Overall Roundup: Chris Larson Takes Overall Victory And Bruce Ayres Claims Corinthian Title At The Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship
3 November 2009
Annapolis, MD, USA - The Sheehy Lexus 2009 Melges 24 World Championship, hosted by the Eastport Yacht Club, attracted fifty-one entries from across Europe and the US, with teams from the USA, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Ukraine congregating in Annapolis to challenge for one of yacht racing's most sought after world titles.
The two-day Pre-Worlds Regatta served to confirm the potency of the visiting contingent, with all three podium places occupied by visiting teams. The reigning World and European Champions from Italy, UKA UKA Racing steered by Lorenzo Bressani, cemented their position as the pundits' favourite, with victory ahead of Italian America's Cup helmsman and 2001 Melges 24 World Champion, Flavio Favini on the Swiss registered Blu Moon in second and 2006 World Champion Nico Celon from Italy on Fantastica in third. The potential of the visiting teams at this regatta was equally matched by a raft of high profile US helms, each capable of producing a winning performance: US sailing legend Terry Hutchinson on Quantum Racing came into this event as the current Melges 24 North American Champion, a title he won last year in Annapolis; Brian Porter on Full Throttle, the 2009 US National Champion had 2002 World Champion Harry Melges calling the shots; Bill Hardesty sailing with tactician Vince Brun aboard Event's Clothing/Atlantis, had a remarkable four Melges 24 World Title victories between them and serial one-design Champion Chris Larson sailing West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes would bring an invaluable wealth of local knowledge to this event.
The fourteen-boat entry in Corinthian Division (no professionals allowed) at this year's Melges 24 World Championship always looked likely to produce a fierce battle for the top spot and when racing commenced the Corinthian competition more than lived up to expectations, with the overall lead closely fought and changing on a daily basis. The top Corinthian helms in Annapolis also made regular appearances at the front of the main fleet, with front runners Bruce Ayres aboard Monsoon finishing fourth in the Pre-Worlds, reigning North American Corinthian Champion Othmar Mueller von Blumencron on Gannet, Henry Filter aboard Wild Child from the host Eastport Yacht Club, David Dabney on Conejo Racing - Ocean Sailing Academy' and Germany's Christof Wieland on Unsponsored, all securing top ten race positions during the week. In fact it was the Corinthian Division that produced the more nail biting series climax, with Ayres and von Blumencron going into the final race tied on equal points. With these two unsurprisingly locked together in mortal combat for the whole of the race eleven decider, the final Corinthian result was only actually confirmed when a delighted Ayres surfed across the line, just a few boat lengths ahead of von Blumencron.
In the main eleven-race Championship series, it was Annapolis resident Chris Larson who eventually overcame the strength of the European squad, to claim the 2009 Melges 24 World Title with a race to spare. Whilst Larson sailed a consummately confident and ruthlessly consistent series, he was pushed almost all the way throughout the week by both the double European Championship winning Joe Fly steered by Italian 470 Olympian Gabrio Zandona as well as Norway's Eivind Melleby at the helm of Full Medal Jacket. Whilst not including a race win, Larson's impressive series scoreline meant that he took a seventeen-point lead into the final day. Despite appearing to already have at least one hand on the trophy, with the potential for three races to be sailed, he was still very much vulnerable to attack and would need to call on all his professional sailing experience to avoid a spectacular tumble from grace. In the end it was really all over before it began. Showing no outward signs of nervousness, in the first race of the day Larson calmly picked his way out of the mêlée at the heavily favoured pin end, before going on to record his fourth second place of the week. Meanwhile, Zandona, Bressani and Hutchinson all put themselves effectively out of contention by each attracting twenty percent Z-flag penalties and when the Race Officer announced that there would be no third race, a delighted Larson found himself in an unassailable position. With no reason to compete in the second and final race of the day, he and his delighted crew: Mike Wolfs, Curtis Florence and tactician Richard Clarke, could head ashore to begin to celebrate their 2009 Melges 24 World Championship victory.
Larson's departure left Zandona and Melleby to battle it out for second place and in 12-14 knots, just about the windiest conditions of the entire series, Melleby put his rival under real pressure with a confident second place performance in the last race. In contrast, Zandona had left himself a lot to do to hang on to his second overall with a first windward mark rounding in the low teens and had to use all of his legendary Italian guile to eventually pull back to sixth on the final run. Now tied on points with the Norwegian, Zandona was relieved to receive confirmation that the count back mathematics had worked in his favour and edged him into second overall. Meanwhile, an ecstatic Melleby was content to celebrate becoming the first ever Norwegian to claim a Melges 24 World Championship podium position. Two race wins apiece during this Championship for each Nico Celon and Flavio Favini, secured them fourth and fifth overall respectively, but must have surely left both helms ruing their damaging double-digit scores earlier in the week, which had ruled them out of a challenge for the overall victory.
IMCA Event Press Officer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provisional Overall Top Ten Overall
- Chris Larson - West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes - 46 points
- Gabrio Zandona - Joe Fly - 71 points
- Eivind Melleby - Full Medal Jacket - 71 points
- Nicola Celon - Fantastica - 73 points
- Flavio Favini - Blu Moon - 83 points
- Lorenzo Bressani - Uka Uka Racing - 85 points
- Brian Porter - Full Throttle - 100 points.
- Carlo Fracassoli - Gullisara - 102 points
- Terry Hutchinson - Quantum Racing/Gill Race Team - 109 points
- Bill Hardesty - Events Clothing/Atlantis - 119 points
Provisional Corinthian Top Five Overall
- Bruce Ayres - Monsoon - 28 points
- Othmar Mueller von Blumencron - Gannet - 28 points
- August Hernandez - High Voltage - 45 points
- David Dabney - Conejo Racing-Ocean Sailing Academy - 47 points
- Christof Wieland - Unsponsored - 48 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.
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.