Dave Ullman and team win windy Fullpower Melges 24 World Championship 14/5/07

The last day of the 2007 Fullpower Melges 24 World Championship, hosted by the Santa Cruz Yacht Club was sailed in extreme conditions which cranked up to 30kts forcing the cancellation of the last race. Dave Ullman the overall winner commented: “We weren’t racing at the end, just surviving.”

The conditions were so tough that 19 of the 58 starters did not finish. One – Corinthian Division winner (Othmar Mueller von Blumencron) – lost half her mast but finished with what was left of her rig. Four or five other dismastings, a few blown-out spinnakers, one man overboard (recovered by another boat) those were the prices paid for sailing when the wind hits Force 7, with gusts to 35 (Force 8) and 5ft seas form stair-steps up 10ft swells.

Ullman, a 61-year-old icon of American sailing from Orange County in Southern California, sailed Pegasus 505 with a crew of tactician Bill Hardesty, Brent Ruhne, Andy Estcourt and Shana Phelan. They started the day two points ahead of Brian Porter’s Full Throttle team and were trailing their most serious rival early on the last leg downwind when . . . let Hardesty tell it:

“We saw her [Full Throttle] capsize, took down the spinnaker and went into survival mode. We didn’t have to worry about anything but finishing.”

They finished fourth behind, in order, Gabrio Zandona on Italy’s Joe Fly, Italy’s defending world champion, Nicola Celon, and France’s Francois Brenac, followed by John Pollard of the UK and Team Barbarian’s Jamie Lea. Porter recovered to finish 20th, his first double-digit finish of the week.

Almost as an afterthought, Joe Fly won the wild west affair, logging a string of single-digit finishes through the last seven races – including wins in three of the last four – after stumbling with two early starts on day one.

Two boats besides Full Throttle fell victim to the conditions while leading – first, Team Barbarians when they broached early on the first downwind leg after rounding the windward mark in front, and later Celon when his spinnaker blew apart on the last leg, before Full Throttle’s misfortune. Others taking knockdowns included Chris Larson, 2003 winner Shark Kahn and the 1-2 Corinthians, von Blumencron and Bruce Ayres. All had memorable moments.

Overall Results (9 races; one discard)
1. Pegasus 505, David Ullman, Santa Ana, Calif., (18)-1-1-11-1-5-1-8-4, 32 points
2. Full Throttle, Brian Porter, Winnetka, Ill., 3-5-3-5-(8)-7-5-2-20, 38
3. EFG/.Groupe Partouche, Nicola Celon, Italy, (16)-3-2-8-5-13-9-5-3, 44
4. Joe Fly, Gabrio Zandona, Italy, (28)-24-9-6-3-1-2-1-1, 47
5. Bete Bossini, Francois Brenac, Italy, 2-4-(16)-2-14-4-3-15-2, 47
6. Team Barbarians, Jamie Lea, UK, 14-12-6-1-2-(59)-8-11-6, 60
7. Pegasus 575, Mark Christensen, Santa Cruz, Calif., (16)-3-2-8-5-13-11-16-8, 66
8. Altea, Andrea Racchelli, Italy, 13-10-4-15-6-8-(17)-6-7, 69
9. Gannet, Othmar Mueller von Blumencron (C), Great Falls, Va., 6-9-23-4-4-9-15-9-(27), 79 10. West Marine Rigging, Chris Larson, Annapolis, Md., 12-8-7-(29%)-15-6-6-4-21, 79

Corinthian Division
1. Gannett, Othmar Mueller von Blumencron, Great Falls, Va., 2-2-5-2-1-1-3-1-(7), 17 points
2. Monsoon, Bruce Ayres, Newport Beach, Calif., 1-1-3-4-2-3-4-2-(5), 20
3. Courage X, Eddy Eich, Germany, 3-3-2-3, 4-(5)-1-5-1, 22