2009 Audi Melges 32 World Championship Preview

21 September 2009

As published by Offshore Rules

The International Melges 32 Class comes of age this week, with the hosting of its inaugural World Championship in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. There are few more prestigious venues for a championship. The luxurious surroundings of the host Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the classic sailing conditions which the waters off Porto Cervo regularly produces makes for a heddy mix and with the continued backing of class sponsor Audi, the 2009 Melges 32 World Championship is shaping up to be an truly amazing regatta.

Whilst the core of the Melges 32 Class has undoubtedly been centred in Italy, this Championship has attracted competitors from across the globe and significantly around than ten percent of the twenty-nine boat entry is made up from non-Italian teams. There are also three US teams, a crew from Czechoslovakia, one from Monaco, another from France, as well as three British entries.

The Melges 32’ Class’s has a strictly enforced amateur, owner-driver rule but up to three professional sailors per boat are also allowed. Consequently the dockside here in Porto Cervo is awash with the great and the good of the international yacht-racing scene. Amongst the many high profile tacticians racing this week is American 49er ace Jonathan McKee who will be calling tactics on for Claudio Recchi on Team 93 and current Melges 24 World and European Champion helm Lorenzo Bressani from Italy is sailing as tactician aboard Lorenzo Santini and Alessio Marinelli’s Uka Uka Racing. Emirates Team New Zealand’s Ray Davies has been drafted in to call the shots for Luigi Melegari on Matrix Cortina D'ampezzo, 470 dinghy ace Nathan Wilmot is sailing on Peiter Taselar’s on-form US entry Bliksem and Star Olympian Freddie Loof is providing the tactical smarts aboard Filippo Pacinotti’s Brontolo.

If this season’s major Melges 32 regattas give any sort of guide to form for this World Championship, then the winners of the four-regatta 2009 Audi Sailing Series, Carlo Aberini’s Calvi Network must be considered amongst the favourites. Equally in the frame is the US team aboard Pieter Taselaar’s Bliksem, who won the Miami Grand Prix regatta at the beginning of the year, before moving their campaign to Europe where they bulleted both of the final Audi Sailing Series events in some style. Italian Claudio Recchi aboard Team 93 has been successful in this class since its inception, winning the Key West on at least one occasion and claiming the Audi Sailing Series title in 2008. Few people know more about what it takes to steer one of these boats to maximum effect and we fully expect him to be in the hunt come the end of this regatta. If local knowledge plays any part in success or failure here in Porto Cervo then Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino with tactician Adrian Stead should definitely be one to watch. Onorato’s house is located next door to the YCCS and with Farr 40 and Mumm 30 World Titles already under his belt, he has an enviable pedigree of success in high performance one-design keelboats.

Racing at the 2009 Melges 32 World Championship starts on Wednesday with the ten race series running through until Sunday. There are still two days to go before racing commences, but the bulk of the thirty strong fleet have been in town since last week; working through the registration process, meticulously preparing their boats as well as getting in some precious on-the-water training time.

Offshore Rules will be on site in Porto Cervo all week to bring you the most up to date information on how this regatta plays out, including video action and commentary from the water as well as on the dock sailor interviews. You can see all of our output on the Regatta Live! Section of the Offshore Rules website, so make sure you check back regularly for the latest updates.