Video courtesy International Melges 24 Class.
San Francisco – Sono iniziate a San Francisco le regate valide per il Campionato Mondiale Melges 24, appuntamento che vede impegnati cinquantotto equipaggi, molti dei quali forti dell’esperienza di fuoriclasse di fama internazionale.
Sin dai primi bordi i protagonisti dell’evento hanno avuto modo di toccare con mano le insidie celate da uno dei campi di regata più difficili al mondo: un tratto di mare attraversato da correnti impetuose e imprevedibili, sul quale ha soffiato una brezza leggera e instabile. Condizioni che non hanno impedito al Comitato di Regata di portare a termine tre prove, vinte da altrettante equipaggi e riflesse da una classifica piuttosto corta, nella quale solo due equipaggi si sono mantenuti sempre nella top ten, a riprova del livellamento proprio della classe Melges 24.
A partire con il piede giusto, assicurandosi la prima leadership grazie a un notevole regolarità, è stato lo statunitense Jeff Madrigali con Mikey (7-2-4), che ha imposto un distacco di undici punti al bermudiano Alec Cutler su Hedgehog (13-10-1) e ad Altea (8-8-8) di Andrea Racchelli, risultato abbonato all’ottava piazza.
Posizioni di vertice anche per Maidollis (10-11-5) di Giovanni Pizzatti, attestato in quarta posizione, e per i campioni europei di Blu Moon (2-5-20), penalizzati dal ventesimo rimediato nella terza prova.
Nella top ten si segnalano anche Full Throttle (12-1-16) di Brian Porter e del tattico Andy Burdick, Rose Bud (1-4-26) dell’ex skipper di Artemis Racing, Terry Hutchinson, penalizzato anch’esso dal piazzamento ottenuto nell’ultima prova di giornata, Team Windhover (3-19-11) della famiglia Melges e Embarr (21-6-6) del campione olimpico Nathan Wilmot.
Per Audi Ultra (5-14-19) l’inizio è stato più complicato del previsto ma, nonostante ciò, l’equipaggio dell’Audi Italia Sailing Team accusa un ritardo dalla seconda piazza di soli quattordici punti e con sei prove ancora da disputare tutto è ancora possibile. Forte di buoni spunti prestazionali, il Melges 24 timonato da Riccardo Simoneschi ha chiuso la prima prova in quinta posizione, difendendo con relativa tranquillità la posizione acquisita nelle fasi iniziali della regata. Purtroppo i parziali ottenuti nelle altre regate non sono stati altrettanto brillanti. Nella seconda, Audi Ultra ha dovuto fare i conti con alcuni giri di boa molto trafficati e ha chiuso in quattordicesima posizione, mentre nella terza, terminata al diciannovesimo posto, l’Audi Italia Sailing Team ha dato prova di carattere e determinazione, recuperando quaranta barche in soli due lati dopo essere rimasto agganciato a una boa di percorso a causa della bagarre generatasi in fase di manovra.
Le regate valide per lo Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 World Championship riprenderanno nel corso della notte italiana. Ricordiamo che il campionato, la cui occlusione è fissata per sabato, si articolerà su un massimo di dieci prove.
Per consultare la classifica clicca qui.
SPERRY TOP-SIDER MELGES 24 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, CONSISTENCY DELIVERS OVERALL LEAD
San Francisco – The first day of racing at the Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 World Championship 2013, hosted by The San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere, California delivered three excellent races sailed in bright sunshine and winds ranging from eight to fourteen knots.
All three races had different winners, with American Terry Hutchinson at the helm of Scott Holmgren’s Rose Bud taking the first race, fellow countryman Brian Porter on Full Throttle winning the second and Bermuda’s Alec Cutler on Hedgehog victorious in the third.
Consistency was a hard to come by commodity throughout the fleet today and almost all of the top ten boats at the end of the day are counting at least one double digit score.
The exception to that rule was Jeff Madrigali at the helm of Kevin Welch’s American entry Mikey who managed a 7,2,4 score to lead overall tonight. In second with a 13,10,1 scoreline is Alec Cutler on Hedgehog. Third by way of three eighth places is Italian Andrea Racchelli on Altea. Leader Madrigali sits on 13 points with Cutler and Racchelli tied on 24 points.
In the Corinthian (no professional sailors allowed) Division – who race with the main fleet but also have their results extracted separately – America’s Loren Colohan on Lounge Act tops the standings with six points after three races. Colohan is tied on points with second placed fellow American, Don Jesberg on Viva. Italy’s Andrea Pardini on Maitech lies in third place. The top three Corinthian’s sit in nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first in the main fleet with Jesberg leading this trio.
