The Melges 20s converged for an iconic Miami, Florida weekend for the first event of their Winter Series. Coconut Grove Sailing Club hosted the fleet December 13-15 and fired off eight races in conditions varying from 3 to 20 knots of breeze.

Vladimir Prosikhin’s NIKA came from behind to beat out Igor Rytov’s Russian Bogatyrs in a tiebreak at 24 points. “When we finished the last race, we expected to be second and we were very happy with that,” Prosikhin explained. “It was truly a surprise! The fleet is very strong with a few boats who can win any regatta.”

“It’s a true testament to the Melges 20 Class to be sailing the Winter Series for more than a decade,” said Keiran Searle, North American Class Manager. “Regardless of whether you treat the series as training for the Worlds or a reprieve from the winter, there’s always top-notch competition at these events.”

NIKA displayed their light air prowess on Day One winning two of the three races. Robert Hughes’s Heartbreaker won the first race. “We had a good start and our tactician, Michele Ivaldi, picked a couple good shifts on the first beat. We got to the top mark in second or third and did a nice job getting past the other boats. We were able to do that thing that you love – when you get out in front and extend while letting everyone else hammer each other in the back.”

Miami upped the ante on Day Two with planing conditions in gusts up to 20 knots. “When people ask why we sail the Melges 20, it’s days like this,” smiled Jennifer Canestra, Shimmer.

“They were classic, epic conditions for the Melges 20,” agreed Race One winner, Robert Wilber, Cinghiale. “If you were doing poorly one leg, you could do well the next and catch right up – classic Miami.” The key to success on the second day proved to be breaking away from the pack for clear air and avoiding high-speed chaos at the leeward mark. “We were able to get away from the group immediately. We tacked out right after the start and just went for it,” said Wilber.

The final day of racing opened with a challenging postponement in rising temperatures and a beating sun while Race Committee waited to meet the class’s minimum wind requirements. Fearing short-lived velocity, Race Committee set up a battle royale-style course at a meager .6 miles. Heartbreaker once again snagged the first blood of the day. Thankfully the wind peaked to slightly over 10 knots after a second postponement rewarding the racer’s patience and anticipation. Despite their light-air showings on Day One, this was NIKA’s most disparaging race of the weekend. Things got off to a rough start after getting picked off on the boat end and being forced left while Russian rival, Rytov, took off to the right. Luckily, the left proved fruitful, but they were unable to recover while underdog, Shimmer, led the fleet for the first two legs and Cinghiale played Pied Piper on the final downwind for the win.

“We rounded the mark third and that was our mistake – we didn’t sail our own race,” said Prosikhin. “We started match racing with Russian Bogatyrs and finished poorly. The race was hard and tactically not perfect.” NIKA originally discarded nine points from in Day Two’s big breeze, but that was displaced by their tenth-place finish in the final race. NIKA plans to return for all the World League events in 2020. “It’s a pleasure to come from St. Petersburg, Russia to race against such a strong fleet here in the US,” added Prosikhin.

The Winter Series event also served as the Melges 20 World League Finals won by Igor Rytov’s Russian Bogatyrs. The World League Series featured 15 events across Europe and the US. “We’re really happy to win the World League once again,” said tactician, Besputin Konstantin. “The next event we can improve and finish even better.”

The Melges 20 Winter Series continues with two more events February 7-9 and March 13-15. Photos and videos can be found on Full results are available on Yacht Scoring: