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14 December 2005, 09:18 am
Marrachech Express Take Over Lead
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Corum Melges 24 World Championship 2005
Key Largo, Florida, USA

Consistency paid off for the Italian boat Marrachech Express which jumped into the points lead at the 2005 Corum Melges 24 World Championship at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, USA yesterday after two races in fresh northerly breezes. However it was Australian America's Cup helmsman and ISAF Match Racing World Champion James SPITHILL, who was the star of the day, logging two masterful first places to move up to third overall.
Steered by professional sailor Gabriele BENUSSI and a group of amateur sailors from Trieste, Marrachech Express confounded race watchers who had questioned whether the recently formed team could handle the demanding, choppy conditions as comfortably as some of the well honed, all professional teams. BENUSSI and his three crew had never sailed together until they came together in Key Largo for three days of practice before the event. They never faltered.

BENUSSI's team had fared badly in the opening race of the series last Sunday when it posted a 35th place in the international talent packed field of 99 boats. However the Italians got the fleet's attention with a first place in the second race of the day. They followed that up with a third and a second on Monday, followed by fourth and ninth place finishes today.

With six of the twelve scheduled races completed, all competitors are now able to discard their worst race placing, punching Marrachech Express up from her second overall on Monday to the lead on points yesterday.

The discard also favored sailmaker and pro sailor Dave ULLMAN from Newport Beach, California, USA, who finished yesterday's racing with a fifth and a third for his Pegasus 505 and dropping a 41st place to jump from seventh place overall to second.

The best performance of the day undoubtedly came from SPITHILL, whose two bullets in yesterday's fresh breezes aboard his Luna Rossa, from Genoa, Italy, saw him winning comfortably in the first race and running away from the pack in the second.

Fort Lauderdale's Morgan REESER, a comfortable points' leader going into yesterday's racing, could do no better than a 20th in the first race. That and a 17th place on Monday pulled his Mfatic emphatically back into fourth place, ten points behind SPITHILL.

Consistent performances are vital in a long series like this, featuring a big fleet and Brian PORTER from Winnetka, Illinois, USA, illustrated the point by holding onto fourth place overall with his Full Throttle team.

Top Ten Results After Six Races

Pos Nation Boat Owner Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1 ITA Marrachech Express Vladimiro MRVCIC Gabriele BENUSSI (35) 1 3 2 4 9 19
2 USA Pegasus 505 David ULLMAN David ULLMAN 6 (41) 7 1 5 3 22
3 USA Luna Rossa James SPITHILL James SPITHILL 5 12 (25) 7 1 1 26
4 USA Mfatic Neil SULLIVAN Morgan REESER 2 8 1 17 (20) 8 36
5 USA Full Throttle Brian PORTER Brian PORTER (26) 2 11 4 7 18 42
6 ITA Joe Fly Giovanni MASPERO Gabrio ZANDONA 11 (35) 22 5 3 5 46
7 GBR Xcellent John POLLARD John POLLARD 17 7 5 12 15 (32) 56
8 FRA Partner & Partners Philippe LIGOT Francois BRENAC (22) 14 18 3 11 11 57
9 USA Pegasus 492 Samuel KAHN Samuel KAHN 19 3 4 (48) 30 6 62
10 ITA Ale Ali Ezio AMADORI Nicola CELON 1 22 16 15 (29) 10 64
Keith Taylor (As Amended By ISAF). Image, James SPITHILL was the star of the show in Key Largo yesterday:© Tim Wilkes -
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