The 2013 Sperry-Topsider Melges 24 World Championships will follow the America’s Cup in San Francisco from 26 September to the 5 October, four Australian teams will challenge for the world title in a fleet of sixty boats against the world’s best sailors.
This is appropriate as the Melges 24 class was inspired by and has grown from the tradition of the Americas Cup. In 1992 Buddy Melges won the America’s Cup with the Reichel Pugh designed America3 in San Diego, California. In 1993 the high tech Reichel Pugh designed Melges 24 was introduced to the market and continues as a growing and vibrant international class. This is demonstrated by the first Southern hemisphere Melges 24 World Championship hosted by Royal Geelong Yacht Club in January 2014.
It was 2005 when the last Australian, Americas Cup Team Oracle skipper James Spithill, won the Melges 24 World Championships. Like all international Melges regattas Australian sailors are sprinkled throughout the fleet, however, this year four Australian teams will be on the start line at the Pre Worlds, (the St Francis Yacht Club Rolex Big Boat Series) and the San Francisco Yacht Club Melges 24 World Championships.
Warwick Rooklyn Bandit AUS 717 (CYCA) and his crew Doug McGain (Tactics), Sean O’Rourke (Jib and Rig), Tom Johnson (Spinnaker) and Will Parker (Bow) are aiming for a top ten place at the championships and thrive on the high level of racing. If their 2012 results are anything to go by Bandit will be in the mix. Bandit achieved a third place in the June 2012 at the US National Championships followed by a win in August at the Melges 24 North American Championships in San Francisco. Rooklyn’s team Bandit becoming the first all-southern hemisphere team to claim a Melges 24 continental championship.
John Bacon Roger That AUS 750 (RPAYC) are using the San Francisco Worlds as a platform to build on for the 2014 Worlds on the more familiar waters of Corio Bay in Geelong. The Roger That crew includes the 2013 Australian Champion Chris Links, Craig Pocklington as trimmer and 1999 Etchell World Champion Cameron Miles on helm. Cameron is aiming for good clean starts and a place in the top fifteen. “We are really looking forward to measuring ourselves against the world’s best” said Chris Links.
Kevin Nixon Accru AUS 812 (RPAYC) sponsored by Accru Chartered Accountants, this full family crew are ticking off competing in a Melges 24 Worlds together and experiencing the America’s Cup from their bucket list as they prepare for the challenge ahead. The Accru team consists of Daniel Nixon (tactics and everything) Grace Nixon (tactics and main) Bonnie Nixon (Bow) and Kevins wife Glenda on Jib. This awesome sailing family have too many individual sailing titles to mention and will be competing in the Corinthian division. “We sailed in the Pacific Coast Championships in San Francisco last month to check out the Berkeley Circle and left feeling even more confused about the tide and wind, it’s difficult to work out, but we are looking forward to mixing it up with the pros at some stage” said Kevin.
David Bull Jester 4 AUS 553 (RPAYC) will be flying into San Francisco from France where they are currently competing in the SB20 Worlds as fleet training for the Melges 24 Championships. The Jester 4 team including Dave’s wife Zorana Bull (Pit) Stephen Fries (Tactics) Oliver Hartas (Bow) and Mark Muirhead (Jib) have been working on boat handling and tactics and take every opportunity to get in more time on the water.
Some of the best sailors in the world are entered including Flavio Favini, Terry Hutchison, Harry Melges III and Australia’s own Nathan Wilmot steering the Irish entry Embarr. The Australian teams will be revelling in the opportunity to learn more about this class and compete against a large Melges 24 fleet.