Second world title for UKA UKA Racing
The final day of the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas saw the regatta come to a close with some thrilling racing action out on the water. A third place in the first race of the day for reigning world champion Lorenzo Bressani on Uka Uka Racing, was enough to see him retain the title he won in Tallinn, Estonia last year, with a race to spare. Despite not sailing the final race, Bressani's overall winning margin was still a massive 23 points - a real indication of just how comprehensively the Italian has dominated this regatta.
A solid second and a fourth today for Brian Porter on Full Throttle was good enough for him to secure second overall. Porter, who started the series with an uncharacteristically poor first day, fought his way up to second during the week with a determined and consistent performance.
The battle between Alec Cutler on hedgehog and Nathan Wilmot on the Irish entry Embarr, for the final podium place really went down to the wire. Lying in fourth place, 7 points behind Cutler going into the final day, Wilmot gave himself the best possible chance of a place on the podium by winning the penultimate race of the championship. Cutler finished that race back in seventh, meaning that he held a tenuous single point lead over Wilmot going into the final race. The final race scrap between these two was a real classic, with Cutler leading the fleet for most of the race and Wilmot having to fight his way back from eighth place at the first windward mark. On the final run Cutler initially looked to have done enough to win the race and claim third overall, however in the last third of the leg everything changed at the front, with Cutler appearing to fall out of the best pressure and allowing a pack of four boats to overtake.
Kristen Lane on Brick House 812 was furthest right boat and perfectly positioned to capitalise on the new breeze. She came through to take her second race win of the week, ahead of Norway's Eivind Melleby 804 in second. Behind them Wilmot, Porter and Cutler all approached the finish line abreast, with Wilmot diving down at the last second to take third by what looked like just the width of his bowsprit block, from Porter in fourth and Cutler in fifth. Wilmot's last-ditch efforts elevated him to third overall in the regatta, with a disappointed Cutler having to settle for fourth, just 1 point behind. Kristen Lane's final race win, earned her fifth overall, 3 points adrift of Cutler.
As reigning World Champions, Bressani and the Uka Uka Racing crew went into this regatta as the firm favourites, a mantle they more than lived up to during the championship. Their performance this week has been nothing short of remarkable, winning six out of the 12 races and never finishing below sixth in any of the races they sailed. Tactically astute throughout the series, they started well in virtually every race and both upwind and downwind they always appeared to hold a speed advantage over their competitors. Bressani's victory this week is his third in the Melges 24 Class, an achievement also matched by both team owner Lorenzo Santini and tactician Jonathan McKee. Trimmer Federico Michetti goes one better, now with a record breaking four Melges 24 World Championship wins to his name. Not to be outdone by his crewmates bowman Fabio Gridellie is now a double Melges 24 World Champion.
In the all-amateur Corinthian Division, Eiichiro Hamazaki on JPN 783 closed out an comprehensive victory with two more race wins to secure the 2011 Corinthian Melges 24 World Championship title by a margin of 17 points over second placed German Christof Wieland on Unsponsored. Scot Holmgren on Rosebud took third place on count back, having tied on points with fourth placed August Hernandez on High Voltage.
The final day of the championship also saw the announcement of the winners of the cash prize in the Velocitek $1000 Speed Challenge for the fastest speed achieved by a boat using a Velocitek device on Friday. With both David O'Reilly on ARDOR/C.R.E.A.M. and Bora Gulari on New England Ropes/West Marine recording maximum 10 second average speeds of 16.9 knots, the competition went to tie break, with O'Reilly winning out by virtue of a maximum recorded top speed of 17.6 knots, compared to Gulari's 17.5 knots.
Full results at the bottom of the page
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