Three races deeper into the 12 race Gill Melges 24 World Championship 2014 and the visitors unsurprisingly continue to dictate terms.
After the completion of race six in the 10-12 knot sou’easter, Harry Melges’ Star and crew Andy Burdick, Jeff Ecklund and Federico Michetti, sailing for New York and Lauderdale yacht clubs, are lead boat and have created some breathing space.
Chris Larson’s Cavallino/McLube (CAN) is five points off Melges on 14, a 10th in race four denting yesterday’s pointscore leader’s chance for an encore.
Third overall at the series midway point is Flavio Favini’s Blu Moon (SUI) with 17 points and fourth is Riccardo Simoneschi’s Audi (ITA) with 19 points.
The top three on the ladder are all past Melges 24 world champions.
Favini and the Blu Moon team are one of the longest running and most successful Melges 24 crews in the world.
On today’s better performance Favini said, “We had a good day, we sailed well”.
Favini has been taught that fifty percent of a race is determined by the start. This is small field compared to class events in the northern hemisphere, but still you could walk across the start line traversing the decks of the tightly packed bunch.
“The start happens very quickly and at times a small difference in the positioning at launching makes a huge difference. It’s the most chaotic moment, and it’s fun,” said Favini.
The second pressure point is the first top mark rounding where the jury, the eyes and ears of the race committee, lie in wait for the chaos to unfold and ready to point the red flag.
So far Favini’s crew has avoided a collision. “We try to avoid it but it happens. That’s boat racing,” he laughed.
During this world championship most of the professional international crews head off early after a sausage in bread and cold beer at Royal Geelong Yacht Club. Nights are quiet so the crew is rested.
“We are having dinner at home, we cook for ourselves and we eat anything but mostly Italian…pasta of course…and fish. We like the seafood here,” Favini added.
Nathan Wilmot’s Melges Asia Pacific Kaito heads up the best placed Australian team in seventh overall from 26 starters.
Doing bow for Nathan is his wife Shona, one of a handful of women contesting the world championship in the high-end sports boat class.
She says there are fewer opportunities for women among the Australian keelboat scene because the boats are so physically demanding.
“There’s not as much room in keelboat racing to have a good role on a boat these days. The Melges 24s are good because there are five on the boat and everyone has an important role,” Shona said.
“Being up the front is very task focused. Most of the time I have no idea where we are on the racecourse, where we started and where we finished.”
Lucy Simoneschi does the bow on the Italian based Melges 24 Audi and her husband Riccardo helms. Europe offers more openings to professional women sailors, but still she says women have to work twice as hard to be fully accepted at the elite level.
“If you are very passionate and happy to dedicate a lot of time to sailing you can have opportunities,” Lucy said this afternoon after racing. “You have to put twice the time in as a man to be accepted. You have to really train and work a lot.”
Audi is well-positioned in fourth and Lucy says they are problem free, though would like the wind dial turned up.
Robin Deussen’s Red Mist from South Australia put in another fine effort to be ninth overall and again the top placed Corinthian boat, which means there are no professionals among the crew.
Watches could be almost set with the reliable Corio Bay afternoon sea breeze. Between 1pm and 2pm in the summer the sou’easter floats in from Limeburners Point, filling Stingaree Bay to the east and then Corio Bay proper.
Today Melges 24 crews milled around to the north of the bay during a short postponement prior to the commencement of racing then right on cue the breeze filtered in.
A hoodoo on the third and final race continued on day two, the fleet general recalled by PRO Hank Stuart twice and allowed through the gate at the third attempt.
The day began in the dark for the No Comment and Zinzi Silver Jewels crew and the youngest competitors at these worlds.
Ten year old Zac Heyes from Outrage-us and 15 year old Harley Walters from Melges Asia Pacific Kaito were on national television early this morning for a prime time weather cross with Channel 7’s Sunrise program. In the background, demonstrating the manoeuvrability of the class, No Comment and Zinzi were going through their paces for the camera.
There were some new additions to the look of the fleet today, country flag stickers on each mainsail and backstay flags indicating the current divisional leaders that will be presented each morning at the daily competitor’s briefing held at the host club.
The Gill Melges 24 World Championship 2014 wraps up on Sunday, February 2nd 2014.
Series Results [Open] up to Race 6 (Drops = 1)
1 – STAR Harry Melges (USA841)
2 – CAVILLINO / MCLUBE Chris Larson (CAN795)
3 – BLU MOON Flavio Favini (SUI825)
4 – AUDI Riccardo Simoneschi (ITA840)
5 – WEST MARINE RIGGING Bora Gulari (USA820)
Series Results [Corinthian] up to Race 6 (Drops = 1)
1 – REDMIST Robin Deussen (AUS607)
2 – ROGER THAT Cameron Miles (AUS750)
3 – AMIGOS Geoff Fogarty (AUS816)
Day 1 racing video highlights by Beau Outteridge Productions.