MELGES 24 – After yesterday’s storms, today Torbole welcomed the Melges 24 World Championship fleet in style, first with a strong Peler wind from the north and later in the day with the famous Ora from the south, allowing the Race Committee to run two further races for the four qualification groups sailing in two fleets.
The third day of the event was very much a game of two halves. To secure good racing the crews were out of bed and on the dock by 6.30am to take advantage of the northerly Peler. Its direction prevents the race committee from laying two separate reliable courses and so the decision was made to race both fleets on one course for race three of the series. The two fleets were started separately but the site of all 125 boats on a single course was truly spectacular.
Having completed race three of the series the crews were sent ashore for a long lunch as the Peler dropped away and the legendary Ora began to build. For race four the fleets set up on two separate courses and with the Ora well established at the north of the lake the northerly course was able to get underway promptly and enjoy another perfect Garda race. Unfortunately the Ora refused to stablise properly on the southerly course and as a result they were still waiting to start racing as the northerly group approached the finish line. With the Ora holding up well the Race Committee move the southerly group across and took over the notherly course ensuring that both fleets have now completed race four.
In the overall provisional ranking the lead has changed but remains in the hands of an Italian, namely 2011 European Champion Gullisara, helmed by Carlo Fracassoli with Enrico Fonda on tactics, who leads the fleet by a single point from Riccardo Simoneschi’s Audi Ultra supported by Eberhard&Co. Gullisara impressed with a second and first place while Simoneschi, with Gabriele Benussi on tactics, claimed a second and a seventh, giving him a two point lead over third placed Saetta, helmed by Alberto Bolzan with Nathan Wilmot as tactician. Saetta is still counting 19 points from the first race, but like Fracassoli he produced a first and a second today and now has an 11 point cushion on fourth placed Andrea Racchelli in Altea who dropped out of the overall lead.
Race three in the north group was won by Matteo Balestrero’s Giogi, with former Melges 24 world champion Nico Celon in the after guard. He went onto finish 14th in race four but as he is still carrying a disqualification from race two he languishes down in 34th overall. The fourth race winner of the day (as there are two groups racing, each race in the series effectively has two winners) was American Bora Gulari aboard West Marine Rigging New England Ropes who won the fourth race in the north group. He’d also looked very good in race three but fell foul of the protest committee back ashore and was disqualified so ends the day in 30th over.
In the Corinthian Division Lorenzo Gemini’s SIV Arborea, retains leadership of the fleet by four points from Marco Cavallini in Jeco Team with Oyvind Jahre’s Storm Capital Sail Racing third and and Tonu Toniste’s Lenny in fourth. The Corinthian Division is one of the great success stories of the Melges 24 Class and certainly this World Championship features one of the strongest and largest amateur divisions ever assembled by the class. As a demonstration that the professionals should not underestimate the amateur sailors all four boats also count multiple top ten overall finishes too.
There is still an awful lot of sailing to come in this championship. Starting at 12 tomorrow the final two races in the round robin series, to decide the Gold and Silver Fleets, will be raced, after which the discard will come into play. After that the fleet rolls into a final six race showdown for the overall titles with the winners being crowned on Saturday August 4th. From what we’ve seen of the incredibly close racing so far, just about the only thing we can guarantee is that there are plenty more surprises still to come.
Actually there is one other very exciting thing that we can guarantee you, and that is that, as the championship moves into its crucial final three days you will be able to follow the action live from the race course with online streaming sponsored by B-Plan Sports and Events. So tune in from around noon tomorrow and watch the racing unfold with your guest commentators Harry Melges III and Federico Michetti. Harry Melges is not only the man whose family created and gave its name to the incredible Melges 24 class, but he is also a past World and European Champion in the Class. Federico Michetti is a four time Melges 24 World Championship winning crew who knows more about what makes a Melges 24 tick than any other sailor on the planet. So join Harry and Fed from just before noon tomorrow to watch the racing unfold live.
Events like the 2012 Melges 24 World Championship are not possible without the most generous support of the event sponsors led by the Municipality of Comune di Nago Torbole and including the Regional Authority of Trentino; TrentoDoc, partner of Circolo Vela Torbole whose excellent selection of sparkling wines will be enjoyed by all; Trentingrana, whose cheese is made using milk exclusively from the Trentino area; InGarda, the touristic company supporting visitors to Lark Garda; and technical sailing clothing supplier Marinepool.
Organised by Circolo Vela Torbole in collaboration with the International Melges 24 Class Association, the 2012 Melges 24 World Championship will count a maximum of twelve races, with up to three daily races. Five races are required to made the event valid.