In the late autumn in Trondheim 2022, students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology started to play with the thought of participating with multiple teams in the Melges 24 World Championship in Middelfart, summer 2023.
With limited resources and a lot of determination, they started planning. The sailing organization of the university, NTNUI Sailing, had never taken on such an adventure and the boats needed some repairs and upgrades to be competitive during the championship. Just about all the sails were blown out and patched up at least once, the lines were worn out and cleats did not really cleat. The road was long, but the will and effort was huge!
After Christmas the board of the organization started to put together teams in accordance with the individual expectations and motivation. It was concluded after a few sessions that the group would send two teams, NOR402 and NOR 592, to the championship. As the snow slowly melted away in Trondheim and the weather became more sailing friendly, the 10 students started preparations towards the competition. To finance the adventure, they organized event sailing with companies, beginners’ course for new sailors and applied to various funding organizations to see if they were willing to aid them in the project and let everyone join at a student friendly prize. With the economics in place, the boats could get the upgrades they needed, but new regatta sails were still a dream.
One Monday morning in April, a student of the organization went to “Maritimt Kompani” – a partner of the sailing group and the only importer of Ullman Sails to Norway – to retrieve a shackle for one of the boats. Here he meets the CEO of Ullman Sails, Michael, who was on a round trip to visit the different Ullman lofts in Europe. They got to sit down and talk, and the student explained what NTNUI Sailing is doing in Trondheim. Michael thought the work, effort, and determination with which the students were working was unique and he asked if the students wanted to start a cooperation with Ullman Sails. The students, feeling that their dream had come true, kindly accepted and a deal was made which included three sets of top-notch Ullman Sails for the three boats to use for racing. And like that, the only thing remaining was to get the boats in the water and start practicing. Combined with at least four exams each, and the varying weather of Trondheim the students practice in every possible timeslot in a rather hectic time schedule.
The summer was approaching and the trip for Middelfart and the World Championships begun. Due to the limited budget of a student, it was important that the trip was as cheap as possible. By the help of some friends and family they got to borrow a large sailboat, “Fru Larsen”, which six of them sailed to Denmark to be able to stay at the harbour for a low prize. The Melgeses were pulled to the marina by two cars. When all the exams were delivered, melgeses packed and extra equipment brought, all the sailors headed south. The new sails from Ullman were picked up at Gardermoen and driven via Sweden to meet the rest of the crew a couple of days before the start of the competition.
Ready to rig the boats we get in touch with the helpful and kind organizing team from @worldofmelges24. As some of the youngest teams and the only club participating with two teams, the excitement is high. Everyone is eager and wants to know how the next two days will unfold. Fully aware that these teams probably will have the steepest learning curve, the sailors head into competition against some of the best Melges24 teams in the world.
After five days of racing and 12 completed races both Ullman teams have experienced ups and downs. Small mistakes and tight situations combined with a relatively fresh crew, resulted in overall positions which the students did not feel represented the efforts, but probably reflects the hard reality. However, both teams were satisfied with the performance and NOR 592 highlights the betterment of their starting abilities and rounding the top mark as boat number 4, finishing in 11th place. NOR 402 takes away their partly exceptional speed and height during upwind sailing. It was actually so good that they got the credits of an American trainer, and it was awesome to see that they could keep up with some of the teams they have been learning from on YouTube.
All the sailors of NTNUI Sailing have had an extremely steep learning curve. They got to know the boat better and to cooperate as a team and cant wait to use the knowledge in other championships. As a club they return to Trondheim with new knowledge and experience that will be shared with the rest of NTNUI Sailing. It was not only sailing, the student sailors will also remember the social dinners, volleyball in the evenings, birthday celebrations and work out sessions – memories for a lifetime.
We want to say a huge thank you to Maritimt Kompani and to Ullman Sails for making this trip and our participation in the Melges24 World Championship 2023 possible!