Italy's Gabrio Zandona Edges Chris Larson Into Second Place After A Light Airs Day Three At The Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis Melges 24 World Championship

29 October 2009

Annapolis, MD, USA - For the competitors arriving at the City Dock this morning on day three of the Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship, the chances of racing taking place seemed unlikely, with Annapolis shrouded in low cloud and no evidence of any wind whatsoever. Despite the gloomy outlook, Principal Race Officer Jeff Borland put all trust in his local knowledge and led the fleet out on to the race area. This forthright strategy was eventually rewarded, when after a prolonged delay, a fitful breeze finally developed and racing got underway. As a further bonus the quickly clearing skies soon bathed the competitors, race management fleet and the many spectator boats in some welcome warm sunshine. With winds peaking at no more than seven knots, by no stretch of the imagination could the racing today be described as high adrenaline, but nevertheless the conditions did produce some fascinating tactical battles at the front of the fleet.

Race one saw the three Championship leaders, Chris Larson on West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes, Gabrio Zandona on Joe Fly and Bill Hardesty on Events Clothing/Atlantis, round the first windward mark in that order. Hot on their heels was first Corinthian helm Bruce Ayres on Monsoon. Rather than follow leader Larson down the left hand side of the course, Joe Fly tactician Daniele Cassinari opted for an early gybe on to port. As Larson and the rest of the leading pack went almost to the left hand layline, the Italian team on 'Joe Fly made good progress closer to the middle of the course. When the boats converged at the leeward gate it was neck and neck between the first two; Larson coming in from the left having to handbrake his way round the port gate, whilst Zandona arriving with more pressure and speed from further right was able to make a smoother exit from the right buoy. Zandona immediately captialised on this slight edge and moved smootly into the lead up the second beat. As the leg progressed the breeze became increasingly unstable; dropping as low as four knots at times. Staying in the maximum pressure, Zandona rammed home his upwind advantage and rounded the second windward mark well ahead of Larson, who was now having to deal with a sustained challenge from Ayres. These three boats had pulled out a big gap on the rest of the pack and were well into the run before the fourth boat, Lorenzo Bressani on 'Uka Uka Racing rounded the weather mark. There were no place changes amongst the top four on the one sided and somewhat processional final leg, with Zandona claiming his second race win of the series ahead of the ever consistent Larson in second, a clearly delighted Ayres in third and a relieved looking Bressani in fourth. Norwegian Eivind Melleby on Full Metal Jacket continued his impressive form in this series, clocking up another top ten result in fifth.

Another delay then ensued whilst the Race Committee and competitors waited around hopefully for the wind to re-establish itself. When a seven to eight knot breeze finally filtered on to the racecourse, it took a general recall and an I-Flag deterrent to get the fleet underway for the five-leg final race of the day. After the wind flicked into left phase just before the start, Kristen Lane on Brick House won a three way battle for the pin with 2006 World Champion Nico Celon at the helm of Fantastica and US National Champion Brian Porter on Full Throttle, to lead the fleet away. The boats further back along the line were tightly packed and struggling to accelerate, giving Celon and Lane the opportunity to quickly tack on to port and set off into a little extra pressure. A drop in breeze to around five knots and a port hand shift as the leaders approached the windward mark for the first time, gave added advantage to the boats who had got furthest left. Celon led around the top mark in close proximity with Eivind Melleby on Full Metal Jacket who had made a stunning comeback from what had looked like a poor situation immediately after the start. Kristen Lane went around third, with Rome Kirby on USA 620 fourth and Robby Wilkins on Vamoose in fifth. Championship leader Chris Larson pulled off yet another top ten rounding in sixth place, all the time with a close eye on his series rival Zandona who rounded just outside the top ten. Down the first run Melleby and Celon were engaged in a fierce battle for the lead with the Norwegian eventually prevailing after he sneaked over the top of the Italian in the final boat lengths to the mark.

On the light air second beat new pressure developed quickly on the right. Zetzema Wietze on Dutch entry Gelickt was the first to spot it and in a matter of minutes moved from the mid-teens up into fourth place. Zandona also did well out of the right hand side and slipped into sixth behind Peter Lane. At the top mark Melleby still led from Larson and Celon but with Lane and Zandona now very much back in contention. Down the run and final beat, whilst Melleby always looked calm and composed in first place, a real slugging match had developed between the next five boats for second place. At the finish as Melleby took a comfortable win, Celon edged out Larson into third with the rapidly charging Zandona slotting into fourth.

With the single discard for the twelve race series is now in play, Gabrio Zandona and the Joe Fly crew have moved up to become the new Championship leaders, by just one point from Chris Larson on West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes. Sixth race winner Eivind Melleby on Full Metal Jacket eases into the final podium position at this stage with Bill Hardesty on Events Clothing/Atlantis discarding a final race thirty-eighth to take fourth. Carlo Fracassoli on Gullisara continues to impress and is in fifth place overall.

Today saw no let up in the scrap for the Corinthian Division World Title, with Bruce Ayres now leading by just one point from Othmar Mueller von Blumencron on Gannet in second. A good day for Germany's Christof Wieland on Unsponsored elevates him to third place overall tonight.

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. For further information or to request photographs or video footage please contact fiona.brown@melges24.com.

Provisional Overall Top Ten After Six Races

  1. Gabrio Zandona - Joe Fly - 15 points
  2. Chris Larson - West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes - 16 points
  3. Eivind Melleby - Full Medal Jacket - 22 points
  4. Bill Hardesty - Events Clothing/Atlantis - 38 points
  5. Carlo Fracassoli - Gullisara - 41 points
  6. Brian Hutchinson - Quantum Racing/Gill Race Team - 42 points
  7. Lorenzo Bressani - Uka Uka Racing - 43 points
  8. Brian Porter - Full Throttle - 43 points
  9. Nicola Celon - Fantastica - 44 points
  10. Flavio Favini - Blu Moon - 50 points

Provisional Corinthian Top Five After Six Races

  1. Bruce Ayres - Monsoon - 12 points
  2. Othmar Mueller von Blumencron - Gannet - 13 points
  3. Christof Wieland - Unsponsored - 17 points
  4. David Dabney - Conejo Racing-Ocean Sailing Academy - 20 points
  5. Zetzema Weitze - Gelikt - 23 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.

Official Beer

We thank Buck Distributors for supplying the official beers of the regatta. Miller Lite triple hops brewing, Peroni master-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 official Melges 24 Blog as 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 the International 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.