2016 WIM Series third event delayed by endlessly shifting winds



“If you don’t like the weather in Sheboygan, just wait 15 minutes." The local proverb has probably never been more appropriate than during Wednesday, when racing in the Buddy Melges Challenge, the 2016 WIM Series third event and also the Women’s Match Racing World Championship, should have kicked off. Result: No racing at all.

“We started two matches, but the breeze didn’t last more than 15 minutes at a time,” said Principal Race Officer Rich Reichelsdorfer.

A warm front with strong winds, thunder and heavy rain passed Sheboygan early Wednesday morning, leaving behind not only very unstable conditions, but also occasional fog. The very challenging weather conditions really put the regatta organizers to the test.

After an hour’s postponement in the foggy morning, the sailors were sent out on Lake Michigan, just to learn that wind shifts of 90–180 degrees made it impossible for the race management to set a proper course. A few matches got into starting sequence, but none could be sailed all the way to the finish. Sailors were sent ashore again to wait, and at 3 p.m. Rich Reichelsdorfer canceled all racing for the day.

“We’re expecting a new front within just a few hours, so it’s better to get all set before that front arrives” he said.

For Samantha Norman from New Zealand, the difficult weather in Sheboygan was no surprise. She won the very first edition of the Buddy Melges Challenge, back in 2009, and finished runner-up behind Australian Nicky Souter the year after that.

“I think it was pretty similar conditions the last time we were here. Nice and foggy with shifty winds and big waves,” Norman said, still happy to be back on Lake Michigan for some match racing. “We haven’t matched up against these girls for a number of years now, so we’ll just do our best out there and we’ll see what happens."

Given the circumstances, the double round-robin will now have to begin Thursday instead, followed by quarterfinals, and then the semis and the final matches over the weekend. There are no plans yet to change the event format.

“No, we’re still early in a five-day regatta, so we’ll just wait and see,” Rich Reichelsdorfer said.