Tight at the top
Light winds at the beginning and end of the second day of the Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 World Championship 2013 meant only two races of the scheduled three took place. Happily, after around an hour's delay, the breeze came on strong and racing took place in breezes up to 20 knots.
Competitors and the race committee were greeted by light and fickle breezes when they assembled at the Berkley Circle race area on San Francisco Bay this morning. An hour's delay ensued before the regular San Francisco Bay southwesterly wind began to establish itself. When it came, it came solidly, building quickly to around 14 knots by the start and increasing to 18 - 20 knots during the race.
It took two general recalls and an I and Z flag combination to get the over-eager fleet away at the the third attempt in the first race of the day. In the process, several boats incurred 20 per cent penalties to be added to their overall scores.
Italy's Flavio Favini at the helm of Franco Rossini's Swiss entry Blu Moon put on an impressive performance in the breezy conditions, leading around the first mark and then making a big jump on the first fast downwind leg. Favini's crew never put a foot wrong after that and at the finish they had pulled out a 90 second advantage over second placed American helmsman Bora Gulari on West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes. Another American, Brian Porter on Full Throttle was also clearly enjoying the ramp up in wind strength and turned in a rock solid performance to take third.
The second race saw the wind drop a little for the start but remain variable in strength across the course throughout. This time just one general recall was required before the fleet got away cleanly.
This time it was Gulari who made the best of the tricky conditions. After overhauling early leader Tetsuya Matsunaga from Japan on ThreeBond on the first run he sailed a canny race to hold his lead to the finish and chalk up his first race win of the championship.
American Terry Hutchinson at the helm of Scott Holmgren's Rose Bud also got past Matsunaga and chased Gulari hard for the lead throughout, but in the end he had to settle for second. Kim Christensen from Denmark on SOFFE 2 moved up from sixth at the first windward mark to take third at the finish.
A valiant attempt by the race committee to start a third race of the day was quickly thwarted by a significant windshift in the final minute and with the breeze then becoming increasingly erratic, they wisely decided to send the fleet home for the day.
In the Corinthian Division (no professional sailors allowed) a fifth and a first for American Don Jesberg on Viva moves him six points ahead of fellow US sailor Loren Colohan on Lounge Act, who could only manage a seventh and fifth today and now sits in second. Two points behind in third is Australian Kevin Nixon on ACCRU whose first and third makes him the Corinthian boat-of-the-day.
Five races into the potentially 10-race series just eight points separate the top five places in the main fleet. Favini's 1,8, score today moves him into the lead by a single point from Gulari in second. Hutchinson is a further point behind in third, tied on points with Porter, whose sixth place comeback from a deep windward mark rounding in the second race leaves him in fourth tonight. in fifth, another six points back, is Christensen.
With such compression at the top of the leaderboard and two more days of racing still to go, the 2013 edition of the Melges 24 World Championship looks likely to remain too close to call right to the very end.
In the Corinthian Division (no professional sailors allowed) American Don Jesberg on Viva clocked up a 5,1, score to move into the Corinthian lead six points ahead of fellow US sailor Loren Colohan on Lounge Act in second. Two points behind in third is Australian Kevin Nixon on ACCRU.
Full results here