Snakes and ladders
|What a difference a day makes, as the 114 competitors from 16 nations found out on the fifth day of the Volvo Melges 24 World Championship, hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo.
With the fleet now split into Gold and Silver groups, the Race Committee was able to run races seven through nine on both courses. The skies were somewhat overcast, but there was a great sailing wind from the north west that varied in strength from the low teens up to high 20s for brief periods. The weather challenges combined with the strength of this fleet made for a real 'snakes and ladders' day as the overall results reveal.
Only two boats came out of the day with three top ten scores - Nicola Celon, sailing Marchingenio for Giorgio Marchi who scored 3, 8, 6, and Luca Bursic, sailing Etabeta for Paolo Testolin, who scored 5, 4, 5. As a result they have moved into fifth and seventh place respectively.
In the overall standings Lorenzo Bressani, helming Lorenzo Santini’s Uka Uka Racing, has taken the lead. His day opened with a mediocre 14th, but he made up for this by following it with two wins and now counts 24 points.
Speaking after racing Bressani said "The day didn't start in a great way. In the first race, the second upwind leg wasn't perfect, and an infringement on the second windward mark made us lose about 10 places. We made up for it well in the next two races. The last was really exciting! It was very tiring, especially in the last race of the day where the wind got up to 28/30 knots. It went well though! We need to concentrate hard; it's still wide open, at least for the top 5 boats. I would say we can't complain, even if we've lost a few points here and there."
Alberto Bolzan, sailing Gianni Catalogna’s Pilot Italia, remains in second place having scored 10, 14, 4 in today’s races and counts 32 overall. He commented: "Today we were not very lucky, however we are second in the provisional rating and the games of the World Championship are still all open. Tomorrow, the last day of the regattas, it is as begin again the Championship from the first day, we and another four crews will sail very good during this last three races.”
Flavio Favini, at the helm of Franco Rossini’s Blu Moon, has moved up from fourth into third after an 18th in race seven followed by a third and second, putting him 2 points behind Bolzan. Favini was complimentary about his competitors after sailing: "We still have three races to do. I hope. And it could be heavy air so we still want to sail well tomorrow. We would love to swap places with Uka Uka. They are sailing very well and when you sail that well, you deserve to win. They deserve to be in the top spot. We'll see if we can do better tomorrow, because we still have some racing to do."
Overnight leader Luca Valerio, helming Alina Helly Hansen for Maurizio Abba, has slipped down into fourth overall having started the day well enough with a sixth in race seven, but he then came 20th in race eight before recovering with a third in race nine.
The Gold fleet in particular is so closely matched that there was high drama at many of the marks and constant changes of place on each leg. Perhaps the most spectacular mark incident of the day occurred at a second weather mark when a last minute wind shift threw the approaching boats into chaos. The leading pair - Lorenzo Bressani and Flavio Favini - got around cleanly but behind them boats arriving from the left had nowhere to go and there were collisions galore. Within seconds it was more like watching ballet than yacht racing as several boats took 360o penalties to exonerate themselves. Tonight the jury has 15 protests to hear and will be burning the midnight oil.
Nicola Celon, helming Georgio Marchi’s Marchingenio, was one of those caught up in the incident but his day got even worse when, having extricated himself and set off down the run in fifth place, his spinnaker blew out on hoisting. His well practised team’s high speed sail change saved the day and he only lost four places. With a day’s score of 3, 8, 6 he now lies fifth overall with 41 points and if three races are sailed tomorrow remains in contention.
In the Corinthian Division for all amateur crews Cedric de Kervenoael’s Bouygues Telecom, helmed by Jean-Francois Cruette, has taken the lead by three points from Norwegian Oyvin Peder Jahre, Terra Eindomsmeglng for Stian Briseid. Bruce Ayres and his Monsoon team had another great day coming third in race seven, and winning races eight and nine.
In the overall Corinthian standings he now lies third. After racing an excited Ayres said: "We wanted more! There are a lot of really good teams here. The top 10-20 teams are really, really good."
For Jahre this morning’s race seven was almost but not quite a spectacular double. He not only won the Corinthian Division but he also led the race overall right from the start. Breathing down his neck the whole way round were Gabrio Zandona, helming Joe Fly for Giovanni Maspero, and Nicola Celon, but he managed to hold them off all the way into the closing seconds of the race when the Joe Fly crew timed their final gybe perfectly and slid up neck and neck alongside. On the line it was too close to call from the press boat and only the Race Committee could confirmed Zandona had beaten Jahre. After racing Jahre confirmed: "We had a very good start and a lot of good speed. We managed to get ahead at the first mark. Downwind we were very fast, but at the end it was very close with Joe Fly."
On the Silver Course there were three different winners in the shape of Paolo Brescia in ITA585; Enrico Sinibaldi, helming Masamantes for Renato Vallivero; and Alain Settler, helming Meister Ropes Switzerland for Amrein Hansmartin. The overall standings on the Silver Course are first Emmanuel Nebout on Mu, second ITA585 helmed by Paolo Brescia and third Matthias Keller helming Acqua for Gianluca Tribo.
The Race Committee, headed by Principle Race Officers Peter Reggio on the Gold Course and Hank Stuart on the Silver Course, has confirmed that racing has again been brought forward to 10.30 tomorrow to give the best possible opportunity of running all three remaining races before the 15.30 final start time cut off. The forecast is for more good wind and with five teams going head to head for the Overall Volvo Melges 24 World Championship and three serious contenders for the Corinthian Championship it’s going to be a thrilling finish to the series.
More photos on the following pages....
Results - Gold Fleet