The first race of the day started in around seven knots and saw Madrigali round the windward mark in first, closely followed by Nathan Wilmot at the helm of Conor Clarke’s Irish entry Embarr in second with Hutchinson in third. Wilmot quickly dropped out of contention after having to do penalty turns soon after at the start of the first downwind leg. Hutchinson meanwhile held his nerve and his lane on the right to take the lead at the bottom end of the run after Madrigali had gybed away.
Once ahead, Hutchinson could not be touched and extended his lead throughout the rest of the race to finish over 40 seconds ahead of second placed 2013 Melges 24 European Champion, Italy’s Flavio Favini on Franco Rossini’s Blu Moon, who remarkably made up six places on the last leg. Third was Harry Melges III on Team Windhover.
After an initial general recall, the second race got away at the second time of asking in 12 – 14 knots of breeze. Madrigali once again rounded the first mark in the lead, this time with Brian Porter on Full Throttle close behind in second and Hutchinson in third. Porter got the better of the final couple of gybes into the leeward gate to lead at the start of the second beat.
Second placed Madrigali was in no mood to concede however and harried Porter mercilessly for the the rest of the race. Despite having Madrigali breathing down his neck for the last two legs Porter kept his cool to ultimately close out the win. Doug Wilhelm’s American crew on Wilco made huge gains on the last leg to snatch third from Hutchinson close to the line.
“It’s tough sailing out there, with a lot of great sailors and a lot of good boats.” said Porter afterwards. “It’s good to get a race win because it gives you a lot of confidence to be able to pull away from good boats.”
Clearly not wishing to break the pattern from the first two races, Madrigali yet again led at the windward mark in the third race of the day, after a dying sea breeze pushed the breeze on the first leg to the right. He rounded ahead of Corinthian Loren Colohan on Lounge Act in second and Alec Cutler on Hedgehog in third. These three escaped a major windward mark scramble behind them which slowed the chasing pack and sparked a string of protest flags.
By the leeward gate Cutler had hit the front, with practice race winner Kim Christensen from Denmark on Soffe 2 moving up to second and Italy’s Andrea Racchelli on Altea had slid into third.
While Racchelli dropped to eighth on the next beat, Cutler continued to be chased by Christensen and these two rounded the final top mark in one and two – positions they maintained to the finish. Meanwhile Bora Gulari on West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes had moved up to take third.
Hedgehog crew member Mike Wolfs said they had benefitted from a little bit of luck from a right shift on the first beat after a slow start. Having made that comeback Wolfs said a good hoist at the windward offset mark had given them a jump on the boats ahead. After that, Wolfs said delaying their gybe in relation to the leaders had given them the lead.
“We probably went another 100 to 150 yards and gybed and we were able to slowly sneak past them to leeward with a little bit more pressure on the low side.” he said. “We ended up rounding the leeward mark by a good 15 lengths.”
Three races into the scheduled 10 race series the consistency of American Jeff Madrigali on Mikey means he is the overall leader with 13 points. In second on 24 points is Bermudan Alec Cutler on Hedgehog, who is tied on points with third placed Andrea Racchelli from Italy.
Despite topping the leaderboard at the end of the first day, Madrigali – a member of the host club – said he and his crew would nevertheless need to work on their downwind performance after conceding their first mark leads in all three races.
“A lot of that was tactical and mechanical,” Madrigali said. “I have sailed here my whole life and normally you get around the top mark and you are gone. Today though, the wind was quite spotty and there was a lot of pressure in different areas and tidal rips that were helping you upwind and hurting you downwind. We didn’t handle the downwinds very well and other boats did. We need to go to school on how they did that.”
In the Corinthian Division America’s Loren Colohan on Lounge Act emerged in first place having matched the six point score of second placed fellow American Don Jesberg on Viva. Italy’s Andrea Pardini on Maitech lies in third place just three points behind. In the overall standings these three are equally close: Jesberg sits in nineteenth, Colohan in twentieth and Pardini in twenty-first.
Second placed Corinthian Jesberg said he and his crew had been focused solely on their overall result and had been pleasantly surprised to find they were tied on points with first in the Corinthians. Nevertheless, Jesberg said he was a fan of the Corinthian Division at Melges 24 championships.
“It was a tricky day out there and we had to be concentrating on our place in the fleet,” he said. “Those of us who have jobs and careers and families that demand a lot of our time enjoy being able to score ourselves against a peer group.” he said.
Racing at the Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 World Championship 2013 continues until Saturday 5 October. Three more races are planned for tomorrow and ten races are scheduled for the championship series.
To read the results click here.