Fracassoli all but unbeatable

On the penultimate day of the Böklunder Melges 24 European Championship in Aarhus

Wednesday July 27th 2011, Author: Justin Chisholm, Location: Denmark

The penultimate day of the Böklunder Melges 24 European Championship in Aarhus, Denmark, saw three excellent races sailed in light but predominantly consistent breezes ranging from 5-9 knots.

With just two more races scheduled to be sailed on the final day, and having led this regatta throughout, Carlo Fracassoli on Gullisara today put himself within touching distance of overall victory. After securing a comfortable victory in the first race of the day, Fracassoli stumbled a little with a 13th in the next race, but came back strongly with a second place in the third and final race of the day. Despite chalking up an impressive 2,1, scoreline in the first two races today, Alberto Bolzan on Saetta crashed to a 20th place in the third race, leaving him still in second tonight, but now 22 points adrift of Fracassoli.

The introduction of the discard after the first race today enabled Flavio Favini on Blu Moon to get rid of the OCS score he picked up on the first day, and he sits in third place tonight after turning in a disappointing 4,11,14 scoreline from today's racing.

In the all amateur Corinthian Division, Tonu Toniste's 1,4,1 Corinthian string of results on Lenny keeps him at the top of the Corinthian leaderboard, with a 7 point advantage over Norway's Oyvind Peder Jahre on Storm Capital Sail Racing in second. Just three points behind in third place tonight lies Tiit Vihul on Rock City.

After a delay of two hours ashore to enable the local sea breeze to begin to establish itself, Race 6 of the championship got away cleanly at the first time of asking in around six knots of breeze. At the first windward mark there was little between the top few boats with Carlo Fracassoli on Gullisara and Kicker Schafer on No Woman No Cry leading the pack at the beginning of the first run. These two boats were still in front at the gate with Dane Kristoffer Spone on Baghdad moving up to third. Fracassoli, Schafer and Spone slugged it out up the second beat with the leading pack compressing but with no change to the order of the top three. The final run was a patchy affair, with the priorities being to stay in the pressure and keep a clear lane. With Schafer falling out of contention, Alberto Bolzan on Saetta sailed a great leg to overtake Spone and take second at the finish behind Fracassoli.

The first beat of race 7 saw Fracassoli, Spone, Flavio Favini on Blu Moon and the Czech Republic's Petr Fiala on Aloha all in close contention for the lead at the halfway point. At the windward mark however a series of oscillating windshifts saw Dane Soren Ebdrup on North/Action lead around, ahead of Fiala in second and Dane Kim Haugaard on Fregatten Fyn in third.

By the leeward gate Fiala had clawed his way past Ebdrup to take the lead, with Haugaard hanging on to third, ahead of Bolzan in fourth. On the final beat Bolzan picked every shift to perfection to round the second top mark in the lead. Fiala rounded second with Haugaard in third. With these three keeping a close eye on each other on the final run, there were no further place changes before the finish, with Bolzan taking the gun, Fiala second and Haugaard third.

The breeze had picked up a little for the final race but the downside was that it had lost some of its stability and big shift to the right soon after the start caught several top teams out on the left of the course. Making the most sense of the shifty conditions was Michael Hestbaek on Arteria 24ever who rounded the top mark in the lead, ahead of Ben Koppelaar on Peak in second and Christophe Barrue on Euro Voiles in third. On the first downwind leg Swede Carl Akerson on Sitting Duck kept his breeze clear enough to ease past Koppelaar and Barrue and round the gate in second behind Hestbaek. The second beat saw regatta leader Fracassoli push the turbo button, moving from sixth at the gate to second, close behind Hestbaek at the final top mark. These two were locked together for the entire last downwind leg, but despite of all Fracassoli's best moves, Hestbaek held his nerve to take a well winner's gun, ahead of Fracassoli in second and Koppelaar in third.

With a 22 point lead and just two more races left in the schedule for the final day of the championship tomorrow, the remarkably consistent Fracassoli is now looking all but invincible. The battle for second place is a much closer one however, with Bolzan holding a tenuous single point advantage over Flavio Favini on Blu Moon. Fourth going into the final day is Fiala who is 18 points clear of Tonu Toniste on Lenny in fifth.

Back ashore the crews relaxed in the afternoon sunshine at a post racing Oysters and Beer party thrown by the Dutch Melges 24 Class who will host the next Melges 24 European Championship in 2013 in Medemblik.

Results after five Races

1st Carlo Fracassoli ITA 803 Gullisara 20 points
2nd Alberto Bolzan ITA 716 Saetta 42 points
3rd SUI 782 Flavio Favini Blu Moon 43 points
4th Petr Fiala CZE 752 Aloha 50 points
5th Tonu Toniste EST 790 Lenny 68 points

Corinthian Division:
1st Tonu Toniste EST 790 Lenny 18 points
2nd Tiit Vihul EST 761 Rock City 25 points
3rd Oyvind Peder Jahre NOR 751 Storm Capital Sail Racing 28 points



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