Big Smilies And Big Winds Cap Off Perfect First Day Of Gold Cup

23 July 2010

Malcesine, Italy - The opening day of the inaugural Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup was the kind of day that makes visiting sailors relocate to Lake Garda.

A sunny, clear, and calm day greeted 37 teams from six countries during the skipper's briefing this morning at the Fraglia Vela Malcesine. By the time Principal Race Officer Fabio Barrasso completed his comments and the sailors gorged themselves on a lavish lunch buffet, Garda's reliable summer Ora wind filled the lake with a moderate 10-12 knot breeze.

"This is simply sailor paradise," said Bacio team manager Toby Kiss from ashore, as husband Michael headed to the starting line. It took two more general recalls and the Z penalty flag to finally get the fleet started in earnest at the civilized hour of 1 PM. Barrasso explained that "we had two conflicting winds causing havoc with our course direction, but there's only one way to start a race - the right way."

The first two races saw Benedetto Giallongo's Value Team serving notice to the fleet that they were the team to beat, with two first-place finishes in as many starts. "We had a great day, with [helmsman] Francesco [Scarselli] handling the boat great as we worked the eastern shore of the lake," said tactician Enrico 'Chicco' Fonda. But Fonda's choices would go bad on the third race, when a big right shift combined with winds over 18 knots pushed early leaders back to the middle of the pack. "We had great boatspeed all day, especially downwind, but this fleet will always punish getting on the wrong side of a shift," Fonda said.

The biggest beneficiary of Fonda's mistake was Francesco Farneti, with Slovenian sportboat tactical specialist Branko Brcin placing Reggini Team in consistently powerful position for a 3,2,1 scoreline and the overall lead after one day of racing. "We've been checking Farneti all year, and we knew that Reggini would be very strong here," said Fonda, who leads Farneti in the Audi Melges 20 Sailing Series by just 12 points with the finale taking place on Farneti's home waters in Rimini. "There's no extra pressure because we're going next to Rimini - we've been focused all year on Malcesine, and we'll worry about the future after we've finished racing in this beautiful venue," Fonda added.

The strong Garda winds left two teams with damaged bowsprits after the second race, though you wouldn't know it by the smile on Midwestern U.S. sailor Michael Kiss's face as he docked his boat. "Look around you - how can anyone be unhappy here?" Both teams are expected back on the water tomorrow, when racing will begin at 1230.

One special guest racer couldn't wipe the smile off her face after reaching the dock, either. Photographer Meredith Block joined Luisa Bambozzi's all-girl Troublemakers team on Thursday to add another set of hands for the expected afternoon breeze, and to get a rare perspective for her images. "I feel like I haven't sailed in years, and what a fun way to get back on the course again!" said a fatigued Block after a hot and exciting day of action. "Racing is definitely a lot harder when you're shooting pictures," she joked.

Please check out the Melges Europe Facebook Page for links to all the exciting video, pictures, results, and reports from Malcesine.

Top Ten Results (After 3 Races)
1.) Francesco Farneti, Reggini Sailing Team; 3-2-1 = 6
2.) Benedetto Giallongo, Value Team; 1-1-8 = 10
3.) Marco Perazzo/Renato Vallivero, Turnover; 10-4-2 = 16
4.) Luca Domenici, Notaro Team; 5-8-4 = 17
5.) Stefano di Properizio, HULK; 4-3-14 = 21
6.) Fausto Rubbini, Thule; 13-5-3 = 21
7.) Lauro Bonora, Camay; 7-12-7 = 26
8.) Marco Morina, Sei Tu 20; 2-6-12 = 27
9.) Claudio Recchi, Team 93; 11-7-11 = 29
10.) Federico Strocchi, Cheyenne; 8-16-9 = 33
Full Results
Official Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Event Website
Full Entry List

View Photo Gallery - Meredith Block
View Photo Gallery - Andy Burdick
View Photo Gallery - Renato Tebaldi

2010 Audi Melges 20 Sailing Series Results (After 3 Events)
1.) Benedetto Giallongo, Value Team; 51 pts.
2.) Carlo Alberini, Calvi Network; 53 pts.
3.) Luca Domenici, Notaro Team; 62 pts.
4.) Francesco Farnetti, Reggini Sailing Team; 63 pts.
5.) Renato Vallivero, Turnover; 71 pts.

Full race reports, interviews and photo galleries will be posted online each day after racing. Stay tuned to the Official Audi Melges 20 Web Site, the Official Audi Melges 20 BlogMelges.com and Melgeseurope.com for all the latest details. You can also friend the Audi Melges 20 on Facebook, follow on Twitter and/or subscribe to the Official Audi Melges 20 You Tube Channel.