When the fleet left for the racecourse on day four of the Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship, collective hopes of any racing were pretty low. The promising early morning breeze out on the Chesapeake frustratingly evaporated almost immediately the fleet reached the race area. Consequentially a long wait ensued while the Race Committee tried to track down some more. The delay lasted until just before midday, when Principal Race Officer Jeff Borland decided to try to get the fleet racing around a four-leg racetrack, in breezes which averaged no more than five knots.
The lack of breeze at the start resulted in a somewhat chaotic scene as the barely moving boats struggled to build enough speed to get away from the line, as well as almost twenty boats being called over at the gun. Down at the favoured pin end, a battle of wills between Chris Larson on 'West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes', Terry Hutchinson on 'Quantum Racing' and Argyle Campbell on 'Rock n Roll resulted in all three boats losing out. After appearing to get away to near perfect starts Hutchinson and Campbell were called OCS and had to make an agonising return to restart. Larson meanwhile had stayed safe but had been forced to tack on to port to avoid the pin boat, resulting in a huge slow bear away behind a pack of starboard tackers. A few boat lengths up the line Norway's Eivind Melleby had made a clean start with good speed and as the OCS boats peeled off in front of him he suddenly had a clean lane in which to lead the fleet out to the left hand side of the beat.
As the fleet made their way slowly up the first leg, the left phase breeze initially helped those on the left to secure their position as the leading pack. However a twenty-degree right shift at the top of the leg caught out those who had gone furthest left; including early leader Melleby, who had to settle for rounding the windward mark just inside the top ten. It was Lorenzo Bressani helming 'Uka Uka Racing' who made the most sense of the variable conditions to round the top mark already well ahead of the pack. Second around was local Corinthian helmsman Henry Filter on 'Wild Child', just ahead of Alan Field on 'WTF' and Neily Williamson on 'Millewa Milluna'. Second placed overall Larson had made a good recovery from his difficult start to round in tenth place whilst at this stage Championship leader Gabrio Zandona on 'Joe Fly' was still struggling up the beat in a high twenties position.
As the race progressed, the breeze if anything got a touch lighter. Bressani turned his lead at the front of the fleet into a virtual horizon job, while Filter made the most of his local experience to make his second place secure at the finish. Field also refused to relinquish his third place and ghosted home ahead of Tony Beale on 'Scotch Bonnet' in fourth and Nico Celon on 'Fantastica' in fifth. Melleby meanwhile had managed to pick off a few boats and chalked up a satisfying sixth place which moved him up to second place overall tonight. With Zandona only managing to claw his way back to seventeenth, Larson's eventual twelfth was good enough for him to regain the overall lead. With two more days of scheduled racing to go Zandona now sits in third place, just four points behind Melleby, who in turn is further six points off Larson. Bressani's win takes him up to fifth overall.
Henry Filter's win in the Corinthian Division saw him close the gap on the top three helms and he lies in fourth tonight. Despite only managing a Corinthian seventh today Bruce Ayres on 'Monsoon'continues to hold the overall lead, but only on count back from Othmar von Blumencron on 'Gannet' in second. With this pair tied on nineteen points, third placed Christof Wieland on 'Unsponsored' is poised just two points behind to capitalise on any slip-ups from the top two.
Tomorrow's forecast is rumoured to call for similar weather to today, however there is some hope on the horizon for the racers, in the form of a local prediction of big breeze on Saturday's final day of racing. Certainly, given the frustrating conditions they have experienced so far, the fifty-one international teams competing at this Championship would surely welcome an opportunity for some real Melges 24 high-speed adrenaline action.
Full results are available from the Event Website. The championship runs until Saturday 31 October with a total of 12 races scheduled. You can follow the racing live on the IMCA Official Blog.
