For the very first time ever in North America, the Audi Melges 20 will race as a fleet at Charleston Race Week 2009. Not only has the event been a great success for event organizers, but in particular, the attendees offer full proof that Melges’ sportboat concept has taken hold and refuses to let go.
Racing begins on Friday, April 17 with six Audi Melges 20s and continues Saturday, concluding Sunday. Entries have traveled from the Northeast corridor including veteran Melges boat fanatic Geoff Pierini (Bernardsville, N.J) on USA-103 Shakedown with Anthony Kotoun as crew, and Dave Hammett (Rockville, Md.) on USA-119 Simplified Sophistication has employed the efforts of Annapolis’ Paul Murphy. Two-thirds of the fleet hail from the Midwest and Canada. Phil Sustonk (Mississauga, Ontario Canada) on USA-102 has the crew talents of Olympic medallist Mike Wolfs. Michael Kiss (Macatawa Bay, Mich.) on USA-13 Bacio is out in full force as well as Eric Wynsma (Grand Rapids, Mich.) on USA-116 Superfly.
Last, but certainly not least is yet another seasoned Melges sailor — Marc Hollerbach (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) on USA-21. He is sailing this weekend with probably the most youthful crew in the fleet. His two sons Ian and Adam were secured as original crew, yet when they arrived in Charleston, together they decided to take on a fourth — Meagan Kiss. Meagan is not only the daughter of fellow competitor Michael Kiss, but she is also part of the U.S. Under 18 Olympic Team, has competed at the Opti Worlds many times over and frequently sails on the international level making her one of the most talented female sailors in the U.S.
“The Audi Melges 20 feels like a true dinghy. It is a smaller boat, yet quite lively. We sailed with most of the weight shifted aft, and it really hops up on a plane and goes.’ commented Hollerbach, sounding as gitty as a schoolboy after practice on Thursday afternoon. “There are some similarities, but also some noticable differences when comparing it to the Melges 24. They sail differently, but similar at the same time. For example, downwind is just fantastic. It’s fast and fun. Upwind is all about where you put your weight. This boat is high performance and high technology on the deck.”
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