Brenac pulls ahead

After big wind day of racing at the Melges 24 World Championship reports Fiona Brown

Monday August 28th 2006, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: France
Day two at the Melges 24 Worlds in Hyeres brought a mix of conditions for the 119 crews with racing starting in 8-10 knots and finishing in 30 knots as the Mistral began to blow. Two more races in the six-race round robin series were completed and in the overall standings Francois Brenac, helming DPR Partner & Partners for Philippe Ligot of France now leads by 7 points. Second to 12th place are separated by only 10 points so the regatta remains wide open at this stage. Jean Marc Monnard aboard Poizon Rouge from Switzerland and Paolo Cian, helming Sherekhan for Maurizo Cardascio from Southern Italy are both on 20 points with Monnard in second on count back. Chris Rast, helming Blu Moon for Franco Rossini from Switzerland is in fourth on 21 points and the local Euro Voiles Team, owned by Denis Infante and helmed by Christophe Barrue are just two points behind in fifth.

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.

Overall results:

Pos Sail no Boat Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 Tot
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
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
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
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
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
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

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