Italians get the upper hand

After the opening day of racing for the 119 (yes 119!) boats competing at the Melges 24 World Championship in Hyeres

Sunday August 27th 2006, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: France
Day one of the Melges 24 World Championship in Hyeres on the French Riviera brought stunning conditions for the 119 competitors from 14 nations as they completed the first two round robin races of the championship. There was plenty of close action and more than a few thrills and spills with broaches galore and two broken masts by the end of the day. It was also a very long day on the water, particularly for the teams sailing on race course Alpha who did not get back to the dock until after 6pm.

In the overall standings top Italian match racer and America’s Cup sailor Paolo Cian, helming Sherekhan for Maurizio Cardascio, has just a one point lead. Fellow Italian and double Mumm 30 World Champion Luca Valerio, helming Alina Helly Hansen for Maurizio Abba, is tied on points for second place with Reigning North American Champion Brian Porter of Chicago, whose Full Throttle crew includes 2002 Melges 24 World Champion Harry Melges. Simon Strauss's Team Gill, with Irish Olympian Mark Mansfield at the helm, is in fourth place and Switzerland's Jean Marc Monnard lies fifth just one point behind them.

There are currently five boats counting a score of 10 points which can only be separated on count back. As a result John Pollard's Excellent lies sixth, Francois Brenac sailing DRP Partner & Partners for Philippe Ligot (FRA) and Sandro Montefuseo helming GEBL (ITA) are tied in seventh with Eamonn O’Nolan's Wild Thing (GBR) ninth and Antoine Frickey helming Benjamin Cohen's Sogeti Hyeres (FRA) in tenth. Clearly the next few days are going to be very interesting.

The pink and yellow groups sailing on course Bravo had the slightly easier day as their racing got underway sooner, they had shorter courses, less delays and fewer recalls. Initially course Bravo was set in the channel between Porquerolls and Giens where the sea breeze built rapidly enabling racing to get underway after a half hour delay.

At the start of race one there was 15-18 knots which rapidly built to a steady 25 knots. Mark Mansfield got a lovely start then stayed right and took advantage of his clean air tacking on 10-15 degree shifts to lead at the weather mark from Germany's Alba Batzill, helming No Woman No Cry for Eddy Eich, Jean Marc Monnard and Eamonn O'Nolan. Mansfield kept control of the race throughout the following two legs and Monnard pulled up into second. In the closing moments of the race Monnard held off his final gybe gaining valuable yards to slip past Mansfield right with O'Nolan third.

For race two course Bravo was moved into the lee of the Giens peninsular which reduced the wave height slightly although the wind was still a steady 25 knots. It was another tense race and this time the trick was to hit the corners with the right appearing slightly favoured. After some incredibly hard racing it was Luca Valerio who took the honours from Switzerland's Chris Rast, helming Franco Rossini's Blu Moon with Francois Brenac third.

On course Alpha the day did not go as smoothly with false starts, two complete course moves and several general recalls. Initially the course was set on the Hyeres shore and after a one hour postponement the first race was started in around 5 knots but was abandoned within minutes following a massive shift. The course was then moved south to the Porquerolles shore where the sea breeze was well established at over 20 knots.

Despite the delays the race officer set a long six leg course to test the crews to the maximum. Almost from the off the race was a dog fight between Christophe Barrue helming French Class President Denis Infante's Euro Voiles and Brian Porter with Porter eventually getting the upper hand on the final leg. French Figaro sailor Bruno Jourdren sailing FR Environnement Nautique took third with Italy's Nicola Celon helming Bette for Ezio Amadori fourth.

After a long delay course alpha was moved back up onto the Hyeres shore for the second race which eventually got underway at the second attempt when the boats found themselves sailing into the now setting sun. While the battle between Maurizio Cardascio, John Pollard, Sandro Montefuseo and Antoine Frickey was a stunner the spectator's were momentarily distracted at the first mark when two boats lost their rigs in rapid succession as they hoisted spinnakers in a strong gust. Ultimately Cardascio held his lead with Pollard second, Montefuseo third and Frickey fourth.

Two further races are scheduled for tomorrow with racing due to start at 1100.

