This weekend, for the third time in Class history, the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association (USM24CA) is excited to bring back its highly-coveted Melges 24 National Championship to Charleston, S.C., graciously hosted by the Charleston Yacht Club (ChYC) on April 7-9.
This time however, it also collectively serves as Act 2 of the Quantum World Winter Series, and is Stage 1 of the 2017 Melges 24 NorAm Tour.
Charleston is an all-time Melges 24 Class favorite, not just because of its warm shoreside southern hospitality and progressive social scene, but also for its addictive one-design harbor racing elixir – relatively flat water conditions, plenty of breeze and current. 2017 is poised to serve up that magic concoction for three straight days, mixed with just the right amount of on-shore festivities and camaraderie.
National Championship Event Chair Randy Draftz, who also acts as Sperry Charleston Race Week Chairman, has been hard at work, carefully putting many of the parts and pieces into place to make this Nationals the best it can be. “We’ve got a great fleet of Melges 24s for the Nationals – some new faces as well as some of the Class’ veteran teams will be here with us. Most of the teams will also participate at Race Week too, so April will provide a lot of racing opportunity for this legendary sportsboat. Regardless of the conditions, there should definitely be some fireworks on the harbor front throughout the month.”
“Thanks to Randy’s great organizational skills, this event will be just as fantastic as Race Week itself,” said USMCA Vice President and Nationals Corinthian competitor George Haynie sailing Firewater (USA-687) based out of Tampa, Fla. “Charleston is such a fun place to sail, which makes the trip all the way from Florida all the more worthwhile. My team and I are really looking forward to some fun times on- and off-the-water!”
Among the Melges 24 teams scheduled to appear in the overall division are seven-time National Champ Brian Porter on Full Throttle (USA-849), Travis Weisleder’s Lucky Dog/Gill Race Team (USA-848) will feature recently crowned World Champion crew member and 2016 Olympian Dave Hughes as tactician, John Brown’s Blind Squirrel (USA-547), Peter Duncan’s Jigs in Space (USA-515), Wes Whitmyer Jr.’s SlingSHOT (USA-747), Bruce Ayres’ Monsoon (USA-851) and Kevin Welch’s Mikey (USA-838).
The all-amatuer sector is also taking shape. Thus far, ten Corinthian teams have qualified. Intense competition is a sure thing. Third runner-up in the Corinthian division at the 2016 Miami Worlds Decorum (USA-805) helmed by Hunter Ratliff will be present, as well as Atlanta’s KC Shannon on Shaka (USA-801), Laura Grondin on Dark Energy (USA-738), Frank Davenport on WILDGoose (USA-736), and the very youthful entry of Jay Greenfield on Old School (USA-491).
Registration and measurement all take place on Thursday followed by some live music and dinner at ChYC for the Melges 24 fleet. PRO Hal Smith will be in charge of the fleet starting on Friday, and concluding on Sunday.