Form setter

Chris Larson beats John Gimson by one point in Fullpower Melges 24 pre-Worlds

Sunday May 6th 2007, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United Kingdom
Now that they’ve seen a smorgasbord of what Monterey Bay has to offer, the 58 competitors will catch their breath Monday before plunging into the 2007 Fullpower Melges 24 World Championship, hosted by the Santa Cruz Yacht Club.

Chris Larson, driving Scott Holmgren’s West Marine Rigging entry, scored a one-point victory over Britain’s John Gimson, driving for owner Eamonn O’Nolan, to win the Pre-Worlds tune-up with a string of finishes of 16-5-1-4, one of the more consistent performances in winds ranging from 5 to 23 knots over the weekend.

Only three boats - Larson, 2003 world champion Samuel (Shark) Kahn of nearby Soquel, CA and Brian Porter - had three single digit finishes in the four races. All four Pegasus Racing teams finished in the top 10 - Kahn third, Mark Christensen fourth, Dave Ullman ninth and Philippe Kahn, Shark’s dad and the event title sponsor, 10th.

O’Neal’s crew, one of 24 Corinthian (amateur) teams competing, shared amateur honors with Bruce Ayres, but all of the above will count for little when the championship racing starts Tuesday. Ten races - two each day - are scheduled through until Saturday, starting at 12:30pm, conditions permitting.

The race winners on Sunday were Larson in the first two-lapper around the 1.4-nautical mile windward-leeward course and Britain’s Jamie Lee, driving Stuart Simpson’s Team Barbarians, in the second.

The latter missed Saturday’s races in rough conditions when they returned to port after the first race was abandoned. Then, in lighter, smoother conditions Sunday they finished 37th place in the first race before finding their stride with a win. "We liked the end of today’s results better than yesterday’s," tactician Nigel Young said. "We felt more comfortable in today’s conditions."

Lea added: "Today’s first race saw a very big shift that left us in the wrong place. But in the second race it seemed to settle in quite nicely. I was a very nice race for us going into the world championship."

In their first visit here they discovered that the secret of navigating the oversize seas on Monterey Bay is to get out in front with clear air and room to play the swells. "With a good start you have room to drive through it," Lea said.

Sunday’s first start looked like a jailbreak. Principal race officer Hank Stuart’s race committee radioed about a dozen individual recalls, which may have caught only half of those who were over early, but Stuart sent a message: general recalls will be a last resort to keeping order this week.

"I wasn’t trying to, but I think I got a message through," Stuart said. "If we can identify the boats that are over I’m not going to do a general recall. But you’ll never hear me say I won’t do general recalls."

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