Battle For Second Intensifies As Lorenzo Bressani And Uka Uka Racing Reinforce Their Lead After Day Four Of The 2011 Melges 24 World Championship

19 May 2011

More windy and overcast conditions prevailed on day four of the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, with winds peaking at 18 knots during the two race day. For the second day in succession, regatta leader Lorenzo Bressani on ITA 817 Uka Uka Racing turned in a perfect scoreline, winning both races in some style and stepping inexorably closer to retaining the world title that he won last year in Tallinn, Estonia. With five wins from the eight races sailed so far, Bressani is looking increasingly unstoppable and now leads the regatta by 22 points. Grinding his way back from a poor opening day, Brian Porter on USA 749 Full Throttle turned in a 6,4, scoreline today, which was good enough to move him into second place overall. Alec Cutler on BER 655 Hedgehog also had a good day today, finishing fourth in the first race and second in the next race after pushing Bressani hard all the way round the course. Cutler slides up into third tonight, tied on points with Porter and a single point ahead of Kristen Lane on USA 812 Brickhouse 812 in fourth. Tied on points with Lane is Nathan Wilmot on IRL 607 Embarr who remains in fifth place after an 8,3 performance today.

At the start of Race 7 of the series, three boats, Guy Mossman on USA 553 Battle Rhythm, Flavio Favini on SUI 596 Blu Moon and Nathan Wilmot on IRL 607 Embarr, were all engaged in a battle to win the pin end of the start. Mossman pulled the trigger fractionally too early, crossed the line before the gun and had to restart, allowing Favini and Wilmot a clear lane off the line on starboard. Lorenzo Bressani on ITA 817 Uka Uka Racing also got away cleanly a little further up the line and with the wind starting to flick to the left, it was these three boats on the left hand side of the course who made the early running on the first beat. At the first windward mark it was Bressani who led the fleet. A windshift back to the right in the final third of the beat had brought Ricardo Simoneschi on ITA 819 AUDI, Kristen Lane on USA 812 Brick House 812 and Brian Porter on USA 749 Full Throttle, into play and they followed Bressani around the top mark in quick succession.

With Bressani beginning to pull away by the end of the first run, when the chasing pack converged, Alec Cutler on BER 655 Hedgehog had moved up to within striking distance of Simoneschi, Lane, and Porter and this group were neck and neck as they approached the gate. Cutler squeaked through to round the right buoy just ahead of Simoneschi, whilst shortly after Lane and Porter rounded the left buoy. By the second windward mark Bressani was still leading comfortably, with Cutler in second maintaining his advantage over Simoneschi in third. Peter Lane on USA Brick House 623 had sailed an excellent beat to round in fourth, just ahead of his wife, Kristen in fifth.

Bressani continued to ease away from the fleet on the final downwind leg, whilst behind him there was a real dog fight for second place between Cutler, Simoneschi and the two Lanes. Simoneschi had been the first to gybe out to the right of the course and he picked up some extra pressure which took him past Cutler and into second. Peter Lane went even further right and this enabled him to leapfrog Cutler and challenge Simoneschi hard in the last few boatlengths into the finish. At the line they were fully overlapped with Simoneschi just doing enough to take second. Cutler came home fourth, with Kristen Lane close behind in fifth.

In the final seconds to the start of Race 8 Wilmot and Porter were duking it out for supremacy at the pin end. At the gun they both got away cleanly with Porter soon opting to cash in the pin end bias advantage by tacking and crossing the fleet. Wilmot hung in on port for a few minutes longer before also tacking and heading for the right of the course. Bressani, who had started a little up from the pin, worked the left longer still and as a result he emerged on top once again at the windward mark. Behind him came a tightly packed group comprising Cutler, Wilmot, Daniel Kaseler on USA 379 Team Velocitek, Kristen Lane, Bora Gulari on USA New England Ropes/West Marine and Alan Field on USA 811 WTF. With many of this pack choosing to head for the right hand side of the course on the first run, Cutler opted instead to hit the left hand side as hard as he could. Coming in hot on the port layline to the gate, he rounded the left buoy just half a length behind Bressani and a few seconds ahead of Wilmot who rounded the right gate mark. On the second beat Cutler was giving Bressani some real problems, with the Italian having to maintain a close cover in order to keep him at bay. By the second windward mark these two had pulled out a big lead on the rest of the fleet, with Bressani still leading by just a couple of lengths. Wilmot rounded in third, marginally ahead of a rapidly advancing Porter, who had sneaked past Gulari into fourth, with Peter Lane rounding in sixth.

On the final run Bressani's raw boatspeed was just too much for Cutler and the regatta leader clocked up his fifth race win of the championship. Cutler came home in second with Wilmot holding off a late charge from Porter right on the line, and Peter Lane surging in to pass Gulari in the final few lengths.

With eight races now completed, Bressani has amassed a 22 point margin over Porter at the top of the leaderboard. Cutler's great day on the water moves him up to third, tied on points with Porter and just one point ahead of Kristen Lane and Wilmot, who are also tied on points in fourth and fifth respectively. Bressani is now looking increasingly invincible, however with just 1 point separating second from fourth, the battle for the final two podium spots seems likely to rage on for the final two days of this championship.

In the all amateur Corinthian Division there was no changes in the overall standings, with leader Eiichiro Hamazaki on JPN 783 Esprit, second placed Christof Wieland on GER 635 and third placed Scott Holmgren on USA 674 Rosebud, all respectively chalking up pairs of first seconds and thirds today.

Racing at the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, continues tomorrow Tuesday 20 with two more races scheduled and runs through until Saturday 21 May.You can keep up with all the latest news and developments from the championship via the International Melges 24 Blog, www.melges24.comand the event website.