Luca Santella leads

On day two of the Melges 24 racing in Marseilles

Saturday April 19th 2003, Author: Fi Brown, Location: France
Day two for the 76 strong Melges 24 class at the 2003 SNIM Regatta brought some very testing conditions, four hard races and to top it all an extremely cold shower during the fourth and final race of the day. The wind was blowing down over the mountains to the east of Marseilles and was variable in every sense, at its lightest it dropped down to 5-6 knots but regular chunks of heavy cold air swept across the course taking it up to around 14 knots at times. The offshore wind kept the seas light and even in the longer squalls it was never worse than a moderate chop.

Race four of the eleven race series got underway at the first attempt with Italy's Adriano Preti in Ale Ali 3 getting a humdinger of a start off the committee boat end. Preti had been dismasted in the first race yesterday and as a result missed the first three races so he a score to settle and settle it he did, leading from start to finish. Behind him it was a largely British benefit with Jamie Lea, Paul Lovejoy. Rob Smith and Michael Henning fighting it out with Italian Flavio Favini, helming for Switzerland's Franco Rossini, for second place.

Lea followed Preti round the first mark but an error on the run dropped him down to fifth while Favini had a great first run making up to seventh from second. Smith also put in a good run to come from sixth to third with Lovejoy in fourth by the leeward mark. On the second lap Preti, Favini and Smith held their slots whilst Henning pulled up into fourth with Lea fifth and Lovejoy sixth.

Race five saw Preti get another excellent start with only Luca Valero ahead of him at the committee boat end. Unfortunately Preti missed a couple of shifts on the beat and at the first mark it was Valerio who led ahead of Antti Niniranta, Silvio Santoni, Smith, Philippe Legris, Sebastian Col and Lea with Preti back in tenth. Downwind Santoni had speed and picked his gybes to take the lead from Valerio, Lea, Legris and Finland's Joonas Paivarinta. Santoni stretched out his lead on the final round to win by a comfortable margin from Lea and Legris. Preti sailed an impressive second lap to pull up to fourth ahead of Paivarinta.

In race six it was the turn of Germany's Alba Batzill to dominate. At the first mark Lea, Batzill and Favini rounded fully overlapped followed by Col, Jean Francois Cruette, Santoni and Remy Arnaud. Batzill took pole position early on the run and from there he just kept on stretching out his lead to win by a country mile. With the shifty wind the battle for second was fierce with places changing at every mark rounding. Lea eventually came out on top ahead of Arnaud with Cruette fourth, Favini fifth, Col sixth and Cedric Pouligny seventh.

Race seven was delayed while the committee relayed the course to allow for the backing wind. Following the delay, during which it began to rain heavily, the crews were all a little over eager and the first start was recalled with the black flag being introduced for the second. Regrettably the crews had not learned their lesson and the second start was also recalled with eight boats being sent home for an early bath. At the third attempt racing got underway but within minutes another massive shift had turned the fleet inside out. After a rather average start to his day scoring 31, 18 and 12, overnight leader Luca Santella was relieved to find his form again and although he had to battle for it he eventually took the race on the final run. Second place went to Philippe Raimbeaux who had also had disappointing results in the earlier races with Batzill taking third, Valerio fourth, Smith fifth and Santoni sixth.

Of the overnight leaders everyone ended up with at least one bad score today but with the discard being introduced after six races Santella retains his overall lead on 43 points with Batzill on 45 and Valerio on 46. Raimbeaux now lies fourth on 56 points with Lea one point behind him. Going into day three and with four more races scheduled the regatta remains wide open.

Finally there is a special award today that goes to the sailor demonstrating the best diving and body surfing techniques. By a unanimous vote the award goes to Aude Trabach of Magic Salsa, who lost her balance at the leeward mark in race six, executed a perfect reverse dive out of the back of the boat, managed to catch the guard wire on the way over and continued steering the boat as she surfed along behind until she could call her crew to recover her so that she could finish the race! Congratulations to Aude for an impressive performance.

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