San Francisco, Calif. – With the conclusion of today’s weigh-in and practice session, nine teams from four countries are ready to race on San Francisco Bay at one of the year’s most exciting regattas for the international Melges 32 fleet — the 2008 Rolex Big Boat Series (RBBS). Hosted by the prestigious St. Francis Yacht Club, the event promises four days of world-class, one-design sportboat racing.
Among the competitors are 2007 defending champion Philippe Kahn (Santa Cruz, Calif.) on USA-166 Pegasus 32 with Mark Christensen, Curtis Florence, Matt Noble, Bruce Mahoney, Richard Clarke and David Giles hoping to reclaim victory. Joining the robust contingent of U.S. teams is John Porter (Lake Geneva, Wisc.) on USA-32 Full Throttle. This is the first time since 2006, that the former Melges 32 Miami Grand Prix Champion has entertained the fleet with his presence. “I’m going to really miss not having my brother on the boat with me this time,’ says Porter. “I hate this, you know. I asked him first and he said he would not be able to do it. So, I’ve got a great crew. And, this will work. I am really enjoying it. I love the boat. It’s a little like an A Scow. Especially downwind. In breeze like this the A Scow will just get up and go with that big asymmetrical spinnaker. The Melges 32 does the same thing. Crew coordination this week is going to be key.” Another U.S. team bound to do well is Pieter Taselaar (New York, N.Y.) on USA-169 Bliksem. Stocked full of talent, his team includes Jeremy Wilmot of Morning Glory fame, Sean ‘Doogie’ Couvreux, Marco Constant, Paul Atkins, Cameron Lewis, Chris Welch and Pieter’s daughter Claudia.
Internationally the fleet claims a high level of diversity. Joe Woods (Torquay, UK) on GBR-700 Red sailed the currents of San Francisco Bay in 2007 scoring second overall. “We did fairly well here last year. This is such a great place to sail. This year, the caliber of the teams is really, really high, so we’ll see what happens’, said Woods after a productive practice day. “The boat feels great, so we are looking forward to a good regatta.” For the very first time ever, racing his brand new Melges 32 is Giovanni Maspero (Como, Italy) on ITA-999 Joe Fly. Maspero has surrounded himself with a wealth of talent including Andrea Felci, Federico Michetti, Vince Brun, Andrea Vigoni, Giovanni Puntello, Federico Insabato and Sergio Blosi. After a ten year absensce, Michael Illbruck is glad to be back sailing in San Francisco. “This is a great boat. This is a great class. This is a great venue. I am so glad to be sailing in San Francisco again,’ said Michael Illbruck (Munich, Germany) on GER-401 Pinta.
The local fleet has pulled out all the competitive stops as well. Stephen Pugh (Sausalito, Calif.) has employed the efforts of Mark Ivey to call tactics aboard USA-158 Taboo, owner Caleb Everett (San Francisco, Calif.) and alternate helm Andy Costello are aiming to have a lot of fun on USA-145 Stewball. The International Melges 32 Class would like to welcome yet another new owner Don Jesberg (Belvedere, Calif.) on USA-162 Viva. “I am so very much enjoying this boat. It is such a great fleet to be a part of. This is where really good, solid sailing competition is — in the Melges 32 fleet,’ said Jesberg.
At 1100 on Thursday, the first signal will sound for the commencement of what will be a tremendous event. Stay tuned to the official website of the International Melges 32 Class Association as daily reports and results will be posted.
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