Some of the best sailors in the world – America’s Cup veterans, Olympic gold medalists and one-design World Champions – will race in the waters off South Florida in the inaugural Melges 32 Blue Water Series. Hosted out of the Lauderdale Yacht Club, this trio of events kicks off with the U.S. National Championship, December 4 – 6, continues with the Gold Cup, February 12 – 14, 2016, and concludes with the Lauderdale Cup, April 1 – 3, 2016.
“The idea of the Melges 32 Blue Water Series is to bring together the best Melges 32 teams from around the world and have them compete in one of the original locations for Melges 32 sailing,” explains Sam Rogers, Melges 32 North American Class Manager. “Fort Lauderdale, Bahia Mar Marina and the Lauderdale Yacht Club hosted the first ever organized Melges 32 regatta, and over a decade later we are excited to have the same great sailing conditions and hospitality that we saw those many years ago.”
Sailors from over five countries will be represented at the Series. Entrants include the current World Champion, Italy’s Alessandro Rombelli and his team aboard STIG. One of the hometown favorites will be Canadian Grant Hood’s Team Quest; Hood owns a residence in Fort Lauderdale. Other hot entries include the Macatawa Bay, Michigan-based DeVos brothers, Ryan on Volpe and Dalton on Delta, as well as Richard Goransson’s Inga from Sweden. Up to 30 teams are expected to compete in one or more Series legs and 14 will sail in all three. There will be a champion named for each event plus an overall Blue Water Series title winner named.
Lauderdale Yacht Club is one of the premiere yacht clubs in the country. The club has a vibrant adult racing program as well as very successful youth program. Racing is definitely woven into the fabric of the club and it is attracting some of the top sailors in the world as part of the club membership base and this Series as well. In addition, the club is hosting fundraisers for its youth sailors “learn-to-sail” programs and to support participation at elite international sailing competitions.
“For the second two events, the Gold Cup and Lauderdale Cup, we’ll be placing some of our junior sailors on boats. We do this at a number of events we host. It’s a wonderful experience and it’s a way for the Melges 32 teams to give back, You don’t really see young sailors getting an opportunity like this at such a grand prix level at other places in the world,” says Jeff Ecklund, Fort Lauderdale resident, Lauderdale Yacht Club member and former Melges 32 World Champion who has raced with Harry Melges III as crew.
Superb sailing conditions is the beacon that attracts world class sailors to South Florida like bees to honey. “There’s a constant sea breeze usually blowing at 110 degrees and in the winter there’s not much rain,” said Ecklund. “The race course for the Melges 32 Blue Water Series is about two miles out. It’s convenient. From the dock to the start line is about a half-hour motoring time, plus it’s scenic. You pass inland of Bahia Mar and by many of the gorgeous waterfront homes.”
Spectators can watch the racing from afar from the Lauderdale Yacht Club lawn, however, “the best viewing is out on the water,” says race director Lisa Friesecke. There are several boats that can take spectators out, but it’s a good idea to show up early to ensure getting a ride out with one of the club’s or team’s support boats. Racing starts at 11 a.m. each day.
For more information and results, visit: www.melges32.com