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6 September 2001, 11:38 am
Wide Open After Five Races
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Pouligny photo:IMCA/Fiona Brown

Melges 24 European Championship
Torbole, Lake Garda

After another two-hour delay waiting for wind the race committee were able to get the days proceedings underway. For a while it looked as if Garda might deliver the conditions for which she is so famous and race four started in a building 12 knots.
The competitors were a little over eager after their long delay at it took them three attempts to finally get away. The smart money was on the left hand side of the line and the right hand side of the first beat.

By the top mark Silvio Santini had a comfortable lead from Stuart Rix, helming for Quentin Strauss, Cedric Pouligny, Jamie Lea and Pietro D'Ali. Unfortunately the weather did not deliver and the breeze never got about 14 knots dropping off towards the end of the race. Places had changed left, right and centre by the end of the second beat with Pouligny taking the lead from Franco Favini with Lea third, Egidio Babbi fourth and Alba Batzill fifth.

The final lap saw no major changes although there was plenty of jostling for final places up the last beat. Pouligny held his lead from Favini whilst Babbi managed to slip past Lea with Batzill fifth and Kenneth Thelen sneaking sixth at the finish. Laurent Pages failed to shine throughout the race and finished 10th.

The breeze rallied a little at the start of race five and again the main players opted for the left end of the line. Favini was at the pin and took off for the left cliff like a scalded cat. Pouligny also got a good start about 50 yards up with Lea and Pages just to weather of him. Whilst the majority worked the left Lea elected to tack out into the middle - not a paying move as it transpired.

Pouligny led Favini into the first mark by a matter of feet followed by Bror Berge, Pages, Di Russo, Olivier Ducelier, Andrea Rachelli and Lea. The first run saw some unexpected place changes as the breeze shifted giving the back markers the advantage. Pouligny managed to pull out from Favini but behind them Santini was the first to benefit for the shift. The other unexpected success story of this run was young American Nick Halmos whose early gybe helped catapult him from nowhere to fifth at the leeward mark. Pages meanwhile dropped back to eighth.

As the breeze began to drop up the second beat Pages went hard left and Halmos followed him along with the majority of the fleet. Pouligny and Lea both lacked the confidence to commit to the far corner and opted instead for the left middle. Again it was the risk takers who won out and by the final top mark Pages led Halmso from Santini, Rachelli, Herman Horn Johannessen and Pouligny.

Down the final run the breeze dropped right off and the race committee wisely shortened at the bottom mark. Pages held his lead with Santini slipping past Halmos on the line, Rachelli made fourth, Johannessen fifth and Pouligny sixth. With the breeze dying around a quarter of the fleet was out of time.

Going into day four Pouligny leads by 5.3 points from Pages with Batzill third, Flavini fourth and Lea fifth.

Provisional Results:

1 FRA-383 CEDRIC POULIGNY (3,5,5,1,6) 37 pts
2 FRA-388 LAURENT PAGES (15,1,3,10,1) 42 pts
3 GER-507 ALBA BATZILL (2,21,2,5,8) 57 pts
4 SUI-483 FLAVIO FAVINI (5,4,24,2,10) 67 pts
5 GBR-437 JAMIE LEA (14,9,15,4,7) 77 pts
6 ITA-438 ANDREA RACCHELLI(19,3,18,9,4) 77 pts
7 FIN-236 KENNETH THELEN(24,12,12,6,17) 100 pts
8 FRA-370 THIERRY BERGER(25,15,4,8,26) 106 pts
9 FRA-369 OLIVIER DUCELIER (20,14,7,18,20)109 pts
10 ITA-490 SILVIO SANTONI(9,2,53,24,2) 110 pts
Fiona Brown/News Editor
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