North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Mike Stark, Chelsie Strong

MELGES 15 WINTER SERIES DEBRIEF

North Sails Expert Mike Stark Shares His Take on the Inaugural Midwinter Regatta

You stated before you left, this was a new boat/class. What did you think?

The boat is awesome. We had to finish putting it all together since it has never been rigged before and the entire process was very simple. The boat was well thought out. After we put it together we contemplated on going out for a quick practice as the wind was in the mid 20’s with gusts to 30.  We decided to go out real quick just to get back in a boat and make sure all the rigging/new boat kinks were worked out. It was unbelievable how stable and fast these boats are. Even in the high winds, we never felt like we were in “survival mode.” 

Before you left your goal was Top Five. How did you do?

We did it! We got off to a shaky start in the first race but ended up figuring out a few things pretty quick which allowed us to have consistent finishes in the top 6 and keep it mixed up with the very talented sailors at the top. We ended up tying for 4th (losing the tie breaker), and won the Masters division (a touchy subject with my skipper).

What were the weather conditions like?

Cold! The day after we arrived a cold front came through. Although it brought the wind up, it certainly brought the temperatures down. Saturday was cloudy with a high of 61 degrees and wind ranging from 13-18mph with gusts just above 20.  Sunday, the air was 47 degrees when we splashed. The first race was a bit breezy around 10-12 mph. The sun came out for the second race killing the wind allowing for only 3 boats to finish.

This was your first one design regatta since COVID, what was it like?

 It was very different, especially with this being a new class and not knowing many competitors.  There was a limit to 25 boats for the regatta, we had to get our temperatures taken and answer questions every day on arrival, masks had to be worn at all times on the property, and the normal end of day meal/talking around the keg was certainly missed.

There are two more regattas remaining in the winter series. Do you plan on competing in them? If so, does your goal change?

George and I have certainly talked about it, and we would LOVE to. There may be a couple issues we each have making it to the February dates, but definitely look forward to making the trip in March. I don’t think our overall goal will change. I think top 5 is certainly a great goal for the competitors in our class and the time we’re going to be able to get in the boat until then (none). But I do think we add to it, maybe a goal will be to win a race, or all races in the top 5, things like that.

What are your final thoughts on the class?

 I cannot say enough good things about the Boat and the class. The boat manufacturer was on sight ready and willing to help at a moment’s notice. It was very easy to tow, rig, de-rig, and sail. The boat is extremely fast, stable, and set up in a simple way so the amount of lines is very minimal. The class was a perfect mixture of age ranges, with a ton of family oriented teams. The talent level ranged from All American college sailors and multiple national champions, to junior sailors with only a few years of experience. The one common theme I noticed was everybody having fun and huge smiles (especially while planning downwind.)

Story Contributors

Melges 15 Winter Series Debrief headshot
Mike Stark

Service Sailmaker — Detroit, Michigan

Mike started sailing when he was seven, going through the Learn to Sail Program out of North Cape Yacht Club in Lasalle, MI. He enjoyed it so much, he moved right into fleet racing in the 420. He raced in...

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