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21 May 2011, 10:22 am
Lorenzo Bressani On The Brink Of Victory At 2011 Melges 24 Worlds
Melges 24 Fleet
Melges 24 Fleet

2011 Melges 24 World Championshpi
Corpus Christi, Texas, USA

The international fleet competing at the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, enjoyed two more breezy races on day five of the regatta.
By way of a 1,5 performance today, Lorenzo Bressani (ITA) on Uka Uka Racing extended his lead at the top to 26 points over second placed Brian Porter (USA) on Full Throttle. Alec Cutler (BER) recovered from an 11th in the first race of the day to take victory in the second race, and he moves up into third overall, two points behind Porter.

Nathan Wilmot (IRL) on Embarr now lies in fourth, seven points adrift of Cutler and one point ahead of Kristen Lane (USA) on Brick House 812 and Flavio Favini (SUI) on Blu Moon, who are tied on points in fifth and sixth. With just two more races scheduled for tomorrow's final day, Bressani's overall victory is looking increasingly assured; however just ten points separate second and sixth positions, and the scene is now set for a fierce battle for the remaining podium places.

The penultimate day of racing at this year's Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, produced two more thrilling races sailed in a solid breeze that ranged from 15 - 18 knots. In the first race of the day it was business as usual for Bressani. Having got away cleanly at the favoured left hand end of the line, he led around the first windward mark, from Riccardo Simoneschi (ITA) on AUDI in second, and Warwick Rooklyn (AUS) on Bandit in third.

On the first downwind leg Wilmot made a big gain to move from fifth at the top mark to a close second to Bressani at the leeward gate. The two leading boats split marks, with Bressani going to the left buoy and Wilmot to the right. Third at the gate was Rooklyn, followed closely by David O'reilly (USA) on ARDOR/C.R.E.A.M. in fourth, Bora Gulari (USA) on New England Ropes/West Marine in fifth, Brain in sixth and Simoneschi in seventh.

By the second windward mark Simoneschi had jumped up to third, chasing Bressani and Wilmot in first and second. Just behind, Gulari, O'Reilly and Porter were involved in a three-way battle for fourth place as they started the second downwind leg. The final leg was a high-speed drag race with the boats who found the best pressure and clearest lanes coming out on top. Bressani was never under threat and blasted across the line to take his sixth race win of the week. Gulari meanwhile had come down the run with his hair on fire and now had Simoneschi in his sights. The Italian attempted a blocking gybe just before the line but Gulari simply blew through to leeward at top speed to snatch second place. Simoneschi followed close behind in third, with Porter stealing fourth from Wilmot in fifth, and Rooklyn in sixth.

The start of the second race of the day saw the bulk of the fleet favouring the left hand half of the line. Wilmot's attempt to win the pin ended in disaster when a big wave right on the gun stopped him dead in his tracks and caused him to drift onto the pin end boat's anchor line. Meanwhile, Simoneschi, Porter, Gulari and Bressani all got away cleanly a few lengths up from the pin end, and they rounded the first top mark in that order. After some blistering downwind sailing on the first run, Porter rounded the right hand buoy fractionally ahead of Simoneschi in second and Bressani in third. After sailing a quite unbelievable leg, Cutler, who had been called OCS at the start and consequently rounded the top mark mid fleet, arrived at the leeward gate in fourth place.

Cutler continued his charge up the second beat, and in the final third of the leg, when the leaders began to tack back to the left, he pushed further out to the right and was rewarded with a major right shift which saw him take the lead just before the second windward mark. Simoneschi and Porter rounded in second and third respectively, with Bressani now pegged back to fourth. Favini had eased into fifth ahead of Gulari in sixth. On the final run to the finish Cutler bravely trusted his conviction of extra pressure on the right of the racecourse and gybed away from the chasing pack. Further back, Gulari and Favini had also gybed early and were benefiting from the increased windspeed over on the right. These three boats made huge gains in the second half of the run, with Cutler extending his lead considerably and Gulari and Favini moving through into second and third places respectively. Behind them Porter was able to hold off Bressani to take fourth.

With the final two races in the twelve race series scheduled to be sailed tomorrow, Bressani's 26 point lead is now surely unassailable. Behind him however, the battle for the remaining top three places looks likely to go down to the wire. Going into the final day, Porter lies in second place, two points ahead of third placed Cutler. A further seven points back in fourth is Wilmot, who holds a single point advantage over Kristen Lane and Favini, who are tied on points in fifth and sixth.

In the all amateur Corinthian Division, after winning the first race of the day, series leader Eiichiro Hamazaki (JPN) on Esprit, then marred his so far perfect scoreline with a 12 point scoring penalty in the second race following an on the water incident. Hamazaki still leads the Corinthian Division by 13 points from Christof Wieland (GER) on Unsponsored who chalked up second places to both Hamazaki and second race winner Kevin Clark (USA) on Smokin. A third and fourth today for August Hernandez (USA) on High Voltage, sees him back up to third place overall, 12 points behind Wieland.

Racing at the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, comes to a climax tomorrow Saturday 21 May with the two final races of the championship series scheduled.

You can keep up with all the latest news and developments from the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship via the International Melges 24 Blog, and the event website.

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Justin Chisholm
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