Teams Prepare To Do Battle At 2011 Böklunder Melges 24 European Championship

20 July 2011

With a bumper entry list of 81 teams from across 18 countries, the 2011 Böklunder International Melges 24 European Championship, which takes place in Aarhus in Denmark from the 23 - 29 July, is set to be a truly classic international event. The local Danish fleet have fielded the largest contingent with 15 boats, but the fleet also boasts entries from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway Switzerland, Sweden, the Ukraine, and even as far afield as Japan. Whilst the lineup features many familiar faces, it also includes a large number of teams competing in their first ever Melges 24 European Championship - a testament to the underlying strength of the Melges 24 class in Europe. Equally encouraging for the class is the number of entries in the strictly all amateur Corinthian category, where 31 teams will be racing for the 2011 Melges 24 Corinthian European Championship title.

With such a compelling blend of old and new faces signed up to compete this year it is harder than ever to predict a likely overall winner. Arguably, based on the form guide, the Italian squad represent the strongest challenge, with proven performers such as International Melges 24 Class Chairman Ricardo Simoneschi and tactician Gabrielle Benussi on ITA 819 'Audi', Alberto Bolzan and tactician Danielle Cassinari on ITA 716 'Saetta', and Carlo Fracassoli with tactician Andrea Felci on ITA 803 'Saetta', all more than capable of stringing together a championship winning series. Flavio Favini on SUI 782 'Blu Moon' is a past winner of both World and European Melges 24 titles and will doubtless be looking to clock up another major championship win in Aarhus this month. France's Christophe Barrue on FRA 639 'Euro Voiles' is another Melges 24 veteran with a proven ability to win races at major championships who will be shooting for a podium place at this year's event. Fresh from a World Championship win earlier this year in the Laser SB3 Class, Great Britain's Geoff Carveth on GBR 654 'Gul Code Zero' will be keen to finally make his mark at a major Melges 24 Class regatta. As well as previously having won both World and European Corinthian Melges 24 titles, Norway's Oyvind Peder Jahre on NOR 751 'Storm Capital Racing' has also proven himself capable of mixing it at the front of the main fleet and must be considered a strong challenger for an overall podium place this year. Based on his race winning performances at last year's Melges 24 World Championship in his home country, Estonia's Tonu Toniste on EST 790 'Lenny' is another Corinthian competitor who will also have designs on a good result in this year's overall European Championship rankings.

Amongst the many 'wildcard' entries who will be competing in Aarhus next week, the talented local all-girl team on 'Sailing Academy Aarhus - Team XX' headed by Joa Storebjerg will be hoping to use their local knowledge to best advantage to upstage some of the more established teams. Also worth watching will be Dutch Olympic Finn campaigner Wietze Zetzema on NED 715 'Alice in Waterland'. Surely traveling the furthest to the regatta is Japan's Kan Yamada on JPN 809 'Bros', who will be hoping to reprise his impressive performance at last year's Melges 24 World Championship in Tallinn, Estonia.

In what seems likely to be one of the most hotly contested 31 strong Melges 24 Corinthian European Championships ever, in addition to the previously mentioned Oyvind Peder Jahre and Tonu Toniste, there are also any number of all amateur teams capable of claiming a place on the Corinthian podium this year. Amongst the several likely top performers are Estonian Tilt Vihul on EST 761 'Rock City', Finland's Tomi Hakola on FIN 742 'Flowdrinks.com' and Sweden's Stefan Pavia on 'Magic Marine'.

Pre-event registration will open on Friday 22 July. There will be practice racing on Saturday 23 July and the European Championship will be raced from Sunday 24 to Thursday 28 July with up to twelve races scheduled.

Media representatives who would like to attend the event are asked to contact IM24CA Media Coordinator Fiona Brown on fiona.brown@melges24.com.

Aarhus Sailing Club and the International Melges 24 Class would like to thank event title sponsor Böklunder for their most generous support of the 2011 Böklunder Melges 24 European Championship.  Böklunder is the producer of a delicious range of meat and sausage products.