Photo: (c) IM24CA/Andrea Carloni

Rast and Flavini come out on top

Melges 24 European Sailing Series kicks off in Portoroz

Sunday April 3rd 2016, Author: James Boyd, Location: Slovenia

Christopher Rast's EFG Bank helmed by Flavio Favini in open division and Eelco Blok's Kesbeke/Sika/Gill, with Ronald Veraar helming, in the Corinthian division got the best points for the 2016 Melges 24 European Sailing Series in the first event of the season in Portoroz, Slovenia over 1-3 April.

26 teams from 13 nations from all over the Europe travelled to Portoroz. The Portoroz Melges 24 Regatta doubled as the Melges 24 Open Slovenian National Championship and was hosted by the Yacht Club Portoroz and Portoroz Marina in co-operation with the International Melges 24 Class Association.

Third morning of the regatta was not much different than the first two - a lack of wind in the morning kept the fleet ashore. But a nice sea breeze of 10-12 knots in the afternoon allowed the Race Committee to stage two races before the time limit of 1600. The race course was set more further out to sea, close to the historical town of Piran. Even there was some wind shifts left the fleet evenly spread on both sides of the course. The wind continued to play tricks, dying ten minutes after the finish of the first race of the day keeping the fleet waiting again. In the next attempt to start, some boats were too eager and were OCS and the fleet was called back for a black flag start. Still - all good at the end and ultimately the Race Committee, led by Bojan Gale, managed to hold six races in the tricky spring conditions.

Chris Rast's EFG Bank, with Flavio Favini helming, continued its consistent racing collecting a bullet from the first race of the day with a great margin despite of the fact that their start wasn't so successful. The second result from the final race and discarding a 12th, secured the team, which comprises Rast and Favini, plus Giovanni Ferrari, Aldo Bottagisio and Jaro Furlani victory on 13 points total.

Chris Rast could not thank the hosting club enough: "Yacht Club Portoroz did a fabulous job to host the Melges 24 regatta here in Portoroz. And this was the biggest plus of the weekend for sure. At the end we got a little bit lucky with the wind and got six good races."

Rast highlighted the strong competition and high level of the regatta saying that racing was very tight at the top: "There were Altea with Andrea Racchelli and young Hungarian boys (FGF Sailing Team with Robert Bakoczy) who did very well. The Hungarians have been practicing and getting experience and I am sure they will have even better results when the season goes by."

Rast also very positively looked at the Melges 24 events to come saying that EFG Bank Team is planning to do all the events of the European Sailing Series with the finale grande in Luino, which is the homeclub for his helm, Flavio Favini.

Second place went to 2015 Melges 24 World runner-up, Andrea Racchelli's Altea from Italy with scoreline of (17)-1-10-1-3-5 and 20 points in total, followed by the Kalman Rozsnyay's FGF Sailing Team from Hungary. Hungarians posted a (18)-4-1-5-2-10 and were only two points off second.

Racchelli described the regatta as a difficult one: "It was a very difficult regatta as the conditions were difficult with shifty and light winds, which were difficult to read on the water. On Saturday we made some bad starts, but we improved on the final day and we are happy and satisfied with the result." Of the season to come, Racchelli said it will be very long: "The most important event will be the European Championship in Hyeres in September and then the Worlds in Miami in December. It will be long and this here is just the beginning. We hope to be in top 5 at the Europeans but we'll see about Miami."

In the Corinthian division of 15 teams a strong battle went on throughout the competition. With two bullets on the final day, Eelco Blok's Team Kesbeke/Sika/Gill from the Netherlands, with Pim Mommersteeg and Joost Brouwer in the crew, managed to leap from the fifth after day one to the top of the Corinthian podium today. Their scoreline of 4-1-11-(12)-1-1 or 18 points total, equalled the points of Angelo di Terlizzi's Marrakech Express from Italy, but the Dutch team won on countback.

The Corinthian podium was completed by Michael Good's team Cinghi-Aile from Switzerland, which had lead after the second day.

Joost Brouwer, the bowman of Team Kesbeke/Sika/Gill was happy with their result: "It was our second time here and we start to get used to the conditions, which were hard and difficult especially for the Race Committee, but they managed to do six races and did a very good job. We managed to do a good final result out of it. We had a goal to win in Corinthian division and we did it."

After the first event now heads to Austria and Lake Attersee in June and then on to the third event at Kiel Week in Germany before returing to Riva del Garda, Italy in July; the most significant Melges 24 event of the season which is also the fifth event of the series, which will be held in September in Hyeres, France where the European Champion will be decided. The series concludes with the sixth event in Luino, Italy in October.

Full results here

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