Once recognized as the best regatta on the US Melges 32 circuit, the 2013 Gold Cup was cancelled due to a lack of registrants. Add that to the cancelled National Championship in Harbor Springs and it makes you scratch your head and wonder what is going on with this fleet? Were people just taking a year off with the 2013 Worlds being in Italy? Was it due to the Caribbean circuit perhaps taking some momo out of the US based events? Or was it something completely different? Whatever the cause I personally have a “Hard Time” understanding why we weren’t racing around in the classic Fort Lauderdale conditions. Wait, I was racing in those conditions, but that is only because Jason had decided that no matter what the class was doing that weekend, Team ARGO would be there to represent.
The 2013 Team ARGO Dust Bowl was created and took place despite the cancellation. It consisted of A-Argo, B-Argo (pronounced BAR-GO), and the boys and girls on the DELTA. The A-Argo team was our normal crew sans Cam who was on his way to the RC44 Worlds in hopes of winning not only the Worlds but also the Tour Championship. (Aqua finished 3rd in the Worlds but yet again won the Tour Championship for the 3rd year in a row) Charlie Ogletree filled his spot.
B-Argo was another story completely and quite a motley bunch indeed. Mostly crewed by past Argonauts; Chad Corning, Danny Pletsch, Julie Howe, Brian Fox, Clay Bischoff, John Baxter, and Patrick Mauro, with additional help from Sam “Rasheed” Rogers, and Charlie Smythe, this bunch came to play with a big attitude and an even bigger chip on their shoulders.
DELTA was its normal crew, but with guest skipper Brian Hill who gladly stepped onto this top-notch program to drive the bus.
Rounding out the group was Anderson Reggio as PRO, Matt Knowles as the Match Racing Umpire, and Grande, Dave and Buzz who served as the on the water support crew. Scotty and Tina were on hand holding it down on the ELVIS.
The format was simple. 2 days of racing, mixing it up with Match Racing round robins and fleet racing. Day 1, Dust Bowl indeed, that’s all I am going to say as even the 10:00 dock out seemed aggressive, and there were many wounded soldiers on both of the ARGO boats. As we were entering the box for the first match against BAR-GO, it became very clear that Jason hadn’t done too much match racing. Charlie looked at Jason and said “perhaps we should have had this chat yesterday, or at least on the sail out” we were all laughing as Matty’s whistle blew as we were awarded our first penalty for early entry into the box. That was about all BAR-GO needed to smoke us in race 1; they even got a big enough lead to add a penalty on our score by completing a spin before finishing. Ouch, they came to play, and they easily beat DELTA to take the first 2 wins. We took on DELTA next and got our second beatdown. Next up a 2 lap fleet race, clearly we were better at this discipline and won the race. Back to match racing, things sort of got fuzzy memory wise but I do know that as the day went on we got better, we ended the day getting 2 penalties against BAR-GO compared to their 1 and we lead the day followed by BAR-GO then DELTA. Penalties were exonerated on the dock promptly and they didn’t cancel out, remember that was 1-2 between the ARGO’S. We won that battle.
A massive group dinner that night at Steak 954 got the ball rolling pretty well, I even was granted a fake Birthday by Sam, sorry to all of you that thought it was actually my birthday, but blame Sam, not me. Thanks for all the fake birthday wishes regardless.
Day 2, somehow I think most everyone felt better than on day 1 . Same set up, match racing followed by fleet racing. And after it was all said and done, it was a 3 way tie going into the final race, one final fleet race to crown the first ever King of the Dust Bowl. Clearly DELTA cheated by feeling better than we all did and easily schooled us to take the win, and the chip carrying BAR-GO got the best of us and took second, but hey we still got a podium spot! All jokes aside, DELTA sailed great on the final day and deserved the win.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend of sailing in classic Lauderdale conditions, big waves, and big breeze. However, it was truly a shame that nobody else came to play. As far as the Melges 32 class goes, I hope things are headed the right direction now as certain changes have been made including scheduling a 2014 Winter Circuit. Key West should have 10 or more boats, Miami seems to be getting some traction and the summer of sailing in Newport should at least guarantee great sailing in all of these great venues. Hopefully, things are again back on track for this awesome class to carry on and show the rest of the world why the Melges 32 is still at the top of the heap in One Design Racing.