30 of the best
Boats from San Francisco to Geelong, from California to Australia, will all be chasing the title at the Melges 24 World Championship next week.
Audi Ultra is starting her 2014 sailing season facing the longest away race of all: Riccardo Simoneschi's team ended 2013 with the World Championship in San Francisco, but has headed Down Under where over 29 January to 2 February the best teams in the class will be fighting it out to beat reigning champion Brian Porter's Full Throttle.
Unprecedented leader and number one in the class ranking, Audi Ultra is ready for this challenge. Riccardo Simoneschi has four of his five original crew that competed on board during the last season. Vittorio Rosso, has been replaced by Luna Rossa sailor Manuel Modena, and past Melges 24 World Champion with James Spithill in 2005.
Aboard Audi Ultra will also be tactician Enrico Fonda, pitman Federico Buscaglia and bowman Lucia Giorgetti.
Holding a World Championship in Australia has thinned out the fleet , however it has raised the quality with only the most professional teams deciding to take part.
Around 30 teams will be competing in Geelong, including a group of winning teams. Besides Audi Ultra, among the favourites Flavio Favini's Blu Moon, American Bora Gulari's West Marine Rigging, Olympic champion Nathan Wilmot's Kaito Northshore Marine and Harry Melges' Star.
Not to be understimated are teams like Altea of Andrea Racchelli, that has also been a regular winner. Sadly reigning Melges 24 World Champion, Brian Porter and his Full Throttle Racing Team are absent from the line-up.
“This World Championship will be hard for several reasons," says Simoneschi. "The conditions, the race course on a very narrow bay doesn't make it easy and then there is the fact that at least 15 teams are capable of winning. Many Australian crews will be relying on the skills of Olympic medallists in their teams and it will be tough on the start line. We have all ingredients for a successfull championship,