Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Italy's Gabrio Zandona Edges Chris Larson

© Pierrick Contin
Italy's Gabrio Zandona Edges Chris Larson Into Second Place After A Light Airs Day Three At The Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis Melges 24 World Championship

For the competitors arriving at the City Dock this morning on day three of the Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship, the chances of racing taking place seemed unlikely, with Annapolis shrouded in low cloud and no evidence of any wind whatsoever. Despite the gloomy outlook, Principal Race Officer Jeff Borland put all trust in his local knowledge and led the fleet out on to the race area.

This forthright strategy was eventually rewarded, when after a prolonged delay, a fitful breeze finally developed and racing got underway. As a further bonus the quickly clearing skies soon bathed the competitors, race management fleet and the many spectator boats in some welcome warm sunshine. With winds peaking at no more than seven knots, by no stretch of the imagination could the racing today be described as high adrenaline, but nevertheless the conditions did produce some fascinating tactical battles at the front of the fleet.

Race one saw the three Championship leaders, Chris Larson on 'West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes', Gabrio Zandona on 'Joe Fly' and Bill Hardesty on 'Events Clothing/Atlantis', round the first windward mark in that order. Hot on their heels was first Corinthian helm Bruce Ayres on 'Monsoon'. Rather than follow leader Larson down the left hand side of the course, 'Joe Fly' tactician Daniele Cassinari opted for an early gybe on to port. As Larson and the rest of the leading pack went almost to the left hand layline, the Italian team on 'Joe Fly' made good progress closer to the middle of the course.

When the boats converged at the leeward gate it was neck and neck between the first two; Larson coming in from the left having to handbrake his way round the port gate, whilst Zandona arriving with more pressure and speed from further right was able to make a smoother exit from the right buoy. Zandona immediately captialised on this slight edge and moved smootly into the lead up the second beat. As the leg progressed the breeze became increasingly unstable; dropping as low as four knots at times. Staying in the maximum pressure, Zandona rammed home his upwind advantage and rounded the second windward mark well ahead of Larson, who was now having to deal with a sustained challenge from Ayres.

These three boats had pulled out a big gap on the rest of the pack and were well into the run before the fourth boat, Lorenzo Bressani on 'Uka Uka Racing' rounded the weather mark. There were no place changes amongst the top four on the one sided and somewhat processional final leg, with Zandona claiming his second race win of the series ahead of the ever consistent Larson in second, a clearly delighted Ayres in third and a relieved looking Bressani in fourth. Norwegian Eivind Melleby on 'Full Metal Jacket' continued his impressive form in this series, clocking up another top ten result in fifth. - Read more...

Provisional Overall Top Ten After Six Races

1. Gabrio Zandona - Joe Fly - 15 points
2. Chris Larson - West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes - 16 points
3. Eivind Melleby - Full Medal Jacket - 22 points
4. Bill Hardesty - Events Clothing/Atlantis - 38 points
5. Carlo Fracassoli - Gullisara - 41 points
6. Terry Hutchinson - Quantum Racing/Gill Race Team - 42 points
7. Lorenzo Bressani - Uka Uka Racing - 43 points
8. Brian Porter - Full Throttle - 43 points
9. Nicola Celon - Fantastica - 44 points
10. Flavio Favini - Blu Moon - 50 points