Hutchinson on track
Hutchinson USA 751 Quantum Racing, however shrugged off any such concerns and put in two impressive performances and added only five points to his overall score line. A fourth place in race one and a win in race two, now means that he takes a seventeen point margin into the final day.
Second placed Gabrio Zandona, ITA 777 Joe Fly, recorded a third in the first race, but struggled in the fluky conditions of the second race where he could only manage a twelfth. He now holds a ten point lead over Chris Larson USA 655 West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes, who despite a disappointing day, hangs on to third place overall.
The race committee tried to get the race away at around 11.25 this morning but a general recall put paid to that effort. Soon after, the wind faded so much that the RC were forced to wait for several hours before a new six knot breeze arrived and racing could finally get under way. Race eight was a short, sharp, forty seven minute affair, with the race committee having to shorten the second beat to try to minimise the effect of a cargo ship anchored on the edge of the racecourse.
In this race, Brian Porter USA 749 Full Throttle finally showed the sort of form he is renowned for. Leading at every mark, he held his nerve on a tricky final run to take a well deserved race win. Morgan Reeser USA 750 M-Fatic, who had won the pin in convincing style at the start, sailed an intelligent race to finish second, ahead off Gabrio Zandona who had clawed himself back from what appeared to be a potentially disastrous start. Whilst fourth placed Falvio Favini SUI 521 Blu Moon could still entertain hopes of an overall podium finish, day one leader Dave Ullman USA 505 Pegasus 505 clocked up a painful twenty first, which looks to have put paid to his title hopes.
Eastport Yacht Club PRO Jeff Borland and his team got race two got away after only the shortest of delays. With the breeze up to around eleven knots, the crews were full hiking up wind but there was not quite enough to think about heating downwind. As the leaders approached the windward mark for the first time, the spectators had a difficult time identifying a leader, as first one side and then the next became favoured. However local pundits were not surprised when Annapolis sailor Terry Hutchinson emerged from the melee to round first. Behind him was a close configuration of boats with Porter marginally ahead of Reeser, Zandona and Ullman.
The first run saw the leaders put in a frenzy of gybes as they tried their hardest to out manoeuvre each other. All this effort amounted to little however, as there were no changes in the top five places at the leeward gate. In fact the same scenario ensued on the next two legs and at the finish a relieved Hutchinson took the gun followed by Porter, Reeser, Zandona and Ullman. With the regatta on schedule and the breeze starting to destabilise, the RC sensibly sent the fleet ashore for the day.
On the eve of the final day of the championship, Terry Hutchinson has consolidated his position at the top of the leader board and now looks like a good bet for the title. That said, with three races possible tomorrow he is far from home and dry. Despite Hutchinson’s margin, double European Champions Joe Fly will still feel there is a chance to pull off their first North American Championship victory and it would be unwise to discount them as a major threat.
In the Corinthian division, for all amateur crews, Othmar von Blumencron USA 679 Gannet holds a sixteen point lead over David Dabney USA 626 Wireless in second and Alex Schafer USA 744 Sweaty Betty who lies third.
Racing at the 2008 Melges 24 North American Championship concludes tomorrow with the potential for three races being sailed. Similar conditions to today are forecast but the word is that warmer temperatures are a real possibility.
Top 10 results (Preliminary, After seven races)
1.) Terry Hutchinson, Quantum Racing - 4, 2, 4, , 2, 6, 1,4, 1 = 25
2.) Gabrio Zandona/Giovanni Maspero, Joe Fly - 9, 6, 2, 1, , 8, 1, 3, 12 = 42
3.) Chris Larson, West Marine Rigging/NE Ropes - 8, 8, 7, 6, 1, 7, 6, 9  = 52
4.) Flavio Favini/Franco Rossini, Blu Moon - 2, 7, 1,2, 29, 3, [50/DNF], 7, 4 = 55
5.) Bruce Ayres, Monsoon - 5, 9, 8, 4, 10, , 5, 6, 15 = 62
6.) Brian Porter, Full Throttle - 6, 10, 6, 10, 5, 24, , 1, 2 = 64
7.) Dave Ullman, Pegasus 505 - 1, 3, 3, 12, 4, 17, [50/DCS], 21, 5 = 66
8.) Morgan Reeser/Neil Sullivan, M-fatic - 10, 4, 17, 8, 15, 12, [50/OCS], 2, 3 = 71
9.) Jamie Lea, Team Barbarians - 7, 11, 14, 11, , 4, 17, 5, 9 = 78
10.) Othmar Blumencron, Gannet - 13, 12, 9, 7, 3, , 10, 12,  = 80