Tight at the top
The Italian weather took an uncharacteristic turn for the worse on the second day of the 2011 Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series regatta at Marina di Scarlino, Maremma Tuscany, Italy, with distinctly cooler temperatures than yesterday preventing the thermal breeze from ever developing properly. Today’s light and fickle winds meant that only one of the three scheduled races could be completed.
Despite recording a fourteenth in the only race of the day, his worst result in the regatta so far, American skipper Jason Carroll on Argo still tops the leaderboard tonight, by a single point from Italy’s Filippo Pacinotti at the helm of Brontolo HH. Pacinotti’s third place today sees him move up to second overall, tied on points with third placed Edoardo Lupi on Torpyone.
After a postponement ashore lasting around an hour, the Race Committee sent the fleet out on to the race course in the hope of getting racing underway soon after. Despite a little more waiting around, the committee’s optimism was finally rewarded when a fitful seven knot breeze materialised - adjudged to be just enough to start the fourth race of the series.
At the start, the fleet was evenly spread along the line, and initially it was the group of boats on the left who looked to have the early advantage. Before the halfway point however, a right turn in the breeze meant that the boats on the left, including several of the regatta favourites, were looking increasingly exposed. At this point Italy’s Vincenzo Onorato at the helm of Mascalzone Latino was working the middle left of the race course. Sensing danger from any further right hand shift, and being just bow forward enough, Onorato’s tactician Francesco Bruni was able to call for a tack and find a clean lane out to the far right. This ultimately proved to be a race winning move, as when the fleet converged near the top mark, it was the blue hull Mascalzone Latino that led the fleet in on the starboard layline. Just a couple of boat lengths behind Onorato, and at the head of the chasing pack, was Mauro Mocheggiani at the helm of Rush Diletta.
On the first downwind leg the breeze continued to clock to the right, forcing the fleet on to a long port gybe and also causing the Race Committee to prepare to deploy a right hand change mark for the second upwind leg. Mascalzone Latino judged their downwind layline to the leeward gate to near perfection, arriving with pace at the right hand mark before setting off up the second beat on a long port tack. Despite the Race Committee’s attempts to compensate for the right hand shift in the breeze, this leg offered very few passing lanes, with the priority being to get to the right of the course as quickly as possible, a situation which benefited the leaders considerably.
As the leaders reached the second windward mark, the breeze was beginning to fade and rain clouds were moving in from the right of the course. By the time Mascalzone Latino drifted across the finish line to take the race win ahead of Rush Diletta in second and Brontolo HH in third, the skies had opened and the rain was pouring down. With the rain killing off what was left of the breeze, the rest the remaining boats took a considerable time to ghost downwind to the finish, making the likelihood of further racing slim at best. Despite valiantly persevering with their hope of a second race of the day, the committee inevitably had to eventually concede defeat; sending the fleet ashore before soon after announcing the end of racing for the day.
Overnight leader, Argo, had been one of the boats trapped on the left on the first beat and could only recover to 14th by the finish. Carroll hangs on to first place at the end of Day 2 however, but now by just one point from Brontolo HH. Moving up to third overall by way of a hard fought sixth place today, is Torpyone, which is also just one point off the lead and tied on points with Pacinotti. Four points further behind are Stuart Robinson’s (GBR) Highlife, Mauro Mocheggiani’s (ITA) Rush Diletta, and Alessio Marinelli’s (ITA) Armonia AUDI Giacomel, all also on a tied total score. The biggest fall of the day was John Kilroy’s (USA) Samba Pa Ti, whose disastrous 21st place today, sees them tumble from second overall to eighth tonight.
Back ashore, the crews burned off some excess energy in the rain with an impromptu Tug-of-War knock-out competition, organised by Kees Kaan’s and his Roark crew from the Netherlands, apparently in honour of the Dutch Queen’s birthday. For the record, Pieter Taselaar’s Bliksem crew (always favourites to win the party at Melges 32 events) narrowly defeated John Kilroy’s Samba Pa Ti team in a fearsome final match.
Brighter conditions are expected for the final day of the Scarlino leg of the 2011 Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series tomorrow, and the Race Committee will be keen to try to catch up on at least one of the two races lost today. With just five points separating the top six boats, this regatta is still very much wide open.
Racing at the Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series regatta in Scarlino, Italy, concludes on Sunday 1 May.
Top 10 results (provisional, After 4 Races)
1.) Jason Carroll/Cameron Appleton, Argo; 6-1-2-14 = 23
2.) Filippo Pacinotti/Daniele Cassinari, Brontolo HH; 4-13-4-3 = 24
3.) Edoardo Lupi/Branko Brcin, Torpyone; 7-5-6-6 = 24
4.) Stuart Robinson/Ruairidh Scott, Highlife; 10-7-1-10 = 28
5.) Mauro Mocchegiani/Matteo Ivaldi, Rush Diletta; 14-4-8-2 = 28
6.) Alessio Marinelli/Riccardo Simoneschi, Audi Fratelli Giacomel; 5-12-3-8 = 28
7.) Vincenzo Onorato/Francesco Bruni, Mascalzone Latino; 8-14-11-1 = 34
8.) John Kilroy/Nathan Wilmot, Samba Pa Ti; 2-2-10-21 = 35
9.) Lanfranco Cirillo/Vasco Vascotto, Fantastica; 1-16-12-7 = 36
10.) Ferdinando Battistella/Andrea Casale, Cuervo y Sobrinos; 11-8-13-5 = 37