets hope we can keep the same performance in the different conditions. Updates here again tomorrow,

Based off early morning forecasts, it appeared a lay day might be in the cards for competitors. Some sailors might have already been making plays to play tennis or go fishing during an hour-long dockside delay.

However, organisers with Premiere Racing saw a small pocket of sailable conditions and sent the fleet out to the three race courses. Division 1 completed two races while Divisions 2 and 3 both got in one to keep the regatta moving along.


Ireland's Embarr racing at Quantum Key West. Photo: Tim Wilkes

"We actually had pretty good pressure coming off the northerly beach," said Scott Nixon, tactician aboard the J/111 My Sharona. "It was about seven to eight knots from the northwest and we had a decent race."

Ken Legler, principal race officer on Division 1, had a building breeze on his course and decided to hold a second race on Wednesday. It proved a wise decision as the wind piped up later in the afternoon.

"We saw seven to 10 knots in the last race today, which was kind of surprising," said Alec Cutler, skipper of the Melges 32 Hedgehog.

Dave Brennan, principal race officer on Division 2, said the decision to send the boats out on the water came after organizers received live on-water reports from boats that had been sent out to determine exactly what conditions were.

"We were cautious because the forecast was not very promising," said Brennan. "We had boats out on the water and were watching the progress very carefully. We felt there was a good chance the breeze would stick and that we could give the sailors a race."

Brennan said conditions on his course, which includes the Melges 24 and J/70 classes, were perfectly fine for Race 5. However, the breeze steadily died and dipped below five knots, which is the threshold Brennan believes is necessary to start a race.

"We got in one good race on a day we didn't think we would have any so that's a plus," he said. "This regatta has always been about quality over quantity and we didn't think a second race today would be very good so we decided not to get greedy."


First prize yesterday!


Some of the best racing of the regatta has come in IRC 2, which includes the five boats competing in the High Performance Rule sub-class. Tonnerre 4, a Ker 51 that owner Peter Vroon is racing for the first time here in Key West, continues to lead IRC 2 after posting a third and a sixth on Wednesday. However, Tonnerre is winning a tiebreaker with the Ker 43 Otra Vez, which also has 19 points.

Skipper William Coates steered Otra Vez to a second and a fourth erase a three-point deficit to Tonnerre 4 and earn Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day honors. True (Kernan 47, Leo van den Thillart) and Spookie (Carkeek 40, Steve Benjamin) have also sailed well and are trail the leaders by just four and six points, respectively.

"We've been having some wonderful racing out there with both classes. There are a lot of good boats on the course," Benjamin said. "I, for one, like that we are being dual-scored. I think it shows that both systems are working."

Tonnerre 4 is winning the HPR sub-class with a low score of 15 points, just one better than Otra Vez and Spookie. Benjamin, who helped develop the HPR rule, said conditions make a big impact on the results as all the boats perform differently in various wind ranges.

There are three Swan 42-footers in IRC 2 and those boats also comprise a sub-class. Impetuous, owned by Paul Zabetakis, is tied with John Halbert and his team on Vitesse. All five boats in the Melges 32 class have proven to be well-sailed and things are tight after three days with skipper Alec Cutler and his crew on Hedgehog leading the father-son tandem of Dalton and Doug DeVos by two and three points, respectively. Dalton DeVos is skippering Delta, which is currently in second place by one point over his father on Volpe.

"We have a small fleet, but everyone is either a world champ or a national champ or the College Sailor of the Year," said Cutler, the latter title being held by Argo skipper and Yale All-American Graham Landy. "I don't think there has been more than 30 seconds between the first and last boats in any race so far."

Canadian professional Richard Clarke is calling tactics for Cutler, the defending Key West champ who has not finished lower than third in any of the six races. "We've gone from first to third a couple times and we've gone from fifth to third a couple times. It's real easy to gain or lose in a hurry. Today, it all came down to who was able to get into that little vein of wind."

Jud Smith remained the leader in J/70 class for the second straight day, sailing Africa to sixth on Wednesday and adding two points to his advantage over Bennet Greenwald and Perseverance. Trey Sheehan steered Hooligan to third on Wednesday and is now tied with Perseverance on points.

