2016 Melges 24 European Sailing Series - EFG Bank And Team Kesbeke/Sika/Gill Victorious At The Season Opener In Portoroz
4 April 2016
EFG Bank SUI684 in Portoroz - Photo IM24CA/Andrea Carloni
April 4, 2016 - Porotoroz, Slovenia - Christopher Rast's EFG Bank (SUI684) helmed by Flavio Favini in open division and Eelco Blok's Kesbeke/Sika/Gill (NED827) with Ronald Veraar helming in Corinthian division got the best points for the 2016 Melges 24 European Sailing Series ranking at the first event of the season in Portoroz, Slovenia over the weekend of April 1-3.
Twenty six teams from thirteen nations from all over Europe traveled to Portoroz to start their sailing season at the first event of the 2016 Melges 24 European Sailing Series. The event, valid also as the Melges 24 Open Slovenian National Championship and the first event of the Melges 24 Italian Sailing Series under the name of the Portoroz Melges 24 Regatta was hosted by the Yacht Club Portoroz and Portoroz Marina in co-operation with the International Melges 24 Class Association.
The third morning of the regatta wasn't much different from the first two - the lack of wind in the morning kept the fleet ashore. But a nice sea breeze of 10-12 knots in the afternoon allowed for the Race Committee to manage two races before the time limit at 4 pm. The race course was set further out of the sea, close to the historical town Piran today. There was even some wind shifts in the left, the fleet was spread evenly to both sides of the course. The wind continued to play tricks dying ten minutes after the finish of the first race of the day keeping the fleet waiting again. In the next attempt to start, some boats were too eager to go to the course and the fleet was penalized with the black flag start. Still - all good at the end and six races in total was what the Race Committee led by Bojan Gale managed to execute in these tricky spring conditions.
Christopher Rast's EFG Bank with Flavio Favini helming continued its consistent racing collecting a bullet from the first race of the day with a great margin despite the fact that their start wasn't so successful. The second result from the final race and the discard of the twelfth result secured for the team, which includes Christopher Rast, Flavio Favini, Giovanni Ferrari, Aldo Bottagisio and Jaro Furlani, the victory of the regatta with thirteen points in total.
In the interview after the regatta Chris Rast could not thank the hosting club enough. "Yacht Club Portoroz did a fabulous job hosting the Melges 24 regatta here in Portoroz. And this was the biggest plus of the weekend for sure. At the end we got a little bit lucky with the wind and got six good races." He highlighted the strong competition and high level of the regatta saying that racing was very tight at the top. "There was Altea with Andrea Racchelli and young Hungarian boys (FGF Sailing Team with Robert Bakoczy) who did very well. The Hungarians have been practicing and getting a lot of experience and I am sure they will have even better results as the season continues." Chris was also very positively looking at the Melges 24 events to come saying that EFG Bank Team is planning to do all the events of the European Sailing Series with the finale grande in Luino, which is the homeclub for the good fellow Flavio Favini.
Second place on the podium was filled by the 2015 Melges 24 World runner-up Andrea Racchelli's Altea from Italy with a series of (17)-1-10-1-3-5 and twenty points in total followed by the Kalman Rozsnyay's FGF Sailing Team from Hungary helmed by Robert Bakoczy. The Hungarians successfully collected the series of (18)-4-1-5-2-10 and were only two points behind the second position.
The runner up of the regatta, Andrea Racchelli was describing the regatta as a difficult one. "It was a very difficult regatta as the conditions were shifty and with light winds, which were hard to read on the water. On Saturday we did some bad starts but we improved on the final day and we are happy and satisfied with the result." Talking about the season to come Andrea said it will be very long. "The most important event will be the European Championship in Hyeres in September and then the Worlds in Miami in December. It will be long and this here is just the beginning. We hope to be in the top 5 at the Europeans but we'll see about Miami," he said concluding the interview.
In the Corinthian division, 15 teams were fighting a strong battle throughout the whole competition. With two bullets on the final day of the regatta Eelco Blok's Team Kesbeke/Sika/Gill from the Netherlands with Pim Mommersteeg and Joost Brouwer on the crew managed to jump up from the fifth position after the first day to the highest podium place today. Their series of 4-1-11-(12)-1-1 and eighteen points in total were equal with the points of Angelo di Terlizzi's Marrakech Express from Italy filling the second place on the podium. The three bullets in the results was the reason Eelco Blok's Team Kesbeke/Sika/Gill took the higher position on the scoreboard. The podium was completed by Michael Good's team Cinghi-Aile from Switzerland who was on top of the leader board after the second day with a total of 1-(8)-7-5-7-2 and missed four points from the second place at the end.
Joost Brouwer, the bowman of the Corinthian winner Team Kesbeke/Sika/Gill was happy with their results of the regatta. "It was our second time to be here and we will start to get used to the conditions which were hard and difficult especially for the Race Committee, but they managed to do six races and did a very good job. We managed to get a great final result out of it. We had a goal to win in Corinthian division and we did it," he said happily in the interview.
After the first event in Portoroz the series will lead to Austria, to the Lake Attersee in June; the points for the third event will be collected during the Kiel Week in Germany after Midsummer; the fourth event will bring the Melges 24 fleet to the very attractive venue in Riva del Garda, Italy in July; the most significant Melges 24 event of the season which is also the fifth event of the series, will be held in September in Hyeres, France where the European Champion will be awarded; the series will conclude with the sixth event in Luino, Italy in October.
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