The Melges 14 Class had roaring conditions for the third annual Midwinter Championship in Sarasota, FL. After three days of racing, Jeff Solum from Minnesota was crowned the Midwinter Champion finishing just ahead of his son, Ian Solum.

Day One was blown out with 2-4 foot waves building down the bay brought on by a stiff northerly. “The race started in 16 knots and was really fun,” said Auric Horneman. “But then I was following Andy Burdick into the gybe mark. He chicken gybed. I thought I’ll gybe inside him, but then I turned down and said to myself, ‘Nope. Not doing that.’” The Race Committee pulled the plug after the first race and only race of the day.

After flexing their muscles all day Friday, skippers played it safe waiting onshore under AP for two hours until the breeze tapered off to a manageable 12-15 knots. The wind coming over the mainland created a lot of shifts on the racecourse making wreaking havoc on those who missed out on connecting the dots. The flattened sea state and reduced wind speeds allowed for four races making up for lost time on Day One and allowing for a drop.

The Championship concluded on Sunday and the standings from Saturday held fast with the Solum duo at the top followed by Auric Horneman narrowly edging out Daniel Thielman. “We got some good quality racing in today with steady conditions,” said Horneman. “Up until the end when the wind kicked up to 28 knots, conditions were pretty reasonable.”

“The winds reminded me of lake sailing,” added Jeff. “I think we had a little bit of an advantage over people who aren’t used to shifting conditions like this.”

It was Jeff’s son Ian’s first time at a Melges 14 regatta. “The first day was trial by fire. The second day, I felt very messy and loose like my limbs were flying everywhere. Today I finally felt more comfortable, but weight would’ve helped in the end,” said Ian. “In the third race, the wind picked up and I didn’t stand a chance against my dad.”

“Maybe next time,” Jeff chided. “We love coming down here from Minnesota, taking a break from winter to do a bit of sailing.”

Thank you to the Sarasota Sailing Squadron for hosting the sailors and running a great series of races.