"Everybody is working together very nicely and the boat is moving real well," said Michael Sheehan, who is crewing for his brother. "We were saying on the way back into the dock that we are not going to change anything. We are just going to keep doing what we've been doing."

Brad Boston is tactician on Hooligan, which has a home port of Put-in-Bay, Ohio and a team comprised of close friends who grew up together in the greater Cleveland area. Hooligan is part of the Flat Stanley Racing program, which also includes a Melges 32.

"We've been able to get off the line clean and we haven't taken any flyers," Michael Sheehan said. "Brad is really sharp about looking up the course and seeing what we've got coming."

Skipper Iris Vogel and her team on Deviation along with skipper George Gamble and his crew aboard My Sharona have been leaders of the J/88 and J/111 one-design classes at the end of each day's racing.

Veteran Quantum professional Kerry Klingler is calling tactics for Vogel, who has finished first in three races and second in the two others. This is the first one-design regatta for any of the J/88s competing here in Key West and Vogel said she's somewhat surprised to be the pace-setter.

"We've only being doing PHRF racing so we really don't know how we good we were," Vogel said. "It's exciting to be here competing against other J/88s and finally finding out if we're fast or slow."

Nixon, an Annapolis-based Quantum professional, said the My Sharona team put in a lot of time practicing prior to the regatta and that effort is paying off. "We've been pretty fast in all conditions," he said.

Rob Ruhlman, skipper of second place Spaceman Spiff, has been impressed with My Sharona's ability to accelerate off the start line. "My Sharona is killing it off the line. Today they got out there with clean air and just launched on the whole fleet. We have to do a better job of starting if we want to have any chance of beating them," Ruhlman said.

Tangent has been the dominant boat in PHRF 1, which is somewhat surprising since the Cape Fear 38 is a heavy displacement boat that doesn't normally perform well in light air. However, skipper Gerry Taylor and tactician Chuck O'Malley have handled the conditions well.

"I give all the credit to Chuck and the crew. They are accustomed to sailing in light wind on the Chesapeake Bay and that experience has helped us here so far this week," Taylor said. "We're very happy to be in this position and are looking forward to Thursday and Friday when the wind is supposed to be about 15 knots or more, which is right in our sweet spot."

Single digit winds are also not the preference of sailors aboard the GC 32 catamarans, which need a bit more breeze in order to foil upwind. Skipper Jason Carroll and the Argo team have been the most consistent of the four entries, winning three races and placing second in two others.

"I just think we have a little bit more time in the boat than the other three teams," Carroll said. "The light air has been a bit of a game-changer, but the boats are still fast and fun even in the conditions we've had so far."

Skipper Alex Jackson kept Leenabarca ashore on Wednesday because of damage to a carbon-fiber sprit. Repairs were made and that GC 32 will be back on the course Thursday when the wind should be ideal for the high-tech cats.


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#keywestraceweek  – Irish skipper Conor Clarke and his crew on Embarr posted a pair of bullets to seize the early lead in Melges 24 class, which has attracted 13 entries. Texas skipper Steve Rhyne, who has Mojo in second place after putting up a fourth and a second, said the Dublin-based Embarr had an extra gear when going downwind.

"We started well today and I thought we had good upwind speed, but we had a little trouble on the runs," said Rhyne, who has previously raced a J/109 and Melges 32 here in Key West. "We're new to the class and still figuring out the best way to sail the boat."

Clarke told "Key West was good to us today. Two races in fairly light shifty conditions and we won both of them to lead overall. The result flatters us because we fought hard in each race and it's clear that a number of boats will be presenting a serious challenge this week.

In race 1 we started well and went left at first but realised that boats on the right were making better ground so we crossed to cover. There was a ding dong battle with Mojo most of the way.We rounded the top mark in first but closely followed by Zingara and Mojo. Tricky downwind tactics and ginger movements on board left us rounding with the Canadians on Zingara but having split tacks with them upwind we had some great tactical calls from Huzie and Stu and also great speed allowing us drag away from them to lead into the last leg and also extend our lead to the finish.

