Despite the decidedly damp and cold conditions which prevailed on day two of the Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship, the quality of racing for the international fleet was nonetheless characteristically red hot. Overnight leader Chris Larson aboard 'West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes' turned in a solidly consistent 6,4, scoreline for the day, which sees him extend his margin at the top of the leaderboard tonight to eleven points. Surprisingly perhaps Larson believed that the Annapolis conditions today had been more predictable than normal. 'The wind didn't really move about that much today, so much so in fact that in both races we were actually able to one-tack both first beats by simply hitting the left hand layline. This afternoon though the wind did begin to get a little spotty, with more pressure in some places than others.'
Whilst obviously delighted to still be leading at this stage, Larson also recognised that there was still a long way to go in this Championship. 'We are four races in to a twelve race series and so far I've been successful with doing my job on the boat, which is to get us off the line cleanly. Richard Clarke has been doing a great job on tactics and the whole crew has been solid. I think if we can maintain this approach then we will be in good shape.'
Today also saw a return to more familiar form for two of the Melges 24 fleet's most well known teams, as Italians Lorenzo Bressani on 'Uka Uka Racing' and Gabrio Zandona on 'Joe Fly' respectively, each took a gun in today's two races. Bressani followed up his win in the first race with a second place in race two, after a prolonged battle with Zandona at the front of the fleet. 'Uka Uka Racing's' 1, 2 score today earned them boat of the day; an achievement made all the more impressive given that they were racing with a substitute crew, following a severe ankle injury to their regular bow-girl Francesca Prina. For the first time this regatta, they have broken into the top ten and now sit in seventh place overall. Trimmer Federico Michetti was full of praise for stand-in Meredith Adams, who he said had coped well with sailing with a foreign speaking team. 'To be honest I was very nervous about how things would go today as we have raced and trained for so long with Francesca. Meredith fitted in really well however and picked up our way of doing things very quickly.'
Asked if he thought 'Uka Uka Racing' could still win this championship, Michetti glanced down at the results sheet and commented 'For sure we could. There are lots of teams in the top ten with poor scores. We definitely have no more room for mistakes and it will be very, very difficult. However, we like a good fight and of course will be trying to the very end.' Michetti has his own special incentive to keep striving for victory; already a triple Melges 24 European Champion, victory here this week would make him the first ever person to have sailed on three Melges 24 World Championship winning crews.
A third place in race one and a win in race two has catapulted Zandona and the 'Joe Fly' crew into second place overall, ahead of Bill Hardesty on 'Events Clothing/Atlantis' in third. Hardesty confirmed that it had been another tricky day out on the racecourse but said he was pleased with his team's 2,7, performance today. 'The breeze was up in the morning and died back a little this afternoon. We feel pretty comfortable in the breezier stuff, but the light winds have been a bit of a weakness for us so far. However we think we may have found the extra gear that we have been looking for as we were able to hang on to the Italian boats a lot better in the second race.'
Hardesty also believes that the unpredictability of the current out on the Chesapeake is creating an extra challenge for the racers. 'With the amount of rain we have been having here recently, looking at the tide charts is all but useless. With all the rivers draining into this area it's hard to know whether you are sailing in salt water or fresh.'.
Most of the other top ten teams had an up and down day today. Brian Porter on 'Full Throttle' finished with a 5,12, tally and sits in fourth overall. Italy's Carlo Fracassoli on 'Gullisara' dropped from third to fifth after scoring two results outside the top ten. Norwegian Eivind Melleby marred his otherwise single-digit scoreline so far with a twenty-second place in race two, but only dropped one place to lie in sixth.
Italian Flavio Favini on Swiss entry 'Blu Moon' had a disappointing day by his own high standards with a 9,21 and has tumbled from second to eighth overall tonight. Also dropping down the order to ninth place after an 11,18 day was US sailor Alan Field on 'WTF'. Jamie Lea at the helm of 'Team Barbarians' seems to have been anchored in tenth place since the regatta started and a 16,8 set of results today sees him remain there going into day three.
In the Corinthian Division things could not be tighter between the top two teams so far with David Dabney on 'Conejo Racing – Ocean Sailing Academy' and Bruce Ayres on 'Monsoon' tied on eleven points apiece. Just two points adrift and poised to pounce is Othmar Mueller von Blumencron on 'Gannet'.
With two more races scheduled for tomorrow and the likelihood that similar conditions to today's will prevail, the fifty-one boat international fleet can look forward to another day of tricky sailing, as this regatta goes into it's third day. Just to throw in an added dimension to the already intriguing mix, the single discard for the twelve race series could come into play if both races are completed tomorrow.
Full results are available from the Event Website. The championship runs until Saturday 31 October with a total of 12 races scheduled.
Provisional Overall Top Ten After Four Races
1. Chris Larson – West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes – 17 points
2. Gabrio Zandona – Joe Fly – 28 points
3. Bill Hardesty – Events Clothing/Atlantis – 31 points
4. Brian Porter – Full Throttle – 31 points
5. Carlo Fracassoli – Gullisara – 33 points
6. Eivind Melleby – Full Medal Jacket – 38 points
7. Lorenzo Bressani – Uka Uka Racing – 39 points
8. Flavio Favini – Blu Moon – 39 points
9. Alan Field – WTF – 40 points
10. Jame Lea – Team Barbarians – 49 points
Provisional Corinthian Top Five After Four Races
1. David Dabney – Conejo Racing-Ocean Sailing Academy – 11 points
2. Bruce Ayres – Monsoon – 11 points
3. Othmar Mueller von Blumencron – Gannet – 13 points
4. Christof Wieland – Unsponsored – 16 points
5. August Hernandez – High Voltage – 24 points