Sixty Melges 15s entered the first event of the 2022 Winter Series in Sarasota, FL January 8-9.

The record turnout was a celebration of being named Sailing World’s Boat of the Year. A broad range of teams was comprised of parent/child, couples, friends, and newcomers alike. Several new owners made the trek for their first Class event as well as many regional competitors who loaded up box trailers for easy, cost-efficient travel.

A fun weekend on the Bay started with practice and a debrief led by Melges offering sailors their first taste of the larger fleet. The expert coaching delivered tips for boat handling and fleet management.

Saturday in Sarasota greeted sailors with gorgeous sunny skies, warm water, and a moderate breeze of 6-13 knots. The late morning start allowed the sea breeze to fill in and sailors to enjoy a leisurely morning of socializing and boat preparations. Harry Melges and Nina Lunbchenco were chased around the racecourse by Eddie Cox and Molly Ziegler and Harris Padegs and Jean Michel-Bus. Sarasota Sailing Squadron hosted the fleet for a post-race happy hour on the pavilion watching the award-winning Longboat Key sunset.

Day Two featured puffier conditions of up to 23 knots for the first race, but the key was connecting the dots. It was easy to fall trap to the lulls and watch fellow competitors breeze by – particularly downwind. The fleet often opted to charge up the left side of the course resulting in tricky mark roundings where momentum and right of way could pay dividends. As the wind diminished at the start of Race Four, Dana and her father, John, Haig pulled ahead for a dominating lead in an upwind finish.

The tight racing culminated in a win by Cox and Ziegler followed by James O’Gwen and Aiden Cunningham, and Padegs and Bus. The Winter Series continues with Event 2 February 26-27 and the Midwinter Championship March 25-27.