Brenac pulls ahead
For the DRP Partner & Partners team this regatta is the culmination of a two-year campaign specifically aimed at winning this World Championship. The majority of the team has been together for many years in a range of boats including the Melges 24, but Brenac only joined as helmsman last season. In the heavy airs their experience together really shows and they rarely put a foot wrong in their boat handling as could be seen from today’s 1, 2 score line.
Sailing legend Dave Ullman, sailing for California based Philippe Kahn's Team Pegasus, also scored 1, 2 today which more than made up for yesterday's mid-teens results that included a 20% penalty. Dave is not sailing with his regular crew this week and indeed the team had not sailed together before they got to Hyeres. "We had a nice day today. The second race was the strongest wind we've seen so far. It was hard, extreme even, but a lot of fun. We like heavy airs so we were very happy with today. This is the most competitive fleet in the Melges 24s ever. We thought last year's Worlds were pretty good but this year is better," said Dave Ullman on the dock after sailing. In the overall standings he is now in 13th place but there is a lot of sailing still to come and as always he will be a man worth watching.
The racing on the two courses was much more even today although the wind was still generally stronger and the waves bigger on course Bravo which was set to the south, just inside the Giens peninsula, and hosted the green and pink groups. White and yellow groups sailed on course Alpha which was to the north on the Hyeres shore and benefited from a little shelter that helped keep the sea flatter although the wind was still very strong. As the wind built it went left and the race committees had their work cut out moving marks to keep the legs true. Despite the backing wind the trend was to keep right on both courses. Racing got underway more or less on time with just one general recall on course Bravo and the crews were delighted to be back on the dock just after lunch having completed two increasingly tough races.
On course Alpha Sandro Montefuseo's Air Is Team aboard GEBL led the fleet at the first weather mark of the day with Britain's John Pollard in Excellent and the Czech Bohema Express II helmed by Maurizio Santa Cruz hard on his heels. Mark Mansfield helming Team Gill for Simon Strauss rounded fourth with Brenac's DRP Partner & Partners in hot pursuit. Positions changed rapidly on the run and Team Gill found better pressure on starboard gybe away from shore to lead at the leeward mark. However, Brenac made the most of a right-hand shift on the second beat to retake the lead at the second weather mark with Mansfield and Montefuseo close behind. Brenac extended on the run and Montefuseo brought breeze from behind to overtake Mansfield by a metre at the finish.
By the start of the second race on Alpha the wind was already around 25 knots and still building. Geir Dahl Andersen, helming LEK for Hans Faeste of Norway, had a great first lap to lead at the first leeward gate with Christophe Barrue second, fellow Frenchmen Antoine Frickey helming Sogeti Hyeres for Benjamin Cohen third and Francois Brenac fourth.
Brian Porter aboard Full Throttle and Jamie Lea helming Barbarians for Stuart Simpson both had high scores in the morning's race but got their acts together for race four and slotted into fifth and sixth respectively after the first lap. On the second lap Dahl Andersen couldn't keep up the pressure and gradually slipped back down the fleet to finish 12th leaving the gate wide open for Barrue to take the honours with Brenac second. Porter and his all American crew of brother John, Andy Burdick and Harry Melges got their heads down and ground they way into third leaving Frickey fourth. Luca Valerio, helming Alina Helly Hansen for Maurizio Abba from the Italian lakes pulled up into fifth with fellow Italian Andrea Racchelli in Altea sixth so Lea had to be content with seventh.
Over on Bravo course they had a single general recall in race 3 but the fleet got away clean on the second attempt. At the first weather mark Jean Marc Monnard led the fleet from Dave Ullman with Umberto Martinez, helming Firebolt Online SIM for Carla Umbertalli, third, the German team of Eddy Eich aboard No Woman No Cry helmed by Flying Dutchman legend Alba Batzill fourth, overnight leader Maurizio Cardascio fifth and Chris Rast sixth.
This group was all over each other and as the wind began to fill in on the final run they were still changing places with every gybe. Ullman spotted his moment and took transoms to gain the inside position for the approach to the last mark and the final reach in. Those on the right had more wind but it wasn't enough. As they passed the final mark Batzill was in the lead but Ullman had the overlap and sailed over the top on the final short reach to take the race. Stuart Rix, helming Gill for Quentin Strauss, sailed up from ninth at the first mark to third at the finish with Martinez fourth, Rast fifth and Cardascio sixth.
Bravo course's fourth race was to be a full-on survival affair with the wind already in the mid-20s at the start and ultimately hitting 30 knots in the second half. At the first weather mark Ullman led the fleet from Luca Stephanini of Italy helming Mel Nose PBR for Michele Giovannini, Monnard rounded third with Frenchman Remy Arnaud on Nantes St Nazaire fourth, fellow Frenchman Jean Francois Cruette helming Encore for Cedric de Kervanoel in fifth and Cardascio sixth.
As the boats came away from the mark and set spinnakers a press boat got too close to the fleet forcing Cruette and several others to take avoiding action which resulted in a massive broach which left them lying flat for several minutes and with a damaged spinnaker. Sadly they ended the race 21st but currently have a redress application pending with the International Jury.
Stephanini also had an unlucky race when his spinnaker sheet broke on the final run and he dropped back to 18th. Chris Rast meanwhile had got his best start of the week and was rapidly making places through the fleet until he got Ullman on the final run. Benoit Charon sailing Le Tocco took advantage of the mayhem at the first mark and finished third with Monnard fourth and Rix fifth. The Slovenian team of Mitja Beltram with keelboat and Farr 40 sailor Mitja Kosmina at the helm, who only joined the Melges fleet this year, put in their best performance so far to finish sixth.