Race two was a different story. We fluffed the start and ducked the fleet on port tack to get out into clear air from the back of the pack. We were pushed right and away from where we wanted to be. Eventually we took our first opportunity to go right and for a while looked as if we were in very poor shape indeed. I looked like we might be well into the second half of the fleet but slowly we noticed that our call to get left was going to pay off and the boats out to the right started to fall back. We rounded the top mark in a close 3rd and managed to dig our nose into a slot to windward of the lead boats, Tramp and Mojo. From there we were able to get a tad lower with speed and direct events from there. It was more nervy than it sounds but we managed to round the leeward mark in first and, again, more nervily than it sounds, extended our lead from there to the finish.
A really good days work but we have much more to do. 4 more days to defend our position"

There is no better sight than a steady stream of racing boats either sailing or motoring out of the Historic Seaport harbor around 10 a.m. on Monday. That's a sure sign that the annual race week held off Key West is starting on time and with enough wind to get the regatta underway.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2015 got off to a strong start with the principal race officers on all three divisions able to complete two good races in 8-14 knot northeasterly winds.

"It was a good day of racing. Conditions were ideal and the courses were good," said Hap Fauth, skipper of the mini maxi Bella Mente.

Fauth had reason to be happy as Bella Mente was atop the standings in IRC 1 after the opening day of action. Tactician Terry Hutchinson played the shifts well as the Judel-Vrolijk 72-footer posted results of first and second.

"Terry did a good job of putting us in sync with the puffs and our maneuvers were good," said Fauth, who is breaking six new sailors into his crew of 18.

Hutchinson wasn't happy about losing the lead in Race 1 as Bella Mente sailed into a patch of choppy air, which allowed the 66-foot Numbers to win on corrected time. Bella Mente must beat Numbers, which is being chartered by Florida resident Gunther Buerman, by just over three minutes in order to save its time over the smaller boat.

It was a very good day on the water for skipper William Coates and his crew aboard Otra Vez. The Ker 43 leads both IRC 1 and the High Performance Rule sub-class after getting two good starts and displaying superb upwind speed.

"We have a good boat with a great crew and we did a lot of preparation to get ready for this regatta," said Coates, a resident of Houston, Texas.

Otra Vez made its debut at Quantum Key West 2014 and Coates said the program got better as the year went along, capturing class honors at the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta. Mike Buckley, an All-American sailor at Washington College, is calling tactics for Coates.

"This boat was designed for IRC racing, which is why we're kind of surprised to being doing well in HPR," Coates said. "Our motto is never give up. We were really deep in that second race and gained it all back on the last lap just by staying in phase with the shifts and puffs."

Skipper Jason Carroll and the boys aboard Argo are the early pace-setters in the GC 32 class, which is making its debut in Key West. Winds weren't quite strong enough for the high-performance catamarans to foil upwind, but they were easily able to rise out of the water going downwind. Cameron Appleton, tactician for Alex Jackson on Leenabarca, said staying up on the foils downwind and flying a hull upwind make all the difference in this class.

"This is the first time we've ever sailed the boat and the learning curve is steep," Appleton said. "In relatively light and fickle conditions like we had today, it's tricky to keep the boats moving at top speed. We made improvement from Race 1 to Race 2 so that's a positive."

Appleton, who has competed in just about every monohull class out there, said succeeding in getting these state-of-the-art catamarans into perfect sync is quite rewarding. The GC 32 is capable of reaching speeds of 35 knots while foiling downwind. "These boats are quite sporty and it's very exciting sailing," he said.

Bermuda skipper Alec Cutler got off to a good start in his bid to repeat as Melges 32 class champion. Cutler, who has Canadian professional Richard Clarke calling tactics, placed second in both races on Monday.

J/70 is the largest class in the regatta with 54 boats and the goal going into the first day was to avoid that deep finish that could prove costly. "You can't win the regatta on Monday, but you sure can lose it," Heartbreaker skipper Robert Hughes said. "You don't want to sail your drop race on the first day."

After finishing 11th in Race 1, San Diego skipper Bennett Greenwald got the gun in Race 2 and is the early leader while also earning City of Key West Boat of the Day honors. Hughes, who trails Greenwald by three points and leads Carlo Alberini (Calvi Network) by one, had a similar day with results of 13th and second. In fact, the top five boats on Monday all had one result of fifth or better and another result of 11th or higher.

"We almost had a great day," said Hughes, who lost seven places on the final leg of Race 1. "I'm pleased with our speed. We have new sails and have made some changes to the rig setup. This is the best this boat has ever gone."