Top 50 results:

Pos Sail no Boat Skipper R1 R2 Tot
1 ITA 583 SHEREKHAN CARDASCIO M 5 1 6
2 ITA 409 ALINA HELLY HANSEN ABBA Maurizio 6 1 7
3 USA 600 FULL THROTTLE PORTER Brian 1 6 7
4 GBR 592 TEAM GILL STRAUSS Simon 2 6 8
5 SUI 599 POIZON ROUGE MONNARD Jean marc 1 8 9
6 GBR 634 EXCELLENT POLLARD JOHN 8 2 10
7 FRA 571 DRP-PARTNER-PARTNERS LIGOT Philippe 7 3 10
7 ITA 580 GEBL MONTEFUSEO Sandro 7 3 10
9 GBR 435 WILD THING O'NOLAN EAMONN 3 7 10
10 FRA 601 SOGETI HYERES FRICKEY Antoine 6 4 10
11 ITA 643 BETTE AMADORI Ezio 4 7 11
12 ITA 584 RUNA MARTEGIANI Marco 8 4 12
13 FRA 639 EURO VOILES BARRUE Christophe 2 11 13
14 SUI 521 BLU MOON ROSSINI Franco 13 2 15
15 EST 646 LENNY TENISTE TONU 5 12 17
16 FRA 472 FR ENVIRONNEMENT NAUTIQUE JOURDREN Bruno 3 17 20
17 CZE 663 BOHEMA EXPRESS II VOJTA RICHARD 10 11 21
18 FRA 261 COTES D'ARMOR PEROS GUIREC ALBARET Antoine 14 8 22
19 GBR 406 TEAM BARBARIANS LEA Jamie 13 9 22
20 NOR 366 SISTE STEIN MEBELLY Eivind 11 12 23
21 ITA 609 MEL NOSE PBR GIOVANNINI Michele 10 15 25
22 FRA 389 BIG SCHIP - MARSEILLE - QUANTRUN PAUL Maxime 16 10 26
23 FRA 193 COTES D'ARMOR - AN PORT BLANC LE GOIC Gaetan 15 13 28
24 NOR 506 LEK GEIR Dahl 9 20 29
25 FRA 612 ENCORE DE KERVANOEL Cedric 16 13 29
26 GBR 298 MAD MAX BRACHET Michelle 9 21 30
27 FRA 381 LE TOCCO CHARON Benoit 22 9 31
28 ITA 572 GIACOMEL AUDI RACING TEAM SIMONESCHI Riccardo 17 14 31
29 USA 505 PEGUSUS BRIAN Lee 15 16 31
30 SUI 382 ZEROTWO GOOD Lichael 14 19 33
31 FRA 329 FLOR DIRECT BECQUEMIE Tugdual 12 22 34
31 FRA 387 MAISONS DE L'AVENIR SAULEAU Vincent 12 22 34
33 FRA 375 O TOMATE POLYEXPERT LEBOURDAIS Francois 19 16 35
34 FRA 471 ST GERMAIN AUDIT.COM NEBOUT Emmanuel 11 25 36
35 ITA 355 UE UE BRIGHENTI Valerio 19 19 38
36 SLO 517 OTTAVIO KOSHINA Mitja 26 14 40
37 ITA 627 AMF NIKITA FAERBER Andreas 23 20 43
38 SWE 508 SITTING DUCK ROJNING Claes 29 15 44
39 GER 224 TOURING JUNIOR FOLLMAN Patrick 24 21 45
40 SUI 530 ACQUA TRIBO Marco 32 18 50
41 ITA 468 GIOGI BALESTRERO Mateo 20 32 52
42 ITA 429 SUDUNAGODO INGHILESI Yann 28 24 52
43 FRA 470 COTES D'ARMOR 2 GERON Mathilde 27 25 52
44 ITA 598 WOLANO BINACCHI Antonio 23 31 54
45 SUI 267 MAD COW VERHULST Thierry 18 38 56
46 ITA 651 TARAN DIPROPERZIO Stefano 33 23 56
47 NOR 349 PARTY GIRL A.WATHNE Jens 31 26 57
48 GBR 527 COMFORTABLY NUMB DELLOW Andrew 40 18 58
49 ITA 475 ETABETA NAFTALINA TESTOLIN Paolo 44 17 61
50 GER 320 UNSPONSORED KLOCK BENE 28 33 61

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