Photos by Joy

Inga from Sweden takes early lead

Melges 32 Gold Cup kicks off in Fort Lauderdale

Friday February 12th 2016, Author: Joy Dunigan, Location: United States

Opening day at any regatta, major or minor, is always exciting. The first day gives the opportunity to work out the nerves in a real race setting, gets the team settled-in for the long haul, and most importantly, gets the scoreboard going in the right direction. All these things are true for regatta leader Richard Goransson on Inga From Sweden and Rick DeVos sailing Delta, tied with four points each. Further back in the standings, a range of two to 12 points equal the spread between teams, meaning that a lot is riding on the next two days of racing.

Although three races were scheduled, only two were completed and both featured some very challenging light air conditions. The day topped out at no more than 6-7 knots of wind, and warm, plentiful sunshine.

Goransson was definitely amongst those making today look easy. He and his team which includes one of Italy's most prominent and successful tacticians - Vasco Vascotto - remained strong throughout the day earning a 1-3 to assume the overnight lead. Goransson defended well against early contention from Chris Wientjes on Stormvogel, Graham Landy steering Argo for Jason Carroll, and Morgan Kiss helming Team Hydra - the youth-driven, power-packed Melges 32.

DeVos on the other hand, with Jonathan McKee as tactician, and Benjamin Schwartz on Pisces both celebrated very good days on the water as well.

"Overall, we got a little lucky at times, but we are sailing well and it was Rick's first time driving the boat," said McKee. "He's not necessarily an experienced sailor, but he just comes in and just does it. If he can do it, anybody can do it. That is the big story of today."

For Schwartz, his return to racing in the Melges 32 fleet could not have been sweeter. A harsh reminding ninth place finish in race one gave way to a hard-fought bullet in Race Two. DeVos and Schwartz dueled practically the entire race, but it all came down to the final run.

Schwartz found the extra speed and out-maneuvered DeVos to squeeze the win in by the tip of his bowsprit right at the finish line. "Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. We had so much fun today," said a happy Schwartz post racing. "We found a couple of really good shifts on that final run, and it gave us the opportunity to steal the win right at the line."

In the Corinthian corner, Grant Hood's Quest has a two-point lead on Team Hydra. Saturday should be an interesting day as Hood leads by only two points.

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