Blu Moon soars into the lead
A close to perfect scoreline from Matteo Ivaldi's Italian crew aboard the Swiss entry Blu Moon has put them in the overall lead on the third day of the MKB Bank Melges 24 European Championship 2014 on Lake Balaton, Hungary.
Ivaldi's crew dropped only point one during the day - revelling in the strongest breezes of the championship so far to win the first two races and finish second in the final one.
The introduction of the series discard after six races means Blu Moon drop their 11th place from the opening day to go 17 points ahead at the top of the fleet.
A mixed day for the previous regatta leader Matteo Balestrero on ITA 693 Giogi saw him incur a 20% penalty Z-flag at the start of the first race before chalking up a fifth and a 13th - a good enough score to put him in second overall tonight.
Meanwhile, Ian Ainslie's local team on HUN 392 Strange Brew - race winners on the opening day - fought their way back up the overall standings into third place after a 3, 4, 11, scoreline today.
Denmark's Peder Nergaard on NOR 787 Henri Lloyd - Blow won the final race after leading from the start and staying ahead at every mark despite being under considerable pressure throughout.
In the Corinthian division (no professionals allowed) Estonian sailor Tonu Toniste at the helm of EST 790 Lenny won the first two races before stumbling to 16th in the third. The Lenny crew top the Corinthian standings and, impressively, sit in sixth overall.
A Z-flag penalty in the first race marred a good performance from Denmark's Kris Houmann on melges.dk whose pair of second places in the next two races moves him up to second in the Corinthian standings, 20 points behind Toniste.
Third in the Corinthians is Peter Warrer from Denmark on Salty Dog who followed up a 24-15 score with a Corinthian win in the final race.
The third day of action produced the strongest winds so far with the first two races sailed in breezes as high as 19 knots.
The ramp up in wind strength produced some over-enthusiasm from the fleet at the start of the first race of the day and it took five attempts to get the fleet away - finally they went cleanly under a black flag.
Matteo Ivaldi on SUI 825 Blu Moon made an aggressive play for the pin end and shot off the line like a cork from a bottle. Blu Moon led around the windward mark but had regatta leader Matteo Balestrero on ITA 693 Giogi and ITA 822 Carlo Fracassoli on Maidollis both breathing down their necks.
Ivaldi steadily extended his lead on the next two legs and by the second windward mark had built an unassailable advantage over Fracassoli in second and Strange Brew in third.
At the finish Blu Moon took the win with Fracassoli second and third placed Ainslie having to give it everything he had to hold off an attack from Andrea Racchelli on ITA 735 Altea.
In stark contrast to the previous one, the second race of the day got away at the first time of asking with just three boats called over early.
Ivaldi on Blu Moon again led at the windward mark, but this time it was Ricardo Simoneschi on ITA 840 AUDI, who was putting him under pressure.
This two-boat battle raged all the way to the finish with the pair gybing in sync at high speed in the last 100 metres to the line. Despite the pressure from Simoneschi, Ivaldi never flinched and surfed across the line ahead to take his second win of the day. Simoneschi took second ahead of Ainslie who this time had to hold off Balestrero to take third.
The breeze had dropped to 12 -15 knots for the third and final five-leg race of the day. The fleet got away at the first time of asking with five boats called OCS.
Henri Lloyd - Blow led off the line and picked his way expertly up a shifty, puffy first beat to lead by four lengths at the windward mark. Second around was Salty Dog. Ivaldi rounded third and looked determined to hunt Warrer and Nergaard down to claim his third win of the day.
However, for the next three legs it was Warrer who took the fight to Nergaard, rounding the leeward gate simultaneously with him and forcing the Norwegian to put on a close cover at the top of the second upwind leg.
However, on the patchy second downwind leg Ivaldi managed to pick off Warrer and immediately set his sights on Nergaard. But the Henri Lloyd - Blow crew was in no mood to give up their lead and sailed an excellent tactical race to block off Ivaldi's many and varied challenges.
At the finish a delighted Nergaard punched the air and congratulated his crew on the win before waving a friendly acknowledgement of a great battle to second placed Ivaldi. Warrer came home in third place and first Corinthian.
With seven of the possible 10 race series completed, Ivaldi has established a 17 point lead over Balestrero in second and Ainslie in third.
In the Corinthians, Tonu Toniste's Lenny leads (they also lie sixth overall) from melges.dk in second and Warrer in third.
Racing at the MKB Bank Melges 24 European Championship 2014 continues tomorrow with up to three more races scheduled.
Full results here