– International Melges 24 Class Association
INTERNATIONAL MELGES 24 CLASS ASSOCIATION
The final day of Melges 24 racing was nothing short of fantastic with Bill Hardesty at the helm for Philippe Kahn on Pegasus 575 taking home the title of Key West Race Week Melges 24 Champion! On board with Hardesty was 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Kevin Burnham, Freddy Loof — Olympic Bronze Medalist, Star World Champion and multiple Finn World Champion, Mark Ivy — 4-time All-American College Sailor of the Year and Midge Tandy making the perfect combination for success on one of the most invigorating sport boats in the world — the Melges 24! “ I am lucky to be here. Philippe is sailing the Farr 40, so he gave me the keys to drive the boat. With this all-star team is was easier than I expected. I just tried not to mess things up. This team had it won, it was mine to lose as far as I was concerned” commented Hardesty.
The first race of the day and final race of the Championship got underway on time this morning with a very uncertain forecast. Rain was predicted. Teams were expecting a slow day on the race course — but much to their surprise the winds remained at a velocity to still get in some decent racing. Winds were out of the West at 5-9 knots, a 1.3 nm course bearing at 275 degrees, and a little more at various times throughout the race.
At the start the Melges 24 teams were excited, and the start was a direct reflection. The start was clean with the exception of at least a dozen individual recalls. There were a great many boats OCS. Hardesty however got off to a great start sailing the left side of the course. Tom Treat “USA-41 Whamo” and Ingemar Sundstedt “SWE-552 Team SBAB”, Dave Ullman “USA-505” all got off the line fast. At the windward mark, it was Hardesty rounding first, followed by Sundstedt and Ullman right behind. Brian Porter “USA-600 Full Throttle” followed the left side of the course rounding fourth then realizing the possibility of a protest from Ullman, Porter gladly did a penalty turn resulting in several top positions lost. On the downwind set, the teams were powering up the boats, looking for the shifts. Hardesty rounded the first leeward mark in the top position with Morgan Reeser at the helm for Neil Sullivan “USA-566 M-Fatic and Sundstedt staying in the mix of things also. As the teams headed back upwind, most were beginning to head right as the wind built just a little bit from the West North West. Those taking advantage of the right side of the course was Hardesty now several boat lengths ahead of the fleet, Reeser worked his way over to weather where he found himself battling to the finish with Ullman, Sundstedt, Alex Ascencios “USA-602 Accumulator +”. Hardesty had the race won by a mile, Sundstedt had a fantastic race in second, just ahead of Ullman in third. James Spithill “USA-293” who had been rather elusive all day surfaced at the finish coming in from the left and slipping in ahead of Reeser and Ascencious — finishing respectively fifth and sixth. John Pollard “GBR-593 Xcellent” sailed a great race, taking advantage of good clean wind on the right side coming in seventh. Porter was finished in eighth.
A special thanks to the Key West Race Committee and Peter Brenan, our Principle Race Officer for an incredible regatta. Morgan Larson, tactician for Joe Fly mentioned that this was one of the best Key West’s he has ever been to. John Pollard also commented on how wonderful the Race Committee was. Alex Ascencious commented “ This regatta was awesome! We just got the boat a couple of months ago. We sailed a clean race and had fun. We plan on doing a lot of regattas this year, including Nationals in Annapolis in preparation for the Worlds in Ocean Reef.”