Corinthians Keep Professionals On Their Toes On Day One Of The 2010 Marinepool Melges 24 World Championship
9 August 2010
Tallinn, Estonia - 7 August 2010 - 2008 Melges 24 World Champion, Italian Lorenzo Bressani at the helm of Uka Uka Racing, laid down a marker to the fleet at this year's World Championship, with a near perfect first and a second after two difficult light and shifty races in Tallin, Estonia today. Bressani leads by four points from the 2008 Melges 24 Corinthian World Champion and reigning Corinthian Melges 24 European Champion, Oyvind Peder Jahre from Norway on Storm Capital Sail Racing Team who impressed with a third and a fourth today. Italy's Carlo Fracassoli on Gullisara lies in third overall tonight after scoring a second and a seventh.
Race By Race
Hopes of double-digit wind strengths for the first day of racing at the 2010 Marinepool Melges 24 World Championship in Tallinn, Estonia evaporated in the warm sunshine which bathed the seventy-nine-boat fleet as it reached the racecourse this morning. With the promising early morning breeze quickly dying away, the Race Committee were left with no alternative other than to post a postponement which remained in place for a little more than an hour before an attempt at starting racing could be made. After bringing the fleet back just once for a General Recall, a relieved Race Committee waved the fleet off at the second try with just two boats called OCS.
Despite having an expansive start-line available to them, the fleet seemed keen to take advantage of a perceived benefit on the right of the course and as a result there was considerable bunching at the starboard end. This allowed the boats starting further down the line a little extra space to get away cleanly and for the first few minutes it was the boats on the left of the beat who looked to be making the early running. As the fleet approached the halfway point however, the right began to come on strong and with the wind flicking slightly right as well the boats on the left suddenly found themselves in a real battle to get back across to the windward mark.
With just five to six knots of breeze blowing, if ever there was a day for local knowledge to pay, then this was it. No surprise then to see Estonian Tiit Vihul on Rock City round in second place behind Italian Carlo Fracassoli on Gullisara. Hot on their heels was 2008 World Champion Lorenzo Bressani on Uka Uka Racing. The power of the right hand side of the course appeared to work downwind too and Bressani in particular used it to great effect, leapfrogging into the lead by the gate. Fracassoli got there in second with Norwegian Corinthian Oyvind Peder Jahre on Storm Capital Sail Racing Team proving his ability to mix it with the professionals by moving up into third place. Bressani extended steadily on the second beat, keeping a loose cover on the fleet, benefiting from being first into the patches of extra breeze and increasing his leverage with every shift. Despite a horribly light final run, the top three maintained their positions to the finish, leaving the rest of the fleet to eventually ghost home behind them.
More waiting around then ensued and with the wind almost completely disappearing at times, the chances of a second race were looking almost non-existent. Principal Race Officer Lars Nyqvist is made of stern stuff however and after demonstrating resolute patience for at least another hour, he was finally rewarded with just enough wind to get the fleet off for a second race. Admittedly this was under a Black Flag following a Z-Flag General Recall on the first attempt, which saw as many as ten boats taking home a twenty percent penalty. The Black Flag did the trick however and the fleet got away cleanly for the first time all day.
First race winner Bressani had to dig himself out of a tricky situation in the final seconds before the gun when he found himself boxed in on the left hand side of the line. Reacting quickly he ducked behind several transoms before finding the smallest of gaps to dive into. With impressive boathandling and crew work he managed to build speed by the gun and was the first boat to tack on to port leading the pack upwind from the left. Unfortunately for him, the right once again seemed to be the way to go and despite his flying start Bressani rounded the top mark in fourth place, just behind fellow Italian Nicolo Bianchi on Saetta. Just ahead was the Norwegian Jahre, proving his first race result had been no fluke. Leading at the windward mark was a further Italian, Alberto Bolzan on Hurricane Murphy & Nye, who led the leading bunch into a string of gybe-sets back out to the right of the course. Rounding in around ninth place however, Norwegian Eivind Melleby on Full Medal Jacket, delayed his gybe for around a minute and used the resulting clean air and slight right shift to make a huge gain on the first run. In fact by the leeward gate he had eased into second place right behind Bolzan. The leading pack split evenly to the right and left buoys, with the two leaders subsequently benefiting on the right of the beat to round close together. Right behind them, Bressani in third was still very much in the mix.
