Photos: Guido Trombetta/BPSE

Brontolo into the lead

Three closely fought aces on the opening day of the Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series racing in Porto Cervo

Friday June 17th 2011, Author: Justin Chisholm, Location: Italy

Day one of the 2011 Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series regatta in Porto Cervo, Sardinia saw three closely fought races sailed under clear blue skies and in breezes ranging from 6-12 knots. A relentlessly consistent performance by Filippo Pacinotti on Brontolo HH saw him turn in a 2-2-2 score line to top the leaderboard tonight. A win in the opening race, followed up by a third and a fifth puts Britain's Joe Woods on Red in second overall, three points behind Pacinotti. Lanfranco Cirillo on Fantastica posted a 3-6-6 score for the day and sits in third overall tonight. There were also race wins for Antonello Morina on Sei Tu 32, in Race 2 and Mauro Mocchegiani on Rush Diletta in Race 3.

After an initial general recall, race one got underway at the second time of asking under a Z-Flag penalty and in around 6 knots of breeze. Joe Woods on Red won the start towards the middle of the line and within the first few minutes got himself bow forward on the fleet. From that point Woods and his British Olympic Gold Medallist tactician Paul Goodison were in control of the first beat and having capitalised on their advantage during the rest of the leg, they led by three boat lengths around the first windward mark. Filippo Pacinotti on Brontolo rounded in second, with current 2011 Audi Sailing Series leader American John Kilroy on Samba Pa Ti close behind in third and Lanfranco Cirillo on Fantastica hot on the American’s heels in fourth. Although the top four appeared to close up considerably in the course of the first downwind leg, at the gate there were no actual place changes, with Woods in fact, marginally extending his lead.

Pacinotti pushed Woods hard all the way up the second beat and by the second windward mark there was no more than two lengths between them. Although engaged in their own private battle, these two boats managed to pull away from the fleet on this leg. Behind them Cirillo had got the advantage over Kilroy to round in third. The battle between Woods and Pacinotti continued to rage down the final run, with Pacinotti’s tactician Daniele Cassinari trying every trick in his repertoire to overhaul the leader. Approaching the finish Brontolo looked to have finally got the upper hand, but as the pair gybed simultaneously for the line, Woods managed to get windward advantage, regain the lead in the final seconds, and narrowly take the win. Pacinotti came home a close second, with Cirillo in third, Kilroy in fourth and 2009 Melges 32 World Champion Pieter Taselaar on Bliksem in fifth.

Race two got away cleanly first time in a slightly increased 8-9 knots of breeze. Some bunching at the starboard end of the line resulted in Alessio Marinelli on Audi Fratelli Giacomel Armonia hooking the anchor line of the race committee boat with his rudder. Things could not have been closer at the first windward mark, with what looked like 15 boats all arriving almost simultaneously. Antonello Morina on Sei Tu 32 sneaked in just ahead of the melee, to round in first place, with Woods in second overlapped with Mauro Mocchegiani on Rush Diletta in third and Pacinotti a little way back in fourth. The leading pack compressed on the first downwind leg and at the leeward gate Morina rounded the left mark just ahead of Mocchegiani, while Pacinotti and Woods were once again locked in battle, rounding the right mark together. With the breeze increasing to as much as 10 knots for the second beat, Morina got properly into his stride to pull out an eight length lead by the second windward mark. Mocchegiani had stayed in second, with Pacinotti in third valiantly holding off fourth placed Woods. Cirillo rounded fifth with Kilroy making a bit of a comeback to move up to fifth.

With Morina consolidating his lead on the final leg to take a comfortable race win, behind him the battle for second place between Woods and Pacinotti was a close one. In the final 100 metres to the finish, this pair appeared to be bow to bow with Pacinotti coming in from the left and Woods from the right. Leaving it until the last possible moment, Pacinotti timed his gybe to perfection, blocking Woods from the line and taking second place by the very narrowest of margins. Close behind in fourth was Mocchegiani, with Kilroy coming home in fifth.

Following an initial general recall, race three got away at the second attempt, in an 11-12 knot breeze. On a square looking line, Kilroy down towards the pin end, and reigning Melges 32 World Champion Luca Lalli on up at the committee boat end, appeared to get away the most cleanly. However at the windward mark, with a closely packed group of boats all tearing in on the starboard layline, it was Mocchegiani who managed to get in from the left to tack just clear ahead to round in first place. Second around was Pacinotti, with Marinelli just behind in third, Lalli in fourth overlapped with Morina in fifth. Things remained tight down the first run, with Mocchegiani holding on to first place, despite a full on assault from second placed Pacinotti. These two rounded the left gate mark just seconds ahead of Lalli who had sailed a fantastic run to round the right mark in third. Fourth placed Woods rounded the left mark simultaneously with Marinelli in fifth on the right.

On the second beat Mocchegiani eased away from the pack into an eight boat length lead. Lalli also had a good beat and sneaked past Pacinotti in the final stages of the leg to round in second. However Lalli’s crew faltered on the gennaker hoist, having to quickly drop and re-hoist to get rid of a huge wineglass twist in their chute, enabling Pacinotti to close down the margin between them to almost zero. Behind them Marinelli had got past Woods with this pair rounding in fourth and fifth respectively. On the final run, while Lalli worked the middle of the racecourse, both Mocchegiani and Woods explored the options on the right, and Pacinotti and Marinelli were both hoping to find some advantage on the left. In the end it was the left which seemed to pay, with Pacinotti easing past Lalli, and Marinelli overtaking Woods. Despite losing some of his lead, Mocchegiani took a comfortable and well deserved race win, ahead of Pacinotti in second and Lalli in third. Battling fiercely for fourth and fifth, Marinelli and Woods finished line abreast, with fourth going to Marinelli by just a whisker.

So, at the end of the first day of the 2011 Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series regatta in Porto Cervo, Pacinotti’s consistency puts him in first place overall with six points. Just three points adrift in second is Woods, with Cirillo a further six points back in third. Mocchegiani one point behind in fourth, a further one point ahead of Kilroy who rounds out the top five.

Racing at the 2011 Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series regatta in Porto Cervo continues tomorrow Saturday 18 June with three more series races scheduled, as well as a standalone ‘Audi Invitational Race’ which is scheduled to take place at 11.00 AM local time. The regatta will conclude on Sunday 19 June with 2 races scheduled.

Top 10 results after three races

1.) Filippo Pacinotti/Daniele Cassinari, Brontolo; 2-2-2 = 6
2.) Joe Woods/Paul Goodison, Red; 1-3-5 = 9
3.) Lanfranco Cirillo/Michele Paoletti, Fantastica; 3-6-6 = 15
4.) Mauro Mocchegiani/Matteo Ivaldi, Rush Diletta; 11-4-1 = 16
5.) John Kilroy/Nathan Wilmot, Samba Pa Ti; 4-5-8 = 17
6.) Alessio Marinelli/Riccardo Simoneschi, Audi Fratelli Giacomel Armonia; 6-17-4 = 17
7.) Edoardo Lupi/Branko Brcin, Torpyone; 7-8-12 = 27
8.) Antonello Morina/Paolo Cian, Sei Tu 32; 17-1-10 = 27
9.) Pieter Taselaar/Jeremy Wilmot, Bliksem; 5-15-9 = 29
10.) Luca Lalli/Lorenzo Bressani,; 18-9-3 = 30

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