New face at the top
The second regatta of the 2011 Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series at Marina di Scarlino, Maremma Tuscany, Italy, saw near perfect conditions prevail on day 1. The 22 boat fleet, made up of teams from seven countries, was treated to three excellent races sailed in warm sunshine and a relatively steady 8 - 12 knot breeze. As ever at Melges 32 events, consistency was the order of the day, and the solid 6,1,2 scoreline posted by Jason Carroll and his Argo team from the USA, proved good enough to put him at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the first day. In second place lies fellow American John Kilroy on Samba Pa Ti. After comfortable second places the first two races, an uncharacteristic 14th place in the final race of the day leaves Kilroy six points adrift of Carroll. In third place is Britain’s Stuart Robinson on Highlife. Robinson’s steadily improving 10,7,1 score is all the more impressive given that today was the first ever day of Melges 32 racing for the former owner of the TP52 Stay Calm.
After a short postponement ashore to allow the thermal breeze to materialise and solidify, racing got under way shortly after 13.30 under clear blue skies and in 8 to 10 knots of breeze. The first start attempt saw the somewhat over eager international fleet brought back for a general recall; with the boats getting away cleanly at the second time of asking. Past Melges 32 World Champion Pieter Taselaar (USA) at the helm of Bliksem, made the best of the start, and after working the mid-left of the first beat, he emerged in the lead at the top mark.
Hot on his heels was John Kilroy on Samba Pa Ti and it was these two who led the fleet on a long starboard gybe downwind. By the end of the run however Bliksem had dropped back into the chasing pack, with Lanfranco Cirillo (ITA) on Fantastica moving up to become the new leader. Despite considerable pressure from second placed Kilroy on the next beat and run, a confident Cirillo held his nerve to take the win, with Samba Pa Ti finishing in second and Bliksem third.
The fleet got away first time in race two, with Jason Carroll’s Argo leading from the off and going on to extend their lead throughout the race, before ultimately taking the winning gun. Despite appearing unable make any serious impression on the leader, Samba Pa Ti always looked comfortable in second place and by the finish had themselves eeked out a substantial lead on the rest of the fleet. Recovering from a poor first race, reigning Melges 32 World Champion, Luca Lalli (ITA), and the B-Lin crew came home in third.
The start of race three saw the fleet evenly spread along the length of the marginally starboard biased line. Taking best advantage of the bias, Stuart Robinson’s Highlife rocketed off the committee boat end and were firmly in control of the fleet by the halfway point of the beat. Samba Pa Ti meanwhile had been involved in a start line fracas which left them almost stationary at the gun and forced to tack early on to port in a desperate attempt to find a clean lane out. Highlife capitalised on their commanding position to round the first mark well ahead of Argo in second, with Alessio Marinelli (ITA) on Armonia AUDI Giacomel in third. Showing remarkable poise on his first day of Melges 32 racing, Robinson sailed a tactically astute race, to eventually take a rewarding and well deserved race win. Argo rounded out a solid day to take second, with Armonia AUDI Giacomel recording their best result of the day in third.
With three of the potential nine races completed, Jason Carroll on Argo holds a six point lead over fellow American John Kilroy on Samba Pa Ti in second, with Stuart Robinson on Highlife a further five points behind in third.
Asked about his consistent day on the water Carroll cited the steadiness of the breeze as a contributory factor to his team’s success: “Given the lack of shifts we observed out there, our game plan was to avoid having to fight for space on the line with other boats and to get off the line cleanly each time. Executing that strategy well allowed us to stay on the generally favoured starboard tack for as long as possible.”
Sailing for the first time at a Melges 32 regatta with tactician Cameron Appleton, and with several other new crew members, Carroll was understandably pleased with his team’s performance. “I am lucky to have a team of really great sailors and we have spent three days here practising, which has helped us quickly gel as a team.” He was also keen to point out that there was still a lot of racing to go in this regatta. “It’s great to be leading, but this is just the first day. Look at the list of superstar sailors racing this week - anything could happen.”
Racing at the Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series regatta in Scarlino, Italy, continues tomorrow with a maximum of three more races scheduled, with the regatta culminating on Sunday.
Top 10 results after three races
1.) Jason Carroll/Cameron Appleton, Argo; 6-1-2 = 9
2.) John Kilroy/Nathan Wilmot, Samba Pa Ti; 2-2-10 = 14
3.) Stuart Robinson/Ruairidh Scott, Highlife; 10-7-1 = 18
4.) Edoardo Lupi/Branko Brcin, Torpyone; 7-5-6 = 18
5.) Alessio Marinelli/Riccardo Simoneschi, Audi Fratelli Giacomel; 5-12-3 = 20
6.) Filippo Pacinotti/Daniele Cassinari, Brontolo HH; 4-13-4 = 21
7.) Pieter Taselaar/Jeremy Wilmot, Bliksem; 3-6-14 = 23
8.) Mauro Mocchegiani/Matteo Ivaldi, Rush Diletta; 14-4-8 = 26
9.) Luca Lalli/Lorenzo Bressani, B-Lin Sailing; 16-3-9 = 28
10.) Lanfranco Cirillo/Vasco Vascotto, Fantastica; 1-16-12 = 29