Red is another boat that returned to the dock on Monday afternoon as the leader in two classes. British skipper Joe Woods corrected to first place in both races within PHRF 1 and thus also leads the Farr 280 sub-class.

"It's an interesting and tricky boat to sail. It's a 28-footer that feels bigger," said Woods, who previously raced a Melges 24 in Key West and has just three days of practice under his belt aboard the Farr 280.

Gerry Taylor captured class honors at Quantum Key West 2013, but had to miss last year's regatta due to work commitments. The Annapolis resident and his team on Tangent picked up right where they left off two years ago, winning both races in PHRF 2 on Monday.

Skipper Iris Vogel steered Deviation to victory in both races within J/88 class while fellow New York resident Robert Hesse is the early leader in J/111 after notching finishes of first and fourth.


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#melges24 – Today we lost the Melges 24 World Championships writes Irish skipper Conor Clarke. We were in third and were adamant about going for the win rather than defending our podium place. We prayed for wind today when it seemed like it might not happen. With 15 minutes to go before the 3pm time limit the race organisers got us off up the course. We felt sluggish on Embarr, usually we are able to poke out ahead of the fleet at the start with better boat speed and while we did beat some of those close to us we were not leading the pack up the course.

This meant we had to contend with some traffic and find lanes. We were forced away from our favoured side by Australians and hit by the Brits at the top mark both of which meant punishment for us in terms of boats passing. We clawed back and had a really good last downwind leg to get us back to the top 10. Again, we were hit right on the finish line by an American boat and this time had to protest to get back the points we lost.

We finished fifth. It is a good result and we are mixing with an exceptional standard of sailors in this Melges 24 fleet. However, it seems poor reward for the effort over the last 3 years we have been together as a team and to tell the truth we are all gutted.

Thank you for reading these rants and please keep an eye out for us...


Event reporting below 

Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 World Championship

San Francisco, CA, USA: American Brian Porter on Full Throttle took fourth in the final race of the Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 World Championship 2013 today to finally lay claim to the title he has been trying to win for many years.

Porter snatched victory by three points from 2013 Melges 24 European Champion Italian Flavio Favini at the helm of Franco Rossini's Swiss entry Blu Moon who had led by a single point going into the final day.

Favini didn't give in without a fight however, recovering from a fifteenth place first windward mark rounding to pull back to sixth at the finish - just two places away from snatching back overall victory.

A second place in today's race for Denmark's Kim Christensen on Soffe 2 elevated him from fourth overnight on to the podium into third place.

A win in the final race for American Bora Gulari on West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes - his second of the championship - moved him up one overall place to fourth. A tenth today for Nathan Wilmot on Conor Clarke's Irish entry Embarr dropped him from third to fifth overall.

In the Corinthian Division a seventh for American Don Jesberg on Viva was good enough to see him crowned 2013 Melges 24 Corinthian Champion by three points from second placed fellow American Loren Colahan on Lounge Act. A Corinthian race win today for Canadian Michael Bond on Recidivist earned him the final podium place.

Overall top ten after nine races:

1. Brian Porter, USA, 39 points
2. Flavio Favini, SUI, 41
3. Kim Christensen, DEN, 47
4. Bora Gulari, USA, 48
5. Nathan Wilmot, IRL, 53
6. Giovanni Pizzatti, ITA, 53
7. Riccardo Simoneschi, ITA, 54
8. Terry Hutchinson, USA, 56
9. Harry Melges III, USA, 75
10. Andrea Racchelli, ITA, 83

Full results (PDF):

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#melges –  There is lots of news today...the good news first, Prof (Maurice O'Connell) and Suzie had their second child, a bouncing baby girl of 9lbs and 11oz. We had some champagne to welcome Josephine and Prof and Suzie were the toast of San Francisco Yacht Club this afternoon writes Conor Clarke.

Bad news today too... Embarr was in a collision today but unfortunately we were not the only ones and our crash was very minor compared to our friends Argyle Campbell and the team on Rock'n'Roll. They were in a major collision with a larger yacht at a mark rounding during the second race today. What we have heard is that two crew members, including Argyle, were taken to hospital and that the boat is severely damaged. Argyle and team have been getting quicker and quicker and are one of the top US teams. They are serious contenders next week and we really hope they are all well and get back in the water in time to compete at the World Championships.

