Preparing for the Worlds

One week to go before battle commences for the international Melges fleet

Friday October 16th 2009, Author: Joy Dunigan, Location: United Kingdom
The Corinthian Division at the Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship, in which competitors are required to hold ISAF amateur status, accounts for 25% of the overall fleet and judging by the profile of the sailors, looks highly likely to match the main fleet for closeness of competition. This year as well as receiving the Corinthian Trophy, the overall winner of the Corinthian Division will also collect a Tacktick Maxi system worth over $1000, courtesy of Tactick.

At this stage picking a likely Corinthian World Championship winner is no easy task, but last year’s Corinthian Champion at the North American Championship in Annapolis, Othmar Mueller von Blumencron from the Severn Sailing Association aboard USA 679 Gannet, must surely be considered amongst the favorites. As well as winning the 2008 North American Corinthian Title, von Blumencron also beat a number of high profile professional teams and finished in tenth place overall. Like many of the top Corinthian teams, von Blumencron’s crew operate on an ‘amateur with a professional attitude’ basis and will certainly be focused on repeating their 2007 Corinthian World Championship victory in Santa Cruz, where even the loss of their mast in the final race could not prevent them from scooping the title.

Last year at the North American Championship, David Dabney was a relative newcomer to steering Melges 24s and sailing a borrowed boat, but nevertheless he took second place in Corinthian Division and finished a creditable twelfth overall. This year Dabney will be back aboard his own boat USA 785 Conjo Racing - Ocean Sailing Academy for a crack at the Corinthian World Title and with a season’s more experience under his belt, will be one to watch for a potential podium finish. Another Corinthian crew who more than occasionally mix it up at the front of the main fleet, is Bruce Ayres and his polished team aboard USA747 Monsoon. Ayres has finished runner up on several occasions in the Corinthian division at Melges 24 World Championships and will be going into this regatta fully focused on finally getting his name on the trophy.

The Corinthian list boasts three entries from Europe. Cristof Wieland from Bayrischer Yacht Club in Germany is a seasoned regular at Melges 24 World Championship and will once more be at the helm of his ironically named GER 635 Unsponsored. Carlo Vroon has Dutch Finn sailor Wietze Zetzema steering NED 789 Gelikt. In Hyeres at the European Championship this team showed some flashes of potential with a win in the practice race and an eighth in the final race and they will be hoping that they can string together a more consistent series in Annapolis. The crew of Sergey Chenery’s Ukrainian entry UKR 661 are no stranger to competitive one-design racing. Helmsman Vasyl Gureyev and trimmer Volodymyr Korotkov sail together on the Star Class international circuit as well as racing aboard the UKR Farr 40 Arctur. Korotkov is a past Soling World and double European Champion and represented his country at the Olympics on more than one occasion.

While based on past form, von Blumencron, Dabney and Ayres are the likely favourites to claim the 2009 Melges 24 Corinthian World Title, local sailors like Henry Filter on USA 721 Wild Child, Jim Golden on USA 606 Chillout and Bill Carleton on USA 568 Tiburon will all be hoping that their knowledge of the Chesapeake’s idiosyncrasies will increase their chances of a Corinthian podium placing come the end of the regatta.

With the regatta now just over a week away preparations are in full swing in Annapolis. From huge jobs like installing the social tent and fitting out the press office, right down to the minutia like preparing the bow numbers, which have been generously donated by Quantum Sails who are also donating a jib to be awarded to one luck team at the final prize giving, and stuffing the competitor packs, which have been kindly donated by North Sails, the organisers have plenty to keep them busy. North Sails will also be running a free tuning clinic on Saturday 24 October to help all the teams make sure they are fully up to speed.

The sponsors are also hard at work putting the finishing touches to their plans. Title sponsor Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis are installing their stand at City Dock, where they will have a range of Lexus luxury vehicles on display, as well as preparing for the Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis Melges 24 World Championship Welcome Ceremony on Sunday 25 October.

Also focused on ensuring that the quality of the social events keeps pace with the quality of the racing will be Stuart Simpson of Team Barbarians, sponsor of the Team Barbarians Pre-Worlds Party on Saturday 24 October, and Pusser’s Rum who are sponsoring the Pusser’s Painkiller Party on Wednesday 28 October as well as the Pusser’s Wipeout of the Day Award and the daily après-sailing Pusser’s Painkiller cocktails!

George Cannon and his team from official apparel sponsors Coral Reef Sailing Apparel and Gill will also be setting up shop down at City Dock where they will be retailing a full range of official regatta clothing as well as everything the well dressed sailor needs to ensure a top performance out on the water.

Registration will open on Friday 23 October, there will be Pre-Worlds racing on Saturady 24 and Sunday 24 October and the Championship will run from Monday 26 to Saturday 31 October.

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