Melleby Wins Pre-Worlds Regatta At 2011 Melges 24 World Championship
15 May 2011
The concluding day of the Pre-Worlds Regatta at the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, saw an unexpected return to the breezier conditions with which the venue is more synonymous, with the final two races being completed in 15 - 18 knots. A 6,2 scoreline today for overnight leader Eivind Melleby on NOR 804 Full Medal Jacket, was enough to seal an overall win in the Pre Worlds Regatta. Melleby finished the two day series tied on points with second placed Lorenzo Bressani on ITA 817 Uka Uka Racing, who chalked up a win in the first race today before finishing fourth in the second race. A seventh and a sixth score today saw Nathan Wilmot at the helm of IRL 607 Embarr take the final Pre-Worlds podium position. The winning Corinthian, all amateur team was USA 15 Abordage owned and helmed by Erwan Le Gall from San Francisco.
With racing in the main World Championship series scheduled to start in the morning, most teams spent the afternoon after racing today on boat preparation, final sail selection and planning for the week of racing ahead. Soling Olympian and America's Cup sailor Espen Stokkeland, tactician aboard Full Medal Jacket, said that the Norwegian team were looking forward to the coming week. "There are so many great teams here this week. The racing is going to be intense, with all of the top guys battling it out against each other. We expect the racing to be really close. It's going to be great."
470 Olympic Gold Medalist Nathan Wilmot (NZL) seemed content with his team's preparation in the lead up to the championship. "This is my first Melges 24 regatta. It's been interesting so far. I think I need to learn to stay behind the line a bit more as we have managed two recalls in three races. The boats are great though - great fun to sail and close racing, a pretty similar style to the 470, other than you also have a backstay to deal with. All in all the Melges 24 experience has been really nice and we are looking forward to the week".
AUDI helmsman Ricardo Simoneschi (ITA) appeared confident and relaxed on the eve of the main championship. "As a team we are happy with the job we have done up to now. In terms of the venue, I think it is a very interesting place. We were told that the winds were generally very strong and quite steady here, but in the last few days we have already seen a variety of conditions and some quite big windshifts. So I think there will be plenty of tactical options and the racing will actually be quite open." Simoneschi also noted that the steep chop which prevails in Corpus Christi presented it's own challenges. "For sure the wave patterns here make life very challenging for the helmsman upwind in particular. It is very easy to let the boat slow down and you have to do lots of work with the mainsheet and the tuning of the boat to counter this."
With so many strong teams competing, there is little doubt that this year's championship will be one of the most closely fought ever, and picking a clear favourite at this point is virtually impossible. The general consensus amongst the competitors at this evening's Opening Ceremony held at the Corpus Christi Yacht Club, was that consistency, starting ability and downwind speed were likely to be the key factors in determining the overall winner. There was also a general anticipation of some spectacular sailing ahead when the inevitable classic big breeze Corpus Christi conditions make an appearance.
Racing in the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship main series begins on Monday May 16 and runs through until Saturday May 21, with two races per day scheduled.
Racing at the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship begins on Monday 16 May and runs through until Saturday 21 May, with two races per day scheduled. You can keep up with all the latest news and developments from the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship via the International Melges 24 Blog and the event website.