Provisional Overall Top Ten After Six Races
1. Chris Larson - West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes - 22 points
2. Eivind Melleby - Full Medal Jacket - 28 points
3. Gabrio Zandona - Joe Fly - 32 points
4. Lorenzo Bressani - Uka Uka Racing - 44 points
5. Nicola Celon - Fantastica - 49 points
6. Terry Hutchinson - Quantum Racing/Gill Race Team - 50 points
7. Carlo Fracassoli - Gullisara - 55 points
8. Brian Porter - Full Throttle - 56 points
9. Alan Field - WTF - 57 points
10. Bill Hardesty - Events Clothing/Atlantis - 60 points
Provisional Corinthian Top Five After Six Races
1. Bruce Ayres - Monsoon - 19 points
2. Othmar Mueller von Blumencron - Gannet - 19 points
3. Christof Wieland - Unsponsored - 21 points
4. Henry Filter - Wild Child - 26 points
5. Zetzema Weitze - Gelikt - 26 points
THE SHEEHY LEXUS OF ANNAPOLIS 2009 MELGES 24 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IS SPONSORED BY:
Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis - Title Sponsor
Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis, the Baltimore-Annapolis area's ONLY Elite Lexus dealership for six consecutive years, will be the title sponsor of the Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship. To drive a Lexus is to experience the perfect blend of automotive performance and luxury. To own a Lexus from Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis is to experience something even more: a recognition of your personal needs that goes beyond offering expert service and convenient hours. Throughout the regatta, competitors and spectators will be able to inspect a wide range of Lexus luxury automobiles, which will be on display at the regatta center.
Pusser's Rum - Official Rum
The official rum for the 2009 Melges 24 World Championship is Pusser's Rum. Rum and the sea are inseparable, and no rum is more akin to the sea and the sailor than Pusser's Rum - the Original Navy Rum. Pusser's continues its long standing association with the Melges 24 Class by hosting the mid-week Pusser's Painkiller Party as well as providing their legendary Pusser's Painkiller cocktails for the daily post racing gatherings and sponsoring the Pusser's WipeOut Of The Day competition.
Coral Reef Sailing Apparel & Gill - Official Apparel Sponsor
The official apparel sponsor for the 2009 Melges 24 World Championship is Coral Reef Sailing Apparel (CRSA) and Gill. CRSA is continuing their strong commitment to the Melges 24 class by providing apparel for the World Championship. Items can be purchased online now, or on-site at the event. Gill is a brand leader in foul weather apparel specific to the sailing enthusiast.
Atlantic Yacht Rigging - Official Rigging Partner
The official rigging partner for the 2009 Melges 24 World Championship is Atlantic Yacht Rigging. AYRS is a full service company that can help with any of your rigging or repair needs any time of the year. From wire swaging projects to fiberglass repair and everything in between, they will be onsite providing the best service to the entire fleet.
T2P.TV - Official Video Partner
T2P.TV is an National award winning media group specializing in live, on the water video production and online broadcasting of major sailing events for almost a decade. As such they have been involved in coverage of every facet of the sport from Jr. Sailing to the America's Cup. T2P.TV will be providing official video coverage of all the racing action throughout the Championship.
We thank Buck Distributors for supplying the official beers of the regatta. Miller Lite triple hops brewing, Peronimaster-brewed, and Leinenkugel a legend in brewing for over 140 years. Cheers!
Tacktick - Official IMCA Media Output Sponsor
Tacktick, the world leader in wireless, solar powered electronics for the marine industry, is the Official Sponsor of the Media Output from the 2009 Melges 24 World Championship. Tacktick's support will enable the class to provide media output in the form of daily press releases, live online reporting from the racecourse via the officialMelges 24 Blogas well as on the dock video interviews with the sailors.
Other supporting sponsors include the City of Annapolis, National Sailing Hall of Fame, .BoatingLaw.com, .Go!The Airport Shuttle, Boatyard Bar and Grill, Sam's Waterfront Cafe, APS Ltd, Pusser's Caribean Grille at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront, Team Barbarians, .RACEBOOK-US, North Sails One Design, SailFastPhoto,PantherVision, Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co, Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard, Sail 22, .Latis Yachting Solutions, Kathryn M Weber, CPA, MarinaCastTV, Fawcett Boat Supplies and .LaCroix Waters. This event is also supported by theInternational Melges 24 Class Association (IMCA), the US Melges 24 Class Association (USMCA) and the Annapolis Melges 24 Fleet #22.
The Melges 24 Class and Eastport Yacht Club are extremely proud to be partnered with these outstanding companies and sincerely thank them for their generous support of the 2009 Worlds.