Day three of the 2011 Böklunder Melges 24 European Championship saw the weather gods eventually deign to smile upon the 80 international teams competing at the regatta in Aarhus, Denmark. Initially cloudy skies produced windless conditions for most of the morning, forcing a two hour postponement ashore. Around midday however, the skies cleared and very soon after a solid 5-6 knot breeze filled in across the bay, allowing the fleet to take to the water and complete two excellent races.
A third and an eighth from championship leader Carlo Fracassoli on Gullisara saw him extend his advantage at the top to 22 points. Despite only managing a 13th and a sixth today, Alberto Bolzan on Saetta, nevertheless moved up into second place overall, leapfrogging over Andrea Racchelli on Altea, whose 8,14, score for the day drops him to third tonight.
By far the best performance today came from Czech Republic's Petr Fiala on Aloha, who won the first race in some style and followed up with a third in the next race, moving him up to fourth in the overall standings. A lacklustre (by his standards) 16,11, scoreline from Estonia's Tonu Toniste on Lenny sees him drop one place to fifth overall.
Toniste's Lenny crew remain as the leading Corinthian team and have extended their advantage in that division to 5 points over Tiit Vihul on Rock City in second. Vihul has also moved up on place in the overall standings and now sits in eighth. The second race of the day saw Corinthian teams fill the top two places in the main fleet, with Norway's Oyvind Peder Jahre on Storm Capital Sail Racing taking a comprehensive win, ahead of Dane Nicolai Thorsell on Sonich. Jahre now lies in third in the Corinthian Division and tenth in the main fleet.
The first race of Day 3 saw a consummate performance by Petr Fiala on Aloha, who led from start to finish take a comfortable race win, ahead of Peter Saraskin on the Estonian yacht Zuxu. Third home and consolidating his championship lead was Carlo Fracassoli on Gullisara. Finding more familiar front of the fleet form for the first time at this event, France's Christophe Barrue on Euro-Voiles came home in fourth, ahead of International Melges 24 Class Chairman Ricardo Simoneschi ITA 819 Audi in fifth. Winner of the first two races of the regatta before an OCS in race 3 had dropped him well outside the top 20, Flavio Favini on Blu Moon, had to claw his way back from a windward mark rounding in the teens to keep his championship hopes alive with a seventh place.
With the breeze now consistently touching 10 knots, the Race Committee rolled quickly into the second race of the day, which got away first time under an I & Z Flag combination. Proving the quality of the 30-strong, all-amateur Corinthian fleet at this championship, this race was dominated from start to finish by two Corinthian teams. Past World and European Melges 24 Champion Oyvind Peder Jahre on Storm Capital Sail Racing is no stranger to the front of the overall fleet at major Melges 24 events, and he was always in total control throughout this race. Also showing considerable calmness and poise during this race was fellow Corinthian Nicolai Thorsell on Sonich, who appeared have no problems closing out his second place. Rounding out an impressive boat of the day performance, a clearly delighted Petr Fiala came home in third, ahead of Norway's Kristoffer Spone on Baghdad, who chalked up his best result in the regatta so far with a fourth.
In the all-amateur Corinthian Division, series leader Tonu Toniste on Lenny, consolidated his lead in the Corinthian Championship with a 5,4 Corinthian score. By way of a Corinthian win in the first race and a sixth in the second race, Tiit Vihul on Rock City moved up one place to sit in second in the Corinthian standings. Despite picking up a Z-Flag penalty in the first race, a main fleet and Corinthian win in the second race puts Oyvind Peder Jahre on Storm Capital Sail Racing in Corinthian third overall at the end of Day 3.
Racing at the Böklunder Melges 24 European Championship continues tomorrow with two more races scheduled and an expected continuation to the lightish conditions. Several top teams are nursing at least one high score at this point and the introduction of the series discard after the first race tomorrow may make a difference to the upper echelon of the leaderboard.
Results after 5 Races
1st Carlo Fracassoli ITA 803 Gullisara 17 points
2nd Alberto Bolzan ITA 716 Saetta 39 points
3rd Andrea Racchelli ITA 735 Altea 40 points
4th Petr Fiala CZE 752 Aloha 41 points
5th Tonu Toniste EST 790 LENNY 57 points
1st Tonu Toniste EST 790 Lenny 17 points
2nd Tiit Vihul EST 761 Rock City 22 points
3rd Oyvind Peder Jahre NOR 751 Storm Capital Sail Racing 23 points