In its rich sailing history, Newport, R.I. has played host to just about every famous sailboat race on the planet: the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and countless grand prix World Championship events, not to mention a long and distinguished bucket list of ocean races that every sailor dreams of.
In just a few days, the International Melges 20 Class Association (IM20CA) will add to that list. It will cap off a long and awesome season with the commencement of the 2017 World Championship hosted by the New York Yacht Club. With an impressive fleet of 40 teams from four continents, representing nine nations, sailors, friends and families alike will be treated to Newport’s best conditions for a full on experience of this iconic sailing venue.
After a season full of tropical storm action, it appears it has left in its wake idyllic fall sailing conditions and most likely, any threat of a Newport nor’easter will be avoided. Rain is in the forecast for only one day early in the week, the remaining days anticipate seasonably warm, crisp conditions with a good chance for a legendary Newport seabreeze. With the incomparable Peter “Luigi” Reggio at the helm as PRO, all signs are pointing towards an extremely competitive, hard fought, ten race series. Leading up to the Worlds, both the North American and European fleets have been battling it out in their respective League Divisions in preparation for winning the ultimate prize, a World Championship title.
In North America, Drew Freides’ PACIFIC YANKEE currently leads the ranking, and all season long has been letting everyone around him know that his second place finish in Scarlino, Italy at the 2016 Worlds was no fluke. He is excited about putting on the finishing touches this year.
“As an east coaster at heart (The Yankee portion of PACIFIC YANKEE), Newport has always been a special place, having raced many regattas here over the past 35 years. It would be great to perform well in my old stomping grounds. Some might disagree, but I still consider it the home of U.S. yacht racing.”
With a host of other teams to keep an eye on, Freides is among those favored to do well. Other teams expected to be in the limelight include double World Champion John Kilroy Jr. at the helm of SAMBA PA TI, his son Liam Kilroy on WILDMAN, Jim Wilson’s OLEANDER, Daniel Thielman’s KUAI and Rob Wilber’s CINGHIALE.
Arriving from Europe in fine form is none other than Achille Onorato’s MASCALZONE LATINO, JR., former Melges 20 Gold Cup Champions Dario Levi sailing FREMITO D’ARJA, and now big name Melges 40 owner Alessandro Rombelli at the helm of STIG, Oleg Evdokimenko’s KOTYARA, and Vladimir Proshikin’s NIKA are primed and ready to take on the new North American competition. And more than poised to conquer the season is 2017 World League European Division winner and Euro Champion Igor Rytov aboard RUSSIAN BOGATYRS. He currently leads the overall 2017 World League Ranking.
The Corinthian Division will prove to be the most intense ever as it features big competition. 2016 North American Champion Justin Quigg on CHARACTER 2.0 from Canada and 2014 U.S. National Champ Cesar Gomes Neto sailing PORTOBELLO are in attendance. Pair up these teams with Monaco Winter Series Corinthian winner Johannes Lind Widestram on INTERMEZZO, John Murphy’s SOLAS and Ben Wilkinson on SINFUL OPPORTUNITY and you’ve got the recipe for great fun and top notch, all-amatuer racing.
The fleet is excited to welcome a number of newcomers to the 2017 World League realm – Guido Belgiorno-Nettis sailing ANGOPHORA, Caleb Armstrong at the helm of MOBY, Eduardo Souza Ramos on ONDA, August Schram’s BUDS TO BLOSSOMS and local Newport favorite Ben Wilkinson.
Adding more fun and camaraderie to a week long schedule of racing, every day is packed with after-race socials and dinner events.
Tuesday, October 3rd is set aside for final measurement checks at Sail Newport, Pre-World Championship races and opening ceremonies at NYYC. Racing commences on Wednesday, October 4 with an 11.00 warning. The Championship will conclude on Saturday, October 7 with an awards ceremony at Sail Newport.
Melges will take over the Sailing World Instagram with exclusive content, videos and interviews with competitors. Follow along on Instagram @sailingworldmag.