Championship Fight Crystallizes After Four of Ten Races At 2014 Melges 32 World Championship in Miami
5 December 2014
Miami, FL - With four of ten scheduled races in the bag at the 2014 Melges 32 World Championship, and after a shifty, unpredictable day of racing, the crowded top of the leader board is beginning to thin out. With less than half of the regatta finished, there remain epic battles ahead for anyone looking to make – or stay on - the podium.
Seventeen teams from eight nations took to the water this morning for the second day of championship racing aboard the Melges 32, one of the world's highest-performance sailboats.
Race Three started clean, with the left side of the course — to the North — looking strong indeed. A gaggle of European boats tacked out to the right, led by Edoardo Lupi and Massimo Pessina's Torpyone, including Alessandro Rombelli's STIG and Richard Goransson's Inga From Sweden. Lupi would successfully hang on for the wire-to-wire win, an impressive feat in this stacked, competitive fleet while current regatta leader, Monaco's Pierre Casiraghi at the helm of Robertissima sailed their worst race of the week – a ninth place.
Like Miami's usually consistent trade winds, Casiraghi has proved himself reliable on the starting line, fighting for the left end of the line in four of four races. It's paid off handsomely, and the 27-year old skipper is the only competitor at the World Championship to have won two races this early in the week so far. Clearly his pin-end prowess is paying off. He now leads just 6 points over second-place Goransson, who seemed to be passing boats all day. "If there’s one thing that characterizes this team, it's an ability to always battle back from any adversity," said Goransson. "These guys actually do not know how to give up."
After more than an hour of postponement during which some of the fleet was lit up by a seemingly private rainbow, Race Officer Anderson Reggio waited for a squall line to pass.
Race Four got underway in slightly less breeze and light showers, and with a huge right shift just before the start, Casiraghi battled for the pin again and it was looking disastrous, alongside of William Douglass' Goombay Smash. And just when Casiraghi started to get close to running out of room, another shift came in, paying the left side like a slot machine and vaulting him into the a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Riding Casiraghi on the port tack layline was class cinderella Chris Wientjes on Stormvogel, who put together a nearly perfect beat on the left to round in second; rarefied air for a relatively new team and something to savor – and unfortunately, did not last.
Meanwhile, Casiraghi extended his lead to over a minute by the final mark of the day to over a minute on the next boat by the final mark of the race. Like many teams in the confused seas and moderating breeze, a gybe could prove tricky – even for a crew full of champions. "The tackline came off in the middle of the last gybe, something that I have not seen before on our boat," said German amateur racer Gunnar Bahr, mastman aboard Robertissima. "We had to bring in the pole, untangle the tack line, it was really slow!" Meanwhile, carving through the fleet was young Dalton Devos' Delta, now in striking distance for the win if Casiraghi's crew couldn't get their sails drawing. With their lead more than halved in just seconds and the skipper looking over his shoulder, the crew efforts finally paid and they launched down the face of a wave as she built speed toward the finish line. As Casiraghi escaped, Jason Carroll's Team Argo flubbed a gybe on the final approach to the finish line while trying to stay on top of DeVos' air, with a potential second or third place finish turning into a sixth place finish in less than a minute.
Opening day leader Naofumi Kamei's Mamma Aiuto! had an unexpected drama after a port-tack approach during Race Four. Kamei tried to break through a hole that wasn’t as big as he thought it was, forcing Goransson above close-hauled. Kamei chose not to take a penalty on the course, the post-race jury hearing found Kamei had fouled Goransson, therefore he was disqualified from the race – perhaps the first chink in Kamei's armor.
While some teams were left with their heads spinning at the end of a tricky, blustery and long day, the majority of this diverse fleet of professional and amateur racers gathered in the Regatta Tent for wine tasting with Stella Rosa Black, daily awards, VOR presentation with Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, and some great food and drink in at Miami Beach Marina. This is a group that battles as fiercely on the water as it enjoys food, fun and friendship together on shore.
Steadier and stronger breeze is forecast for the third day of racing — Hedgehog Day and with a chance for lighter winds on Sunday, there is some potential for a grueling three-race day on Friday. Teams will discard their worst score after Friday, with the anticipation of a major shuffle in the standings.
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TOP TEN RESULTS (After Four Races)
1.) Pierre Casiraghi/Vasco Vascotto, Robertissima; 1-3.7/RDG-9-1 = 20
2.) Richard Goransson/Morgan Larson, Inga From Sweden; 3-10-2-5 = 20
3.) Jason Carroll/Cameron Appleton, Argo; 7-1-12-6 = 26
4.) Dalton DeVos/Jonathan McKee, Delta; 2-7-16-2 = 27
5.) Naofumi Kamei/Manu Weiller, Mamma Aiuto!; 4-2-5-18/DSQ = 29
6.) Ryan DeVos/James Spithill, Volpe; 6-8-6-9 = 29
7.) Edoardo Lupi & Massimo Pessina/Lorenzo Bressani, Torpyone; 8-14-1-7 = 30
8.) Alessandro Rombelli/Terry Hutchinson, STIG; 5-6-3-16 = 30
9.) William Douglass/Chris Larson, Goombay Smash; 18/DNF-5-4-4 = 31
10.) Alec Cutler/Richard Clarke, hedgehog; 10-4 -7-12 = 33
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