Bolzan once again went for the early gybe but almost immediately sailed into a wind hole and had to gybe straight back. This gave Melleby and Bressani the opportunity to sail on for a while before gybing in clearer air and eventually both cross ahead of Bolzan at the mid-point of the run. The wind by this stage had dropped away again and Melleby and Bressani had to use all their light airs guile to pick their way downwind to the finish. Melleby took the win and Bressani rounded out an impressive day in second to take the overall lead at the end of day one. Corinthian Jahre followed Bolzan home to take fourth in that race and secure an impressive second overall. Second in the first race, Fracassoli could only mange seventh in this race, but this was good enough to see him sit in third overall tonight.
Day one of the championship proved that the Corinthian Division is coming of age as the all-amateur crews gave the professionals a really good run for their money. Top Corinthian performer was Oyvind Peder Jahre's Storm Capital Sailing. This team currently holds the European Corinthian Melges 24 Trophy and also won the 2009 Corinthian Worlds. Throughout both races they kept the pressure on the professionals regularly going head to head with Lorenzo Bressani, Carlo Fracassoli and Alberto Bolzan. Complimenting his second overall Jahre now has a comfortable six-point lead in the Corinthian Division.
Also putting in a great showing for the Corinthians was Tiit Vihul at the helm of Rock City from Estonia who lies second in the Corinthian competition, six points behind Jahre, and ninth overall. Vihul came to the Melges 24 Class from the X99s and after just two seasons is already snapping at the heels of the established crews. His best performance to date was winning the 2009 Nordic Championship and he clearly has his eyes on both a top ten overall position and victory in the Corinthian competition here in Tallinn.
2001 Yngling World Champion Christoph Skolaut sailing Franz Rocks for Austria finishes the day as third Corinthian and twelfth overall. A sixth place overall in race one demonstrates that this is another hugely experienced Corinthian team with designs on the overall standings. In the Corinthian standings they lie two points behind Skolaut and just one point ahead of fourth placed Jonas Berntsson from Sweden sailing Number of the Beast. One further point behind Berntsson is Peter Steinkogler aboard sailingteamaustria.com so we look all set for a truly thrilling Corinthian competition over the next five days.
Provisional Overall Top Ten After Two Races
1. ITA787 - UKA UKA Racing - Lorenzo Bressani - 3 pts
2. NOR751 - Storm Capital Sail Racing Team - 7 pts
3. ITA807 - Gullisara - Carlo Fracassoli - 9 pts
4. ITA727 - Hurricane - Murphy & Nye - Alberto Bolzan - 11 pts
5. NOR804 - Full Medal Jacket - Eivind Melleby - 15 pts
6. JPN797 - ThreeBond - Tetsuya Matsunaga - 18 pts
7. FRA639 - Euro-Voiles - Christophe Barrue - 21 pts
8. NOR400 - Baghdad - Kristian Nergaard - 23 pts
9. EST761 - Rock City - Tiit Vihul - 25 pts
10. ITA783 - Audi - Riccardo Simmoneschi - 28 pts
Provisional Corinthian Top Five After Two Races
1. NOR751 - Storm Capital Sail Racing Team - 2 pts
2. EST761 - Rock City - Tiit Vihul - 25 pts
3. AUT406 - Franz Rocks - Christoph Skolaut - 10 pts
4. SWE666 - Number of the Beast - Jonas Berntsson - 11 pts
5. AUT608 - Sailingteamaustria.com - Peter Steinkogler - 12 pts
Championship racing runs from Saturday 7th to Thursday 12th August, with up to three races per day and a maximum of twelve races total scheduled. Five races are required to constitute a series. When six or more races have been completed a boat's series score will be the total of her race scores excluding her worst score. The first start of racing each day is schedule for 12.00 except for the final day when the first start is schedule for 10.00 and there will be no warning signal after 14.00.
Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, and in 2011 it will also be the capital of culture for all of Europe. This will be the biggest cultural event in the history of Estonia. Welcome to the city of culture! www.tallinn2011.ee
You can follow the racing live at the IM24CA Blog. Further information is available from the 2010 Marinepool Melges 24 World Championship Event Website and via the event's Facebook Group.