Although the focus of our reporting is naturally on the front runners elsewhere in the fleet there are constant battles for position going on and everyone is in agreement that this regatta is one of the toughest and most fun they have ever raced in. The downwind legs in particular are spectacular with boats leaping from wave to wave and the spray constantly flying. "It's amazing to be flying downwind in 30+ knots with such a huge fleet around you. We've had a few thrills and spills but we're really enjoying it despite a disaster yesterday when we were black flagged in race one and OCS in race two." commented British sailor Karon Mahy, who crews for David Rowen aboard GBR557 and is currently lying in 109th place.
The final two races of the 6 race round robin series are scheduled for tomorrow and the championship runs until Friday with a total of 12 races planned.
|1||FRA 571||DRP-PARTNER-PARTNERS||LIGOT Philippe||7||3||1||2||13|
|2||SUI 599||POIZON ROUGE||MONNARD Jean marc||1||8||7||4||20|
|3||ITA 583||SHEREKHAN||CARDASCIO M||5||1||6||8||20|
|4||SUI 521||BLU MOON||ROSSINI Franco||13||2||5||1||21|
|5||FRA 639||EURO VOILES||BARRUE Christophe||2||11||9||1||23|
|6||FRA 601||SOGETI HYERES||FRICKEY Antoine||6||4||10||4||24|
|7||ITA 643||BETTE||AMADORI Ezio||4||7||6||8||25|
|8||ITA 580||GEBL||MONTEFUSEO Sandro||7||3||2||14||26|
|9||GBR 634||EXCELLENT||POLLARD JOHN||8||2||8||9||27|
|10||GBR 435||WILD THING||O'NOLAN EAMONN||3||7||7||10||27|
|11||GBR 592||TEAM GILL||STRAUSS Simon||2||6||3||17||28|
|12||ITA 409||ALINA HELLY HANSEN||ABBA Maurizio||6||1||18||5||30|
|13||USA 505||PEGUSUS||BRIAN Lee||15||16||1||2||34|
|14||USA 600||FULL THROTTLE||PORTER Brian||1||6||28||3||38|
|15||ITA 584||RUNA||MARTEGIANI Marco||8||4||19||9||40|
|16||GBR 406||TEAM BARBARIANS||LEA Jamie||13||9||14||7||43|
|17||FRA 381||LE TOCCO||CHARON Benoit||22||9||17||3||51|
|18||CZE 663||BOHEMA EXPRESS II||VOJTA RICHARD||10||11||4||27||52|
|19||FRA 387||MAISONS DE L'AVENIR||SAULEAU Vincent||12||22||9||11||54|
|20||FRA 389||BIG SCHIP - MARSEILLE - QUANTRUN||PAUL Maxime||16||10||12||16||54|
|21||ITA 572||GIACOMEL AUDI RACING TEAM||SIMONESCHI Riccardo||17||14||13||10||54|
|22||FRA 612||ENCORE||DE KERVANOEL Cedric||16||13||8||21||58|
|23||ITA 609||MEL NOSE PBR||GIOVANNINI Michele||10||15||15||18||58|
|24||FRA 193||COTES D'ARMOR - AN PORT BLANC||LE GOIC Gaetan||15||13||13||18||59|
|25||EST 646||LENNY||TENISTE TONU||5||12||24||19||60|
|26||FRA 261||COTES D'ARMOR PEROS GUIREC||ALBARET Antoine||14||8||22||17||61|
|27||NOR 506||LEK||GEIR Dahl||9||20||24||12||65|
|28||SLO 517||OTTAVIO||KOSHINA Mitja||26||14||21||6||67|
|29||FRA 472||FR ENVIRONNEMENT NAUTIQUE||JOURDREN Bruno||3||17||34||14||68|
|30||GBR 431||GILL||STRAUSS Quentin||BFD||5||3||5||74|
|31||ITA 438||ALTEA||RACCHELLI Andrea||BFD||5||5||6||77|
|32||FRA 471||ST GERMAIN AUDIT.COM||NEBOUT Emmanuel||11||26||16||27||80|
|33||ITA 627||AMF NIKITA||FAERBER Andreas||20||20||18||26||84|
|34||GER 582||NO WOMEN NO CRY||FICH Eddy||4||DNF||2||25||92|
|35||FRA 329||FLOR DIRECT||BECQUEMIE Tugdual||12||23||38||19||92|
|36||FRA 375||O TOMATE POLYEXPERT||LEBOURDAIS Francois||19||16||20||37||92|
|37||ITA 574||FIREBOLT ONLINE SIM||UBERTALLI Carla||39||38||4||13||94|
|38||FRA 451||GIVE ME FIVE||FOLLIN Adrien||DNF||10||12||11||94|
|39||SUI 530||ACQUA||TRIBO Marco||29||18||27||20||94|
|40||SWE 508||SITTING DUCK||ROJNING Claes||29||15||32||23||99|
|41||ITA 429||SUDUNAGODO||INGHILESI Yann||25||24||34||16||99|
|42||NOR 366||SISTE STEIN||MEBELLY Eivind||11||12||16||DNF||101|
|43||GBR 527||COMFORTABLY NUMB||DELLOW Andrew||40||18||19||24||101|
|44||GBR 368||THE DOGS------!||BROWN Allien||31||27||10||35||103|
|45||GBR 340||WHITE RABBIT||HENNING Simon||33||30||26||15||104|
|46||GBR 654||MOJITO||QUINTON MILES||37||31||25||13||106|
|47||FRA 470||COTES D'ARMOR 2||GERON Mathilde||24||25||43||15||107|
|48||ITA 651||TARAN||DIPROPERZIO Stefano||33||24||21||31||109|
|49||USA 595||TABOO||PUGH Stephen||BFD||25||14||12||112|
|50||GER 320||UNSPONSORED||KLOCK BENE||28||34||15||36||113|