For Embarr there were some difficulties too. After two false starts and general recalls the Melges fleet finally got away but just at the start we were hit on the bow by another boat. The entanglement that ensued meant we were last off the line and trailed the fleet up the beat. When we hoisted the kite for the downwind leg we found it impossible to keep up with other boats and boats that we had passed already were able to simply drive by seemingly effortlessly. We could not get the boat going at all. We finished in 21st and immediately crawled forward to inspect the bow where the impact had occurred. We found that the pole exit was smashed and far more damage had been done than we had originally thought. The impact to the pole slowed us down considerably and we had to back ashore to repair the damage.

We will be out on the water again tomorrow for the last two races of the Rolex series and more practice. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble but above all we really hope Team Rock'nRoll recover and are able to make it back on the water in time. We wish you well Argyle.

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#melges – More practice today, not quite as foggy as yesterday and probably a bit more windy. More boats have arrived for the Pacific Coast Championships so the Hedgehog and Embarr teams (new bff’s) had some new people lining up with us today. We’re happy with our new jib and the rig settings we have been working on, also the new white PZR reacher kite is working well in these conditions so all in all we’re happy with the set up. We always find that once we are racing seriously things look different though so let’s see what tomorrow brings. We had some looseness appear in the rudder today, we repaired it this evening but it always makes us nervous because rudder issues cost us dear in Corpus Christi and we raced a day with the rudder held together with some spare spectra. That was the old boat though, I hope this new one is ok.
I mentioned yesterday that we can get emotional on board sometimes… well today, while planing downwind in 22 knots or so, our back office team had a slight disagreement over control of the main sheet. The GoPro caught it all and Kate found it edited it and put it on YouTube for your entertainment (above)… 
One of the boats who was out with us practicing today, Mikey, lost a couple of people out the back in a hairy jibe, there are some great pics of the incident taken by Anna Cutler here…   no-one was hurt and all crew were recovered safely.
Racing starts in earnest tomorrow. 3 races in heavy breeze will be tough going.

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Ireland's Melges 24 'Embarr' crew skippered by Conor Clarke stay in fiftth overall after three days racing at the Melges World Championships in Texas. Conditions yesterday were much fresher than the first day and the Irish crew are finding physical fitness is a key requirementas the conditions breezed up over the last two days. Photos and results at the bottom of this post.

The ability to out hike and out "grunt" the competition can give you those vital metres needed at marks.

Ireland's sole entry continues to have excellent boatspeed both up and downwind but the tiniest mistakes at the corners can cost many many boats and the Irish crew admit they are still a bit 'rough round the edges'.


Ireland's Embarr crew on their way to second in race six yesterday on Corpus Christi Bay

Helmed by Olympic Gold medalist Nathan Wilmot Ireland's Embarr fought a close race all around the course in race six with defending world champions "Uka Uka Racing" but had to settle for second at the finish.

The others onboard the Irish boat are Bow: Maeve Judge, Howth YC (they needed a sub 50kg person to make up the weight limit and Maeve is a triathlete and top dinghy crew so she fitted the bill perfectly) Pit & Owner: Conor Clarke, Royal Irish YC and Royal Jamaica YC. Spi trim: Maurice O'Connell, RSGYC and RCYC. Jib trim/tactician: David Hughes, San Diego (a top US pro sailor / coach) and Helm: Nathan Wilmot (the 470 Gold Medallist and triple 470 World Champion)

Conor Clarke was a stalwart of  the 1720 class in Dublin for years for years and still owns the 1720 "Wow" which he keeps in
Lake Garda. Conor works for Digical in Jamaica, hence Royal Jamaica YC entry.

Embarr is now fifth overall (equal points to 4th) but it's all incredibly tight with the points gap being tiny - they are a single point behind second overall.

"Uka Uka", even at this half way stage are "looking rosy" to defend their title but there's still 50% of the 12 race programme to complete.

The Irish crew are giving it all they've got though. Even after two tough races they practiced some more manoeuvres on the way into the harbour yesterday and are looking forward to another blast on Corpus Christi Bay today where the wind, it appears just never stops blowing!

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