A little more than four months after the world debut of the Melges 15, twelve boats gathered at Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club (Beach Haven, NJ) for the inaugural Melges 15 Invitational.

Pioneered by local, Chris Fretz, LEHYC is home to Melges 15 Fleet #1 after taking delivery of six privately-owned boats in June. Fleet 1 now has nine boats and is looking forward to continued growth and helping establish other fleets on Barnegat Bay.

“This event really shows what’s possible here on the Bay with the Melges 15. When you have sailors from 18-80 years old ripping around at 15 knots together, there’s really nothing else on the market that has this level of accessibility and fun! I think every club in the BBYRA (Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association) needs these boats!” said Fretz.

Sailors were greeted by a steady 15-20 knot wind and some nasty chop on Saturday. Five races where completed on the first day of the event all sailed back to back. The day was won by Clay Johnson and Kelly McGlynn who transferred their E Scow knowledge into an excellent performance. The biggest highlight of the day was the battle between Johnson/McGlynn and the father-daughter duo of Emily and Johnny Haig in the final race of the day. Neck and neck coming into the leeward mark, each doing in excess of 15 knots, they traded gybes and swapped the lead several times until Haig was able to gybe on Johnson and sail into better pressure to seal the win.

Additional highlights included Butch and Walter Lenhard, who nailed a pin-end start to lead the fleet up the first leg of Race 4. Butch and Walter are a father-son team who got into the Melges 15 class to race together and with their kids and grandkids.

After racing, sailors debriefed onshore and had some socially distant beverages. The common themes of the day included: “We were going really fast out there” and “I don’t feel like we did FIVE races!”

After looking like the fleet would be in for some light air sailing on Day Two, the forecast and reality seemed to be out of sync. With Johnson and McGlynn heading back to Toms River, the regatta came down to a tiebreaker between the Haigs and Kyle and Alissa Rogechenko. The last race brought the action to a climax with the Haigs needing to place in the top two to clinch the win. On the last run it looked like Emily had the regatta well in hand, but a missed layline at the bottom of the final run allowed Kyle to move into the lead and put the pressure on Emily to hold onto second. Some conservative sailing up the last beat helped the Haigs hold onto second place and win the regatta.

With the inaugural Melges 15 regatta in the books, the Melges 15 Class is looking forward to continuing its exponential growth around the country. The Melges 15 Class wants to help your club build a fleet! If you have any interest in this or in the Melges 15 contact Eddie Cox, Melges, at eddie@melges.com.

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