Saetta Grabs Melges 24 World Championship Lead With One Day To Go
3 August 2012
There are just three races left to sail on the final day of the Melges 24 World Championship before a new name will be written in the Melges 24 Hall of Fame. Today in Torbole the potential winners began to emerge and with three more races still to sail the stage is set for a thrilling finale. The racing day began early to take advantage of the northerly Peler and allow the Race Committee to recover some of the lost races. Racing was characterised by breathtaking duels between Gullisara, skippered by Carlo Fracassoli with Chicco Fonda as tactician, and Saetta, which has Alberto Bolzan on the helm and Olympic 470 Gold Medallist Nathan Wilmot calling tactics.
Gullisara began the day with a single point advantage over Saetta, but in the first race, number seven in the series, they were were forced to give way to Saetta who finished third behind Matteo Balestrero and Nico Celon's Giogi and Dutchman Ben Koppelaar's Peak, while Gullisara finished only fifth.
The crews then returned ashore for a break while awaiting the arrival of the southerly Ora breeze before the Gold Fleet returned to the start line for yet another general recall, one of the characteristic of this competitive championship which is organised by Circolo Vela Torbole in collaboration with the International Melges 24 Class Association.
In race eight Gullisara redeemed herself and sailed the perfect race. Fonda did not miss a shot on tactics, and the same can be said for this extremely well trained crew's sharp boat handling. They had the line to themselves at the finish with Saetta a significant distance back in second. And so once again Gullisara was back in the overall lead.
The final race of the day brought an exciting twist as Nathan Wilmot instructed Bolazan to take Saetta close into the rocks, somewhat to the crew's consternation, before calling a series of eight consecutive tacks. But there was method in his madness as their victory on the line shows. Gullisara meanwhile lingered to finish the race in eleventh and now sits ten points behind Saetta overall: not a totally safe margin for Saetta, but certainly one that weighs on his pursuers.
Whilst Saetta and Gullisara battle it out the rest of the teams struggle to play catch up in these most technical and challenging conditions. Blu Moon, the Swiss boat owned by Franco Rossini, with Italy's Flavio Favini helming and Matteo Ivaldi on tactics, gained three places overall thanks to a fourth, a ninth and a fifth, and now holds the third step on the podium, trailing Gullisara by fourteen points. Riccardo Simoneschi's Audi Ultra supported by Eberhard&Co, remains in fourth place despite a day full of penalties. Then comes Giogi, who is in fifth place but with the satisfaction of a win in the day's opening race.
In the Gold Corinthian standings Norway's Oyvind Jahre aboard Storm Capital Sail Racing has a four point the lead over Lorenzo Gemini's SIV Arborea and Augusto Poropat's Marrakech Express who are on equal points with Estonia's 470 Silver Medallist Tonu Toniste in fourth.
On the Silver course the fleet is led by Norway's Peder Nergaard's Blow-Henri Lloyd whilst Russian Melges 24 newcomer Alexander Ezhkove, better know for his impressive track record in the Dragon Class, holds second by four points with Gabriel Skoczek of France in third, Henrik Hellman of the Netherlands in fourth and Peter Warrer of Denmark fifth. Germany's Christopher Gelsdorf heads up the Corinthian Silver fleet from Switzerland's Sacha De Micheli with Italy's Ivan Venturi third and Estonia's Tiit Vihul fourth.
With three final races to start before the 15.00 last start signal cut of once again PRO Hank Stuart has instructed the crews to be on the water and ready to race at 08.00. With so much riding on the outcome everyone will be raring to go and the Race Committee firmly hopes to get all three races run.
Once again tomorrow it will be possible to follow all the action live from the race course thanks to live streaming sponsored by B Plan Sport and Events. Coverage will start just before 08.00 Italian time at www.bpse.it
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.
How to follow the Melges 24 World Championship 2012
Event Website - www.melges24worldchampionship.com
International Melges 24 Class Website - www.melges24.com
Images - official photographer Pierrick Contin - www.pierrickcontin.fr
Updated on daily basis will be also the IMCA's YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/IM24CA) on which will be posted the daily highlights and the interviews made by Zerogradinord, in charge of the media content of the event.